March 16, 2015 by Jeff Lowen
Home maintenance takes dedication plus an investment of time and money. Keeping your home in top shape pays off in the long-term by preventing costly replacements caused by neglect or undetected problems. The cost associated with your home maintained and in good repair are fractional when compared to the full replacement cost of systems like HVAC, Electrical and plumbing. Some of the simpler maintenance routines are also safety measures that can prevent more extensive major structural damage to your home.
Annual HVAC Inspection – With an average cost of $200-$300, an annual inspection of your home’s heating and air conditioning system is an obvious money-saver. Scheduling your inspection in the spring or the fall during the slower seasons for HVAC companies will ensure you are not caught off guard when you need your system the most.
If your furnace blower is dysfunctional, the repair costs are minimal, usually under $200. Left unattended it could lead to a broken heat exchanger which can cost $1000 or more to replace. Heat pumps have reversing switches that can break and repairs can run from $100-$300. Ignoring the issue can make your heating system switch to the more expensive auxiliary heat creating higher heating bills. The bottom line is that few hundred dollars invested to keep your HVAC system running smoothly is better than coming up with the replacement cost which can be thousands.
Chimney Inspection – Having a fireplace in your home is an attractive entity, but it does need yearly attention, especially if you enjoy seasonal fires. Creosote build-up can lead to chimney fires, so shelling out $65-$150 for a pre-winter inspection and/or cleaning is a wise investment.
The purpose of a chimney cap is to prevent water getting into the chimney which can damage the liner and damper with mold. Water saturation in the mortar joints can get moldy as well. Buying a $150 cap is certainly cheaper than spending $2000-$4000 to replace the liner. Most will have expanded metal that acts as a spark arrestor, too.
Early detection of other issues including cracked crowns (a $300-$500 repair), deteriorated caulking on the chimney flashings (an $80-$100 repair), moisture seepage from exterior brick (waterproofing costs $350-$600) will prevent rainwater from destroying your liner with mold.
Termite Inspection – The reputation of termites is infamous because they can eat away at your home without being detected. The $75-$200 inspection fee is nothing compared to the dollar damage it can create. Losses can range anywhere from the $3,000 to upwards to $80,000, which is not commonly covered by homeowner’s insurance. A yearly contract price of $300 for termite protection on qualifying homes that do not have any existing infestations is recommended.
The yearly inspection can detect the wood-eating bugs before they damage your framing, drywall, furniture, carpet, and copper pipes. You usually cannot tell if termites are present because the insects eat from the inside out. Months later, you might spot them, but the damage has already been done to the tune of $5 billion a year for homeowners across the country.
Power Washing and Sealing Wood Decking – Your outdoor living space may be a spacious wood deck where friends and family gather. Power washing and applying deck sealer are low cost ways to keep your investment from falling apart before its life span is up. The $100-$300 for a 200-square-foot deck, more for a larger deck is a mere 2.5% of the replacement costs of $4000-$20,000.
Renting a power washer on a sunny day to get rid of mold, mildew, algae, and stains keeps your deck free of a slippery surface. Depending on your climate and traffic, you may want to do this every couple of years.
Sealing the wood after a good cleaning will stop the deck from warping and bending which can make nails pop out and shorten the life of your deck. Water and moisture will not be able to penetrate the wood, keeping your deck looking good all year long.
Dryer Vent Cleaning – Another low-cost maintenance cost that carries a big safety factor is cleaning your dryer vent. Dryer vents located in interior walls can build up with flammable lint. Take time once a year to have the vent checked for blockage. Clogged vents can cause the dryer to overheat possibly resulting in fire. A chimney sweep can clean the vent for around $120-$200 which is pennies compared to the cost of losing your home to a dangerous dryer vent fire.
Carpet Cleaning – You walk on your carpet everyday bringing in dirt day after day. It endures spills, cooking odors, smoke, and traffic year after year. One of the best ways to protect your floor covering is to have it cleaned at least every 12-months. Rented machines use hot water extraction, while professionals implement steam cleaning, costing you anywhere from $50-$200. If your carpet has a warranty, make sure you know what maintenance is required to keep the warranty in tact. Many manufacturers require cleaning every 1-2 years.
Do not wait for the carpets to show visible dirt because soil can imbed itself into the fibers and damage the carpet’s resilience and shine. Regular maintenance will also create a healthier atmosphere by removing pollen, dander, bacteria and insecticides.
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