REALTOR RESOURCES: MONTHLY HOME MAINTENANCE TIPS

January – Chimney Cleaning

Dirty chimneys are a leading cause of house fires. Whether you have a gas fireplace or you burn wooden logs, it’s important to regularly clean out your chimney to ensure it’s efficacy and safety.

Though you could try to tackle this job yourself, it’s best to avoid all the tarps and tapes and brushes and just call in a professional. It’ll cause you much less stress and a chimney inspection usually only costs between $100-$250 depending on what kind you have and how accessible it is.

To prevent future fires, clean out the ash after each fire and add it to your compost pile to give your soil a boost.

 

February – Dryer Vents

February is the time to check your dryer vents and ducts for buildup of lint and other debris. This will help prevent inefficiency, increased energy bills, and even fires.

  • Use a leaf blower to remove debris from dryer ducts
  • Cover the outside vent with a mesh screen to prevent birds from nesting

Following these steps twice a year can help you avoid a clog and, subsequently, a roughly $100 charge from the professionals.

 

March – Roof & Gutters

Welcome to the rainy season! Flooding is common at this time of year, and it’s very likely you (or your clients) may have also experienced some flooding of your own. March is the time to check your home for leaks!

  • Inspect windowsills for water leakage
  • Check interior ceilings and walls for water damage
  • When it’s dry enough, check your roof for any damage or missing shingles

It’s also important to make sure that all our recent storms haven’t caused clogs in your gutters. If water is backing up, it can cause damage to your roof, siding, and even foundation.

  • Remove any excess debris from all gutters to ensure they’re directing rainwater away from your house and draining properly

It’s important to check your roof and gutters at least twice a year – more often if your property has a lot of tree coverage. Keeping up with this maintenance will help avoid a $200+ charge to have your gutters inspected/repaired by a professional.

 

April – Easy Spring Checklist

The weather is about to change, and with that comes some new considerations for the season! Here are 3 ways to make sure your home and the area around it is in top shape before summer hits.

  • Replace your return air filter
    It’s important to do this every 3 months to keep your system working at top efficiency, and doing so in the spring will help filter out this season’s dreaded tag-a-long: pollen. Remember to turn your system off before replacing the filter, and write the replacement date on the new filter before you install it.
  • Check your sprinkler system
    You’re about to start using your sprinklers pretty consistently, so check them out now! Look for leaks, damaged or crooked sprinkler heads, and any part of the system that isn’t working. The best way to do this is to turn each section on one by one so you know which part – if any – requires maintenance. If your system needs a pro’s help, it could cost around $150. If you just need to replace a head or two though, you can probably do that yourself with some parts from your favorite local home store.
  • Fix any low spots in your yard
    All the rain we’ve had lately may have shifted things in your yard and created low spots with poor drainage. If you want to avoid hiring a landscaper, the quick fix is to fill small valleys yourself with new, clean, weedless dirt. Your grass will grow through a few inches of dirt, but if the hole you need to fill is deeper than that, it’s probably worth bringing in a pro.

 

May – Cleaning your Garbage Disposal

This simple chore only takes a few minutes and makes a huge difference in those pesky kitchen odors.

  1. Pour half a cup of baking soda into your disposal.
  2. Then pour in 1 cup of white vinegar – this will form a chemical reaction that cuts through grease and grime inside the disposal.
  3. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes. 
  4. Pour a pot of boiling water down the disposal and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Turn on the faucet and run your disposal for one minute to rinse out any leftover residue.

To keep up your maintenance, add some water and chunks of unpeeled lemon to your ice cube tray and freeze. Every once in a while you can throw a cube or two through the disposal to keep it clean and smelling fresh.

 

June – Preventing Mold

Summer’s heat creates the perfect conditions for mold to flourish. Stop it before it has a chance to settle in your home with these simple steps:

  • Lower your thermostat – the cooler the temperature, the lower your chance of developing a mold issue
  • Leave your AC fan on “auto” instead of “on” – when it never turns off, moisture can’t drain off and will be blown back into your home
  • Don’t limit airflow to certain rooms by closing vents – this leads to condensation buildup on grills and walls

Once mold infiltrates your home, it can be very costly to have it remediated – think roughly $3,200 depending on severity! Make sure you’re following these recommendations to avoid a bigger problem down the line.

 

July – Caulking

Freshening up your home’s caulking is a quick and relatively easy chore that can net you a whole bunch of benefits:

  • It lowers your utility bill by reducing air leaks
    • Also improves air quality and can prolong your HVAC system’s life
  • It prevents unwanted pests such as ants from entering your home
  • It helps avoid moisture buildup and possible water leaks, which can contribute to mold and rot

Make sure to check the caulking on all windows, doors, attic entrances, recessed lights, and electrical panels/outlets to ensure they are all sealed properly.

If you want to go the full mile you can have a professional seal and insulate your air ducts to help even more. Though it can cost anywhere from $400-$1,000 for a pro’s help, you can offset the cost with savings up to 30% on your monthly utility bill.

 

August – Preventing Infestations

End-of-summer pests can create a real problem for homeowners, especially if you don’t start treatment right away. Here are three of the main ones you need to be concerned about:

  • Wasps
    • Wasp activity peaks in late summer, and if they find shelter on your property they can make outdoor time pretty painful. Check for nests regularly if you’re seeing more wasps than make sense, and if you find one call the pros in right away. Though removal can cost anywhere between $100-$400, it’s probably worth avoiding the stings yourself.
  • Mosquitos
    • Everyone knows these bugs can carry some pretty nasty stuff, never mind making you itch all over. Check your lawn and gutters for standing water and remove it quickly to prevent hot spots. You can also spray for mosquitos (and wasps!), which should lessen the amount you have to deal with.
  • Termites
    • July was swarm season, so this is the month where many people find out they’ve got termites. Have a professional check your bait traps to confirm whether or not you’ve got an infestation, and make sure your termite bond is active to prevent problems and protect you if you do get one. You should also make sure any wood mulch in garden beds isn’t going right up to your brick or siding; mulch is a great food source for termites, and if it’s right beside your home it can lead them right in.

 

September – Clean & Repair Siding

By the end of summer, your siding is probably looking a little dirty and could even be sporting some mildew buildup. Early fall is a great time to get it cleaned up and check for areas that may need some sprucing up.

  1. Thoroughly wash your siding with soapy water.
  2. The following day, once everything is dry, use some caulking to fill in the gaps between any areas where two pieces of siding meet. Smooth it with your finger and wipe it down with a sponge to remove any excess.
    IMPORTANT: Don’t ever caulk the underside of your siding! This area should be left open so your siding can expand and retract during weather changes.
  3. Let everything set for a few days, then pressure wash the entire area.

BONUS TIP:
 If you don’t want the cost associated with hiring a pro for this job, use a good camera or drone to zoom in on your siding and look for problem areas. You can also do your own pressure washing to reduce cost. Renting a machine is around $35; purchasing one will set you back somewhere between $100-$200, but it’ll come in handy for years to come.
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