Basic home maintenance is something many homeowners do not do. As a homeowner, we repair when something breaks, but other than that, we leave our house as is unless we are doing some remodeling. Preventive home maintenance is not expensive, but when something breaks, the expense of fixing it can be a bit high. To keep your home “healthy” follow the links below for tips on what to look for when doing this preventive home maintenance.
Excerpted from the Popular Mechanics book When Duct Tape Just Isn’t Enough, published by Hearst Books/Sterling Publishing.
Home maintenance isn’t restricted to repairs. In fact, certain tasks–when performed regularly–may actually prevent things from breaking in the first place. But when things do go wrong (and it’s inevitable that they do), we have some backup plans that you can try before you grab the phone to call for pro. Appliances and plumbing are the most frequent offenders, but they also often can be the simplest to care for. From the gutters to the living room carpet, there’s a reliable method for keeping every part of your home clean, safe, and well maintained.
The quickest fix is to not have the problem in the first place. Here’s a checklist of items every homeowner should get to regularly.
1. Test your garage door opener monthly to ensure that it reverses when it hits an obstruction or when its sensor beam is interrupted.
Your house sometimes acts as if it’s alive — making strange sounds, emitting odd odors, and giving visual cues that say something might be amiss.
Here’s how to interpret what your house is trying to tell you, and how to recognize the early warnings of common home maintenance problems that are easily solved if caught early:
1. Peeling Exterior Paint
Cause: Moisture is probably getting underneath the paint, perhaps from a leaking gutter overhead or from a steamy bathroom on the other side of the wall.
Cure: If you catch the problem right away, you might just need to address the moisture issue and then scrape off the loose paint, prime bare spots, and repaint that wall, for a total of a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Delay too long and the siding might rot. Patching and repainting the whole house could cost $10,000.
To prevent a chronically steamy bathroom, install a new ventilation fan with a humidity-sensing switch that automatically exhausts moisture-laden air. Cost is about $250.
2. Flickering Lights
Cause: If only a single bulb flickers, it might be loose in its socket or in need of replacement. If lights always dim when the refrigerator or other appliance turns on, the circuit might be overloaded. If groups of lights flicker, connections at the electrical panel or elsewhere might be loose, causing power to arc — or jump — over the gaps. Arcing is a serious problem; it starts fires.
Update: One of our commenters, Brandon Beeson, was kind enough to put this into a Google Doc as a checklist. Click here to access that document. Feel free to print and use as needed! Thanks Brandon!
When buying a home, most people probably first think of the financial responsibility. Don’t let yourself forget, however, about the time and labor that home ownership also requires. Just like regular oil changes for your car keep your engine happy and healthy, keeping up with regular home maintenance tasks will keep you from future headaches and wasted money.
It can be intimidating to think about these various tasks, especially if you’re a new homeowner. It’s a long list — there’s no denying that. The good news is that you can do the majority of it on your own without much experience. Google is your best friend, and if you really get stuck, call up your local handyman to help you out.
In order to maximize your efficiency and actually get all of these tasks done, you might want to create a home maintenance calendar for yourself. Whether online or on paper, you can jot down small, regular tasks for each weekend and not be too overwhelmed. We’ve listed tasks that need to be done monthly, quarterly, and biannually. We’ve also given you a list of tasks to be completed seasonally. Not every expert agrees as to which task needs to be done in which season, so this isn’t a black and white list, necessarily. Do what works for you and your schedule, and as long as all these things get accomplished, your home will be happy for years and years to come.