For many of us, our homes are more than the place we lay our heads and raise our families. They’re also the single largest investment we’ll ever make. Proper home maintenance is one great way to protect that investment. Here are 7 habits homeowners should get into in order to safeguard their homes and maximize their investments.
Habit 1: Put safety first
We can’t eliminate all of life’s risks, but we can take the necessary steps to ensure our homes are as secure as possible. You can start this process by asking yourself the following:
- Are your fire extinguishers and smoke detectors correctly installed and up to date?
- Do you have a carefully considered fire escape plan? Sadly, many home fire deaths occur when residents are trying to flee their homes.
What will you switch on if the power goes out? Be sure your flashlights, battery-operated radios and generators are all in good working order
Habit 2: Guard against the elements
California has two weather seasons, a short cool winter season and a longer dry summer season. Both seasons create conditions that can pose a threat to your home. Here are a few ways to fight back.
- Fire protection
Protect your home from fire—both inside and out.
Inside the home, the goal should be to identify and eliminate potential fire hazards. Be sure kitchen appliances are unplugged. Vacuum your floors to eliminate dust bunnies, which can spark fires. Be sure the lint trap in your dryer is clean.
Outside, the key is to eliminate potential fuel sources. Keeping the gutters clean, controlling brush and debris build-up, and staying on top of your home’s landscaping are all steps you can take.
- Electrical risks
Ask any electrician and they’ll tell you. Electrical risks do more than spark house fires; they can also create electrocution threats and circuit overloads. You can minimize these risks by updating out-of-date electrical systems, replacing worn out fixtures, staying up to date with code upgrades, and making sure all GFCI (that would be a ground-fault circuit interrupter, for the non-electricians out there) outlets are installed correctly in wet and risky areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements.
Not all rainfall is absorbed into the ground. It can also wreak havoc on your home by collecting on your rooftop or leaking into your basement. Checking to make sure your gutters are clean and that your foundation is sound outside, and ensuring there aren’t any plumbing leaks inside, are all steps you can to take to prevent the next big rainstorm from washing away your savings in water damage repairs.
Is your home pest-proof? Exclusion is the key. Any exit point from your home is an entry point into your home. Common entry points include exhaust fans, garage door openings, pipes, and wires. Sealing these exits points is the best way to keep critters out.
Habit 3: Keep it clean & clutter-free
Stay on top of clutter and cleaning with a routine you can stick to. In addition to the aesthetic benefits of a clean house, studies have also found a number of related health benefits, including fewer germs and lower stress. Regular cleaning also helps keep dust and other allergens out of your home and makes it easier to find things.
Examples of seasonal or long-term cleaning projects:
- Blowing leaves and dirt off your roof, gutters, and catch basins
- Cleaning your windows, doors, and decks
- Cleaning your upholstery and bedding
Examples of regular, more frequent cleaning projects:
- Dusting your blinds, furniture, surfaces, and walls
- Vacuuming baseboards, floors, rugs, and appliances
- Cleaning kitchen sink, counters, floor, oven, and refrigerator
- Cleaning bathroom sink, counters, floor, toilet, and tub/shower
Habit 4: Be proactive
Why wait until the roof leaks to clear debris from a clogged gutter? Addressing minor problems now can prevent them from becoming major problems. Here are a few examples of how being proactive today can prevent catastrophe from striking tomorrow:
- Cleaning the coils on freezers, refrigerators, and AC units will help to improve their efficiency and prolong their life
- Conduct a thorough inspection of your home’s interior and exterior to look for (and repair) broken windows, signs of dry rot, or leaky air ducts
- Look for peeling exterior paint and other signs of moisture, and repaint before leakage occurs
Habit 5: Maintain and sustain
Committing to a regular schedule of interior and exterior maintenance is a great way to ensure these critical jobs get done. Posting your chores on the refrigerator or adding a list of monthly tasks into your online calendar can help keep them top of mind.
Examples of exterior maintenance include power washing to remove mold, grime, dust, and mud, as well as leaf removal and window washing. Maintaining your roof, gutter, and downspout will prevent deterioration of roof membrane, soffits, and fascia, all of which are easily damaged by excess water. A properly swept staircase can minimize the risk of slips, falls, and lawsuits.
Examples of interior maintenance include changing home air filters, replacing smoke alarm batteries, checking fire extinguishers, removing mold and mildew from bathroom caulking, and removing clutter from basements, attics, crawl spaces, and garages.
Habit 6: Be mindful of resources
You can transform your house into a temple of efficiency with a few simple steps:
- Investing in energy efficient appliances such as refrigerators, water heaters, and air conditioning units, and using LED compact / fluorescent light bulbs wherever possible
- Installing double-paned windows and weatherstripping, caulking, or otherwise sealing cracks or openings leading to the outside
- Exploring drought-resistant landscaping ideas, using water leak detectors to keep tabs on your water heater, and installing low-flow plumbing fixtures such as toilets, faucets, and shower heads
Habit 7: Know when to call in reinforcements
It’s important to know what you can do yourself and whose help you need to enlist to check off your home’s to-do list. From plumbing to glass repair to electrical work, do what you can and delegate where you need to. It’s also a good idea to make friends with your neighbors. They may have a special skill set that can come in handy!
Owning a home is a privilege and a pleasure, but it’s also a responsibility. The good news is that you don’t have to be a general contractor or even a handyman to protect your home and make sure it’s as efficient as can be.
You just have get into the habit of taking care of it.