When it comes to keeping house, there are projects that can wait (painting, updating cabinet hardware, etc.) and some that can’t. Contrary to what the TV commercials might lead you to believe, you don’t have to call a pro for everything. Things such as changing your HVAC filter and draining the hot water heater are simple projects you can do for little to no cost. Taking care of these and other routine chores can save you money — not to mention, increase your home’s value down the line. You also don’t have to worry about financing these projects — Reverse Mortgage Loan Advisors can help, so take a moment to learn all about this option. Then, take a look at these tasks to tackle before you blow your budget.
While it’s true that you can’t open up your HVAC unit safely, one thing you can do to ensure it stays running when you need it most is to change the filter. All Weather Heating and Air Conditioning explain that a clogged air filter can damage the system and leave you on the hook for thousands of dollars in repairs. Further, changing the filter can reduce the volume of allergens in the air, which is exponentially important if someone in your family has allergies or is sensitive to mold and airborne bacteria.
If you typically have trouble remembering to grab filters when you’re at the hardware store, keep in mind that you can often order online, and many companies offer subscription services so you will never have an excuse to breathe in dirty air. You can choose from many different styles, and you’ll be sure to find the right size for your unit, even if it’s an odd size that can’t be sourced locally.
Cleaning the dryer vent
Like the HVAC unit, your dryer vent can collect particles. However, this is a concentrated space that sees fibers blown directly through it, often on a daily basis. Cleaning your dryer vent may even prevent a house fire. Check out this tutorial from Frugally Blonde on how to clean a dryer vent — it saved her $150.
Even if you clean your dryer vent regularly, that’s not going to eliminate the possibility of a disaster. Smoke alarms are widely considered your best first line of defense against becoming trapped in a fire. There are two types of smoke alarms: wired and wireless. Wireless systems are very easy to install and may require little more than a single nail or adhesive mounting strip.
Your alarm should also be tested once per month and maintained according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Just as important as having a functional alarm is having a point of egress to escape in case of an emergency. For this reason, it’s essential that you make sure your windows will open. A quick shot of spray lubricant will keep them from sticking.
Kitchen and bath
Fire isn’t the only potential hazard you can mitigate with regular maintenance. Water damage is also a concern and can come from leaking pipes, a malfunctioning dishwasher, and even a busted hot water heater. If you notice discoloration on your walls or begin to smell a musty odor in the kitchen or bathroom, you may have a leaky pipe. Sometimes, this is as simple as replacing a seal or tightening up a connection. Likewise, repairing a leaking dishwasher can help prevent structural damage. Replacing the door gasket, which is a common reason for dishwasher leakage, takes about 15 minutes and does not require any special tools.
Drain the hot water heater once per year to remove limescale buildup, which can reduce the chances of premature failure. This process takes an hour or two and merely requires that you turn the water off and attach a hose to the drain valve. If you have a garbage disposal, keep it running by occasionally cleaning it out with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.
When it’s time to call a professional
There are many time- and money-saving projects you can do on your own, but you should still know your limits. Some home maintenance work can actually lighten your wallet and can be dangerous if you try it yourself. Think in terms of big projects that may require a work permit, such as major gas, electric, and structural changes. You also may have attempted a project countless times with the help of YouTube but still can’t complete it. In these cases, finding a professional service near you would be the next step. It’s also best to have the budget (and funding) in place before undertaking anything major as you could be looking at hefty costs.
Another rule of thumb when it comes to home maintenance is, if it’s an unpleasant task, you probably want to call in pros for it. This is especially true for pest control. For instance, it takes a lot more than laying out a few traps to deal with a rodent infestation, so you’re better served finding the best exterminator for mice in your area to address the problem permanently. Use platforms like Angi to find the right services, as well as check other homeowners’ experiences to have a better idea of what to expect, rates, and more.
If you haven’t already, it may be a good idea to head to your local bookstore to grab a few books on home maintenance. You’ll have easy access to information on how to fix everything from a broken door handle to cleaning brick and replacing rotting deck boards. By doing some things yourself, you’ll save money, time, and give yourself a better chance of enjoying every aspect of your home without interruption.
Author – Chelsea Lamb
Chelsea Lamb has spent the last eight years honing her tech skills and is the resident tech specialist at Business Pop. Her goal is to demystify some of the technical aspects of business ownership.