Routine home maintenance is critical to keeping a home safe, functional, and comfortable. Sadly, many homeowners live oblivious to this important aspect until an HVAC breaks down, gutters overflow, or the chimney gets clogged. They don’t know that a dollar spent on home maintenance can help save approximately $100 in future replacements and repairs. Experts recommend allocating 1% of a home’s purchase price to yearly home upkeep.
If your home costs $400,000, you can spend $4000 on maintenance. You’re probably wondering if general cleaning would pass for home maintenance. The truth is home maintenance is more thorough. You need to check areas that need repairs, check the roof and sink for leaks, change the filters of the HVAC systems, and so much more. Here are 10 areas you should check when it’s time for maintenance.
1. A Septic Tank
A septic tank is one area you must visit when it’s time for maintenance. When you buy a home, you have two ways of sewage treatment—rely on the municipal wastewater system or build your septic system. If the latter, you must understand how it works and familiarize yourself with ways of maintaining it to extend its life by preventing leaks.
Generally, home wastewater flows to a septic tank, which separates solid waste from liquid waste. The liquid waste is directed to a soil treatment site, while solid waste remains in the septic tank. The septic tank acts as a biocreator, breaking solid waste into liquids and gases. Proper maintenance ensures it performs this role perfectly and lasts long.
A well-maintained septic system can last 15-40 years. The best way to do it is to regularly inspect the tank for leaks. Walk around the tank and look for areas where grass is denser than other yard parts.
A leaking tank provides ample waste for plants to thrive. You’re also likely to note a foul odor. You may also have a technician inspect it for leaks while pumping it. A septic tank must be pumped every 2-5 years, depending on its size and the number of people in your household.
It’s important to liaise with a professional to know the number of times the tank needs pumping. Homes equipped with garbage disposal that dispose of waste in septic systems require more frequent pumping.
The next step of maintaining a septic tank is to limit water usage. This is probably challenging, but you want to limit your household’s water usage to 70 gallons per day for every member of a single-family home. Since the water a household uses drains in the septic tank, the more water a family saves, the less water enters the tank.
Part of maintaining a septic tank includes marking off the leach field and alerting people using the area that it can’t support heavy loads. The field is the most delicate part of a septic system as it comprises pipes stretching the entire field length. People can walk in the area, but trailers, cars, and other heavy machinery can damage the buried pipes.
It’s also important to check the field for clogs. Even after limiting the amount of water your family can use and inspecting the tank, the leach field can still get clogged. It happens during the rainy season when there’s excess water flooding the system. A telltale sign of a clogged leach field is having a backed-up plumbing system, slow-draining drains, standing water, or unusual mushy ground.
Next, keep a good maintenance record. Such information can help you determine the number of times the tank has been inspected and the outcomes. It also comes in handy when selling the property. Since septic systems scare off buyers, providing maintenance records makes the property more appealing.
2. The Garage Door
A garage door is one investment you want to keep working as it has an incredible return on investment. Not only does it increase the value of your home, but it also keeps your car and other items safe. However, you must maintain it to increase its effectiveness and value.
Garage door maintenance should be after twice a year or after every 18 months depending on the use. Waiting longer increases the likelihood of damage. So how should you maintain a garage door? The first step is to inspect it for faults. We often open and close garage doors inside the garage, making it challenging to identify any faulty areas. It would help to open and close the door inside and look out for scraping, squeaking, and grinding sounds. It could be the hinges have come off and need to be replaced or lubricated. Look for signs of damage such as:
- Water damage
- Peeling paint
- Rust spots
- Termites on the wooden area
Next, tighten the brackets and the bolts using a socket wrench. Garage doors open and close many times, making the bolts come loose over time. A good rule of thumb is to inspect them twice yearly to ensure they’re tight.
Another critical aspect of maintaining a garage door is lubricating. Constant movement can cause friction, and applying a lubricant on the moving parts can eliminate it. You want to add lithium grease to the itinerary when it’s time for maintenance to lubricate areas like the overhead springs and the opener chain.
You must also check the weatherstripping as it prevents debris and drafts from entering your garage. A good rule of thumb is to check it for tears and cracks before and after summer and winter. Ask a garage door service to help you if it needs to be replaced.
3. The Driveway
Your driveway probably has asphalt paving which needs maintenance. Asphalt has become a choice material for driveways due to its durability and low maintenance, but it still needs a little TLC. If not well-maintained, it develops cracks and potholes and fades.
Asphalt driveways also develop problems due to surface depression, corrosion, and puddle formation. When their surfaces absorb water, it penetrates through the cracks, destroying the base, which causes potholes to form.
Also, natural elements like hail, heavy rains, and bulky items can cause the surface to crack. As such, the first thing to do when it’s time for maintenance is to repair the cracks. You must avoid using store-bought sealers or putty to fix the cracks; instead, ask a licensed asphalt contractor to help you.
