Now that the New Year is here, it’s a great time to consider setting up a schedule for household projects that you can do each month to help protect your home investment. Plus, you get the added benefit of potentially saving money in costly repairs by being more proactive with your home maintenance. To get you started, the Charlotte Observer published the following helpful list of suggested monthly to-do’s that are well worth the effort:
Check the air filter on your heating system. It will work less and last longer with a clean filter. Check monthly and clean or replace it as necessary. Open and close cutoff valves to sinks and toilets, to be sure they’re working properly.
Clean lint from dryer exhaust ducts. Be sure flexible exhaust pipe behind the dryer isn’t leaking or pinched. Consider replacing plastic pipe with metallic. Be sure exterior vent flap closes properly.
Repair, clean and seal deck. Decks last 20 years, on average, but you can extend that. Replace damaged or twisted boards. Clean and seal wood deck at least every other year. Deck stains with pigment last longer than clear sealers.
Your asphalt roof also should last 20 years – if you don’t ignore it. Clean leaves from roof valleys. Wash mildew and moss from shingles. Use prepared cleaner ( www.shingleshield.com), or mix your own: Combine one part chlorine bleach with three parts water and a handful of trisodium phosphate. Apply to a small section of roof with garden sprayer, let soak 20 minutes and rinse with hose.
Scrape and touch up spots where paint fails most often, allowing water to penetrate. Check window sills and gable vents – especially on western and southern sides of house.
Clean coils behind refrigerators and freezers. Use a long-handled refrigerator coil brush or vacuum crevice tool. Remove toe panel from front of dishwasher and check for leaks. If washing machine hoses are soft or cracked, replace them with braided stainless steel hoses. Be sure to clean out the machine’s mesh filters before you reattach hoses.
Be sure air conditioner’s condensation drip tubes are flowing freely. Clogs can damage your system and the rest of your house.
If you smell a musty odor during peak air-conditioning season, check ducts for leaks. Your air conditioner could be overworking – and pumping in unhealthy air. Repair leaks with mastic, not duct tape.
Caulk around windows and doors. If you’re going to paint, choose a caulk that’s paintable. Be sure weep holes in storm windows are open to allow water to escape. Clogged weep holes can cause rotted sills.
Check gutters. Clogs can cause all sorts of water damage, from rotted fascia to moisture in the crawl space. Use hose to be sure downspouts are flowing freely.
Seal holes in the foundation, especially spots around pipes and wires where rodents might enter.
Check windows and attic for condensation. Look for water collecting on glass – or on the tips of roofing nails protruding into attic. You can reduce water vapor by using bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans and limiting use of vent-free gas logs.