How To Apply A Top-Down Design To Yearly Home Maintenance

Twentieth century American impresario Sol Hurok once said, “The sky’s the limit if you have a roof over your head.” While he wasn’t talking about home ownership, the quote still applies. If you own a house, the last thing you want to do after signing away twenty or more years of your life to mortgage payments is find out that the property value has gone down. One real estate agent suggests that homes left in a state of disarray could price up to $20,000 less than its original value when it comes time to put that home back on the market.

Upkeep Ups Your Home’s Value
The easiest way to retain your home’s value is by keeping up to date on general maintenance and repairs. Most of them are things you can do yourself and if you don’t know how then there is usually a YouTube instructional video for how to do it. Some things, like electrical and plumbing issues, still require calling in a professional, though. The best part is, the more proactive maintenance you take care of now, the more free time you’ll have in the future to enjoy the fruits of your labors.
Sadly, the things that are easiest to fix are often the ones that get overlooked the most. A quick trip to the hardware store for a tube of caulk can repair sidewalk cracks or fill gaps along the outside of windows. Taking care of loose or damaged shingles can prevent roof leaks, which lead to a host of other problems on down the road.
What’s on Your Checklist?
A yearly maintenance checklist is the best way to keep your home from looking dingy. Here are some things that are on my list. Are the things you do, too?

  • Chimney – You should check for loose mortar as well as cracked or missing stones and bricks. Whether cleaning it yourself or hiring a chimney sweep, be sure they use a vinyl brush to avoid cracking the flue. Check the flashing around the chimney to make sure water isn’t leaking through which could cause moisture and mildew problems to the roof.
  • Roofs – In addition to the checks around your chimney, be sure that flashing around skylights, vents, and other features are firmly in place. Use a brush (like a nylon-bristled paint brush) to clean dust from vents. And any loose or missing shingles will need repaired as soon as possible to prevent roof leaks. If you hate cleaning gutters, try using a product like Flo-Free Leaf Guards which not only keeps your gutters from filling up with leaves and twigs, but also discourages birds, bees, and other insects from nesting there.
  • Attic – Your attic should have some kind of ventilation. Make sure that the vent is unblocked and free of dust. More importantly, check for signs that small mammals or birds have broken through and potentially made a home up there. All attics should be outfitted with a smoke detector, so be sure and check that it’s in good working order, too.
  • Front Porch, Siding, and Paint – Make sure the front porch and any stairs and railing are in good repair. Replace damaged sections of wood and secure any loose ends. Take care of peeling paint, especially before harsh weather sets in for the winter.
  • Windows, Screens, and Shutters – Check for cracked glass and torn screens, repairing as necessary. Cleaning storm windows should be done twice a year, in the spring and then again in the fall. Secure loose shutters and replace any that are missing.
  • Door – Oil the hinges and make sure they’re fastened tightly into both the door and the door jam. Check out the seal around the door. If there’s a draft then all your money for heating and air conditioning is for naught. Finally, make sure the locks and door knobs are in good working order.
  • HVAC – You should change or clean out filters on a regular basis. This helps keep dust and debris from clogging up your system and making it work harder than necessary. And speaking of the system itself, make an annual appointment for a service tech to check over the unit and perform repairs if necessary.
  • Appliances – Ensure that seals are tight on your refrigerator and freezer and vacuum behind them at least once a year. Clean the lint trap in your dryer and make sure the outside vent hose is free from blockage. Have you cleaned your washing machine lately? Pour a couple of cups of white vinegar or the juice from freshly squeezed lemons into the tub of the machine. Then, run a cycle on the hottest setting to get rid of odors as well as stains and caked on build-up from messy detergents.
  • Hot Water Heater – At least once a year you should drain the tank on your hot water heater and empty any sediment from the bottom.
  • Basement – Are your basement floors and walls damp? Is there standing water in a corner of the basement? If so you’ll want to take care of those to prevent mold and mildew from making a home in your subterranean living space. If you use a dehumidifier, clean it every time you change or clean your HVAC filters.

Use the Internet to Preserve Your Home’s Age
Online services like Evernote and Google Calendar are a great way to be reminded of when it’s time to take care of home maintenance issues. Both allow you to sync the information with other family members, creating a network of responsible home ownership. Also set aside an emergency cash fund to take care of everything from broken faucets to broken appliances. Taking care of general maintenance issues not only preserves the value of your house, but it’s also part of what makes it your home.

Successful freelancer writer Mark Harris might live on the beautiful western coast of Canada, but when it comes to home maintenance he’ll go to great lengths to get the best advice. For instance, when he had a question about gutters he contacted a friend who highly recommended to get the job done. When he’s not working or working on maintaining his home’s appearance, he and his wife enjoy kayaking and hiking.