When you think about the total cost of your home, what comes to mind? The mortgage loan payment? Property taxes? Utilities? Insurance?
All of these costs factor into the total monthly expense of your home. But there’s another significant expenditure that may not come to mind right away: maintenance.
The overall condition and well-being of your home, both inside and out, depend mainly on how you handle maintenance tasks. You can’t avoid them altogether—even the best-maintained homes need attention occasionally, depending on weather conditions and how old they are. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to lower your home’s maintenance costs.
Ways to Lower Your Home Maintenance Costs
Keep up with the responsibilities
The most obvious way to lower home maintenance costs is, of course, by performing your household duties regularly—in other words, not waiting for extraordinary circumstances to occur before taking care of minor problems.
For example, you should routinely clean the gutters rather than wait until they are clogged and the water damage begins. Hire seamless gutter contractors to clean your gutters. They will check your gutters for potential issues and do a full inspection of the guttering system.
Inspect and prioritize
A rigorous approach to household maintenance will pay off for you over time. And the best way to begin is by inspecting your home regularly, focusing on priority areas at first and then proceeding to less critical areas as time goes on and money becomes available for maintenance tasks. Your goal should be to take care of anything that’s broken, loose, or in need of repair before it becomes a more severe problem.
Maintain your water heater
Don’t neglect your basement and garage—those are where the most basic household appliances are. A common mistake among homeowners is to wait until their water heater breaks down during the winter season before taking steps to prevent further problems. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways you can maintain your water heater to avoid this scenario:
Drain the sediment from the tank annually
Sediment gradually accumulates inside a water heater and can reduce energy efficiency and lifespan over time. If you have an older model without a drain valve, buy a bucket adapter from your local hardware store and attach it to the drain valve on your water heater. Each time you notice that your hot water runs out faster than usual, use the adapter to drain the sediment into a bucket before restarting the unit. Be careful not to damage or drop any control valves or other components inside the tank as you do this.
Drain the tank and flush the anode rods annually
If your water heater is newer and has a drain valve, use it to drain the tank every year, then replace the anode with a new one before restarting it. Anodes help control corrosion within the tank walls by attracting sulfur particles; they slowly deteriorate over time and should be replaced regularly—usually once every two to three years.
Test for leaks and corrosion each year
A water heater that develops a leak or corrodes over time will use more energy than one appropriately maintained, so keep an eye out for any of these problems. Suppose you do notice any water stains on the floor near the tank, corrosion discoloration on the tank walls, rust around bolts or fittings, or puddles of water on the floor. In that case, it’s time to schedule a visit from a professional plumber.
Schedule tune-ups annually
Scheduling regular maintenance appointments will help extend your heater’s lifespan and improve efficiency. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for perfection here. The best-maintained homes sometimes show a few signs of wear and tear. But good maintenance requires you to have a thorough understanding of the specific needs of each appliance, so be sure to educate yourself on your system’s particular components and operating procedures before hiring a service technician.
Regularly check safety controls
Another item that tends to slip many homeowners’ minds (and wallets) is maintaining safety controls like circuit breakers and fuses. These play a critical role in protecting your home from costly damage, so knowing when these devices need servicing is essential. When you notice frequent tripping or replacement of such items, schedule an inspection with an electrician as soon as possible.
Evaluate and replace your flooring materials carefully
Over the years, many homeowners have chosen to cover their floor with carpet or wood for aesthetic purposes. While these types of surfaces provide a certain warmth and comfort that tile or stone can’t match, they’re also more challenging to maintain than hard surfaces—and tend to be noticeably harder on the wallet.
Change your furnace filter regularly
The quality of air in your home can have a significant impact on your health and productivity. The study mentioned above by Harvard University found that people who live in homes with poor ventilation are more likely to be sick than those who live in well-ventilated spaces. This is attributed to the buildup of dust and other contaminants in the air caused by an unclean furnace filter.
Clean or replace your vents annually
Airflow from heating ducts works to control indoor humidity levels while at the same time helping to distribute conditioned air throughout a building’s interior. A heating system’s ability to do this depends upon two factors: the quality of the ductwork and airflow performance, both of which can be affected by a system’s vents. If you notice a significant loss of heat (or cool air) in certain areas or rooms, it could be because your vents are clogged or dirty.
The best way to save money on your home utilities is by understanding them. And that begins with learning how each appliance works and what you can do to keep it running smoothly.