Hey Millennials, Can We Talk Candidly About Home Maintenance?

Roxanne Hale

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According to recent data from the National Association of Realtors, Millennials are FINALLY jumping into homeownership. It’s about time! For the past ten years, we realtors have all been wondering if the housing crisis a decade ago had scared you off for good. But money-savvy Millennials, tired of ever-increasing rental rates and lured by the current insanely low interest rates, are finally taking the plunge.

Like any meddlesome Aunt, I’m here to have a proper talk with you about how to care for your investment now that you have it! In my twenty years in residential housing, I’ve walked through thousands of sad, poorly cared-for properties. I’ve also had the opportunity to see amazing homes, which were clearly loved by conscientious homeowners. I’d like to help you be like those folks.

Let’s talk!

Here are my Top 10 Home Care Tips that will keep your property in proper working order!

#1 Have your heating and air conditioning system cleaned and serviced annually.

If your new home’s heating and air conditioning system has not been serviced and cleaned yet, schedule to have it serviced. Then put that task on your calendar for an annual repeat. Servicing the system yearly is a great way to stay on top of problems before they occur and prolong the life of the unit. It might also help the system run as economically as possible, sparing your utility bill an unexpected seasonal spike.

#2 Replace air filters for your heating and air conditioning system monthly.

Jump on Amazon and order a year’s supply of your favorite brand and size, so you’ll have them handy each month. On the first day of the month, swap your filters out. If dirt and lint are collecting around the register, clean it with a vacuum hose or wipe it off with a dry rag. One other little-known issue to look for is a line of black dirt settling between the carpet and baseboards. This may be a sign you have a leak in your ductwork. You’ll need to have it repaired immediately.

#3 Flush your hot water heater each year.

Your hot water heater tank should be flushed and cleaned each year. Over time calcium and minerals from water build up in the tank and affect its performance. Skipping this annual service reduces the life of this critical unit in your home. Replacing it can cost upwards of a thousand dollars. Make sure the overflow line is clear and draining properly away from your home, too.

#4 Caulk, Paint, and Stain - Inside and Out.

Lots of homeowners underestimate the importance of caulking and paint. While it makes surfaces look pretty, its real job is protection.

Twice per year, Winter and Summer, walk the perimeter of your home and inspect your windows and siding for dried caulk, gaps, and separation. It’s important to keep water from penetrating these protective layers and seeping into your home. If paint or stain has worn off, plan to repaint or stain quickly before the surface suffers irreparable damage.

Inside your home, check around sinks and tubs for a good line of caulk to keep water from seeping behind the tile or countertops. Check crown molding and baseboards for separation at the joints. Caulk dries out over time. Add a line of caulk anywhere you see it separating.

#5 Check Windows for Leaks.

Leaking windows can make a home less efficient and could also allow water to penetrate your home. Caulk and seal the exterior of windows as needed. Replace broken window panes and sashes that don’t shut and seal properly to prevent a loss of heating or cooling inside your home.

#6 Handle Water Drainage Issues.

Water is one of the biggest causes of home damage that you can deal with. And often, you don’t even realize it’s a problem until it’s a REAL problem.

Keep your gutters clean and clear of leaves and debris. Otherwise, rainwater can back up and clog the gutters allowing water to collect next to your eaves. This can cause wood damage. Take advantage of downspouts and gutter extenders to help carry rainwater away from your foundation.

Leaking irrigation systems should be fixed quickly to prevent water accumulation in your yard. Check the sprinkler heads to ensure they aren’t locked into a position that constantly sprays your house.

If water is sitting in any area of your yard for more than 72 hours after a rainfall, you may need to investigate a french drain or landscaping that will create better flow or enable water to seep properly into the ground.

Crawl spaces and basements that hold water may benefit from a waterproofing system, a sump pump, dehumidifier, or vapor barrier. If your home is experiencing water issues, contact a local waterproofing company to explore the best options to mitigate it.

Whatever you do, don’t allow water penetration problems to persist because they can affect the structural integrity of your home over time and may even allow the growth of mold and mildew.

#7 Watch for Mold and Mildew Growth.

Mold grows when an area gets wet and stays wet. If you see signs of mold and mildew around your home, investigate the source quickly and fix the problem. Avoiding this repair may cause the problem to worsen and could affect your health.

#8 Monitor for Pest and Varmints.

Termites, wood-boring beetles, and similar wood-loving bugs can wreak havoc on your house without your having the slightest clue. Always keep an active termite service program on your home.

Little animals find ways into your home whenever they can. Cover vents or small openings to your crawl space or basement with screens to prevent animals from hibernating there. Squirrels love to find a loose shingle or trim board they can sneak under and get into your attic. Mice and rats should be trapped and removed whenever you find evidence of them. These little guys love to chew on whatever they find and can cause lots of damage to electrical wires, insulation, and framing boards if left unchecked.

#9 Fire Safety

Hands down, one of the most important safety items you should never let maintenance lapse on is smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Once a year, swap out all the backup batteries in the discs and test them to ensure they are in good form. Put up loose extension cords and wires when not in use.

#10 Clean and Service the Fireplace and Chimney Flue.

If you have a gas or wood-burning fireplace in your home, it’s important to have it cleaned and inspected every few years by a professional Chimney Sweeper.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations on your decision to invest in a home of your own. A home is not only a great investment AND roof over your head, but it’s also where you’re likely to make lasting and loving memories!

With a little care and maintenance, it can bring you years of peace and comfort.

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Roxanne Hale, owner, and broker of Arthouse has spent over 20 years in the real estate business. Here you'll find a collection of stories about buying and selling real estate & home building advice, housing history, and architecture & design tips. Oh, and some fun personal stories every now and then!

Homewood, AL
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