Basic Home Maintenance Tasks Everyone Should Know

Home maintenance is one of the privileges that comes along with buying a new home. This includes both regular home maintenance to prevent problems down the road and the steps it takes to fix things if problems arise. These maintenance tips can help in three areas: emergencies, protecting your family, and protecting your home investment.

The first area of home maintenance tips, acting in emergencies, mostly requires learning about your home. When purchasing a home, but sure to talk with the builder, the home inspector or the seller about the primary cutoff switches for water and natural gas. The water cutoff will have either a round wheel handle or straight lever handle. If it’s a wheel, you’ll turn it to the right (clockwise) to shut the water off. Remember – “right-tighty, lefty-loosey” for most fix-it tasks. If the cutoff is a lever, the line is closed when the lever is perpendicular to the pipe and open when the lever is parallel to the pipe.

You’ll also want to locate the electrical breaker box, which will be a metal box with several switches. Turning a switch off will stop electricity from reaching either a group of power outlets and switches or perhaps one outlet that carries a great deal of energy, such as the HVAC system or large appliances. If the electricity goes out in one part of the house, you can check the breaker box to see which switch has flipped off and turn it back on.

Some home maintenance skills needed in an emergency, like unclogging a toilet or drain, may require on-the-job training, but it’s helpful to go ahead and get supplies. A plumber’s snake or wire hanger can often be used to reach down a drain and clear items causing a clog. Clogs are often found in the u-shaped pipe under a sink. It’s helpful to have a bucket you can place under it when you unscrew it to check.

You’ll also want to have a plunger on hand in case the toilet becomes clogged. If it’s overflowing, turn off the water behind the toilet, then empty out half the water before plunging.

The next area of maintenance tips will protect your family. As part of your regular home maintenance, test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year. Many families remember this by checking them when the time changes in the fall and spring. If your detectors use batteries, go ahead and change them as you’re testing to avoid the annoying beeping that will otherwise occur when they start to lose power.

Similarly, be sure you have a fire extinguisher in place in the kitchen – often below the sink – and regularly check to make sure it is accessible and charged. As you’re checking your detectors, take a minute to move the extinguisher if needed and to check the pressure gauge. If it’s in the green zone, it’s good. If it’s in the red zone, it’s time to get it re-charged or to replace it.

The final area of home maintenance tasks focuses on protecting your home investment, and in the process, saving money. To keep your HVAC system running efficiently, change the filters at least every 90 days. You may need to change them more frequently if you have pets or if you live in a dry, dusty climate. To do this, just turn off your system, slide the old filters out, replace them, and restart the system. You should also schedule a professional inspection twice a year, once before hot summer weather and again before cold winter days. By doing so, you’ll not only extend the life of your systems but also save on energy costs.

Outside, inspect the roof, flashings, gutters and downspouts at least twice a year, as well. Regularly clearing the gutters of leaves and debris and repairing missing shingles or bent flashing protects your home from leaks. Ensuring downspouts are connected and directing rainwater away from the house will protect the foundation from water damage.

Also inspect the exterior for chipped paint, which protects the wood or siding. To extend the time between painting the full house, which can be costly, sand down the chipped or peeling area, cover with primer, and repaint.

While there are many additional areas of home maintenance tasks that homeowners will need to know, these maintenance tips will serve you well when it comes to protecting your home investment and your family.

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