You also need to keep the driveway clean. Cleaning could be a routine task, but it would help to commit to a monthly day for thorough cleaning. This involves using special cleaning products to remove fuel and oil stains that damage the driveway.
Drain any standing water is another great way to maintain an asphalt driveway. Stagnant water compromises the structural integrity of the surface and, if not drained, can cause cracks. You may ask a professional to help you grade the driveway away from your house to prevent pooling at the edges.
Asphalt driveways also need sealcoating, which involves layering the surface with a durable, waterproof layer. Sealcoating protects the paving from UV rays and makes it repellent to oil, moisture, and fuel. Generally, a seal coat should be replaced every three to five years, depending on location, traffic, and natural elements. Therefore, if this period has lapsed and it’s time for maintenance, it would help to re-apply it. A new seal coat also gives your asphalt paving a fresh appearance.
4. The Roof
The roof is another critical part that needs routine maintenance. A good rule of thumb is to inspect the roof at least twice a year to save money. The first thing you must look for is leaks. They are a major cause of roof repair and, if left unattended, can lead to larger problems like roof replacement.
A telltale sign that your roof needs repair is discoloration or dark spots on the ceiling. Water drips on the ceiling, and the area gets discolored when it mixes with dirt and other particles. Other signs of roof leaks are:
- Cracked walls
- Peeled walls
- Leaks in the attic
- Discolored roof decks, trusses, rafters
You also want to check for mold growth. Flat roofs are particularly prone to the problem, especially if no proper drainage systems have been set up. The roof develops ice dams which are ripe grounds for algae and mold.
Roof maintenance is also necessary after harsh weather. You must inspect the roof for damage if your area experiences strong winds, heavy snow, or heavy rains. Check the roof for flashing or loose shingles. Loose shingles cause leaks and roof cover failure. While at it, remove any branches, twigs, or leaves that could clog the gutter. You may enlist the help of a roofing service to help you trim heavy, overhanging branches to prevent them from falling on the roof and clogging the gutters.
5. Plumbing System
Did you know that a home’s plumbing system makes up 15% of its value? Therefore, it’s one place you must not overlook when it’s time for maintenance. An efficient plumbing system ensures you have fresh, clean water for use.
Maintenance allows you to identify plumbing issues early before they become costly problems. It’s also an excellent way to save on water and energy bills because you can replace faulty plumbing parts that lead to water wastage. Routine maintenance involves:
- Checking for leaky faucets: Even small leaks can lead to a significant waste of water. A leaky faucet can waste up to eight gallons of water daily, while a running toilet wastes up to 200 gallons daily. If hiring a local plumber to help you look for leaks areas, ask them to check items like washing machines, dishwashers, garbage disposals, and water heaters as they are sources of potential leaks
- Checking what goes down the drain: The drains in plumbing systems are incredibly narrow hence easy targets for clogs. Food particles, hair, grease, soap, and other items can cause clogs. You can unclog them and use simple items like drain covers to prevent such items from clogging them
- Check the water pressure: You also want to check the water pressure of your plumbing system. If it’s too high, it could weaken the pipe joints, causing them to burst. On the other hand, low water pressure is a sign of a leak
- Insulating the plumbing pipes: Pipe insulation protects the plumbing system from freezing and getting damaged, especially during the harsh winter weather
6. The Air Conditioning System
Air conditioning systems need regular maintenance to keep them in top-notch condition. A well-maintained conditioning system keeps a home cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. It also saves the money required for repairs and lengthens the system’s useful life.
When it’s time for maintenance, you want to start by cleaning the external unit of the HVAC system. Clean out the debris on the condenser fins using a vacuum cleaner or spray water with a garden hose to dislodge the content.
Then proceed to the internal unit, which comprises the blower and the evaporator. The latter is responsible for heating and cooling the air inside a home using coils that get dirty over time. It would help if you also cleaned the evaporator drain because it is prone to clogs due to mold growth and algae buildup. Clogged drains cause flooding, which can damage the floor.
You may need to enlist the help of an air conditioning service to handle more involving HVAC maintenance activities like:
- Fixing electrical problems: Since an HVAC system has a complex system of electric wires, it’s important to allow an AC repair company to handle them. They’ll check if there’s improper wiring and if there are other electrical faults
- Determine the right HVAC size for your home: The technicians will help you identify the right size of the AC system depending on the heating and cooling needs of your home
- Service the air compressor: The compressor in an HVAC system is prone to short-cycling. When it does, it turns on and off, mounting pressure on the system. A technician will identify the cause and repair the unit
When it’s time for maintenance, many homeowners hardly know how to go about it. These points can help you kickstart annual, quarterly, or semi-annual home maintenance. You don’t have to work on all the areas at once; instead, liaise with local home maintenance companies to help you set up a home maintenance schedule you can stick to.