Your home is the place where you and your family spend most of your time. This means your home faces a lot of wear and tear from continual use over the years. In order to keep your home in great shape and continue to enjoy it without incurring large repair costs, it’s a best practice to develop proactive and planned home maintenance habits.
Getting into the routine of regularly inspecting your home for damage, performing repairs and upgrades as needed and generally maintaining your home’s cleanliness can save you a lot of time and money when something major goes wrong.
Depending on the size and age of your home, you may need a more rigorous home maintenance regimen or you may need a basic upkeep plan for your home. No matter what your situation might be, dedicating a portion of your time to regularly caring for your home is essential to maintaining or even improving its quality and longevity.
Common and Costly Home Problems
By adhering to a home maintenance plan and prioritizing the upkeep of your home, you can avoid many costly home repairs throughout the course of your home ownership. Without performing routine maintenance, you may be faced with the following common and expensive home problems:
- Basement and Foundation
Your basement is part of your home’s building envelope, meaning it’s what protects the inside of your home from the exterior’s potentially harsh elements. A well-maintained and cared-for basement will prevent water damage from outdoor moisture or rainwater flooding. In turn, this can also help to prevent your foundation from freezing and cracking, which can create leaks and water damage to your basement and its contents.
Repairs to your home’s foundation require specialized contractors and can cost upwards of $10,000 or more. By performing regular inspections of your home’s basement and foundation, you can catch and repair any risky damages before they become too costly.
- Roof and Attic
Another massive component of your home’s building envelope is the roof. Your roof is exposed to elements and can incur serious wear and tear over time. Performing repairs as needed to your roof can protect your attic from mold and mildew buildup and can keep out insects and other critters. Additionally, ensuring that your attic remains well-insulated can protect your home from energy loss and mold growth, as well.
Costs for roof repairs and replacements can reach the thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the extent of the damage.
- Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts are designed to protect your home from water damage and debris by collecting and directing it away from your home. If gutters aren’t cleaned regularly they can become backed-up, which can cause them to become damaged or not function properly. Downspouts should also be regularly inspected for damage. They should also be placed so that they direct water away from your home’s foundation by at least 10 feet in order to prevent basement flooding.
Gutters and downspouts work together to protect your roof and basement from eventual costly repairs, so it’s important to maintain these regularly
- Home Exterior
Your home’s exterior also faces exposure to the elements, and is a part of your building envelope as well. Siding or stucco may become cracked and damaged. This opens up opportunities for water damage, rot and insect invasions. It can also create drafts and cause energy loss. These are all costly consequences of improper maintenance.
- Windows and Doors
In older homes especially, the caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors can loosen and peel off. This creates problems like air drafts, which increase your heating and cooling costs. Cracks and splits in windows and doors can also invite in water and moisture, which can lead to further damage and mold buildup.
By regularly examining the integrity of your doors and windows from the interior and the exterior, you can make smaller repairs as needed to prevent water damage and heat or cold loss.
Bathrooms are another area of your home that are prone to water damage. Problems such as leaking faucets and toilets that continue to run will create the risk of water pooling and spilling. As more moisture builds and water collects, it can lead to mold and mildew and can damage flooring, tiles and fixtures. Additionally, it’s a waste of water and can lead to risks such as electric shock if water invades electrical outlets.
Look for any signs of leaks or too much moisture around vanities and toilets and ensure that you repair these immediately. This type of complete home plumbing maintenance in your home will prevent you from having to replace flooring and fixtures due to water damage.
- Laundry Room
The laundry room has its own risks of costly damages, as well. Water damage can result from loose or leaking washer hoses. The dryer vent and lint trap must also be properly maintained and cleaned regularly to prevent fire.
Ensuring that your washer and dryer or utility sinks are properly maintained and functioning can ensure better energy and water efficiency, too. This is especially important with dryers, which can take longer to dry items when not properly maintained.
Older homes in particular face several risks with fireplaces that aren’t properly maintained. Older fireplaces can create smoke, odors and soot, which accumulate when the fireplace itself and the chimney are not cleaned regularly. Additionally, if the masonry around the fireplace is crumbling, this could be an indication of water damage seeping in from the chimney flashing on the roof.
By installing carbon monoxide detectors, performing routine cleanings and repairing the chimney flashing, you can prevent costly damage as well as health threats.
Without proper routine maintenance on your home’s HVAC system, it can create costly problems such as fire risk, water damage and poor energy efficiency. It’s important to regularly replace HVAC filters, check water heater thermostat settings and replace hot water tanks at the end of their life cycle. This will help you to avoid costly repairs to your home and save you money on your heating and cooling costs.
- Sewer and Septic
Poorly maintained sewer and septic systems can lead to inconvenient and costly problems like clogged or slow drains, basement flooding and strong or foul odors. In order to prevent severe damage or septic system failures, it’s important to regularly unclog drains as they start to show signs of draining slowly. Performing routine cleaning of your septic tank can also help to prevent future damages.
- Electric System
Many older homes have electrical systems that aren’t up to today’s codes and standards. This presents a risk of fire and electrocution. Routine inspection of electrical outlets and circuits will help identify any lingering problems that can become a fire hazard.
Benefits of Regular and Planned Home Maintenance
There are many reasons to perform regular planned home maintenance, including the following benefits for your home and budget:
Improving Home Value: When it comes time to sell your home, your maintenance routines will really pay off. Home buyers typically look for homes that have been well-maintained so that costly repairs and problems aren’t passed along to them as the new owners.
