Why Home Maintenance Is Important & A DIY Checklist
Home maintenance is certainly not the most enjoyable part of owning a home, but it is one of the most important. Home maintenance requires time and money, both of which are at a premium in today's society. However, this does not mean that it should be ignored or neglected even for a little while.
It is critical to keep up with maintaining your home so you can avoid spending additional funds on more extensive repairs or replacements in the future. While maintenance is key, larger-scale projects like renovations can add significant value to your home.
This article will detail the importance of maintaining your home and the benefits of getting a home inspection and remodeling specific areas of your home to maximize its value.
What Is Home Maintenance and Why Is It Important?
Home maintenance isn't just checking your gutters and cleaning your windows. Just as you would maintain your car by washing and vacuuming the interior, you also need to maintain the mechanical state of the car: engine; oil changes; and regularly inspect for mechanical issues. Your home is no different.
Home maintenance involves cosmetic tasks like painting, installing and cleaning gutters, etc., however your process should also involve more in-depth tasks like performing an annual home inspection, getting a home inspection to check structural and electrical issues, and checking and replacing your roofing.
Regular home maintenance is crucial and will save you money. Not addressing issues in your homes, such as poor plumbing or a faulty electrical system, can lead to potential catastrophes for your family and property. In the car world, this is known as preventive maintenance.
A faulty or poor-performing roof is one of the most common causes of water damage in homes. A poorly maintained roof won't be able to protect your house from rain, wind storms, or snow. When you neglect your roofing system over time, it will most likely result in extremely costly repairs.
Water damage is not only inconvenient; it poses significant health risks as well. The right approach, however, which includes regular upkeep according to your needs, can save you from bigger problems in the future which compound overtime—financially and time consuming.
Benefits From Annual Inspections
Performing an annual home self-inspection can prevent many problems that could damage your roof or other parts of your home. Inspections also enable you to identify faulty equipment before they become a problem. For instance, if your attic fan or back ventilator has been clicking on and off recently, it may be an early indicator with something being wrong with the motors or the thermostats inside them.
You can also hire an inspector yourself—however this is an another can of worms for beginners; this is good to do if you plan on living in the home for several years, as it can help protect you from unforeseen damages like water leaks or electrical malfunctions, or both.
Obviously, newer homes tend to require less maintenance than older ones (though there's no reason why even new homes shouldn't be inspected). Some signs that mean immediate attention are:
- Loose roof shingles
- Broken siding/moldy insulation
- Broken seals between windows and walls
- Doors that are hard to close or anything else that seems out of the ordinary.
When it comes to choosing what kind of inspections to perform, there are two things you need to consider: firstly, cost-efficiency and secondly, the quality of the inspection. The more thorough the inspection is, the higher costs are usually involved. On the other hand, sometimes money has been saved on performing less accurate work, which then causes problems and additional expenses.
Let's look at a regular annual home inspection that you can perform yourself and some of the most important maintenance areas you can focus on.
Maintenance Areas to Focus on
When inspecting your home every year, there are a few main areas to focus on. First of all, you'll want to look at your water heater and your air conditioning system. You can save yourself a lot of money in the long run by inspecting these items every single year.
Inspecting Your Water Heater
Your water heater is one of the most essential appliances in your home because it provides you with clean hot water you need for showering, cooking, and cleaning. However, they don't last forever, and most modern appliances have a lifespan of about eight years before they start deteriorating significantly.
Some signs that your water heater may need to be replaced include:
- A substantial decrease in the amount of heated water provided
- Strange noises coming from the tank
- Slower water heating
If you notice any of these signs, it's time to start thinking about getting a new water heater.
Inspecting Your Air Conditioning System
On top of maintaining proper temperature in your home when it's hot or cold outside, an air conditioner also filters out indoor pollutants from the air making breathing easier inside the home. In addition, it works as a humidifier in the summer months when the humidity outside is high.
Like maintenance on a smaller appliance like a washer or dryer, you'll check for damage to the outside casing or other issues around the unit and make sure everything is clean and debris-free.
When inspecting the outdoor unit, check for cracked or missing insulation around the electrical cord that leads into your home to ensure no current can run through it before you plug it in. Also, look for any holes in the outer casing that could allow pests like mice or pest access.
Maintenance On Your Furnace
Just like your air conditioner, a furnace is another vital appliance that you need to keep your house's temperature regulated. During the colder months of winter, furnaces are used constantly, putting them through more wear and tear.
