Homeownership can be a blessing or a curse. And in many cases, home maintenance is the inflection point. Taken seriously, a good home maintenance regimen allows you to enjoy your house. Taken lightly, it leads to a litany of cascading problems.
According to this infographic, the estimated annual cost of home maintenance is about 1.5-4% of the home’s purchase price. If your property is worth $250,000, the annual maintenance can rack up to $10,000. What can you do to minimize the cost of home maintenance?
Reactive vs. Preventative Maintenance
Maintenance is something that’s required with home ownership. But not all home maintenance is created equal. Almost any issue fits into one of two buckets:
- Reactive Maintenance: Something unexpected happens and you respond. (Example: A toilet suddenly starts leaking onto the bathroom floor and you respond by replacing the wax seal.)
- Preventative Maintenance: You make necessary upgrades and improvements over time in order to prevent a breakdown or issue from occurring. (Example: You regularly pressure wash and stain your deck to protect the wood.)
Preventative maintenance can feel like a waste of money at the time, but as any seasoned homeowner will tell you, it yields a positive ROI over the life of ownership.
Don’t fall into the trap that many first-time homeowners succumb to. They wait for something to go wrong and then they address it. Instead, you should make a habit out of investing in preventative maintenance from the very start. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also learn some important skills and become more intimately acquainted with your home’s major systems.
5 Home Maintenance Tips for Newbies
If you’re a total newbie, you can start with the following home maintenance tasks. Over time, you can add in more items on your checklist. For now, this list will suffice:
- Regularly Replace HVAC Filters
“Air filters quickly become clogged with debris, especially in the cooling season when air conditioners are running around the clock. Failure to change out your filter can mean that you’ll be facing a repair, higher energy bills, and decreased lifespan from the AC,” Jacob Heating & Air Conditioning mentions. “In other words, replacing your AC filter is one of the easiest ways to ensure optimal system performance year after year.”
Thankfully, swapping out AC filters is one of the easiest home maintenance tasks you can do. Look for the return vent(s) in your home, pop up the grill, and inspect the current filter. If it looks dirty and dusty, it’s time for a replacement. Check the size, buy a new filter, and pop it in. Check it every few months and replace as needed. Simple!
- Caulk Around Windows and Doors
Your home probably isn’t as energy efficient as it should be – and that means you’re paying more on your energy bills than you should. One easy way to cut down on heat exchange between your home’s interior and exterior is to caulk around windows and doors. (You should also consider adding weatherstripping anywhere there are significant gaps.)
- Maintain Your Roof
Outside of your home’s foundation, the roof is probably the most important element of your house. Anything you can do to proactively maintain your roof will benefit you.
According to Christian Brothers Roofing, you should inspect areas around pipes and vents and use the proper high-grade sealant to caulk any gaps or cracks that occur over time. This helps prevent leaks and destructive rusting. It’s also important to clean out your gutters. Left unattended, they can clog and cause water damage to the roof (not to mention water runoff below that may seep into your crawl space or foundation).
- Give Your Attic a Regular Visit
Who likes hanging out in an attic? It’s hot, dark, and full of cobwebs. But perhaps you should spend a little more time up there.
Make it a point to visit your attic at least once per month to perform a visual inspection. This will allow you to uncover any leaks or other issues that may otherwise go undetected for months and cause bigger problems.
- Flush Your Water Heater
If you have a tank water heater, you’ll want to flush it out semi-regularly. Otherwise, sediment can build up at the bottom of the tank and create major problems for you. Here’s a helpful guide on how to properly flush your tank.
Protect Your Home’s Value and Your Wallet
An investment in preventative maintenance helps to protect and grow your home’s value. It also safeguards your wallet and ensures small issues don’t become costly problems. But even more than both of these things, it amplifies peace of mind and transforms your home into a blessing (rather than the burden that it is for so many people).