If you own a home, you’re likely already familiar with the fact that the joys of home ownership go hand in hand with the jobs of home ownership. While building equity in a property is truly a wonderful thing, your home owning journey will be paved with busted water heaters, leaky roofs, and air conditioners that just won’t keep you cool. And although these costs are eventually inevitable (they really don’t make ‘em like they used to) there are steps you can take to prevent unexpected home disasters. Here’s a look at the top home maintenance tasks you should be checking off your list every single year in order to keep your house up-to-date and crisis-free.
1.) Clean Your Gutters
“Water is your home’s worst enemy,” says Angie Hicks Co-Founder of Angie’s List. And at the top of the home maintenance list is checking and cleaning your gutters. “Backed up and overflowing gutters can do a lot of harm other than getting you wet when entering and exiting your home during a rainstorm,” says Tom Kraeutler, host of The Money Pit Home Improvement Show & Podcast. Clogged gutters are also the #1cause of basement leaks – a condition so serious that many potential home buyers won’t even consider a home with a history of flooding, he says. The good news is it’s relatively inexpensive to keep the gutters clean. “Hire a professional who will come in with a swat team, and they’ll have them clean in no time,” says Kraeutler
Average Yearly Cost to Maintain: It typically costs around $250 to have gutters professionally cleaned, per Kraeutler.
2.) Mind the Mold
Mold can be one of the most damaging toxins that homeowners face. Luckily, it is relatively easy to get rid of mold in small quantities, says Kraeutler. “Unfortunately, it can quickly escalate to a size and scope that can make you really sick and require expensive professional remediation to remove it and prevent it,” he says. Early action is key. “Taking steps to reduce moisture, lessen humidity, clean up leaks quickly, and cleaning small patches of mold before they become big problems is the best way to avoid a full-scale mold scare,” he says.
Average Yearly Cost to Maintain: For areas no bigger than a few feet, $5 for a bottle of mold cleaner should do the trick, he says.
3.) Raise the Roof (and Keep it There)
Do a visual inspection of your roof from the ground. “If you find something suspicious or see missing shingles, go ahead and have a roof rep look at it,” Hicks says. Then you’ll be prepared before the next storm hits. Thankfully, most insurance companies will cover roof damage if its weather-related, says Marcia Montogomery a realtor with ReMax Southern Homes. So it’s always a good idea to check your policy first because the damage might be covered. “Next, do a visual of the landscaping up against the house and trim any bushes and foliage that are resting up against the house or on the roof,” Hicks says. This keeps critters from coming inside your home, and prevents them having party in your attic.
Average Yearly Cost to Maintain: A typical roof inspection costs between $100-$300 on average.
4.) Service Your HVAC
It’s best to have your unit serviced twice a year, during which time the experts will ensure your filters are clean and everything is running efficiently, Montgomery says. Many HVAC companies offer service plans that include regular biannual tune-ups. “An added benefit to having a service plan with an HVAC company is that they typically give you priority scheduling should the furnace go out in the dead of winter,” says Hicks.
Yearly Cost to Maintain: Filters for your unit typically run about $5-20 on average, and a service plan that includes yearly tune-ups typically costs between $150-$300, says Montgomery.
5.) Check Your Chimney
If you’re going to use the fireplace, be sure everything is in good working order and there’s no buildup in the chimney. An annual checkup by a professional chimney sweep is recommended, says Hicks. “You certainly don’t want to build the first fire of the season only to find out a bird’s nest or a racoon even has been hiding in the chimney,” says Hicks.
Yearly Cost to Maintain: A basic annual chimney sweep costs between $125-$250. Expect to pay more if you have animals (dead or alive) that have to be removed.
6.) Avoid Buildup in Your Hot Water Heater
It’s recommended to drain a gallon of water from your hot water heater a few times a year, says Hicks. “Mineral sediment can build up over time, and it’s simple enough that you can do-it-yourself,” she says.
Yearly Cost to Maintain: Free if you DIY.
7.) Inspect the Hoses on Your Washing Machine
Oftentimes people forget about checking the hoses on the washing machine, says Hicks. “These can get dry and brittle over time and eventually can cause major damage, especially if the washing machine is on the second story,” says Hicks.
Yearly Cost to Maintain: Hoses typically cost in the $10-$20 range at a local hardware store, says Hicks.
8.) Step Up the Insulation
Most homes do not have enough insulation, says Kraeutler. “Insulation standards change from year to year, and in older homes, the insulation tends to settle over time, so it’s important to check your insulation levels to be sure you have enough,” he says. The amount you need depends on the climate where you live, and the Department of Energy provides an excellent resource to find out more. Your attic is the most important place to insulate, and a well-insulated house will save you money year-round by ensuring your mechanicals run at optimum efficiency. “The options for home insulation are endless these days, from tried-and-true fiberglass, cellulose, stone wool, to one of my favorites: spray foam insulation,” says Kraeutler. Be sure to also check insulation around doors and windows with the candle method, says Hicks. “If a lit candle flickers near doors and windows, [ due to a blowing draft ] then you’ll want to add weather stripping to increase insulation.”
Yearly Cost to Maintain: A full attic insulation can cost around $2,000, or between $1.50 and $3.50 per foot to insulate an attic depending on what insulation material you choose, according to Home Advisor.
If An Unexpected Home Emergency Happens to Arise
On the off chance you have a major flood or any other home emergency, there are certain steps you’ll want to take. “First, make sure everyone is safe, then begin the clean up process,” says Hicks. Don’t panic. Stay calm and start reaching out to folks and specialists who can help. “Don’t hire the wrong person on the fly, and be sure to get estimates before deciding on a contractor,” she says.
More on HerMoney:
- Smart Strategies to Save on Homeowners Insurance
- 5 Things to Do Now To Sell Your Home This Year
- Top Tips for Protecting Your Assets
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