Home Maintenance: 5 Areas Not To Ignore



Interest rates are low these days and there’s a ton of housing stock available, so, in my view, it’s a great time to buy a home.  The financing part is a bit trickier these days with banks scrutinizing loan applications, but if you have a good down payment (at least 20 percent), a great credit score, ready to work at maintaining your home, and understand that a home is, first, a place to live and, secondly, possibly an investment go out and buy a home!
With the above said, there are areas in a home that are consistently neglected by homeowners. Neglecting a home repair can cost you big bucks in the long term and is just plain dumb/lazy (would you ever not feed your dog or provide fresh water for your cat?).  In turn, I’ve put together a top five list of areas of your home NOT to ignore!  Let’s start with the often ignored, but highly functional, gutter:

1. Gutters  
When we purchased our home I asked the owner when was the last time she had her gutters cleaned.  The ex-homeowner replied by saying, “oh, I don’t know, but it’s not important.”  If you live in a leafy neighborhood you should get your gutters cleaned twice a year (I like cleaning mine in November and May).  Allowing leaf build up and sediment to accumulate in your gutters can lean to interior and exterior water damage which can costs thousands of dollars to repair. Clean your gutters yourself or hire a crew if your gutters can’t be reached safely.
2. Furnace
There are many types of furnaces used to heat homes in the US, including forced hot air, steam, and hot water.  And most furnaces are either fueled by natural gas or oil.  The typical furnace can last between 15-25 depending on the system and your tolerance for efficiency.  I’ve seen steam boilers with tons of sediment build up, hot water furnaces with rotting pipes, and tons of leaking radiators.  This isn’t good for one of the major systems of your home.  In fact, I think most homeowner see their heating and cooling systems as pieces of machinery that run themselves without the need maintenance. Hot water furnaces should be checked and cleaned by a capable homeowner or a licensed plumber at the beginning of each heating season.  Steam furnaces require a bit more upkeep, but the maintenance routine is the same: clean pilot and burner area, keep the area around your furnace clean, check damper running into chimney, lubricate moving parts, (if steam) flush water in system to get rid of sediment in radiators and furnace. See my guide to winterizing your home!
3. Yard 
Walk by any home and the first thing you notice is the front yard and this happens well before you notice architecture style, the pretty red door, and the Lexus sitting in the driveway.  If you’re a homeowner your front yard is your first shot to make impression, be it good or bad.  An unkempt lawn, big dirt patches, and overgrown hedges and trees all make for poor maintenance and upkeep and, in relation to other home improvement / maintenance projects, maintaining a green lawn and pruning your boxwood is cheap and easy.  Also, failure to maintain your exterior landscape can also lead to drainage problems and possible basement leaks as your yard can develop issues with slope and water seepage.  See my tips on how to maintain a great looking lawn!
4. Sidewalk
If you’re lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that has sidewalks then you’ve bought yourself a lifetime membership to a great health club.  Walking around your neighborhood is great exercise and gets you interacting with the neighbors.  Unfortunately, concrete sidewalks will need some upkeep, especially if you’re block or neighborhood is lined with street trees.  Large trees cause concrete sidewalks to lift and crack over time and, in many cases, the only way to repair an uplifted sidewalk is to pour a new section of sidewalk.  Many towns also have ordinances requiring homeowners to maintain their sidewalk, so sidewalk upkeep is a given.  Don’t you just love homeownership!
5. Kitchen 
They say the kitchen is the new heart of the modern home and prospective home buyers look to, among other things, the size and condition of the kitchen when considering the purchase of a home. When we looked at homes for purchase a couple of years back, we fell into the same category as above and we were mostly horrified at the condition of most conditions.  Many of the kitchens we walked through had faulty appliances, cracked flooring, leaking faucets, poor lighting, and, generally, inadequate space and functional layout.  I’m not advocating homeowners build lavish kitchen with a Viking stove, soapstone countertops, and exotic wood cabinets, but I’m a big fan of keeping a kitchen up to date and renovating a kitchen once it’s past its functional prime.  Plus, there’s usually a decent ROI on a newly renovated kitchen.  See my guide to renovating your kitchen!


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