Homeownership comes with many benefits but it also brings with it an equal amount of responsibilities. Properly maintaining your home is very important and while it can feel like a burden if you stay on top of it and take precautionary measures you can lessen the cost of maintenance in the long run while protecting or increasing your property value.
While you’re searching for your home and evaluating the budget you’ll need to afford the home it’s also very important to factor in the cost of maintenance. Some months you may have no additional costs but on the other side it can live up to the old adage of “when it rains it pours”. This is why having a savings or maintenance fund is very important.
Depending on how handy you are or how willing you are to learn you may be able to save money doing maintenance yourself. With that said if you are ever uncomfortable or don’t have experience with a maintenance project always defer to a professional. If you don’t have the phone number for an electrician, plumber, HVAC specialist or handyman call your Realtor, they typically partner closely with these tradesmen.
Where to start?
So where do you even start with home maintenance? Here in Minnesota a good rule of thumb is to start with the seasons. We have some of the most extreme fluctuations between seasons than any other place in the country.
Spring is going to require more work than any other season. Emerging from the brutally long winter usually uncovers surprises. If you bought your home during the winter and it’s your first spring there might be a lot of surprises. If you or the previous homeowner completed the proper fall and winter maintenance then there will be less to deal with.
One of the most important things to do in spring is to clean your gutters. If you have a one story house or if you have easy access to the roof this can be done yourself with the use of a step or extension ladder, gloves, and a hose. If you have a two story or taller house it might be best to call a professional. Why is cleaning your gutters important? Water is a powerful force and when it rains all that water needs to go somewhere. Routing it away from your foundation prevents water from entering and damaging your home.
You’ll also want to clear your property of any debris that may have collected during the winter. When that snowplow comes along it might have dumped more than snow. Don’t be surprised if you find trash, sticks, leaves, and other miscellaneous debris. You will also want to check any window wells or low lying areas for additional leaves and debris, if you you completed proper fall maintenance than this should be minimal.
You will also want to start preparing for summer by having your Air Conditioning unit maintenanced. You probably won’t be thinking of last summer but your A/C probably ran for months only to be shut down and neglected during the winter. That first heat wave can come quickly and you want to be ready.
There are many other spring cleaning activities but generally inspecting the property and cleaning things like windows, screens, and window sills are a good idea. While inspecting the property you might find things like damaged siding or roofing that will need to be repaired.
Summer is a great time for lawncare and landscape. Much of this isn’t very expensive it’s just time consuming. Make sure to mow your lawn regularly and during the real hot months and try to mow in the evening time, this allows your lawn time to recover from being cut before the sun beats down on it again. Watering your lawn is also important during the hot months however the morning is the best time to water your lawn.
Summer is also a good time for big projects. While it can be hot this is usually when most people add that deck, fence, or retaining wall. The days are longer and dryer so this is the ideal time for big projects.
If you have big oak or maple trees in your lawn you know fall is a time for lots of raking. Getting a good leaf blower will help ease this burden. If you have a big yard having your lawn mower retrofitted with a leaf bagger will make this easier.
Packing up your hose and flushing the spigot are essential in colder climates. You don’t want to crack your hose or even worse have your spigot burst.
Preparing for winter is crucial because once that weather comes it can be impossible to complete even basic outdoor maintenance.
During the cold months you’ll notice if there are drafts coming in around windows. Caulking the trim around poorly insulated windows will help reduce drafting. If you live in an older house you may want to consider 3M window film to help retain heat.
When shoveling, snowblowing, or plowing snow keep in mind where that water will be draining to once it melts. If you have a big pile of snow right next to a window well you might have water entering your home come spring time. Also keep your eye out for ice dams on your roof. This can not only be dangerous but it also a sign of improper attic insulation. You may want to add insulation in your attic if you have ice dams.
Winter is a great time for maintenance of your appliances however these should be maintained throughout the year. remove lint from your dryer exhaust vent, clean your refrigerator coils, and purge your hot water heater for sediment.
This is far from a complete list of the items you should be watching and maintaining. There are things you should be doing year round such as changing your furnace filter. You might say it should only be done in winter because that when you use your furnace but that’s incorrect. If your vents are pushing A/C, heat, or just circulating air it is flowing through your furnace filter. Make sure to change it ever 1-3 months.
Adding salt to your water softener is also important. If you run out of alt and your softener continues to run it can damage or possibly destroy the unit.
If you have any questions about home maintenance or need the name and number of a local plumber, electrician, HVAC Specialist, handyman, or contractor please give me a call today, I’m happy to help.
Thanks for reading!