U.S. News reports that on average, homeowners will spend between 1 to 4 percent of a home’s value annually on maintenance and repairs, and the costs tend to increase as the house ages. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but there are ways to minimize those costs by investing time in preventative home maintenance.
It’s hard to overstate how important regular home maintenance is to your comfort and budget. We ignore preventative maintenance at our peril, but it can be difficult to know what needs to be addressed. Getting yourself on a schedule that spreads the job out over the course of the year can be a great approach, and there are plenty of checklists for DIYers online.
There are many details to consider as part of a preventative maintenance plan, but some are truly critical. Consider the following cheap-to-maintain items that can cause big repair bills if left unattended:
#1: Moisture is NOT Your Friend
Water does more damage to houses than anything else, and it usually happens over a relatively long period of time. Even small leaks, left unrepaired, lead to mold and mildew, rot, and eventually termites and carpenter ants. Avoiding potentially expensive repairs is easy with regular monitoring of plumbing and drainage systems.
Watch for leaks! If this is neglected, the damage can be extensive. Long-term drips will ruin the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and can run down into the floor sheathing and joists underneath. This can require a structural repair, plus new cabinets and new kitchen flooring.
Water getting in from outside is a threat as well. Poorly maintained shingles can let moisture in, eventually causing the roof to rot and allowing water to damage ceilings and walls inside. A new roof can cost upwards of $20,000, while a quick shingle replacement and spot repairs are just a few hundred.
For interior damage, the best prevention is vigilance. Keep your eyes open for dark spots under pipes inside sink cabinets, stains on ceilings, toilets that rock, and drips anywhere. Inspect your roof at least once a year, and fix leaks immediately.
#2: Foundation is King
One of the most expensive home repairs possible is caused by water. The foundation is key to the structural integrity of the home, and keeping it dry is a must. Without that, serious cracks and uneven settling can occur, requiring excavation work that can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 and up.
Preventing this is very inexpensive, and again, is founded on vigilance. Make sure the soil around your house slopes away from your foundation walls. The slope should be at least 6 inches over 10 feet, and rain gutter downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from the house.
Keep those rain gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris. Keep sprinklers from watering the house, and watch for drips from outdoor faucets. Moisture causes structural damage, rot, mildew, and insects.
#3: Have Your Appliances Been Recalled?
Major appliances are a big part of the home’s everyday operations, and avoiding a breakdown is a worthy goal. Regular maintenance is key, and another consideration is manufacturer recalls. The Consumer Products Safety Commission monitors appliance recalls and related accidents, and posts millions of recalls annually. Faulty appliances catch fire at a surprising rate, causing millions in property damage each year.
Regular maintenance and common sense safety practices will prevent many issues, but the majority of appliance fires are not caused by human error. Rather, they are caused by a product defect, usually related to wiring. If a fire starts when no one is home, the damage to property can be devastating.
Avoiding this nightmare scenario is easy. Write down the model and serial number of each appliance, then check at www.recalls.gov for information on current recalls and what action to take if something you own is involved. Recheck periodically, and breathe easier.
#4: Don’t Forget Your Water Heater
Often neglected, the water heater has a lifespan of about 10-15 years, depending on the model. This is increased with some simple preventative home maintenance that is also often neglected.
Water heaters should be drained once a year to release any buildup of minerals and checked for leaks. That’s it. Doing this can prevent the need for a new unit, which can cost anywhere from $800 to several thousand.
#5: Don’t Sweat it Out
We’ve all commiserated with friends whose AC conked out on the hottest day of the year, or who were without heat when the thermometer took a nosedive in winter. The HVAC system is one of the most critical –and expensive- components of the home, and failure is usually due to lack of maintenance.
One of the simplest and cheapest preventative home maintenance tasks is changing the HVAC filters. They are easy to change and cost around $20. This can prevent a variety of problems and make your unit run more efficiently as well. At least once a year –twice yearly in harsh climates- have the unit professionally inspected and serviced for worry-free operation.
Maintain Your Home with Ease
If you don’t have the time or energy to monitor your home yourself, it is well worth the cost to hire a professional to do it for you. A service like Glasshouse, that provides complete management of your home maintenance, can protect your budget from a big repair bill. Learn more at Glasshouse.com today!