Home maintenance is one of those pieces in life that we often feel will come naturally to us when the time is right. But the truth is that most experienced homeowners don't have a clue on how to schedule a maintenance routine. New homeowners usually struggle to find out what is maintenance and what is a repair.
We have everything covered here from start to finish. It doesn’t matter if you bought your home last week, or a decade ago there isn’t a better time to start working on maintaining your home.
Risks of Home Maintenance
Doing it yourself has a lot of risks when it comes to home maintenance. People injure themselves by painting, and accidents happen while cleaning gutter drains. Always exercise caution and stay as safe as possible.
Physical risks aren't at the forefront of everyone's mind when they start maintaining their home. Most people worry about the risk of causing damage to their home. Some people worry about the financial risk. But, don't forget that any work done around the house has the chance of ending in frustration, or worse, a trip to the Emergency Room.
Unlike other aspects of home ownership, there is virtually no risk of losing money with maintenance. The very point of maintenance is that you will lose money if you avoid it. Many homeowners look at maintenance like insurance.
But, you’re not putting money into your home now with the hope that something bad doesn’t happen. The money you’re spending on home maintenance is 100% preventative care.
Looking at the most frequently televised disaster of home maintenance, cleaning the gutters, we can see how this chore does save you money. If your gutters aren’t clean, and it rains, your gutters will flood. They will hold that water for days.
While your gutters might not burst in a shower of leaves over your guests walking up the lawn, but dirty gutters do cause severe damage. If there is standing water in the gutter system of your home, you're risking mold growth under your roof. This attracts bugs like termites. Then before you know it, your roof is eaten through and moldy.
But, not everything on your maintenance checklist is as severe as cleaning the gutters. A lot of the work that goes into maintaining your home is about proper planning. Taking care of 2 or 3 things a year will prevent a lot of damage to your home.
Risking Damage to Your Home
When discussing damage to your home, most people are afraid that they will try to do some maintenance on their own and leave the house in worse condition. The odds of this happening are very low.
If you're doing maintenance, you might not achieve the visual outcome you were going for, but the cleanliness and functionality should be the same. A particular bit of maintenance that scares a lot of people is fixing a loose showerhead.
It's entirely reasonable that this scares people. The thought is that messing up means no more showers, but that isn't the case. It's also challenging to destroy a showerhead. If the shower head or nozzle is wobbling, it's only a little loose.
All you have to do is pull or push the arm of the shower head back into place and use expanding foam.
The shower head gets loose because you're pulling on it to change the water's direction. It makes sense to push it back into place. Don't be afraid. You can fix any damage you do to your home. But it's highly unlikely that you'll ever damage your home during necessary home maintenance.
When people initially think of home maintenance they usually think of the major repairs. People will place items like fixing the roof or repairing a crack in the walkway on their home maintenance list.
But, these repairs aren't necessarily maintenance. Maintenance would be cleaning the roof once a year to prevent roof damage. Many small jobs contribute to home maintenance that you don't need a repair professional to do. You can cross these items off on your list without help from the pros.
Homeowner Maintenance List
When you're starting your maintenance schedule, look at the things you can do monthly. Even if you only get a small portion of this list completed each month, you'll do a lot of maintenance throughout the year. It's more important to do the things you can than to worry about the things you can't.
Each month try to clean out your kitchen sink disposal. The simple method involves freezing vinegar in ice cube trays and then feeding them to the disposal. The ice form helps the blades sharpen, while the vinegar freshens the disposal canister.
On a monthly basis, you should also clean the hood above your oven. There are plenty of cleaners aimed explicitly towards kitchen hoods that work well. Cleaning the hood usually involves spraying on a chemical and letting it sit for a few minutes before busting out some elbow grease.
Now, every 3 months you get into some of the bigger ticket maintenance items like adding a water softener. Homeowners don't usually realize the damage that hard water can do to their appliances.
Hard water can cause buildup that affects your shower head, your bath faucet, all of your sinks, and your dishwasher. Adding a bit of softener every 3 months will help your water appliances last for years.
Another quarterly task is checking your garage door. If you have an automatic garage door for your home, you're taking a safety risk. A lot of parents or guardians don't realize that their garage door must have an auto-reverse feature. To test this, set a piece of wood down and attempt to close the garage door.
The door should not continue closing after it touches the wood. In fact, the touch should be sensitive enough to immediately begin backtracking when it comes into contact with your tester piece. This is also a great time to ensure that anything in your garage doesn't block your sensors.
Things, like checking your air conditioner's filters or testing the water heater's pressure valve, are best done when you have some triggering event to remind you. Make a point to check the air conditioner's filters on the kids' last day of school. Then again on the day, they go back. Without even thinking about it, you've checked and possibly changed, the filters twice.
When it comes to testing your water heater’s pressure valve, schedule a time of year when you’re already in the garage. Many people like to check it when they are getting down their holiday decorations or setting up for Halloween. Checking the pressure on your water heater will help set up a safeguard against leaks.
Other seasonal tasks include:
- Cleaning the gutters
- Inspect your home for silicon or caulk deterioration
- Replace damaged screens
- Remove dead plants
- Clean your room
Although many of these seasonal tasks may lead to the occasional repair, you will be able to recognize any necessary repairs immediately. This means that you can schedule the repairs around times of the year that work for you. Rather than rushing to make a home repair happen overnight.
The Cost of Home Maintenance
There is a lot of debate about how much you should put aside for home maintenance. The most common argument is that it should be about 1% of your home’s worth. So, if you have a $400,000 home, you should budget for $4,000 in maintenance annually.
A lot of people are surprised by this number and imagine that $4,000 is a lot to budget for maintenance, and repairs aren’t included in this figure. But, when you consider that you’re paying for:
A few thousand dollars a year doesn’t seem so bad. You’re getting a lot for your money, but even better you’re saving a lot of money. A good maintenance schedule will never leave you feeling broke. But, if you remember that you didn’t upkeep your house all year, and decide to do everything in January, a few thousand dollars seems like a lot to invest back into your home.
But, the 1% rule isn't the only factor to consider when you're scheduling home maintenance. Also, consider the age of your home. Certain home ages need some attention. Even with well-maintained floors, you need to replace carpet every 7 years or so. If your home is 30 years old, don’t be surprised if you need a new roof.
Weather is another factor. Home in high winds often experiences a lot more external damage than other homes. If you live in a humid environment, then the homeowner should regularly schedule pest inspections and spraying. Always consider your immediate environment. You're the only line of defense for your home.
It’s Not as Bad as It Seems
Homeowners will avoid maintenance until their home is in such a state of disrepair they feel better selling it than paying someone to fix up the house again. Don’t let your home get to that point. Watch for opportunities to make minor repairs and maintain a beautiful home. Make a home maintenance schedule that fits you.