Home Insight - Property Value and Home Price Check
Home Maintenance - Ignore It at Your Peril
Written by: Lankarge/Nahorney for Top Producer

Before you begin tackling major home improvements, you should first ensure that your home is properly maintained. Ignoring minor home maintenance today may translate into a major headache tomorrow and detract from the value of your home.

Homes that aren't properly maintained lose value, especially in today's real estate market where the buyers now clearly have the upper hand. So, where should you begin? Tackle the obvious maintenance issues first - the cracked stair, the circuit breaker that trips several times a week, the leaky roof. Maintenance issues such as these are safety issues, and can lead to greater problems. Be sure to take care of both the outside and inside jobs.

Outside

Next tackle the exterior, where Mother Nature can wreak havoc.

Exterior/shingles/siding: Not only do peeling paint and rotting shingles look terrible, they can lead to water damage and mold growth inside your home. If you have vinyl siding, you'll need to power wash your home every other year to keep bacteria from growing and causing permanent stains.

Roof: If your roof is leaking, or has damaged or missing shingles, either fix the problem yourself, or quickly hire a professional to examine and fix the problem (you can also check for leaks by going inside of your attic). See a list of contractors in your neighborhood. Leaky roofs can lead to an attic full of mold, which can lead to serious health problems. If your roof does need replacing, review your local building codes to determine whether you will be allowed to put a second layer of asphalt shingles over the original layer.

Chimney: Keep a close eye on your chimney. Have your chimney repointed if you notice a few bricks beginning to lose mortar. When caught early on, this job is quick and inexpensive, compared to tearing down the chimney to find a solid row of bricks after water damage takes its toll.

Gutters/downspouts: Gutters and downspouts must be kept clear - especially in colder climates, where standing water in gutters can freeze and cause them to pull away from the house. Cleaning the gutters and installing a leaf guard can keep leaves out permanently.

Shrubbery: Old, overgrown bushes can become a major hassle to remove. Additionally, they're a favorite hiding spot for burglars. Keep bushes neat and trimmed and below window level.

Decks: Maintain your deck annually. Begin the job by cleaning it thoroughly with a bleach cleaning solution. Even though most decks are pressure treated and guaranteed not to rot for at least 20 years, that doesn't mean they don't dry and splinter if not properly maintained with a stain or sealer.

Patios: Brick patios can be maintained by simply sweeping a bag of sand into them every year or so to fill the cracks. Also be sure to pull the weeds out when they are small and before they really take root.

Inside

Leaks: Keep an eye on your plumbing - a little leak can quickly become large and costly. Carefully inspect older piping, especially on the second floor, where leaks can cause costly damage, not only on the second floor, but to ceilings, walls, and floors on the floor below.

Electrical systems: Many older homes have 60-amp electrical systems that need upgrading. When upgrading your service have your electrician check to ensure any one circuit doesn't have a load too big. Also when adding new appliances, such as air conditioners and microwaves, make sure you add dedicated circuits for each of them for safety.

Wood floors: Keep water and dirt off of wood floors, and don't let them get too worn before refinishing - there is only so much wood that can be sanded before they will need replacement.

Rugs: Be careful not to have your rugs cleaned using a machine that soaks them - that can ruin the rug's backing, and cause permanent damage. When you do need to clean your rugs, use machines, or hire companies, that use steam or very little water.

Windows: Cracking putty on a window's exterior can lead to loose window panes and windows that allow cold air to enter in the winter, and hot air in the summer. Keep your windows in good shape. Be sure to wash your windows at least annually - especially those with a southern exposure. Over the years the hot sun can bake the dirt in and make it nearly impossible to clean south-facing windows.

Furnace/air conditioners: For you and your family's safety, tune up your furnace and air conditioning units annually. With soaring energy prices, the cost of the tune-up can be quickly recouped, and you'll have the peace of mind that you have minimized the chance that you will have a problem with carbon monoxide in your home.

Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors: Speaking of carbon monoxide be sure to change the batteries of your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors annually. This will help you protect the value of your home - and what is most valuable in your home - you and your family.