A Guide to Proper Home Care in 2021A Guide to Proper Home Care in 2021

If you’re a homeowner, you need to take care of your investment. That means routine maintenance, as well as larger tasks that need to be done from time to time. If you neglect these jobs, your house can deteriorate. For example, take something as simple as a clogged gutter. In and of itself, it’s a minor inconvenience. But water in the wrong place can damage your foundation over time. The same goes for cracked paint, which can turn into rotted wood if you leave it abandoned.

If you read any list of FAQs for selling a home, one thing they’ll tell you is to look for major damage that could impact your home’s value. Here’s a guide on preventing that damage from happening in the first place.

Regrout and Re-caulk

Over time, your tub and shower will take a beating. For one thing, water will erode caulk over time, which means you need to seal your caulk regularly. Sealing your caulk will also help prevent mildew, and make soap scum and other crud easier to clean off. Repairing grout that’s already damaged is a bit more complex, but it’s still worth doing. After all, if you don’t address the issue, it’s only going to get worse.

Caulk is a bit easier to keep clean. You just wash it with any ordinary bath cleaner. If you’re having serious mold trouble, you can get a little more aggressive and use bleach. That said, caulk also wears out a lot faster than grout. Most guides recommend re-caulking once every five years. However, with some higher-grade caulks, you can get away with going seven years or even longer between reapplications.

Check Your Sump Pump

In most areas, your home will have a sump pump in the basement. This pump removes any excess water that may have collected, and pumps it out to the sewer system or your septic field. If your sump pump stops working, your basement can flood. This can happen because your pump has failed, or because it’s gotten clogged. Most pumps are rated to last for 10 years, but can last longer with proper maintenance.

To maintain your pump, put on a big pair of rubber gloves and reach down into the housing. Search for any debris that could be clogging it up. Number one, this will ensure that you’re getting the highest possible flow rate. Number two, it will keep the motor from getting overstressed and burning out prematurely.

Repaint the Exterior

When you’re selling your home, the paint job is going to be one of the first things prospective buyers see. Now, you don’t have to go crazy. There’s no need to apply a coat of Shine Armor ceramic coat to make your house extra shiny. But if your paint is starting to crack, it’s worth scraping and painting.

There are a couple of ways to approach this. On the one hand, you could repaint your entire home. This can cost $2,000 or more, but can also yield a substantial return at resale – oftentimes 50% or more. That said, you don’t have to go all-in and paint your entire house. A cheap gallon of exterior paint costs less than $50, and is good for around 200 square feet of touch ups.

Have Your HVAC Serviced

If you’re like most people, your HVAC system is your home’s number one energy hog. If it’s not running efficiently, you’ll find yourself overpaying for your home energy bill. Ideally, you’ll want to service it twice a year – once in the fall and one in the spring.

Unfortunately, most people aren’t qualified to service their own HVAC system. Unless you’re already an expert, you won’t have the tools or expertise to do the job. This is one task you should definitely leave to a professional. Thankfully, there are plenty of services who will take care of your HVAC system for you.

Protect Your Home From Termites

Termites are one of the worst things that can happen to any home. In most cases, your house’s frame is made of wood, which can stand for centuries as long as it stays dry. But termites will chew through wood frames in a matter of a year or less. The worst thing about termites is that they actually prefer big, thick pieces of soft wood – in other words, the type of wood that headers and other major frame components are made of. Termites are so much of a threat that many homeowners insurance policies require you to take prophylactic measures.

If you’re worried that you might have termites, the best place to look is in a basement or crawl space. Termites are blind, and can’t survive for long in sunlight, so they prefer these dark spaces. Now, check the wood for damage. Poke at it with a screwdriver and see if it’s solid. If it starts crumbling or falling out in chunks, you might have termites.

The best protection from termites is preventative. You should plug up any gaps in your foundation with foam or calk. You might also want to consider contracting with a pest control company. They can come out periodically, spray for termites, and check for any damages.

Have Your Chimney Cleaned

If you have a real, wood-burning fireplace, congratulations! Many homeowners don’t. But a fireplace also requires extra maintenance that other homeowners don’t have to deal with. Specifically, your chimney can become a hazard. Soot and debris can clog it up over time, creating a fire hazard. Then, when they’re hit by a spark, the whole chimney can ignite.

For cleaning your chimneys, avoid those “chimney cleaning logs” you’ll find at some stores. Best case scenario, they don’t do much. Worst case scenario, there’s a squirrel nest in your chimney and you end up causing a fire instead of preventing one.

Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

Your refrigerator coils are an essential part of how it functions. They absorb warmth from the refrigerator air, and radiate it into the room. As a result, they need to be relatively unobstructed. If they’re not, they won’t be able to radiate heat properly into the air. This can cause your fridge to have to work harder, shortening the life span of the compressor. An obstructed coil can even overheat and cause a fire in the worst case scenario.

In most cases, the coils will be located either on the back of your fridge or underneath it. Pull your fridge away from the wall and vacuum out the coils. Use the brush attachment, and work at any greasy areas to free up any junk from the coils.

Clear Away Dead Plants

Dead plants, weeds, and leaves make your house look shabby. Thankfully, they’re easy to clear out. Schedule a day in the fall to clean up dead leaves and summer plants. In the spring, take another day to clean up debris that’s left over from the winter. If you want to be extra ambitious, you can clear out debris in the summer, as well.

Along the same lines, make sure to keep garden areas weeded. Weeds draw moisture and nutrients from the soil, which keeps them away from your garden plants. By removing weeds, you don’t just help your plants grow stronger – you also create a more beautiful environment with less clutter.