It’s no secret that owning a home brings on a lot more responsibility than renting: if something breaks down, no landlord will come to fix the problem – you’re on your own. This includes keeping the home clean and well-maintained all year round. By now, your mortgage lender, realtor, and your mother have told you how important it is to have a well-kept home, and the Internet’s told you a million ways to do it. Let’s sum it up into an effective yearly plan.
Set up a home maintenance fund
Your home is nothing short of an investment, and once you’ve bought it, you should expect to continue investing in its maintenance, so that when the time comes, you can get a good return. A rule of a thumb is to allocate about 1-3% of your home’s initial purchase price for upkeep and repairs. The U.S. Census has come to a figure of $3,000 a year, which is the amount an average home requires for proper maintenance. Paying for repairs and maintenance will become much easier once you accept that setting an upkeep budget aside isn’t an option, but a necessity.
Take care of hardwood floors
Old or new, hardwood floors in your house are here to stay, but their upkeep can be challenging. Apart from dust that the occupants bring in from the basement and the outdoors, it seems that footprints and spills never end. Many homeowners are happily recommending a cordless and rechargeable Swivel Sweeper with interchangeable brushes, which can be found on Amazon. Another great tool is the Hardwood Floor Spray Mop with refillable cartridges. Both cleaners have a lean swiveling design which allows them to get to hard-to-reach areas. Hardwood floor maintenance should be done weekly.
Prevent sewage backup
Unpleasant odors from the bathroom and kitchen drain and slow draining are the first signs of a clogged system that leads to the communal water sewage grid. Unless tackled, the problem can grow to disastrous proportions, with liquid waste returning up through your drains, especially if your house has multiple toilets and floor drains. However, the culprit is more likely in your front yard than in the house. Always reaching out for moisture, tree roots in your garden may have wrapped around the pipes, dislodging junctions or causing cracks, or in the case of clay pipes used in many older homes, completely breaking through.
Luckily for us, there are companies today that offer trenchless pipe relining, a process in which a textile liner-sleeve is soaked in environmentally-friendly resin and then inserted into an existing pipe using compressed air. This way there are no excavations, so your landscaping remains intact. If you’ve purchased an older home, consider preventive pipe relining, if nothing else, to buy yourself a peace of mind.
Check for leaks
A small leak can easily grow into a big problem. Aside from elemental damage to your floors, walls, appliances and insulation, unless discovered on time, a leak can instigate mold growth, which comes with its own set of problems. It pays to check for water leakage or dripping under the fridge and dishwasher. You can do it by laying a few paper towels under the appliances and using them to check for moisture. Leaks can cause internal corrosion and mechanism damage even when it comes to your washing machine. Checking for leaks should be your weekly or bi-weekly routine.
Check caulking for damage
Wet areas such as kitchens and bathrooms are the most susceptible to this kind of damage, so you should check them every three to four months. You might have applied new caulking around the countertop, only to see it peeling away after a short while. The same accounts for caulking around bathtubs and showers, where damaged sealing can allow moisture to seep into the downstairs ceiling or give way to mold infestation. Always try to use 100% latex or silicone caulk instead of acrylic, so it wouldn’t shrink and crack over time. It comes in squeeze tubes which are easy to apply and control for small jobs like these.
Have a special notebook or a binder where you’ll keep receipts and records of all the maintenance and repairs you’ve completed while you owned the home. This will not only help you remember the dates and tasks you’ve done, but also how much you invested in your house over time.
About the author: Mike Johnston is a home improvement blogger, DIY enthusiast and sustainability buff from Sydney. He is a regular writer at Smooth Decorator and contributor on several interior design, real estate and eco blogs, always on the lookout for new ideas and the latest trends in these fields.