Okay, let’s assume all went well with your home purchase and you are now a real, grown-up, property tax paying home owner. Touchdown!! Spike the ball, do your victory dance and revel in your real estate owning glory! Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the most important tasks of owning a home: Maintenance.
I know, it’s not sexy. But proper maintenance of your home will pay off big time in the long haul, whether it’s a higher asking price when it’s time to sell, fewer repair requests during the negotiations of your sale or the just the money you keep by avoiding larger problems caused by deferred maintenance.
“So how do I properly maintain my home?” you ask? It’s really not complicated. The first thing you need to do is actually look at your house. Seeing something every day causes people to stop really SEEING it. So, every time the seasons change (it’s just four times a year, for crying out loud), walk around your home, inside and out and look at your house. What are you looking for? Let’s start with the exterior:
- Chipped or peeling paint. On anything. Trim, siding, soffit and fascia… whatever is painted. Once the paint starts to deteriorate, the protection it affords the materials underneath is compromised.
- Missing roof covering. Most homes have composition-style shingles, so see if there are any shingles that have been blown off or damaged. If you’d like an expert’s opinion, do yourself a favor: DO NOT call your home owner’s insurance agency first. Most roofing companies (at least in this area of the country) will come out and take a look for free. If you call your insurance company first, they will have to generate a claim just to be able to send an adjuster out to have a look. Claims = rising premiums.
- While we’re talking roofs… how do those gutters look? They need to be free of debris, well secured and discharge in a well drained area.
- Cracked or missing caulking. Exterior trim is usually sealed at the edges with caulking. If yours is cracked or missing, grab a fresh tube and re-seal it. Caulking is super cheap and seals out water and pests, such as bees. Those little suckers can get into the tiniest of spaces.
- Cracks in mortar. Most homes with brick exteriors will see some type of cracking in the mortar. These can be pointed up, however, if the cracking seems severe or gets worse over time, call a Home Inspector to check it out.
- Keep shrubbery trimmed back away from your house and away from your air conditioner’s condenser. Branches can cause premature wear to the exterior of your home and shrubs or debris around your condenser can interfere with your AC’s efficiency and operation.
- If you have a pier and beam foundation, check out the concrete stem wall that should be visible from the exterior of the house. If you see cracking or spalling, which is the breaking off of parts of the wall into fragments, you may want to call a foundation repair company. Especially if this is accompanied by floors that feel “bouncy” or are unlevel.
That’s a good basic check of the exterior. Now… we’re going in!
- Look at your major appliances: Heaters, AC units and water heaters are routinely neglected completely until they stop working. At least four times a year you should take a good look at the exterior of these appliances. Is there any water in the emergency drain pans at the heater or water heater? If there is, that means trouble! Call an appliance repair person (or home warranty company) immediately and stop using that appliance until a professional gives you the green light. I should mention here that it is also important to regularly change the filter on your HVAC system.
- It never hurts to have a reputable HVAC company come and inspect your heater and AC once a year. They have the knowledge to alert you to potential problems on the horizon.
- Test those smoke/carbon monoxide detectors! Wait… are you one of those people who removed their smoke detectors and never put them back? Are you?? You did a bad thing! You go to the store right now, get fresh batteries and put them back! I can’t believe you! I don’t even know you anymore. (Just kidding, but really I’m not.)
- Test your windows and look for cracked panes, or panes that have lost their seal. The tell tale sign of a loss of the window’s seal is cloudiness and condensation between the panes. Make sure each bedroom has at least one operable window, in case emergency exit is needed. Replace any cracked or missing caulking on the interior trim.
- Look in your attic. CAREFULLY! Attics without decking can be difficult or dangerous to get around in for folks who aren’t used to doing so. Even a professional like my husband had to fix a ceiling he stepped through once, because insulation concealed the end of a walkway. Look for water stains, signs of pests such as squirrels or raccoons – we’ve even seen bees – and rafters that are deflecting, or bowing downward. This could indicate a need for additional support. If you feel out of your depth here, you can call a Home Inspector to check it out for you.
- If you have a crawl space under your home, rather than a concrete slab, it’s a good idea once a year or so to make sure your plumbing is in good shape and not leaking. It’s also important to insulate your water lines, if you live in an area that drops below freezing in winter.
- Look under your sinks. If you see leaking drains, or green/white corrosion on water supply cutoffs, get those addressed right away. Make sure the water lines themselves look to be in good condition. Water damage and flooding are a nightmare for home owners and also can cause insurance premiums to rise.
As a Home Inspector it behooves me and my profession to insert a shameless plug here and point out that a yearly home inspection can be extremely beneficial to a home owner. Using the same Home Inspector every year can ensure uniformity of reporting, which can allow you to compare the reports as time goes on and see if there are any issues that appear to be getting worse.
So, people, let’s keep those eyes peeled and avoid the problems and costs that can be associated with neglecting your house. That isn’t to say that problems can’t arise with no warning. They absolutely can. So do everything within your power to swing the odds in your favor by taking good care of the place you call home.
Thanks again for stopping by. Please do Pin, Like and share on your social media of choice and feel free to reach out by comment below or email at thehomeinspectorlady.com . As always, I wish you a safe and healthy home!