The first step in creating a low-maintenance home - one you don't need to worry about when rains fall and winds blow - is to solve small problems before they need big, expensive fixes.
Some problems you can handle yourself; others definitely call for a professional.
In either case, being aware of what requires regular maintenance - be it annually or on an as-needed basis - is the key to keeping your home running smoothly.
If you overlook the upkeep, the pound of cure can set you back hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
A sound roof is essential to your house and everything in it. If your roof is flat enough to walk on safely, you can inspect it yourself.
Using a broom, a lightweight leaf blower, or a hose with a spray attachment, remove leaves and dirt from the rooftop.
Next, use your (gloved) hands and a small brush to remove debris from gutters and downspouts. When all the visible debris is removed, pour enough water through the gutters and spouts to make sure they drain freely.
Next, check the flashing around any chimneys, vents, skylights, or parapet walls. Look for gaps, cracks, and missing shingles.
If you discover problems, be sure to call and make a service appointment now - before problems become emergencies.
If you discover evidence of a water leak inside - such as wall or floor stains, streaks, or standing water - make appointments for needed repairs.
A long-standing basement leak could be a symptom of poor grading or impeded drainage around the outside foundation - a serious problem that mere caulking can't solve.
During cold weather, warm indoor air can escape outside through numerous little holes and gaps surrounding pipes and vents; along seams between walls and floors; and between masonry and siding materials.
Wind gusts can also force cold air through these openings, raising our heating bill. As your place ages and settles, or expands and contracts from changes in temperature or humidity, these gaps can open and admit moisture into your walls.
If you see light around your doors and windows from outside or feel a draft, it's time to seal with weather stripping or caulk.
Test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors monthly. Change the batteries in each year.
Clear walkways weekly of leaves and any snow, ice, debris or algae that may make them difficult to navigate or slippery.
In addition to keeping debris away, this weekly clean-up will ensure visitors' safety.
You really can handle minor repairs and projects throughout the house all by yourself - and you don't need a garage full of supercharged tools to get the job done right.
Not sure of the specific items to include in your
tool kit? Read more here.
Insulate older water heaters and leaky heat ducts to lower your energy bill.
About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.