Whether you’re a new homeowner or you’ve had your house for years, here are some tips to keep your home in tip-top shape.
1. Don’t ignore maintenance issues
It’s easy to get caught up in daily life and put off those repairs, particularly when they cost a lot of money. But putting them off will usually cost more money in the long run, especially when a leaky pipe bursts, an electrical shortage ends up blowing out your brand new High Definition (HD) TV, or mold growth occurs. One small leaky pipe that could be fixed in a couple of hours could end up costing you days and thousands of dollars in damages.
2. Inspect regularly
Easiest way to stay on top of your repairs is to set up regular inspections. Once a year is usually all that is needed, but doing a quick inspection every time you change your clocks is an easy way to remember. Make sure to check your attic (catching an early rodent infestation will save you thousands), insulation, roof, and basement. Don’t forget the minor things like cleaning your vents, running toilets and faucets, and checking underneath sinks for leaks! If you’re looking for a professional to inspect your home, check with your local BBB or you can try Angie’s List to find a qualified professional.
3. Create a home maintenance checklist
While you’re at it, you should keep a list of all the tasks that should be done monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually. If you stagger the list, you can handle your entire house with an easy monthly schedule that, barring any major improvements or repairs, you’ll be able to finish your upkeep in just an hour or two each month.
4. Mark cracks with tape
Living in California, we’re all too familiar with earthquakes. Many times, they happen even when we don’t feel them. If you notice any cracks in your basement walls or in your crawl space walls, mark them with masking tape and put the date on it. When you check them at your next inspection and you notice that the crack has moved passed the tape, then you know you’ve got a problem. Fixing a problem before it gets out of hand could save you bundles.
5. Hot water heater should be set to below 120 degrees fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius)
Most people do not need water above 120°F as that temperature is sufficient to disinfect and clean. The energy that is required to keep the hot water heater above 120°F is wasted. By reducing the temperature, you’ll save energy and reduce your utility bills. Although most water heaters have insulation, not all have great insulation. An easy way to keep the heat and to further reduce your energy bills is to purchase a water heater blanket.
6. Wrap pipes with insulation
Exposed hot water pipes are another source of wasted money. By insulating exposed water pipes you can make a two to four degree difference in the temperature of the water. Begin with the first several feet next to the water heater and at the faucet. Even if you only insulate those sections, you’ll see a difference in how fast hot water gets out of the faucet.
7. Keep home improvement records
And since you have started keeping a maintenance checklist, why not have one place for all of your receipts and warranty information? Keeping everything together will save you a lot of frustration down the road. Even if you buy all new appliances when you moved in to your home, they all have different life expectancies. Keeping track of every home improvement you make, from sealing the bathtub with caulk or repairing your roof, will help with its resale value if/when you sell your home.
8. Hire contractors
Simple DIY projects and painting can be a lot of fun, but making improvements and repairs on your home when you’re not qualified won’t save you money. Electrical, roof repairs, and plumbing are just a few of the areas that you’ll really want a professional to come in and do the job right. There are a lot of great websites for tips on hiring a contractor in California such as CalChamber and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
9. Check the trees on your property
If you haven’t already done so, schedule an inspector to check the trees on your property. Some trees have invasive roots that can damage foundation, bust pipes, and of course, crack driveways and sidewalks; all of which will cost a bundle of money to repair. You’ll also want to check the health of the trees, especially if you live in California. Our water drought has caused some major root damage to some of the older trees. In addition, a tree will stop producing as many leaves as it would normally, thus leaving it exposed to infestations and disease. You’ve probably have seen the damage that a fallen tree can cause. A claim such as that will definitely increase your insurance premium.
10. Check your insurance policies for any gaps
If you’re financing your home, then your mortgage lender requires you to purchase enough insurance to replace the property if a disaster strikes. If you’ve recently made improvements to your home, you might be underinsured if the value of your home has gone up. Additionally, if you are the primary income earner, you’ll want to make sure you have life insurance and disability-income insurance to replace your income if something happens to you. If you live in California and want to get a life insurance quote, fill out our free online quote form.