The honeymoon phase of homeownership shouldn’t cease as soon as the newness wears off. Don’t lose hope when you’re suddenly bombarded with maintenance issues. With a bit of time, and some elbow grease, you can tackle common maintenance issues like a pro. To make sure you’re provided with not only the best guidelines for tackling these tasks, we looked to the pros. Here are a few preventive maintenance tips that are easy to do.
Homeowner Maintenance: Water
Don’t let faulty plumbing drain your funds. Knowing how to handle even the smallest, water-related projects could make a big impact.
Water is one of the leading causes of damage in homes. Which is why, for starters, knowing the location of the water valve, and how to shut it off, could save you thousands of dollars. Most water valves are located directly behind the appliance or can be traced back from the water hose connecting to it. Once found, it’s as simple as turning the water-valve handle behind the machine to the right. This can come in handy for larger appliances such as washing machines. Make sure to shut these off if you plan to be out of town for more than a few days in case of a leak.
It’s a given that every life of a homeowner comes with more than once clogged toilet incident. And, luckily, these are fairly easy fixes (depending on the culprit). All you need is a plunger, an auger, rubber gloves, and a bucket. If there is the ever-present danger of an overflowing bowl, shut off the water supply valve behind the toilet, and empty out half of the water. Go with a plunger to start off with, but if that isn’t enough, use the auger.
Remember toilets, in general, can continuously run for several problems — the flapper, chain, or float, being the most common. A diagnosis and repair are easy and cost-friendly. And remember, the water inside the toilet tank is clean. Don’t worry about getting your hands dirty if you place them in there.
Skip the chemical drain cleaners for clogged sinks. Often, these won’t fix much of anything. Instead, check the P-trap for blockage or clogging. You can check this U-shaped pipe, located under the sink, by first placing a bucket underneath it. Unscrew the pipe, and see if you can’t clean it out yourself.
Homeowner Maintenance: Gas and Electric
For most electrical and gas issues, it’s often a good idea to get in touch with your local maintenance man.
That still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how to perform a few of the basics. These are always crucial when taking the appropriate steps ahead of time.
Gas issues? It’s crucial for the sake of your home, including those living under your roof, to shut off the source as soon as you get a whiff. Of course, this is after you call your gas company. Locate the shut-off valve, typically outside the meter. Use an adjustable pipe or crescent wedge to twist the valve to the shut-off position.
For electrical problems, it’s always important you’re already familiarized with your circuit-breaker box and switches. This includes knowing which switch controls what room, and making sure they’re properly marked. Get acquainted with which grounded outlets, typically in kitchens and bathrooms since they are close to water. These are accompanied by a “reset” button on the outlet, and which are often triggered by items that tend to overload quicker, such as hairdryers.
Knowing how to maintain major electrical appliances is a necessary skill in and of itself. Sure, properly cleaning and routine maintenance doesn’t seem technically like a “skill.” However, it’s key to extending their lifespan. Always keep the user manual for specific instructions on performing certain routine tasks. For example, if you own a refrigerator equipped with a water dispenser/ice maker, it’s going to need a filter replacement every few months or so. Use the manual to determine the correct filter model and how to replace it.
Knowing how to change your air filters is important to maintain air quality. For new construction, consider changing your filters every two to three weeks at first. This is due to the initial settling of drywall dust. If you’re a homeowner without pets, the recommended timeline is every three to six months. For those with pets or susceptible to allergies, every 30 to 90 days is recommended as best.
Homeowner Maintenance: Interior Walls
They serve as gateways to and from the outside world, and maintain the overall structure of your home. The walls of your home should always receive proper care and maintenance.
This includes how and what you hang from them. Always know where your wall studs are before beginning. These vertical wood beams are located behind your drywall. Finding them not only saves you time but also the unnecessary holes you put on your walls. To find a stud, you can try knocking on the wall to see where it sounds less hollow. Even better, use a magnetic stud finder that detects the nails in the beams.
Locating wall studs is important when hanging heavier items such as mirrors or shelves. When you put up shelves, for example, make sure they’re attached to the wall studs for a supportive base. Otherwise, use wall anchors to support the amount of weight you are wanting the shelves to hold. Always use a level prior to drilling.
If you’re planning on prettying up a wall, it’s important to know the tricks for properly painting or hanging wallpaper.
If painting, after going through the appropriate steps for choosing a color, first make sure to disconnect the power. This is so you can properly clear the room of all furnishings, including all light fixtures. Reconnect the power so you can vacuum the walls, floor, and ceiling. Use a drop cloth to protect floors from drips and spillages. Cover the baseboards with painter’s tape. While painting, keep the room properly ventilated. Wait a minimum of two days prior to moving back in.
Wallpaper smoothly with a few simple tricks. First, if you’re papering over a wall darker than the paper, use a primer first so the color doesn’t show through. Line up your pieces so the pattern gives a seamless appearance. Allow two inches of overlap at the edges. Start papering in a more hidden spot in case you end up with a pattern break.
Homeowner Maintenance: Exterior
Moving on to exterior home maintenance, there are a few tried and true measures to put into practice to increase your home’s longevity.
First, you need to know how to use a caulk gun. These fill gaps for interior issues or weatherproof your exterior. To use, pull back the plunger and insert the tube. After selecting the appropriate caulk for your desired results, remove any old caulk. Use an old utility knife to remove caulk, then clean and dry your surface. Next, cut the plastic applicator at a 45-degree angle to slow the flow of caulk. Push down softly and run in a straight line. Smooth down the line with a wet finger.
Defend your home against insects by replacing your window screen. This is true for any screens that have suffered a snag and/or in need of repair. Pop the old screen from the metal frame and discard it and the old plastic cording. Measure for a new screen, and add a few inches along the perimeter. Insert the screen into the frame with the new cording. Trim any excess material.
Keep moisture away from your house by clearing out your rain gutters. This should be done at a minimum of twice a year. Simply remove by hand, or use the assistance of a leaf blower, garden hose or wet-dry vac. If you’re up on a ladder, be sure to use a stabilizer.
Homeowner Maintenance: Final Thoughts
As a homeowner, you probably already have your own maintenance checklist.
These are just a few of the numerous important maintenance tips, and shouldn’t replace any of your home’s emergency plans already put in place. Instead, consider these tips as additional and necessary steps to improve your home’s longevity. Not to mention the amount of critical cash back into your pocket.
Do you have any additional maintenance routines to add to this list? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave your feedback in the comment section below.