When inspecting your furnace, it is important to look for:
- Cracks, rust, and broken parts that need to be repaired or replaced.
- Loud noises (i.e., squeaking, clanging, etc.) This typically means something is loose or broken and needs immediate attention.
- Dust or dirt should be removed from the unit.
Inspecting your furnace will help identify any issues before they become larger problems.
Inspection Of The Appliances And Fixtures In Your Kitchen And Bathroom
The kitchen and the bathroom are two places where there's bound to be the constant use of water by your family members means that these two areas are at a higher risk for plumbing issues.
Check the water supply valves and faucets in these two areas to ensure they work properly and don't let any leaks go unnoticed or unattended. Ensure that the drain trap is filled with water and the floors around the base of all toilets are dry.
Inspecting Your Floor And Ceiling Joists
Floor and ceiling joists are essentially the skeletal structure of your home, where almost every part of your exterior walls rests on top of them. If they begin to sag or rot, then there's a possibility that your roof will collapse, causing flooding inside your home since most ceilings below won't be able to hold up if it sags too much. Inspect these areas regularly by checking if the trusses are still intact, and if not, replace them.
Inspecting Your Windows And Doors
This is one of those handyman tasks that even a six-year-old can do. Check to make sure that windows and doors close completely. Whether wooden or metal hinges, they should be at least snug enough to where a window will only open ajar an inch before you need to use some force to push it up or down.
For doors, check each hinge for any signs of bubbling paint, as this could mean positive reinforcement that there's water damage going on behind your wall(s), which could cause rot and mold later on.
Here's a quick example of an annual home self-inspection that you can perform easily every year.
Remodeling and Renovations That Can Add Value to Your Home
Once you've performed your annual DIY home inspection, you should move to consider any remodeling and renovations you might want to do. If there is any home improvement project that adds value to your property, it's going to be the result of a renovation. Even if this isn't going to add square footage or increase your home's square footage by a significant amount, it will still add value.
A great example would be an outdoor patio where you can entertain guests outside while enjoying the fresh air during warmer weather.
Possible Benefits To Remodeling Your Home
There are several benefits to remodeling your home, depending on the scope of the project. Most people will add value to their home by increasing its size or changing its exterior looks, such as adding columns or fencing. Others will give their home an entirely new look with the installation of:
- New flooring
- Countertops, and
Still, others may choose to add to their current home or even build a new modern-day dream house. Let's look at some of the most considerable renovations that can improve your home's value and make maintenance on your home easier to perform.
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1. Bathroom Remodeling/Renovations
Bathroom remodels are the most popular renovation among homeowners. There are a seemingly unlimited number of changes you can make to your bathroom. New flooring, cabinets, countertops, and fixtures can all be added, and new walls being built to create a gorgeous master suite.
Bathroom renovations can represent one of the best ROIs, with an average recoup of 56%-64% of the costs. Bathroom remodels can also make regular maintenance of your home easier, especially if the plumbing is updated because of an existing issue before the remodel.
2. Kitchen Remodeling/Renovations
Need another reason to remodel your kitchen? There is no shortage of reasons as this is the other most popular home renovation project. In addition to changing out cabinets, counters, and appliances, many homeowners choose to build new walls or completely remove old ones that have been there since the home was first constructed.
Kitchen renovations are also very common, not only for adding value to your home but because they can increase your quality of life. If you have ever had to move a kitchen appliance just so that you could get into the corner cabinets, there is something wrong with your design. A better-designed kitchen uses all available space and allows easy access to anything in any cabinet or storage area of the room.
Like a bathroom renovation, a kitchen update boasts an ROI of approximately 50%-60% of the renovation costs and can improve the ability to maintain this area of your home.
Plumbing updates can be costly but are well worth the expense because of the number of life-safety issues that are involved with this system. Plumbing is one of the key elements to check regularly. If any leaks are present around sinks, faucets, etc., they can be fixed.
However, if your plumbing is out of date or in disrepair, it may be time to replace larger sections of plumbing. Some signs that your plumbing should be replaced include:
- Water discoloration
- Lead, iron, or galvanized steel plumbing in older houses, or
- Low water pressure
In historic older homes, you'll often find exposed plumbing running through a basement. This is a great way to check your plumbing regularly. Likewise, if you find yourself fixing an individual leak somewhere in your home, take the opportunity to check the plumbing conditions surrounding it.
