Your home is most likely the most important (and expensive) purchase that you will ever make. Many of us will spend 30 or more years making payments before it can even be considered ours. It is the place where you spend the majority of your time and the place where you should feel the most secure. For these and many other reasons, your home deserves your attention when it comes to maintenance and general repair.
If you have ever purchased a car, you have surely been informed about the importance of regular maintainance. "At the very least," a car dealer once told me, "make sure you bring it in for regular oil changes". It makes sense and no one wants to get stuck on the side of a dark highway away from home becuase they failed to maintain their car. We change our tires because we dont want to suffer a blow out, we have our brakes checked becuase we dont want to get into an accident, and we change our oil religiously every 3,000 miles because we cant afford to replace the engine in the car we drive that is still technically owned by the bank!
But what about our homes? Just because they are not "in motion" or because we can't get stopped by the police for a faulty lightbulb doesn't mean we should focus our attention on care and maintanance. Many of us will change the cabin air filters in our car before thinking about dusting out the filters in our home air conditioners. We will fasten our seat belts if for no other reason than to stop the annoying warning buzzer before we drive off to work but we wont hesitate to remove the battery from our smoke detector because it keeps going off everytime we cook.
Spring is the perfect time of year to focus some attention on your home. You can use these bulletpoints to help get you started:
- TAKE CARE OF THE OBVIOUS ITEMS FIRST!
If your back door deadbolt can no longer secure your home or the loose handrail on your staircase if just waiting to fall down, these are the things you want to take care of right away. Repairs will generally Trump maintainance. There usually isnt a need to perform a safety inspection of your living quarters- you know your home best and you know what needs to be taken care of. Think in terms of safety and address the the most critical items first.
- BATTERIES ARE CHEAP
One of the simplest things you can do on a periodic basis is change batteries. Smoke dectectors are the most obvious items that need regular battery changes but there are probably several other items in your home that rely on batteries. Many phone systems like FIOS rely on battery back-ups in the event of a power failure. Alarm systems, landscape controllers, flashlights, and clocks should also be checked.
- CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS
Anything that relies on air movement will generally have a filter of some sort. If you have central air conditioning or even window AC units, there are likely filters that need to be cleaned or replaced. Many newer homes also have air movement handlers that need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Check humidifiers, dehumidifies, vent hoods, and exhaust fans. If you have a clothes dryer, it is important to periodically vacuum out the exhaust duct. Even the refridgerator with run better and more effectively, if the coils are cleaned periodically.
- A DROP OF OIL CAN WORK WONDERS
There may be a long list of items in your home that could use a drop or two of lubricant. A general purpose 3in1 oil or even a small can of WD-40 is all that is usually needed. Focus on door hinges, windows, sliding drawers and doors that have bearing mechanisms, locksets and garage door bearings.
- FIX THE LEAKS
A leaky faucet, hose cock or toilet is not only annoying and can waste gallons of water over a period of time, but if left indefinately can lead to bigger problems. Leaking faucets can usually be repair with a kit available at most home centers for a few dollars. Toilet repair kits are also available for a variety of problems. Jot down the the make and model of your faucet or toilet before going to the hardware store to make sure you get the right parts for the job.
- PAINT CAN BE A PROTECTANT
This is especially important for surfaces exposed to the weather: steps, decks, hand rails, moulding... anything made of wood should have some sort of protective coating on it. If left unprotected, rot will begin to set in and eat away the wood. A simple coat of paint can help to protect these vunerable areas. They will look better too!
- ASK FOR HELP WHEN NEEDED
If there is a repair that you dont feel comfortable attacking on your own, or if you simply dont have the time to devote to regular maintainance, call someone who can help. It is ok- most of us do not change the oil in our car in our driveways. Sometimes it makes sense to call a pro who performs these checks on a regular basis and has the resources and all the proper tools to make the fixes tht needs to be done,
Handy Andy, Fix It! is available at your convenience to help your with home maintanance and repairs. Estimates are always free and we will take the time to explain what needs to be done and why. But remember, whether you call a professional or do it yourself- don't neglect your most valuable asset!