Whether you own a recently built home, a historic structure or one that is somewhere in between, maintaining it is a lot of work. We’re not talking about things like cutting the grass or changing light bulbs but are referring to tasks that you should do on a regular basis. Here are 12 easy home maintenance projects you should complete on a regular basis, to prevent long term issues and higher cost home repairs.
Home maintenance is different than home repairs because if you neglect simple maintenance tasks, they can turn into expensive repairs in the long run. It’s especially easy to put off maintenance if you have a newer home, but by getting into the habit of regularly spending a morning or an afternoon a few times a year doing maintenance will save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars on your home.
Some tasks need to be performed every few months, while others should be done on an annual basis. here are suggestions for essential maintenance that you should include in your routine.
1. Regularly Change Your HVAC Filters
If there is one thing you should do on a regular basis, it’s changing your HVAC filter. That’s because a dirty filter makes your HVAC system work harder to cool and heat your home because trapped dirt and particles make air flow more difficult.
The interval for changing your air filter depends on your lifestyle. For an average home without pets, every 90 days is sufficient. Add a dog or cat and reduce it to 60 days. If you have multiple pets or severe allergies, reduce that interval to 20 to 45 days.
2. Clean Refrigerator Coils
This is one of those jobs that many people never even consider. Most refrigerators have coolant coils in the back and keeping them clean helps keep your fridge running efficiently. Clean coils help maintain the heat and cold exchange that pulls warmth out of your fridge. Vacuuming or dusting the coils twice a year is something you should add to your list, especially as it only takes a few minutes to accomplish.
3. Replace Refrigerator Seals
While you’re working on your fridge, inspect the door seals. Take a piece of paper money such as a $1 or $5 bill and close the fridge door on it. If you can’t pull it out, everything is good, however, if it easily slips out your money is also slipping away. The door seals, or gaskets, wear out long before the end of the fridge’s useful life. Replace the seals to save energy costs.
4. Flush and Clean Your Hot Water Heater
This is another task that most homeowners never do, yet is vitally important. Even if you have an extremely clean water supply, you’ll still have sediment in it. Over time, that sediment settles at the bottom of your tank style hot water heater, which can shorten its life and cause other problems down the road. Draining and cleaning it annually can help extend its life.
5. Clean the Dryer Vent
Do you clean your lint trap? Sure you do and so should you regularly clean the dryer vent as many of those particles go beyond the lint traps and wind up in the vent, causing your dryer to not heat as efficiently. The clothes dryer is typically the second highest energy using appliance behind the fridge, so it’s in your best interest to clear out that lint annually.
6. Clean Gutters and Downspouts
You normally can’t see the debris unless you get up on a ladder, but gutters and downspouts can become easily clogged with leaves, dirt and even debris from roof shingles. Clogged gutters don’t allow sufficient dispersal of water and cause water to pool around your foundation, which can eventually cause extensive damage. Extending downspouts outward from your home or installing a french drain system is another good idea that helps avoid foundation damage.
7. Annual Insect Maintenance
For some homeowners, this tip may not apply, but if you live in an area where termites are a problem, you definitely need to consider annual preventive maintenance. Termites can silently eat away at your foundation, making your home unsafe. Make sure your home is free of pests that can damage its structures.
8. Seal HVAC Ducts
According to the Department of Energy, the typical home loses about 20 percent of the air moving through HVAC ducts due to holes, poor connections, and lack of insulation. If you have traditional ducts in an older HVAC system, consider getting them sealed to improve your energy efficiency.
9. Clean Around External AC Unit
Here’s another task that isn’t difficult but is rarely considered. Even if you get professional annual maintenance, it’s often a good idea to clean the area around the external AC compressor. Dirt and debris can build up quickly when storms occur. In addition, it’s also a good idea to trim bushes and keep other debris away from the unit to maintain peak efficiency.
10. Insulate Your Water Heater and Pipes
You probably have never thought about it, but insulating your water heater can also save on energy bills. If it feels hot on the outside, insulating it can help. a Pre-cut fiberglass insulation jacket costs about $20. Similarly, foam insulators for hot water pipes can also help reduce energy costs.
11. Check and Repair Faucets and Toilets
Leaks can happen easily in both. Constant drips are not only wasteful to the environment but also wasteful in terms of money you spend. Repair faucet and toilet leaks are among the easiest of home repairs. Buy a kit at your local store.
12. Seal Cracks in Your Basement
Basements are often damp thanks to cracks that occur int he walls over time. Even if you don’t have a true leak, water can seep through the foundation, causing damage that increases over time. Take steps to dehumidify your basement and eventually seek professional help for waterproofing if your own remedies don’t alleviate humidity.