Home Maintenance Tips

Not only can little maintenance issues become expensive and turn into major repairs, but nowadays problems that first or second time home buyers might have overlooked can be huge liabilities when it comes time to sell.

Here are a few tips to that may help save you some time and money as you maintain your house.


Winter Time

Clean the vents behind your dryer. Hardware stores usually carry kits to help in this. Cost: $15 to $45

Check your furnace filter. Changing it once or twice a year helps the unit operate more efficiently. Cost: $8 to $20 each

May sure your sump pump is clean and pumping properly before spring. Mold and high humidy conditions can exist if this doesn't work right.

Remove and reinstall storm windows to make sure they fit properly.

Vacuum the refrigerator condenser coils-usually located on the bottom or on the back of the fridge.

Use your stuck-indoors time to knock off some annual fire prevention tasks.  You need to change batteries ($6 for two nine-volt one) in smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide alarms twice a year.

At the same time, test your smoke detectors; use a smoke-in-a-can product ($9) or blow out a candle underneath them.


Spring Time

Schedule an inspection and cleaning of your chimney once the heating season ends; that's when many companies offer a discount.  Cost: $100 to $300 depending on the layout of your chimney.

Inspect your home's exterior for loose siding or trim, cracks and crumbling mortar caused by harsh winter weather, and examine your attic for any signs of leaks.  Air leaks, of course, cause the A/C and heat unit to run more.

Wash and treat (or paint) wood decks to prevent cracking before barbecue season arrives.  Cost: about $50 to $75 for fire gallons of sealer.

Make an appointment to get your air-conditioning system professionally inspected and adjusted before the temperature hits 80 degrees.  Cost: $75 to $175 per year for an HVAC service contract.



Rainy Spring?  Look for signs of leaks and moisture in your basement, which can cause mold, fungus, and rust.  Water on the wall probably indicates a bad downspout or grading that's sloping toward the house.  This can easily overwhelm an air conditioning system.  Average cost for inspection - $75 to $100.

Check the caulking around tubs, showers, toilets, and sinks to make sure moisture can't penetrate.  If the caulking is black, that means mildew has gotten below it-replace it right away or risk water damage to the floor beneath.

Dog days of summer?  Your heating system can take a break in the off-season, so drain and refill your hot-water heater to remove sediment.

Replace the filter on your central air-conditioning system twice a year to make it more efficient.  Cost: $8 to $20 each.



Check your attic for holes or thin spots in the insulation, and make sure the caulking around doors and windows doesn't leak.  Bonus:   A well-insulated attic, ceilings, and walls can lower your energy bills by 30%.  If you're in a area that freezes, have your sprinkler system professionally blown out-water in the pipes can freeze and cause damage.  Take down garden hoses, drain and store, and put insulation around spoits.  Cost for the average home: about $100 to $200.  (Cost for re-pairs: $250 to $800)

Check and clean gutters to keep them free of debris.  If you have a lot of trees on your property, install a product like a Gutter-Brush guard (gutterbrush.com) to keep leaves and flotsam from accumulating.  Cost: $200 to $400 for a 2,000 square foot home.

Three easy ways to increase you energy efficiency:

  • Cover the exterior of window air conditioners.
  • Vacuum your baseboard heaters, cold-air returns, and vents to remove dust.
  • Install foam gaskets behind outlets and switch plates to prevent cold air and leaking in through the gaps. 

Benefit: a heating bill that's up to 10% smaller.












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