New Homeowner Maintenance Tips
Moving into your first home can be incredibly stressful. Your time is spent packing, moving, and trying to understand all the information. By the time everything is done the last thing you want to worry about is home maintenance. Items found and agreed on as repairs during the home inspection should already be completed so you can sit back and relax right?
Honestly, it is best to take a detailed look at your new home right after you move. There may be things you, your real estate agent, and even the home inspector missed. It happens. All the more reason to develop a home maintenance schedule to ensure you keep the property looking its best.
There are many reasons to set up a good maintenance schedule on your home. You can save money on utility bills, avoid expensive repairs, and enjoy peace of mind while you are out of town. Here are several important maintenance tips for new homeowners as you settle in and begin enjoying your new home.
Water Heater Upkeep
Water can be a scary thing to a home. Even the smallest water leak in a pressurized line, if unnoticed, can quickly cause a lot of problems. Water damage can destroy a home so ensure you take every issue seriously. That includes making sure your water heater is running at peak levels.
Did you know there is money to be saved with a more efficient water heater? In fact, some estimates say that something as simple as adding insulation to your water heater can increase efficiency by 45% and save you at least 5% on your monthly bill.
One of the most damaging things to a water heater is sediment. As water is pumped in and out a lot of dirt and minerals will end up staying in the tank and settling. This makes it more difficult for your tank to operate efficiently, and it wears away the bottom much quicker, which means you may have to replace your entire tank. Replacing an entire water tank is expensive and usually avoidable.
You can do most water heater maintenance yourself. However, if you are uncomfortable with it there are many specialists that can do it for less than a hundred dollars.
Your furnace is also an incredibly important part of your home. Depending on where you live, your furnace could be running 6 to 8 months out of the year. As with water heaters, some simple maintenance can actually pay for itself in home efficiency costs. A $100 maintenance fee is likely nothing compared to an exponential increase in heating efficiency.
The most important furnace maintenance is replacing the filter. A furnace has to pull in air in order to heat it up and push it into your home. A lot of times that air has dust and dirt in it, so the furnace has a filter to keep all of the debris from getting into the furnace components. Depending on where you live, your furnace filter can get extremely dirty. This makes it harder for the furnace to pull in air, and as the furnace works harder, its life span decreases.
If you have forced air it is also recommended that you clean out your ducts every so often. You can do that yourself as long as your vacuum cleaner can handle it. One look in the ducts should tell you all you need to know about why this step is important.
Rain Gutter Protection
Cleaning rain gutters is another step that is easy and essential. Rain gutters get clogged with leaves and sticks from trees, as well as mud and dust that runs down the roof with the rain. Rain gutters are cheap, but serve an essential purpose to your home. They need to divert rain from all the places where it should not sit, and send it instead to places like gardens that can handle large amounts of water.
If you do not clean out your rain gutter and it fills up, you may find water pooling up in undesirable places, and eventually finding its way into your home. As winter nears, you may even end up with frozen water in places you do not expect it. Like pouring or even seeping water, the frozen stuff can wreak havoc on your property.
Water Spout Care
Your home is full of water. You have taps, toilets, showers, refrigerators, and likely other devices that are connected to the waterline. Over time, or even right after replacement, these items will often develop leaks or drips. This may not seem like a big deal because they usually drip into places that were meant for water.
However, water costs money. Toilets can be one of the biggest culprits in this category and they can be expensive! If your toilet isn’t sealing right after flushing, it will constantly leak water into the toilet bowl. Estimates are that this can end up wasting 6,000 gallons of water year. In some locales that adds up quite a sum each a year!
Most of these leaks are easy to repair. A faucet likely just needs a new washer. A toilet needs a new flapper. These are five dollar items that can save hundreds of dollars in the long run. They are those simple to resolve maintenance tips for new homeowners that many new home buyers do not get resolved.
This is another easy maintenance tip! If this is your first time paying utility bills you will quickly grow tired of expensive heating bills in the winter and air conditioning bills in the summer. What many people do not realize, is a lot of that heat is not escaping naturally, it is escaping through holes and openings that could be sealed!
Go around your doors and windows and if you see daylight, you have an issue. Smaller gaps are harder to notice but you can turn on your exhaust fans, close all doors/windows, and go around with each door/window with an incense stick. If the smoke is being drawn to the door/window, you have a leak.
Fortunately, you can easily caulk these in a matter of minutes and save a significant sum in the process. Other places to look for issues include:
- All external entrances
- Attic access points
- Door seals
- Door/window frames
- Dryer vents
- Electrical outlets
- Fireplace damper
- Garage doors
- Outlet plates
- Phone/cable lines
- Weather stripping
- Window air conditioner units
If you want a professional opinion, you can hire an energy technician to perform an energy audit. Ensure they do a blower door test to depressurize your property and find as many hidden leaks as possible.
A properly insulated home will reduce your air and heating costs! Conversely, you can expect higher bills if your property does not have adequate insulation. Unless you are buying new construction or undertaking a major project, you will probably not be looking in exterior wall cavities to see how much (or the type) of insulation used.
However, you can apply more/new insulation in your attic, basement, crawl space, around pipes/ducts, and even on the garage door for a noticeable difference in the air temperature and in your end of month heating/air costs.
If you can decrease heat flow, with insulation use, your house will be nice and snug in the cooler months and feel pleasantly cool during the warmer seasons. This is a project you can tackle yourself. It is also relatively inexpensive if you have a professional come in to resolve any issues too. The more energy efficient you are, the more benefits you will see!
If all this just seems like too much, you may consider a home warranty. Home warranties insure appliances in your home, like your water heater and your furnace. They will repair or replace these items if they unexpectedly break. If you do not have the time or the DIY know-how, this is probably a good option.
Hopefully your real estate agent encouraged you to add in a home warranty during negotiations with the seller. If so, chances are they are paying the first year premium for you. You just need to pay annually thereafter to reap the benefits of having your major appliances covered.
Home Energy Savings & Maintenance Reminders
Home ownership is an awesome experience and very few people regret making the plunge. This is especially true if you take your responsibilities seriously. A little tender loving care for your most expensive purchase will keep it looking its best the entire time you own the home. An added benefit is potentially less work to be done if/when you decide it is time to sell your home too.
Do proper maintenance, see results in the form of energy savings and cost avoidance, and enjoy everything about your first home! Fix what needs to be taken care, upgrade or replace as necessary, and reap the benefits of homeownership! If you found these maintenance tips for new homeowners helpful, please socially share this article.
Additional Home Savings Resources
Energy Saving Tips via energy.gov
Older Home Energy Efficiency by Bill Gassett
Home Maintenance Checklist from David Cronnin
Budget Home Maintenance Tips via houselogic.com