Enhancing Lifespan of Building Materials: Routine home maintenance can prevent costly damage to your windows, doors, siding, gutters, roof and other building materials that would otherwise need to be replaced. By prioritizing the maintenance of your home, you can extend the lifespan of building materials and therefore won’t have to pay to replace them as frequently. This is also an important practice for protecting the environment from added waste.
Maintaining and Improving Your Home’s Appearance: Another important benefit of properly maintaining your home is that it can sustain or enhance your home’s appearance over time. Without proper maintenance, homes can begin to look run-down and ill-cared-for over time.
Identifying and Fixing Problems Before Costly Damage Occurs: By dedicating a portion of your time to performing routine maintenance, you’ll be able to pay closer attention to your home and identify current problems that may develop into greater risks of damage. This can help you save great amounts of time and money simply by being proactive and making repairs and fixes on an ongoing basis.
Consequences of Poor Maintenance
With so many important benefits for getting into a planned home maintenance groove, you can start to see where poor maintenance habits can be detrimental.
Here are some of the consequences of failing to maintain your home:
- Poor energy and water efficiency, which wastes money
- High repair costs as degree of damage increases
- Run-down appearance and loss of curb appeal
- Possible decrease in home value
- Shortened building material lifespan
- Lowered functionality, such as fixtures not working properly or windows and doors letting in drafts and moisture
Tips for Staying on Top of Your Home Maintenance
If you want to implement a home maintenance plan, here are some tips to help you stay on top of it so you can prevent costly damages and repairs. By identifying the maintenance items that occur more frequently than others, you can create a schedule that will make planned home maintenance easier and more efficient.
- Inspect and change HVAC filters: You may not need to change your HVAC filters each month, but inspecting them monthly can help give you a better idea of when they will need to be changed.
- Clean range hood filters: By regularly cleaning your range hood filter, you can ensure that it continues to work properly. It also helps prevent the job from becoming difficult, as the grease can really build up and make it even harder to clean.
- Clean garbage disposal in kitchen sink: If you frequently use your garbage disposal in your kitchen sink, you may notice a buildup of grime as well as possible odors. To prevent this from happening and improve the functionality of your garbage disposal, freeze vinegar in an ice cube tray and run the frozen vinegar cubes through the disposal monthly.
- Run water and flush toilets in unused areas: If you have any sinks, showers or toilets that aren’t used frequently, like in guest rooms, it’s important to test them and let them run to prevent grime and septic gasses from accumulating.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: For safety purposes, it’s important to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once every four months using the “test” function. If the alarm doesn’t sound, replace the batteries right away.
- Clean gutters: Clean out gutters by removing leaves and debris. Also, check for any damages and make any necessary repairs immediately.
- Check outside drainage: Check to make sure that your home’s downspouts are flowing away from the foundation and that pools of water aren’t accumulating near your home’s foundation.
- Make repairs to your home’s exterior: If you have any siding or stucco that has cracked over the winter, or any chipping paint, be sure to fix these issues during the spring. Examine your windows and doors and fill in caulking or replace screens as needed.
- Inspect your roof for leaks: Over the winter, your roof may have suffered some damage. Check to see if there are any leaks in your roof and make repairs immediately.
- Test your air conditioning system: Depending on the type of air conditioning system you have, you may want to test it in the spring to ensure it’s in working condition for when you’ll need it in the summer.
- Check bathroom or kitchen tiles: If your tiles are loosening, it’s important to have them re-grouted in order to extend their lifespan and improve their appearance.
- Check plumbing: Investigate your bathroom faucets, showers and toilets and repair minor leaks. Make this practice part of your complete home plumbing maintenance plan.
- Clean and repair your deck or patio: To get your deck or patio in usable condition, be sure to power wash and re-stain the deck flooring as needed.
- Prepare your heating system for winter: Check for drafts from windows and doors and add weather stripping and insulation as needed.
- Flush hot water heater: Hot water heaters build up sediment that can render it ineffective. Have your water heater flushed to clean it out and get it working for the winter.
- Repair pavement: If your driveway and walkways have cracks in the pavement, repairs these before winter hits.
- Turn off outdoor faucets: Flush excess water from outdoor faucets and shut them off over the winter.
- Remove icicles: Inspect your home throughout the winter for icicles. Remove icicles and ice dams as soon as possible to prevent damage to your home and to people.
- Clean shower heads: Remove all the shower heads and clean any sediment buildup.
- Test electrical system: Check to make sure all outlets are working properly. This includes the GFCI outlets near sinks and water sources.
- Check locks on doors and windows: Ensure that all your door deadbolts and window locking mechanisms are functioning properly.
- Clean refrigerator coils: Move your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum out the coils. This can help improve its efficiency and save money on utilities.
- Test your water heater valve: Your water heater will have a pressure relief valve that may accumulate debris or corrode over time. Test it to make sure it’s working, in order to improve energy efficiency.
Prioritizing Planned Home Maintenance
Making time to maintain your home and prevent damages is an important habit to get into. By dividing up your regular home maintenance in West Shore and scheduling these items in, the tasks seem less overwhelming. You can accomplish more by understanding which items require more time than others and planning ahead of time when to perform these tasks.
By committing to regular upkeep, you can ensure that you’re optimizing your home value, maintaining your home’s appearance and saving money on otherwise costly damages or inefficiencies. We at Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning are equipped to provide you with the professional help you may need. Whether it’s a home plumbing maintenance in Carlisle, an A/C tune-up in Harrisburg, or heating maintenance on the West Shore, we’ve got you covered in Central PA. Give us a call at Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning at 717-697-3528