Oh yes, it’s a thing ‑and it’s a thing worth talking about. Preventative maintenance differs from maintenance in the general sense, and understanding the distinction can save you a lot of angst.
Many of us think of maintenance as “fixing things,” and indeed that is one way to look at it. When the roof leaks, we repair it. When a fuse blows, we replace it. When the dryer catches fire, we get a new one and buy a fire extinguisher… Any time something goes wrong or an issue arises, there are options for repair or replacement.
That is part of taking care of a house. There’s often an element of surprise involved —the drain hose for the washer bursts at 3 a.m., sending a surprising cascade of water across the kitchen and into the family room, for example. While such hijinks may be entertaining for some, most of us prefer a bit more predictability in our home life.
Looking Beyond Reactionary Maintenance
All kidding aside, homeowners can really simplify their lives if they look beyond the sort of reactionary maintenance we’ve been talking about and focus instead on preventative maintenance.
This is maintenance, including tests, measurements, adjustments, parts replacement, and cleaning, performed specifically to prevent faults from occurring. It involves monitoring and inspecting in order to head off problems before they occur.
So in our washing machine scenario above, regular inspection of the drain hose which connects the washer to the drain (usually in the wall) would have detected any hardening of the hose that might lead to cracking. Then the hose could be replaced, at a cost of about $8.
On the other hand, responding to the burst hose would require replacing the hose (cost, $8) as well as emergency water abatement. Depending on your flooring and the extent of the damage, you could be looking at a fairly steep bill.
It Won’t Happen to Me
And yet for many of us, preventative maintenance isn’t really on the radar. This doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider how much more convenient and cost-effective it is than the alternative. Without proper maintenance, even the best systems and appliances will fail; it’s just a matter of time.
I Can’t Afford it Right Now
Ignoring regular maintenance may seem like a way to put off spending money, but as the laundry room saga has shown us, waiting until there’s a problem nearly always results in much higher costs.
I Don’t Know Where to Start
For a lot of us, the first time we really notice our water heater is when our morning shower is a sub-zero experience that leaves our teeth chattering. When we buy a replacement, we may pick up on the manufacturer’s advice on draining and flushing the tank periodically to extend the life of the appliance.
“This is easy! It just takes an hour or so. I wish I’d known about this before. What else am I missing?” This is a common mental exercise that may follow. It’s true that few homeowners are aware of —or have time to complete— all of the tasks that should be part of regular home maintenance. In many cases, this leads them to neglect maintenance tasks that could save them considerable grief and cash.
So hit-and-miss home maintenance is certainly easy to understand, particularly when you consider all of the other obligations that come with modern life. The point is: preventative maintenance is SO worth it, both in terms of the household budget and the sanity of its occupants. It can be difficult to find the time to take care of these details, but every little bit helps.
A Practical Solution
It also helps to have reliable professionals to handle jobs that are too complex for Mr. or Ms. Average. This can present a challenge as well: getting references, making calls, scheduling service all take time. The ideal solution is to have someone who takes the whole job off your hands —a manager that coordinates care for the entire home, makes regular visits, deals with workers, and keeps you up to date on your home’s condition.
Glasshouse assigns just such a manager to every client, so you can leave the details in their capable hands. They’ll keep problems at bay with the preventative maintenance that your house needs.