Siding is a great way to update the look of your home. However, if you've been putting off getting your siding maintained or replaced, it may be time for a change. Siding is often put on as a protective barrier against the elements.
If the siding on your home has deep gashes or dents in it, those elements may have gotten through and damaged more than just the siding itself. In these cases, an annual inspection can let you know if there's further damage to other parts of your home. Like many things around the house, though, if the siding is not visibly damaged but still old, it may be time for a change.
When it comes to regular home maintenance, to check whether it is time to replace your siding:
- Look for signs of mold or mildew.
- The siding should not be flaking or peeling away. If there is any place that may have water damage, it's best to replace the siding to avoid further damage.
- Check for small cracks in your windows, doors, and around the house's foundation. These could form over time due to weather changes or other environmental factors like heavy tree branches rubbing against them.
- Specifically, in older homes, look for any signs of rust or water damage. The siding on older homes is typically made of steel, which can rust if water gets trapped inside.
If there is any sign of rust or water damage on the exterior walls, it's best to have them replaced or repaired as soon as possible.
Proper insulation prevents rotting from outside sources. If insulation is missing, water can easily get into the wood of the house and cause it to rot. Any rotting wood can also lead to infestations by insects like termites.
The best way to check for insulation is simply by seeing if you feel cold air coming in through the exterior walls of your home. Feeling cold spots are a clear sign that there isn't enough insulation between your exterior wall and what's on the other side of it.
5. Basement Remodeling/Renovations
Adding on a basement recreation room or finished living space provides additional square footage to your home while increasing its value and making it easier for maintenance on existing rooms within the home.
Basement inspections are also crucial to avoid flood damage during heavy rains. Basements can be at risk for flooding in older homes, especially if the foundation has cracks or other flaws that add to water damage. These spaces can also be cramped, with not ample vertical space, making the space less usable as a finished room.
Another reason to inspect your basement is to ensure there are no cracks in the foundation walls. Foundation damage can cause your walls to crack, seep water and lead to a plethora of other problems within the house. Again, cracks in foundation walls can also cause an issue with flooding down below. You may need to inspect the exterior drainage around your home along with grading areas to make sure water can flow away from the home.
A proper foundation inspection will point out weaknesses in various parts of your home, such as:
- Chimneys, etc.
While many homeowners take preventative measures like graveling or re-grouting beneath their homes' foundation - others choose to pay for professional foundation repair if needed. If you're noticing that your concrete driveway is starting to crack, then it could be time to perform an inspection.
6. Electrical & Wiring Repairs
One of the most overlooked home updates is electrical repairs and wiring because they're less noticeable than major interior renovations such as kitchen and bathroom remodels. However, electrical maintenance can prevent potential life-safety issues like fires caused by faulty wiring or appliance malfunction that should be addressed right away.
Some potential signs of faulty wiring can include:
- Bubbles or scorch marks on the wire insulation
- Exposed or frayed wires/broken connectors
- Faulty switches and outlets.
Basic weatherproofing around your home can also extend the lifespan of appliances flooring and even prevent mold growth; if you're wondering why there's a musty smell inside your garage, it could be because the area isn't properly protected against humidity. Preventative measures like sealing gaps along exterior walls using caulk will help reduce the energy loss caused by drafts during the winter months.
Weatherproofing is especially important for older homes which are more likely to have air leaks. Older homes may not have been built with the same standards we use today, and it's important to check for drafts.
8. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can easily be leaked from appliances in your home when they aren't working properly. The most common causes of CO leaks are problems with furnaces and fireplaces, which have been improperly installed or maintained over the years. If you notice a warning sign in any room of your home, call a professional to prevent any long-term health or safety implications from the CO leak.
The importance of home maintenance extends beyond cosmetic cleaning and refinishing tasks. Not only will regular home maintenance save you money in the long term, but it is also a major factor in keeping your family and yourself safe.
Annual home inspections and strategic remodels and renovations in your home will increase your home's value and ward off safety hazards that could have costly costs for you later on.
- NY Times: Home Maintenance Checklist
- This Old House: How to Give Your House a Yearly DIY Inspection
- RenoFI: How Much Value Does a Bathroom Remodel Add?
- USA Cabinet Store: How Much Does a Kitchen Remodel Increase Value?
- BTA Inc: 4 Signs It Is Time to Update Your Plumbing
- YouTube: Building Science: Remodeling Old Homes
This article is reposted from RemodelGist