Now that you’ve settled into your new home, it’s time to consider taking care of a some pressing home maintenance issues that might need to be addressed. Many homes require periodic maintenance to maintain maximum efficiency and performance — but where do you start and how much can you do? Some tasks you can complete on your own, while a few others might require the services of a professional.
- Septic tanks: If your new home is connected to a septic tank system, it may be a good idea to schedule an inspection and service. Septic tank systems require pumping about every three years on average. Failure to maintain your septic system can lead to unfortunate sewage backups and costly damage to its leach field.
- Toilets: Perhaps the toilets in your new home are working properly, but there’s a chance they may need some adjustment to maintain efficiency. Replacing old fill and flapper valves located inside the toilet tank will ensure your toilets are not running continuously, wasting precious fresh water and driving up your utility bills.
- Sewage lines: Many home inspectors do a fine job to point out potential problem areas before you close. However, few, if any, inspect the sewage lines, as they are just not set up for this kind of work. While your drains may be working properly, homes that have been on the market a while may have sat empty. This leads to drying of the sludge and other matter inside the sewage line, which can harden and cause a blockage or sewage backup in your home. It would be wise to have your sewage lines inspected and hydro-jetted by a professional plumber to avoid the inconvenience of a backup, which could lead to severe water damage and costly repair bills.
- Water heaters: Your water heater should be flushed annually to maintain peak performance and efficiency standards. Over time, rust, scale and sediment from hard water can build up in the water heater tank. This reduces performance, efficiency and the lifespan of the appliance. If you’re handy, you may attempt to do this project yourself, but use extreme caution due to the risk of electrical shock. It is recommended that you hire a professional plumber who has the knowledge and experience to perform the maintenance correctly and safely.
- Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) outlets: GFCI outlets are specially designed electrical outlets similar to a circuit breaker. Most often, they are installed in areas close to water, such as kitchen and bathroom counters, pool decks and sometimes the garage. They are intended to protect you from electrical shock by tripping — interrupting the flow of electricity — if they contact water or develop a short circuit. Hire a professional electrician to inspect and test all GFCI outlets to ensure they are in good, working order.
- Kitchen appliances: Your home’s appliances need periodic cleaning and maintenance to maintain cleanliness and efficiency. Ovens should be cleaned and cook tops should be lifted and scoured underneath, which is often overlooked. Food, debris and liquids that may have boiled over can smell and create an unhealthy cooking environment. In addition, empty the drip pan underneath the refrigerator. The pan catches the condensation produced by the appliance during the refrigeration process. Overtime, dirt, hair and other debris, combined with the condensation can create an odorous and unhealthy environment in your kitchen.
- HVAC system: Your HVAC system is vital to maintaining your home’s comfort levels. Proper cleaning and maintenance is required annually to sustain optimum performance and energy efficiency. A dirty system will struggle to maintain inside temperatures (which will drive up energy costs), and may experience costly breakdowns or complete failures due to the increased workload. Hire a professional HVAC technician to inspect, lubricate, check refrigerant levels and clean both the inside and outside coils. You can do your part by changing the air filter regularly, as well as cleaning air vents and returning registers to prevent dirt and dust from entering the system. Be sure to also protect your outside unit from weed growth, weed eaters and playing children.
- Windows and doors: Your home’s envelope (the ability to contain conditioned air) is vital to the performance and efficiency of your HVAC system. Inspect caulking around windows and doors as well as thresholds, doorjambs and weather stripping. Replace old, cracked or shrunken caulk and weather stripping with new material available at most home improvement centers.
Maintaining your home not only enhances your comfort levels, but canalso help protect your primary investment. Visit Owners.com to learn more about home maintenance tips and to discover other DIY projects you may enjoy. In addition, Owners.com maintains a valuable database of real estate services, information and listings for both buyers and sellers.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Owners.com, Altisource or any other Altisource® business or entity. The foregoing content is not intended to constitute, and in fact does not constitute, financial, investment, tax or legal advice by the author, Owners.com, Altisource or any other business or entity.