Even though January is already behind us, it’s not too late to add one more New Year’s resolution to your list: “take better care of my home.” If you make the following improvements and maintenance items a priority this year, you’ll not only protect your investment, but also ensure that your home remains comfortable, safe, and attractive to future buyers.
Take care of your HVAC system
Furnace maintenance is critical if you want to extend the life of the system. Have a professional perform an annual service check in the fall before the heating season begins and complete your own maintenance during the rest of the year to keep your system in the best condition.
“The humidifier on the furnace has an evaporator pad that should be replaced every six months in order to provide optimal humidity to your home,” said REALTOR® Terry Frewen, broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Frewen Realty. “And the furnace filter also needs to be replaced regularly. A good rule of thumb is one month of life for every one inch of filter. So, if your filter is four inches thick, it should be replaced every four months.”
As far as the air conditioner, the most important task is keeping the unit free of debris, especially in the late spring and early summer when shedding from cottonwood trees is likely to collect in the coils. To clear things out, turn off the unit, and using a regular garden hose and nozzle, gently spray the cottonwood away from the grating.
Exercise your circuit breakers
Over time your circuit breakers collect dust and dirt which makes it hard for heat to dissipate. Oxidation and corrosion can also occur, which can prevent the breakers from functioning properly. If a breaker fails to trip, there could be a risk of fire, damage to equipment, or unintended outages.
“Manually exercise the breakers by turning them off and on at least once a year,” said Frewen. “And also check your GFCI outlets in the kitchen and bathroom by pressing the test and reset buttons every so often to ensure everything trips properly.”
Stay on top of your well and septic system
About one in five Americans is on a septic system and private well instead of city water supply, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For the most part, this system quietly does its thing, but don’t fall victim to “out of sight, out of mind.”
Annual well pump and equipment inspections are a low-cost way to check that everything is working as it should. A professional well and septic inspector can make sure the equipment is in good condition, perform any needed repairs, and check the water quality.
“Be sure to have your septic system pumped every three years in order to get the maximum life out of your drain field,” said Frewen. “And next time you have it pumped, consider installing a riser and removable lid which will save you from digging every time you need to access the tank in the future.”
Clean your gutters regularly
Keeping up with exterior maintenance is critical to your home’s long-term health, and one of your most important regular outdoor tasks should be cleaning the gutters.
Over time, gutters get clogged with leaves, seeds, rocks, and other debris, which can prevent water from draining properly. This can lead to pest problems, roof leaks, rotting wood, damage to insulation and drywall, potential mold, and even foundation issues.
While gutter cleaning is especially important in the fall, it’s good to do it throughout the year to keep everything flowing properly. You should also inspect your gutters for damage and sagging and repair any issues.
Pay attention to your deck
Frewen, who is also a licensed builder and earned a degree in construction management from Ferris State University, says because decks are exposed to the elements all year round, they need regular cleaning and maintenance to remain habitable and safe.
“If you put in a bit of work every few months, you’ll extend the life of your deck and save yourself the trouble of more extensive repairs or even a full replacement,” he said. “With the cost of lumber these days, a new deck can get pretty expensive.”
Convert your home into a smart home
Over the past few years, smart home technology has become more accessible and affordable. Not only can these upgrades improve your home’s security, functionality, and efficiency, but they also make it more attractive to potential buyers should you decide to sell.
“Smart home technology can offer significant cost savings,” said Frewen. “Smart thermostats control heating and cooling schedules, and smart appliances monitor energy usage and even alert you when the appliance needs repair. For most homeowners, the long-term benefits outweigh the upfront costs.”
By making it a priority to take better care of your home, you’ll prevent larger, more costly repairs down the road, make your home a safer and more comfortable place to live, and ultimately, protect one of the biggest investments of your life.
“And should you decide to sell in the future, all of that work will pay off,” said Frewen. “In general, homes that are cared for and well-maintained typically sell faster and for more money.”
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