10 Home Maintenance Tasks You Typically Put Off or Ignore

Castel Nuovo, Naples
Far too many times, we “defer” maintenance on what is typically our largest asset. You know, the old castle? Well, your home needs some TLC just like your car needs it. You know you should perform these little maintenance tasks, but for some reason, you don’t. If you’re a first time home buyer, You especially need to make sure you know what to do to properly maintain your new home.

Chances are that at some point, you’re going to want to sell your home. My real estate agent told me that people generally stay in their homes seven years or less, so proper home maintenance will help you keep your home’s value at its maximum. Everyone knows they should periodically wash the windows and clean out the gutters and most people do at some point, but there are some other important home maintenance tasks that tend to get overlooked:

1. Drain your hot water heater. Draining your hot water heater is an easy way to remove any sediment that may be accumulating. Too much sediment and your lower heating element may not work efficiently. While you’re at it, make sure you have a water heater blanket to insulate the tank and prevent heat loss.

2. Clean out your dryer vent. A clear exhaust is a must for a properly functioning dryer. Too much lint build up can cause the premature failure of the bearings, elements, ignitors and other critical parts.

3. Clean your refrigerator coils. Those coils need to be kept free of dust so that the fridge operates efficiently. Clean out under the refrigerator while you’re at it.

4. Clean out your tub and shower drains with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Hair and soap scum can accumulate over time and make the drain very slow.

5. Clean and seal your deck and outdoor wood furniture. The constant exposure to UV rays, rain, and temperature extremes can cause neglected decks to fade, crack, split and warp. Not only does a properly-maintained deck look better, but it also lasts longer. This is a multi-day project, because there is a waiting time between the cleaning and the sealing (you’ll need to allow the wood dry completely before applying the sealer).

6. Replace the water supply lines to your washing machine with braided stainless-steel, burst-proof washing machine water supply hoses. State Farm estimates that bursting hoses cause $150 million in annual damages to homes in Canada and the US. One of my hoses burst, but thankfully we were at home when it happened and were able to turn the water off before there was any damage.

7. Replace your air filter monthly. When you’re running your AC or heater, it’s important to replace the air filter so that dust isn’t recycled throughout the home and the HVAC system.

8. Test all of your ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets monthly. If the GFCI doesn’t trip or reset, have the outlet changed by a professional electrician. These types of outlets are required around wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens to offer protection against shock should water come in contact with electricity.

9. Clear insulation from soffit vents. Check that insulation or other material is not blocking free air flow through soffit vents, gable vents, or other attic vents. If light from the outside shines through each vent into your darkened attic, then the vents are clear. Free flowing air insures that the temperature in your attic doesn’t reach oven levels and doesn’t cook your shingles from underneath.

10. Your septic tank needs annual attention. Have your septic system checked for sludge and scum accumulation in the tank, and have solids pumped out of the tank as needed. It will insure that you don’t get “back up” surprises when company comes over.

The most frugal thing you can do is take care of what you already have. Use these ideas to help you take care of your home and enjoy it even more. Many of these ideas can be inexpensive, yet provide real value.

What other tips can you think of that get ignored?

photo credit: jimmyharris

This post was included in The Carnival of Personal Finance #166 at Everyday Finance.

[tags]home, home maintenance, tips[/tags]

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