Lawn mowed once a week – check. Trash picked up and toys put away daily – check. Live in an apartment so you don’t have to do any maintenance – check. Done with your home maintenance checklist, right? Not so fast. There’s more to keeping your home healthy and in good shape, whether you live in a house, apartment, condo or igloo. As we move into 2016, let’s look at some new habits for home maintenance to add to your goals for the new year.
Home maintenance, like vehicle maintenance, is one of those things that’s easy to put in the back of the shelf until the roof leaks, water is running from the washing machine or the hot water heater gives up the ghost.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Agency (HUD) has a handy printable checklist for things to be done in fall, spring, once a year and when needed, as well as highlighting whether or not a skilled professional is needed to make repairs. According to HUD, getting into the habit of checking how your home is aging on a regular basis will help keep your home “dry, clean, well-ventilated, free from contaminants, pest-free, safe and well-maintained.”
Water leaks and drips might seem annoying but inconsequential; however,water leaks need to be looked at right away and, at least twice a year if there are no problems. Dripping water from one single faucet can cost as much as $20 a year, which adds up to 10,000 gallons of water a year per household per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The most common areas of dripping water are obvious – toilets running, shower heads or faucets dripping – and are easily fixed, if you know the right end of a wrench and screwdriver. According to the EPA, “a leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year,” equal to 180 extra showers.
Some experts suggest maintenance needs to be done in other areas at least monthly, including:
- Clean lint trap and outside dryer exhaust
- Test all GFCI outlets (the ones with the button in the middle of the outlets in bathrooms and kitchens)
- Vacuum under and behind the refrigerator (you’d be amazed what you’ll find)
- Check for signs of pests
- Clean the stove vent screen and check for build-up inside the vent
Twice a year, change the batteries in all your smoke detectors and test them to make sure they’re working as they should. Test your in-ground sprinkler system in the spring before turning it back on and in the winter just before you shut it off for the season; that way, you’ll know if leaks spring up over the winter. Clean out your gutters in the fall once all the leaves are off the trees and in the spring after the tree blooms are gone.
What if you rent? You still need to perform routine maintenance, aside from generally making sure your rental unit stays clean. Checking the lint trap and testing the GFCI outlets are essential monthly tasks, as well as cleaning the stove vent and vacuuming under and behind the refrigerator. You should also check to make sure your doors and windows are closing properly and no air is blowing through your closed windows. Report any problems to your landlord right away and document it in case there are questions later.
Setting up maintaining good habits for home maintenance, whether you own or rent, can mean real savings and a more comfortable place to live. It might take some extra time to perform the maintenance, but it’ll be worth it if it means you’ll save money on expensive repairs and avoid damage to your living space down the line.
Join us tomorrow for our last part of the series, setting up miscellaneous good habits for the new year to make you more comfortable (and they have nothing to do with dieting or exercising).