Buying your first house is very exciting, although it does come with a certain amount of trepidation. Now that you’ve parted with a big chunk of your life-savings, how do you keep your home in good condition, maximizing your comfort and enjoyment while at the same time safeguarding the value of this important investment?
Take it from the Coop! Don’t wait for issues to become emergencies before addressing them! Tackle home maintenance projects on an ongoing basis, one project at a time. You’ll learn that these projects don’t take over your life or empty your wallet, and you might even find that you’re handy!
Here is the Coop’s list of ‘must-do’ maintenance tasks, compiled especially for new homeowners. Most of these tasks can be completed without the help of a professional, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – contact an expert when a project is beyond your capabilities.
- Know where your circuit breaker box and utility shut-off switches are located in case you ever have an emergency and need to utilize them. In particular, make sure you know where your water shut-off valve is located!
- Check the HVAC system’s air filter(s) to ensure it’s clean and will give you the maximum amount of air possible while filtering out contaminants such as mold, mildew, bacteria, viruses, dust, dirt pet dander, and pollen. Ask your HVAC technician how often the air filter should be replaced. If someone in your home has allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues, consult with the HVAC technician to see whether you need a higher level of air filtration and purification.
- Your sump pump protects your home from flooding. Hopefully, it rarely operates, but it’s critical when you need it! Test to make sure it’s working properly once or twice a year.
- Flush your water heater once a year to minimize sediment build-up — especially if you have hard water– which is often the case in Bucks County and the surrounding areas.
- Clean your gutters – particularly in the fall after the leaves drop — but spot-check year-round as needed. Gutters move rain water away from your home so there’s less likelihood that it will leak through the roof or infiltrate your siding. Moreover, your gutters are potentially a breeding ground for mosquitos when they’re clogged.
- Inspect pipes and plumbing fixtures for leaks, slow drains, and clogged aerators to make sure your plumbing system is operating efficiently. Call a professional plumber if you see a problem or for a more expert inspection.
- Vacuum/dust refrigerator coils located either underneath or in back of the appliance to ensure dust and dirt aren’t straining its ability to operate. (Read the manual if you’re not sure where the coils are located.) While you’re at it, vacuum air vents and returns so dust doesn’t accumulate and obstruct the airways.
- Consult with a professional HVAC technician who will inspect and tune-up your system so it performs at its best when you need it. You’ll want to schedule preventative maintenance once a year for the heater and once yearly for the AC.
- Although you should empty out the lint vent every time you dry a load of wash, once or twice a year, use a long skinny brush to make sure all the piping is free of lint and particles that can clog the venting over time and prevent it from operating effectively.
- Check the batteries for your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s suggested that you do it twice a year, when moving your clock forward or back.
- Inspect your deck and reseal and stain every few years to make sure the wood doesn’t rot.
- Inspect the exterior of your house, and if you see that paint is peeling or the siding is cracking or chipping, it should be addressed to protect the shell of your home.
- Examine the caulking and grout around your windows and doors (inside and out) and throughout your kitchen and baths to alleviate water issues that can cause lots of damage before they’re even noticed.
- Check your crawl space and basement for any evidence of water seeping into the house which can cause mold. If there’s no sign of water, but your basement smells funky, it would be wise to contact an HVAC technician who can check the humidity level in your home and offer suggestions and solutions.
- Look for cracks on your driveway that indicate it’s time to reseal the asphalt to protect it from water infiltration.