Maintenance is NOT optional
When it comes to things we own and buy, our house is likely on the top of the list when it comes to being our most costly purchase. So, why do many homeowners ignore even the basics of home maintenance? After about twenty years in this crazy business, I still see things almost every day that were preventable if the proper maintenance had been performed. You have to change the oil in your car every few thousand miles, and you should go to the doctor for an annual checkup, right? You do maintenance on yourself and on your car, so don’t forget about your home. I am going to give you some tips on things you can do yourself to make sure your home is at its best and some other things that are better left to the professionals.
You can do it!!
- Change the filter in your HVAC system as necessary. Air quality conditions can vary from home to home so the interval at which you change your filter may need to be every three weeks or every three months depending on whether you have pets, how frequently you open the windows, how often you cook, and the quality of the filter.
- Every couple of months, a homeowner should turn the water on and off at the water supply valve. This valve is usually only used in emergencies, so if not exercised by the homeowner, it can seize and not function when you need it most. There are also shut-off valves in your home near every water fixture, including toilets, sinks, etc. These also all need to be exercised regularly to ensure they function when needed. If the valve will not move or is extremely difficult, consider bringing in a professional to repair it.
- Your toilet might be leaking, and you may not even know it. It could be wasting water and increasing your water bill. But you can color-test them to check! Just place a few drops of food dye into the tank of the toilet and wait an hour. If the water in the toilet bowl changes to the color of the dye, there is a leak, and your flapper might need to be replaced.
- Garbage disposals need maintenance too! Cut a lemon or lime into small pieces, and mix these pieces with some cups of ice. The ice and lemon/lime will clean the blades in your garbage disposal, and the lemon/lime will also make your house smell wonderful.
- Dryer vents need to be cleaned annually, there is no exception. In the picture below, a fire was caused by an improperly cleaned dryer vent. This homeowner used a shop vac to clean the dryer occasionally. The issue is, this doesn’t clean the entire vent and could easily create flammable conditions. Dryer vents cause somewhere between three and seventeen thousand fires in the United States every single year. Have a professional with the right equipment do the job.
Remnants of a laundry room after a dryer vent fire.
- Your water heater needs to be flushed and drained every year. When heated, minerals can separate out of the water and cause sediment to form at the bottom. This causes a reduction in the capacity of the water heater and a reduction in efficiency. Bringing in a professional to drain and flush the heater will prolong its lifespan. This is even more important if you have a tankless water heater. In a tankless water heater, those minerals will stick to the heating element and if not maintained can cause a premature failure of the unit.
- Your house’s electrical system should also be completely checked over annually. Electricity can be very hazardous and outlets and light switches that go bad can start a house fire. Anything involving electricity should be left to the professionals. In the words of a lifelong electrician, “Electricity won’t only kill you, it’ll hurt the entire time”.
- Faithful readers will know that I see HVAC maintenance as a religion. I have written many other articles on the importance of properly taking care of our wonderful giver of cold and warm air. Again, an HVAC system is a major purchase, and we need to do everything we can to keep it in tip-top shape.
This blog by no means covers everything in your home that needs to be maintained on a regular basis, but I think it is a great starting point.