As a new homeowner, one of your major responsibilities will be taking care of routine home maintenance, and it’s a job that can’t be ignored. You can delay improvements and upgrades until you’re financially ready but skipping minor repairs could end up costing you thousands of dollars—or more—down the road.
Here are some of the biggest home maintenance tasks you shouldn’t put off.
Inspect your gutters and grading
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI®) says, “a few inches of rain falling on the roof of a house can produce several thousand gallons of water runoff.” This runoff must be channeled away from a home’s foundation or InterNACHI® says, “the excess water can quickly saturate the soil surrounding the building and wick through the foundation to the interior.”
That’s why Jason Murton with Accurate Inspections LLC, says one of a homeowner’s most important “to-dos” should be to routinely check their home’s drainage system.
“At least twice a year—typically in the spring and fall—make it a priority to clean your gutters and check that the downspouts are properly connected to the gutter system and that they run at least 10 feet away from the foundation,” he said. “Proper grading is also important so check that the ground around your foundation slopes away from the home.”
Regularly check your roof
Visually inspecting your roof from both inside and out can tell you a lot about its condition and knowing the warning signs can help you avoid much more costly problems.
“Look for buckling or curling shingles, moss buildup, nails popping up, a shift in the shingles’ horizontal lines, etc.,” said Murton. “If you find asphalt granules or pieces of shingles when cleaning your gutters, those are also red flags and need to be addressed.”
The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends checking your roof at least twice a year, typically in the fall and spring, to help spot any potential problems.
“Once you hit 80 percent of the roof’s lifespan, I suggest inspecting it a bit more often, maybe two to four times a year,” said Murton. “And no matter the age, always check your roof after a major windstorm or hailstorm.”
Service your HVAC system
Many homeowners don’t think about their heating and cooling system until it breaks down on the hottest summer day or the coldest winter night. But most professionals suggest having the HVAC system professionally inspected and serviced at least two times a year to keep it performing to the best of its ability. By spending a bit of money on this important task, you can improve your home’s energy efficiency and air quality, better regulate your temperature, prevent more costly repairs, and extend the overall life of the system.
Fix small leaks
A running toilet or a dripping faucet can be easily overlooked, but these problems should be addressed right away. Giving your system a quick once over at the first sign of trouble could alert you to bigger issues. And fixing a leak of any size will save you money on your water bills.
“And don’t forget to routinely check under your sinks,” said Murton. “People tend to store items under there and it’s possible to bump a plumbing line while moving things in and out, which could cause an eventual leak. If left unchecked, you could end up with mold and more extensive damage.”
Put safety first
The smallest tasks can be the easiest to forget, but they are often the most important. That is definitely true when it comes to checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), almost three out of five home fire deaths were caused by fires in properties with no smoke alarms (41 percent) or smoke alarms that failed to operate (16 percent).
The NFPA says daylight saving time is the perfect opportunity to check or replace batteries inside smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. You should also take a few minutes every month to test both alarms to ensure they are working properly.
Test your sump pump
This system is the first line of defense against the extensive and expensive damage caused by basement flooding. Murton says locating your sump pump, understanding its operations, and routinely inspecting the system are all vital to keeping your house in top shape.
“The sump pump is critical to a well-functioning home, and the middle of a storm is not the time to discover it isn’t working properly,” he said. “I actually suggest checking the system during daylight saving time when you test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.”
Watch for foundation cracks
All homeowners should inspect their home’s foundation seasonally to look for cracks. Most houses will have hairline cracks due to settling, which typically aren’t a cause for concern. But experts say that cracks wider than 3/16 of an inch could signal larger and more expensive problems. If you have any concerns, it’s best to consult a professional foundation specialist or structural engineer before the problem gets worse.
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