Tuesday, February 19 2008
Robert and I have been involved in the real estate industry for some time now and we are consistently amazed at the number of homeowners that fail to perform the basics of homeowner maintenance. We certainly understand that first-time homeowners often do not know much about the particulars behind maintenance and routine repairs. However, we also find that those who have owned several homes and investment properties just do not take the time to maintain their investments. With that said, we are going to try to help you all by providing a basic maintenance schedule that will hopefully prevent petite problems from turning into huge headaches.
Maintenance for inside the home:
A. Change or clean your furnace filters once monthly. This is critical and is so easy to do! If I have heard “clean filters are the key to keeping your HVAC system running smoothly and efficiently”, I have heard it a million times! Clogged filters decrease HVAC efficiency and cause the units to breakdown.
B. Clean the coils to your HVAC unit. It is advisable to have a Heating and Air Conditioning company to “service” your unit at least twice a year. Robert and I have our units serviced once in the fall and once in the spring.
C. Watch out for water and/or drips. Check under sinks periodically to look for leaks and/or water stains. Look to your ceilings, walls, and baseboards for the same. Robert once found a wall that had a “puffy” appearance to it—the paint and drywall surface was “bubbling” due to a leak behind a plumbing or “wet” wall. As it turned out, a contractor had drilled a hole into a pipe of a seldom used plumbing drain. Luckily, we caught it as a very small problem. Catching it early kept us from spending lots of dollars later on in repairing severe water damage and potential mold issues. Finally, use a plunger to clean out sinks and tubs whenever water doesn’t drain normally. It makes a lot of sense to clean out the P traps under your counters as well—especially if you have teenage girls with long hair!
D. Devise a replacement schedule for key appliances in your home. HVAC systems (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), water heaters, roofs, etc. should be replaced before they fail based upon how long they are expected to last. John N. Frank of Realtor magazine suggests the following schedule of replacement:
Maintenance for outside the home:
A. Watch out for water and/or drips. Again, this is key inside and out! Water is the ENEMY! Check regularly for signs of damage to your home. Check the flashing or the metal pieces used to seal areas between roof lines, chimneys, doors, windows, etc. This material is extremely vulnerable to damage by wind, heavy rains or the consistent heat of our sun. Age can also play a part. Regardless, flashing that starts to separate can allow water to seep under the tiles of our roofs or inside walls. Ultimately, this can introduce the most evil of all four letter words into your home without your knowledge—mold! OUCH. With all the press this gets, I certainly do not need to belabor the topic.
B. Check your home’s foundation for cracks and/or gaps. Little rodents, scorpions, or water can all find a home within your walls with as little as a 1/8 of an inch! Have a handyman fill in those cracks or get handy with a caulking gun!
C. Have your roof checked once a year for cracked tiles or dangling gutters. This is especially important for those of you that have installed Solar Heating Units for your pools. The more often you have people walking on those tiles, the more cracked tiles you are likely to find. Again, replacing these cracked tiles and checking that all the flashing is in place are key strategies to keeping your roof in good repair.
D. Solar Pool Heating. Don’t forget to have these units drained and maintained once a year prior to the arrival of cold weather. Our winters can occasionally bring sub freezing temperatures causing the water found within these units to freeze and ultimately “shredding” the solar pipes to pieces. Trust me on this one… I have failed to do it. I know what the pipes look like in the spring! There are huge costs associated with repair—making the maintenance/service call worth every penny!
Finally… keep a maintenance log and/or folder complete with all receipts for service calls, maintenance repairs, and new purchases so that a future buyer will know for certain that your home has been well cared for and maintained! Once you’re in the market to sell, you will be glad that you did!