If you came here looking for someone to tell you that you don’t have to replace your air filters or clean behind the refrigerator, you’ve come to the wrong place. Being a homeowner means taking responsibility for all the irksome chores that keep your home systems running smoothly; if you neglect any of the following tasks – even if you hate doing them – you could encounter a costly problem not covered by your insurance policy.
Admittedly, there is a way you can protect your home from bigger maintenance problems, like a malfunctioning A/C unit or old, leaky pipes: a home warranty. Home warranties guarantee the function of various systems around your home, such as your appliances, your HVAC, your plumbing and your electrical. If you’re wondering how much a home warranty costs, you can find out with a little research into regional providers.
However, neither home warranties nor homeowners insurance will pay out if your negligence is shown to have caused the problem. So, instead of dragging your feet, learn about the most annoying home maintenance tasks that are critical to the safety and proper function of your home and complete these jobs dutifully – or suffer the consequences.
Testing the Sump Pump
If your home has a basement – finished or unfinished – you probably have a sump pump. These devices work to keep moisture out of your underground spaces, which means when they fail, basements can experience extensive (and expensive) damage. You need to test your sump pump regularly to recognize signs of imminent failure and avoid these costly malfunctions.
Annoyingly, this requires several steps. First, you should identify the outdoor pipe that carries water from the pump; this pipe should be free of dirt and debris, so water can flow out freely. Next, find your sump pump – usually in a mechanical closet in your basement – and unplug everything. Then, only plug the pump’s cord into the outlet; you should hear the pump turn on. If it doesn’t, you might want to replace your pump.
Cleaning the Gutters
Another chore that will result in devastating water damage if left uncompleted, cleaning the gutters is messy and gross – but it has to be done. Thankfully, this task doesn’t require any technical know-how, so you can outsource gutter-cleaning to your kids or any enterprising teens in the neighborhood. As long as all the gunk and junk is out of your gutters, your home will be safer.
Dusting Fridge Coils
You might not expect it, but the thing that keeps your food well-chilled might very well be the thing that sets your house on fire. That’s because dust, pet hair, cobwebs and other debris collects in the hollow behind your refrigerator, where the condenser coils are located. All that gunk prevents the coils from efficiently releasing heat; the best case scenario is that they reduce your fridge’s efficiency, but at worst, they could catch aflame and burn your house down.
Cleaning the coils is easy enough: Use the hose attachment on your vacuum to suck up the bigger hunks of debris and a coil-cleaning brush to pick up the smaller, harder-to-reach dust. You only need to do this once per year, so it shouldn’t bother you too much.
Cleaning Around Windows
There’s no replacement for a big, beautiful window – but windows do require a bit more work. Air, moisture, pests and worse can make their way into your home through poorly maintained windows, so you should stay on top of the following window-related chores:
- Clean window wells. If you have windows built into your basement rooms, you need to be sure the wells around those windows are kept dry and clear of debris. Even a few leaves could cause drainage problems, so keeping the wells clear is crucial.
- Clean window weep holes. Sliding windows and modern vinyl windows often come with weep holes, which allow water collected inside the window pane to drain. However, these holes can clog with dirt and other gunk, so you should clean them out once per month.
- Recaulk around windows. Weather can cause the caulk around windows to dry, crack and peel away, drastically reducing the efficiency and effectiveness of your windows. You should inspect your windows for aged caulk every six months or so.
Draining Your Water Heater
The water heater is one appliance that most people set and forget – but you shouldn’t. Over time, sediment carried into the tank with water will settle at the bottom, creating hot spots that burn through the tank, causing leaks and inefficiencies. Both gas and electric water heaters suffer these ills, so you should spend a few minutes every year taking care of this problem.
Fortunately, the fix is relatively easy. First, turn off the heater’s gas or power as well as various valves that allow water to flow in and out of the tank. Next, find the drainage spigot, and place a bucket beneath it or else attach a garden hose that leads outside. Turn on the spigot, and allow the water to run until you don’t see any more sediment flowing out.
Of course, there are plenty of other home maintenance tasks you should keep up with – cleaning the bathrooms, washing the dishes, pulling weeds, etc. – but many of those won’t endanger your home if you let them slide. As long as you are diligent about the above-listed important tasks, you should be able to keep your investment safe.