Tips to maintain your home and keep it from falling apart!
Just like a child, your home needs to be nurtured and just plain taken care of. If you have a foreclosure in your neighborhood, you know what can happen to a home that is not lived in. Things like a brown or dead lawn are just the precipice of what could happen to a neglected home.
Luckily for you, I have some tips to make sure your home does not fall victim to neglect and stays happy and healthy for years to come.
1. Say NO to Moisture!
One of the worst things that can happen to any home is MOLD! Mold can wreak havoc on not only your home, but your family too. It not only harms the structure and aesthetics of your home, but mold is responsible for a host of health problems including nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, and some sever illnesses like asthma in children, and chronic lung illness. (www.cdc.gov/molds)
So how can you keep these microscopic squatters from destroying your drywall, trim, roof, and health of your family?
The best way to deal with mold infestation is to keep moisture in your home to a minimum so the mold has nowhere to grow. Mold needs only 24-48 hours to start growing, so any organic surface that is damp for that long can and will grow mold.
Follow these steps to keep your homes relative humidity below 60%.
- Make sure you have ventilation to the outside in all area that could become damp like bathrooms and laundry rooms
- Run exhaust fan when taking a bath/shower and keep running for at least an hour afterwards
- Don’t let wet clothes pile up in the laundry room.
- Run air conditioner and/or de-humidifier during humid months
- Keep bathroom clean and free of mold
What do you do if you find mold in your home?
If it is small and manageable, clean with a household detergent containing bleach. (DO NOT mix bleach an ammonia as this can cause fumes that are harmful to humans and animals.) If it is on a surface that cannot be cleaned easily such as ceiling tiles, the best approach is replacement. If it is larger than you can handle, you may need a contractor or professional mold removal company to assist you.
A complete guide to mold cleanup can be found at www.epa.gov/mold .
As we learned earlier, moisture is an all-around bad deal for homes. To ensure you don’t get rot and your floors and cabinets keep in good working order, take a flashlight to all the fixtures and exposed pipes in your home. Inspect them for dripping or standing water, both above the fixture and below.
Some faucets can have a slow leak for months before producing enough water to see. This is often too late as the material has absorbed as much moisture as it will take and is likely beginning to rot. These repairs can be quite costly depending on how much of the floor or cabinet needs to be replaced.
Some pipe and fixture repairs can be fixed with products like caulk and plumbers putty, but if you find a job to big or difficult to handle, call a reputable plumber to help. You will be happy to spend $100-$300 upfront to fix the leak before you have to spend thousands repairing the damage it can cause.
3. Inspect and Repair Exterior of Your Home
One small patch of chipping or peeling paint can be like an infection, spreading and potentially cause irreversible damage to the siding/trim of your home’s exterior. It is vital to repair these small patches before you have to repaint or replace large patches of siding.
Find these spots by inspecting the entire exterior of your home thoroughly. This includes the eves, vents, trim, and soffits. To repair, scrape the area with a paint scraper, sand with general purpose sand paper, prime with exterior primer, and repaint to match home.
Inspect windows, sills, roof, chimney, and foundation for cracks, standing water, or mold that can cause moisture to infiltrate indoors or trim to begin rotting. A leaky roof may be able to be repaired, but if it is more than 20-25 years old, it may need to be replaced by a licensed contractor. Also, be sure your windows and doors have sufficient caulking/weather stripping to keep moisture at bay.
4. Inspect Heating/Cooling Systems and Water Heaters
Furnaces, Air Conditioners, and Water Heaters need regular maintenance to keep in proper working order. Most of these units come with a standard servicing schedule, but if you don’t have one, follow the general rule of thumb below.
- Furnaces and AC Units: You should have your electric or gas furnace serviced by an HVAC Professional at least every 2 years (Some HVAC Contractors will say service is required every year). The services they offer range widely as do the costs. Find a reputable company and ask what they recommend.
- Water Heaters: The typical tank style water heater should be serviced and cleaned every year, especially in regions with very hard water. Calcium and other sediment can lower the amount of water a heater can hold, as well as build up on the elements causing lowered efficiency. If you water heater is running fine, but has been a year or more since it was serviced last, the average homeowner can remove sediment themselves. This is done by shutting off power to the unit, draining all the water, removing the drain plug usually located near the bottom, and filling then draining the tank until the water runs clear. A good guide for this is located at www.thisoldhouse.com.
5. General Fit and Finish
Here is a short list of other minor items that should be given some attention to keep your home looking its best.
- Trim trees and shrubs within 3 inches from your house to prevent rot
- Clean your gutters and downspouts every year removing debris like needles and leaves
- Check smoke and CO2 Detectors every year
- Vacuum and clean refrigerator coils to ensure your food stays…well cold
- Pressure wash deck, patio, and patio furniture to remove debris and prevent mold
- Remove excess lint in clothes dryer vents and hoses
The last and most important thing you should do to maintain your home is live in it! A home is happiest when used. There is no sense in doing all this work and not enjoy the fruits of your labor.
I recommend at least 4 BBQ’s per year with several movie nights, game nights, and small gatherings in between. Making your home a gathering place will not only give you a reason to keep up on the maintenance, but make you, your family, and your home happy for years to come.