Look for paint that is peeling and cracks that need sealing. What other simple jobs could you do that will reduce or eliminate costly repairs later? By keeping up on small maintenance jobs you can save money on larger repairs, protect your home equity and possibly increase the resale value of your home.
Start at the top with the roof. Check for winter damage. Look for missing or damaged shingles and arrange for them to be replaced. If flashings in valleys, joints and around chimneys or vents are rusted or damaged in other ways, they should be repaired or replaced.
In the attic, check the underside of the roof for water stains that could indicate leaks. Open vents and check protective screens.
Check gutters and downspouts. If gutters and downspouts are clogged, water can back up under the shingles and cause structural damage. Remove debris from clogged gutters using a garden hose or your hands. Gutters should also be checked for holes, leaks and missing or bent hangers.
Check for moisture in the basement. If a problem appears to be caused by run-off from the roof or from surface water, the problem can often be corrected by directing water away from the basement. To help direct water away from the house, use a six-foot gutter extension on downspouts, and slope the ground away from the house, allowing at least two inches of slope per foot. Patch cracks in basement walls and follow with a coat of sealer.
Other items on the home maintenance checklist include:
- Clean window wells, if necessary.
- Check driveways and walkways for cracks and other deterioration; patch if needed.
- Replace storm windows with screens.
- Service air conditioner before it will be needed.
- Clean porch, patio or deck and waterproof, if needed.
- Check lawn and garden areas for other hazards, like uneven ground or a fence that might need repair.
- Service the lawn mower, store gas and oil out of children's reach.
- Check garden hose for leaks, repair or replace.
- Check and clean the clothes dryer vent; a clogged vent can reduce the effectiveness of the dryer. It can also cause a fire.
Basic home maintenance usually is not expensive or time-consuming; however, it can reduce or eliminate repair as well as replacement costs in the future. Keeping your house well tuned helps make it safer, more energy efficient, more economical and more comfortable.
Resources to help you learn more about maintaining a safe, energy-efficient, economical and comfortable home include: Making Homes Healthier for Families at www.hud.gov; Healthy Homes partnership at www.uwex.edu/healthyhome. The National Center for Environmental Health at www.cdc.gov/nceh and The American Cleaning institute at www.cleaninginstitute.org.
Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.