Chores. How one word can conjure such dread is amazing, and from childhood to adulthood, most of us would rather shun the c-word entirely. But as a homeowner, you don’t have that luxury, and keeping on top of home maintenance is more important than ever.
It’s not just about keeping your house looking spick and span either. Staying on top of the following 7 home maintenance tasks will actually save you money in the long run.
Ensure You’re Insulated
It’s estimated that the average home is riddled with enough tiny gaps and holes to add up to around a 2-foot square hole. In other words, that’s the same as leaving a medium-sized window open the entire day, costing hundreds of dollars in wasted energy!
Doors and windows are a common problem area, and you can check yours by simply holding up a lighter or candle in the vicinity. If the flame flickers a lot, there’s a draft. Replacing old weather stripping can often solve this issue, or you may find that re-caulking the frame edges is needed.
Gaps left by pipework and HVAC vents are another problem area. Expanding foam is great for larger holes and is easy enough to apply. Check also the joints in HVAC ducts and openings and insulate as necessary. To check your walls, attic, roof and crawl spaces, it’s worth consulting a professional home inspector to locate problem areas.
Check Your Plumbing
Water wastage is another expense that can build up over time, so it’s well worth checking your plumbing on a regular basis. Leaky faucets and shower fittings are a common bathroom problem but are easy enough to spot, and replacements or repairs are typically inexpensive. Leaky pipes that aren’t exposed can be harder to detect but keep an eye open for sudden damp patches and a drop in water pressure. Fixing these issues before they become a major problem can save you a lot of cash.
The toilet is another place to check for leaks. Leaking pipework is normally apparent as water builds up on the floor, but a leaky cistern is often more difficult to spot. Try adding some food dye into the cistern if a leak isn’t obvious.
Finally, declutter under sink cabinets. While these handy storage spaces normally become a dumping ground, objects can press against drainage pipes, causing them to leak. This can be difficult to see due to the clutter until the damage is done – damage that can cost thousands of dollars refitting a water damaged kitchen or bathroom.
Maintain Your HVAC System
The heart of any home’s heating and cooling, furnaces and AC units should be regularly maintained. Replace filters as often as twice a week when these systems are in constant use and ensure that they’re professionally inspected at least annually.
It’s worth giving your AC unit a good clean once or twice a year in order to extend its life and improve efficiency. Simply unplug the unit, unmount it and place it in the yard. Next, remove the filters, and clean the cooling coils with water to remove dust and debris. Use a mild detergent to remove grease and oil particles, then rinse well. Leave it to dry in the sun for a couple of hours before refitting.
Fix Up Your Fridge
Your fridge can quickly suck up energy and water if it’s not properly maintained. Ineffective door seals are a common offender, costing homeowners hundreds of dollars each year. The fix is simple and fairly cheap. To check if your seals work properly, take a dollar bill and shut half of it in the fridge door. If it’s easy to pull out, your seals need replacing.
Also, be sure to regularly clean your fridge, but especially the cooling coils at the back. They soon pick up dust and grime, which makes it harder for them to do their job properly.
Look After Your Other Appliances
Besides the fridge, your clothes dryer is the other big offender for energy consumption when not properly maintained. Clean the lint trap after each and every use to reduce fire risk and lower the drying time. Also, check the dryer vent and ensure that is also kept clear of lint.
With front-loading washing machines, always leave the door open after use, to allow any water that has collected in the rubber seal to dry out, preventing mildew and mold. Give the door and seals a good wipe and remove the detergent tray each time, rinsing it thoroughly to prevent a buildup of gunk.
Your hot water tank should be drained at least annually to prevent sediment from building up. If left for too long, this can reduce the life of the tank, and cost more in heating bills as water takes longer to heat.
Keep a Lid on Your Roof
When something goes wrong with the roof, it will cost a lot to fix it. So, stay on top of it by regularly checking for wear and tear and signs of age. Look for loose shingles, holes and damaged flashing – the metal seal that covers joints – and repair before they lead to bigger problems, such as water damage. While you’re up there, clean out the gutters 2 or 3 times a year, and check that they’re properly fixed and not damaged.
Don’t Forget the Yard
Take care to clear overgrown branches, shrubs, trees and bushes, before their roots have a chance to crack the foundations of your home — a major repair job! Overhanging branches should also be removed, to reduce the risk of damage to your home during a storm.
Fill those small cracks in the driveway in advance to prevent having to replace it entirely, a job that can cost well over $5,000. Small cracks can become big problems in a matter of months, especially once weeds take hold.
Keeping on top of these tasks can be easy if you spread them out. Spend an hour every other weekend on one task or another to ensure you don’t spend all your free time on chores.