Learn How to Keep Your Home in the Best Shape Possible to Protect Your Investment
For most of us, our homes are the most important investments we have. We expect that our home values will increase over time, especially if we are committed to taking care of a house for the long run.
We live our lives with the expectation that if we’re good stewards of this space that has provided so much, someone down the road will see that good work and want to claim it as their own some day. However, there are far more “home maintenance tips” on the Internet than you could ever use in one lifetime. To make matters more challenging, the information you find there ranges from excellent to total nonsense – and tends to lean heavily toward the latter.
In the tips below, homeowners will find something different: clear, practical advice on how to maintain a home with no trends, filler, or misleading information at all. Remember, plenty of homeowners over the years have been able to successfully keep a beautiful home without the Internet; therefore, the best advice is the advice you hear about many other seemingly complicated things: keep it simple.
Focus on the Bones
Most folks know the expression “good bones,” as it’s been used to the point of cliche when discussing a house. However, there’s always a kernel of truth behind a well-worn phrase. Focusing on what makes a home strong, enduring, and safe all matter. Here are the “bones” every homeowner should focus on.
Your Foundation: The foundation is literally the base on which the rest of your house stands. You want to be sure that this base is in great condition, and that it’s not letting in moisture or showing signs of significant damage. Water can get into your home through your basement’s walls, and can cause wood rot, mold, and damage to your belongings inside.
Have a foundation repair expert take a look at any cracks, any leaning or bowing walls, and places where water may be getting in. Then, you’ll know this key element (there’s a reason why it’s called the foundation) is safe and secure. On your own, you can ensure that dirt is properly filled around your foundation’s walls, and keep an eye out for water and cracks, especially when there are shifts between dry and wet seasons, as that’s when most foundation issues tend to occur, due to shifting soil.
The Roof: Ensuring that your roof keeps out moisture and can protect you from storm damage as well as the hotter and colder seasons is essential. Have a roofing company do an inspection (which is typically free) to tell you what needs repair, what’s in working order, and what you can do to maintain this investment. Your conversation will likely focus on any damaged shingles, the flashing that protects moisture from getting beyond the shingles, and insulation.
On your own, definitely be sure to check out your roof after storms, and learn how to fill in insulation in your attic where it is needed. Also be sure to keep your gutters clean of debris at least twice a year.
Your HVAC System: This is probably the most expensive “appliance” in your home, so it’s important to keep it in good condition. After all, it’s what makes every home livable throughout the year, especially when you live in an area of the country with dips and spikes in temperature.
While an HVAC technician is your best bet for the maintenance of this system to ensure its longevity, there is much you can do on your own.
Make sure you change your air filters every 60 to 90 days (stay closer to 60 if you have pets), and never overrun your system. There’s no need to keep it pumping when you’re away or when you’re cozy under blankets. The purchase of a smart thermostat can also do wonders for your system’s endurance as well as your energy bill, so you don’t overuse this appliance when it’s not necessary.
Your Plumbing: Plumbing is a mystery to most folks, but it doesn’t have to be. If drains are clogging, and the clogs don’t disappear with typical hardware store remedies, you need a plumber. If you’re noticing strange smells or water backed up in the basement, there may be an issue as well. Do you notice any leaks or dripping either visibly or audibly? These are signs that your plumbing needs to be looked at. However, once some of the most obvious causes of plumbing issues are eliminated, and you continue to practice good homeownership skills like not disposing of waste improperly, you’ll be in good shape overall.
Your Electrical System: An electrical system can also be a mystery for homeowners, and most electrical work is best left to the professionals, as it can be dangerous to DIY. Here’s what to look for: exposed wires or outlets; lights that blink or flash sporadically; any wires that have been worn down; electrical wiring that looks like it was “thrown together” by an amateur; wiring that is too close to flammable items or water sources.
Once these telltale signs of danger are taken care of by a professional, your electrical system should be in good shape. Then you can focus on “spot check” repairs as needed. Keep in mind too, that you may have inherited an outdated fuse box. Have it checked from time to time to see if it’s still working as it should; however, you wouldn’t be the first homeowner to have to replace one, especially if you live in an older home.
Stick with the Bones, and the Rest Will Fall Into Place
If you can keep these important parts of your home in great shape, the rest is easy. Landscaping, cleaning, interior design, and typical home maintenance chores that take less than a day are no sweat at all.
The “bones” mentioned above are the most expensive elements in your home, and if those are in great shape, you can rest easy at night, knowing that you have time to focus on the most important part of owning a home: making memories.