After building or buying a home, we often focus too much on the visual and tangible aspects of upkeep, at the expense of the hidden necessities. We clean furniture and floors, store things properly, and meticulously manage the landscape.
But behind the drywall and the tile are important things that you should be in tune with, making sure to keep an eye out for problems and to keep things clean and efficient. The time and money you will spend on these steps will reap profits later in the form of reduced costs–and potentially, averted disaster.
Maintaining Your Climate Control
Our heat and air conditioning are usually out of sight and out of mind. We don’t think about them until the temperature starts going in a direction we don’t like. Then we’re in a panic, thinking we’re in for a four-figure repair job. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s right.
But a certain amount of that can be avoided. A well-maintained HVAC system is beneficial in lots of ways. First, of course, we have less wear and tear on the system. Compressors, fans, and the heavy electrical components of the systems are more durable when things are clean and minor repairs are made along the way.
Second, we use less energy. A system that’s clogged with dust or malfunctioning components has a higher impact on its energy consumption. Research here for savings on electricity, but first make sure your system is able to make the most of the energy you buy.
Fending Off Pests
Your wall looks pretty solid until it starts falling apart. That’s the impact of termites, who burrow out of sight and destroy the very integrity of important structural members like studs, floor joists, and window frames. An infestation that goes undetected for months or years can lead not only to expensive control measures but also to some very high repair costs. The same is also true of wood bees and larger pests like bats and mice.
Inspection is critical. Not everyone is physically able to go into crawlspaces and attics or to dig monitoring holes around foundations, so often a professional inspector should be used. Should this search result in a positive find, take action right away to minimize the impact. The longer you go without treating, the more damage is done. It’s definitely a case where you can pay now or pay later.
Watching For Water
There are few forces more destructive than water. Most people appreciate that when they see news reports from a flood or hear about the mess caused by a broken pipe.
But the fact is that water doesn’t have to invade your home in a huge, sudden move. The impact of a long-term, slow leak can be just as destructive because no one takes action to stop it.
There are two main water sources that can cause problems. The first is your municipal water. This is the water that is carried throughout your home by plumbing. A tiny leak can have little impact on anything visible, so you need to monitor for it. See if water stains mysteriously appear, and then take a measurement. If you are going out of town for a few days, look at your water meter and write down the reading on it. When you return, it shouldn’t have changed. If it has, water is leaking either in a fixture, such as a toilet or from a pipe somewhere. Either one will need attention.
The other leak source is outdoor water. This is from leaky roofs, or more covertly, cracks in foundations or poor drainage of water. Most of a home’s structure is designed to turn water away when it’s running off, but not for a long period of time, especially with heavy, wet soil pushing against it. Look for any unexplained dampness in your home, and take action if you find it.
Routine home maintenance can save money, both in the short-term and in the long-term. As you economize your life in other ways, keep good maintenance on the list. The headache and expense you avoid will be well worth the investment.