Every year, many homeowners don’t give importance to home maintenance which is too difficult for them. Forgetting to maintain your home can lead to significant damage over time, reducing its value and forcing you to spend extra money the next time you sell your house. Here are the ten home maintenance tasks you’re probably forgetting.
#1: Check For High Water Pressure
We all know that low water pressure is a sign of a problem somewhere in your pipes, but did you know that high water pressure is just as bad? It’s true – and that’s why you should check your water pressure at least once a year.
Why This Is A Problem: High water pressure causes water hammer (sounds when you suddenly shut off taps) and wastes water by shooting it out much faster than it needs to go. This can lead to significantly higher water bills throughout the year. Also, the increased pressure can damage pipes and appliances, causing hundreds of dollars in repair and replacement costs.
How To Fix This: Pressure sensors are widely available at home improvement stores. If you detect high water pressure, install a pressure-reducing valve to get things back to where they should be. These valves are usually (but not always) installed near the main shutoff.
#2: Clean Your Fridge’s Coils
When was the last time you peeked under or behind your fridge? If you can’t remember, chances are the heat-releasing coils are clogged with dust. Fortunately, this is an easy bit of home maintenance to do.
Why This Is A Problem: Clogged coils reduce the efficiency of a fridge by stopping heat from being released as efficiently. This means the compressor inside the fridge needs to do more work, raising your electricity bill and shortening the lifespan of the fridge.
How To Fix This: Clean the coils every 6-12 months, or more frequently if you have pets that shed a lot of furs. Start by using a vacuum to clear out the initial area, then use a coil-cleaning brush (available at hardware stores) to finish the job. Vacuums alone are not enough – unless you get the dust sticking to the coils, you’re not getting them clean enough.
#3: Drain Your Hot Water Heater
I want you to waste how many gallons? But seriously, you should do this at least once a year, though it helps if you can use the water for something else.
Why This Is A Problem: Over time, sediment can accumulate at the bottom of water heaters. This creates hot spots that can ultimately damage the tank and lead to earlier failure of the unit. Most companies don’t drain the water when they service a water heater.
How To Fix This: Drain the tank once a year. Start by turning off the main water supply to the house (so it doesn’t immediately refill), then use the faucet at the bottom of the tank to drain and collect the water. You don’t need to drain the tank dry, but you should try to get at least half the water out before you turn the main water line back on.
#4: Clean Your Dryer Vents
The good news is that lint is great for making fire starters. The bad news is that lint is great for making fire starters. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for dryer vents to get plugged up over time.
Why This Is A Problem: Clogged dryer vents can quickly lead to a buildup of heat that ignites the trapped lint. Extra lint in the lines isn’t the only possible problem, either – sometimes mice and rats will nest in the tube, while stuck flappers may prevent the lint from leaving as well as it should. This is especially dangerous in houses with long vents, since they’re harder to clean.
How To Fix This: Remove the vent from the back of the dryer. Suck up any lint you can reach with a vacuum cleaner. If you have long pipes – like those in any home with a centrally-located dryer – you may need to buy a cleaning kit at your local home improvement center.
#5: Check The Balance Of Your Garage Door
Well-balanced garage doors are great, but problems with the tension can cause serious issues over time.
Why This Is A Problem: A poorly-balanced garage door is more likely to fall or get stuck. This may cause nothing more than a scare… or it could send someone to the hospital. Either way, it’s better to resolve this before someone gets hurt.
How To Fix This: Check the tension by fully closing the door, then disconnecting the opener. Lift the garage door halfway up. It should stay in place. If it rises or falls, there’s a problem with the tension. Don’t try to adjust this yourself – tension systems are dangerous. Instead, call a professional to service the unit.
#6: Clean Window Weep Holes
Weep holes are the small holes found on the outside of most vinyl and sliding window frames. These holes allow water to safely drain away if it gets into the track. Unfortunately, these holes can be clogged by leaves, insects, and other bits of debris.
Why This Is A Problem: If water can’t drain out of the window tracks, it may overflow and start pouring into your house instead. Most windows are tight, but not waterproof, so you can’t rely on them to stop flooding this way. Fortunately, most windows don’t quickly accumulate debris, so you shouldn’t need to check for this issue more than once a year.
How To Fix This: Check each window from the inside, visually inspecting the holes to see if they’re open or not. If the window doesn’t open, check it by spraying water against the window from the outside and looking for the runoff. Use a small brush to clean any weep holes that need tending.
#7: Change The Smoke Alarm Batteries
This isn’t as important if your smoke alarms are wired into the house, but the batteries should be replaced on a regular basis. If the smoke alarm doesn’t work when it should, you may never get the chance to fix the issue. (Remember, batteries serve as backups for wired units in case your power goes out. Don’t neglect this home maintenance just because a unit is wired.)
Why This Is Important: Smoke detectors can help you avoid suffocating or burning to death if there’s a fire (say, from that dryer lint you haven’t cleaned out yet). Lifespans for batteries vary – some are clearly better than others – but you should replace them at least twice a year.
How To Fix This: Remove the cover of the smoke alarm and replace the batteries. This is as easy as maintenance tasks get.
#8: Clean Your Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals are a vital part of most kitchen sinks, but even they need maintenance now and then.
Why This Is A Problem: Dull, clogged garbage disposals can cause buildups in your sink and fill your house with the stench of rotting food. Not fun for anyone. Fortunately, the solution is simple.
How To Fix This: Create ice cubes by freezing white vinegar. Drop a handful of these into your garbage disposal, then run it until the cubes are chopped up and gone. The hard ice will sharpen the blades a bit – always good – while the vinegar will deodorize and clean the pipes.
#9: Replace Your Furnace Filter
Most homes have forced air heating (and occasionally cooling), and these systems are great – aside from keeping things at a comfortable temperature, they also make it easier to filter the air and keep it clean. Unfortunately, filters don’t last forever.
Why This Is A Problem: Dirty filters are no longer effective at cleaning the air of your home. Over time, this can lead to allergic reactions, coughing, and other health issues.
How To Fix This: Replace your furnace filter. These are usually located in the wall or ceiling, close to the furnace or A/C itself. Some furnaces have a filter inside the unit. Always use the same size of the filter like the one you’re replacing – these are clearly labeled on the outside.
#10: Inspect Your Attic
Finally, we get to the very top of your house. Guilty admission here: We never looked in the attic of my last residence during the 20 years or so we lived there until it was time for a home inspection. Fortunately, we didn’t have any problems when it came time to sell, but we really should have been checking.
Why This Is A Problem: Attics can become home to pests, grow mold, or collect water that damages the interior of your house. They can also let hot or cold air escape, significantly raising your energy bills.
How To Fix This: Check your attic every three months, preferably half the way through each season. If you see a problem – and many can occur – take care of it as soon as you can. Attic issues tend to get worse (and more expensive) over time, so it’s always better to quickly resolve it.