It’s difficult to overstate the importance of a home. It’s where your family gathers and regroups after a long day. It’s your largest investment and your economic security. In other words, your home is important, and so is treating it right and keeping it in great shape.
No matter how old your home is, following the tips outlined in this article will help you maintain it, avoid significant expenses, and live a happier life.
Set a home maintenance budget
As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” For homeowners, what that means in a practical sense is that home maintenance is well worth the initial investment, especially when it prevents more expensive issues down the road. The first step to keeping your home in good condition is setting aside money every month for a home maintenance budget. This fund can be used to pay for both regular upkeep—such as an AC tune-up or water heater maintenance—or larger, more urgent projects, including emergency repairs.
Most experts recommend putting between 1-2% of your home’s value into savings every year to cover the cost of upkeep. However, you may find that amount to be insufficient if you have an older home that requires more care. Of course, keep in mind that saving more than you need in a given year isn’t necessarily a bad thing: you can reserve that money for emergency use, making any home problems you encounter much less stressful.
Maintain your heating and cooling systems
Your cooling and heating systems are essential to your home’s indoor comfort. Without annual maintenance, however, your HVAC systems will likely operate less efficiently, work less effectively, and—worst of all—be far more likely to break down. This not only can lead to high repair costs in the immediate future but can also shorten the overall lifespan of the system, meaning you will need to replace it that much sooner.
The key to avoiding that outcome is scheduling professional maintenance every year. By having a certified and experienced HVAC technician inspect and tune-up your air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace in the season before it sees the heaviest use, you can do your part to prevent the stress and expense of an in-season breakdown.
Care for your pipes, fixtures, and water heater
When putting together a home maintenance checklist, most homeowners probably don’t give much thought to their home’s plumbing. For the most part, your pipes, fixtures, garbage disposal, sewer line, water heater, and more work. However, over time, all of these components endure wear-and-tear and require maintenance and care. In addition, there may be other factors—such as hard water and its associated “scaling” effect—that lead to issues for your pipes and fixtures.
Your water heater tank, for instance, requires regular homeowner maintenance. First, you need to drain and flush the water heater at least once per year. This removes sediment and minerals that have potentially built up at the bottom of the tank. While you are doing that, also be sure to check the water heater for any tank cracks—a sure sign that the water heater needs to be replaced—and make sure that the pressure-relief valve is functioning as intended. This level of care can go a long way toward ensuring that your water heater lasts longer, runs better, and avoids a significant issue such as a leak or tank burst.
Protect your home—and its value
Most older homes aren’t going to be mistaken for a new build. However, the homeowners who set aside the time and money to care for their homes not only keep them in excellent condition but help them retain their value for many years to come. By following the tips outlined in this infographic , you can keep your home—no matter its age—in great shape.
Originally Published Dec. 2019. Updated Sept. 2021.