My wife and I try to keep our home maintained and major equipment in good working order. We do this for two reasons. First, we like having things in good repair so we can enjoy them more. Second, we expect it to help when the time comes to sell our home. But, does regular home maintenance really improve my home’s value?Think for just a minute. If you are looking to purchase a home whose furnace is old and in disrepair, won’t you lower your offer? A home that has an older furnace with meticulous maintenance records wouldn’t attract that deduction.
The best way to keep your home in excellent shape is by having a regular maintenance schedule for major systems. A house in great condition always receives better offers when it's time to sell, and even though I'm not considering a sale for the foreseeable future, I certainly don't want to leave everything for the last minute. In addition, regular maintenance is a lot cheaper than emergency repairs, prevents many major crises, and keeps me comfortable in my home because my major systems stay in good working order. So let’s take a look at the major systems in a typical house.
Even those that live in warmer climates need to put furnaces on the top of the list. First, air filters need to be scheduled for regular replacement. I have three cats, so I need to change my filter monthly, and those with long-haired dogs should do the same. Over the last few years, many more filter choices have been added, but I just stick to a moderately-priced, middle of the road filter, and I'm diligent about replacing it. I also contract with a reputable HVAC service, and I have them do thorough system inspection once a year. Since my furnace is one those highly efficient models, it has more parts than an old style furnace, and it needs to be checked for problems a little more often.
If you have an oil furnace, maintenance is easy. Your oil company will usually offer a discount on early bird maintenance and cleaning in the Spring/Early Summer. Take advantage of the service and the discount!
If you think your furnace is on it last leg, consider having it checked with a no-cost MassSAVE Home Energy Assessment. This free service to citizens of Massachusetts will give you an objective opinion on whether it's time to replace it.
A/C (early summer)
In the summer, I'm also very careful to change my AC filter monthly. Every month, I schedule a good cleaning of the condenser fan unit outside. Leaves and debris can cause this unit to run hot, and that can substantially shorten the life of the compressor. Once a year, I also have the HVAC company look at the coil that is in the air handler to make sure that no dirt and dust have gotten beyond the filter, because this can also cut down the performance level of my unit.
Carpets (late fall)
With the amount of cat hair my pets generate, I have my carpets professionally cleaned once a year. Through the years, I’ve found that I need to schedule a time when I can be off your carpets for 8-12 hours. I’ve also learned that it’s best to get the dirt and pollutants off out of your carpets before you button the house up for the winter. I do own a quality vacuum cleaner to keep the worst of the dirt off my carpets in between professional cleanings.
I check for leaks and slow drains once a month, or when I see them. Water damage can be very expensive and even a small leak can waste hundreds of gallons per month. Each month I pour a good bio drain cleaner down each of my bathroom and kitchen drains. I've found that this really minimizes clogs and costly plumber visits. Every two months I check my toilets for signs of running water. If the tank takes a long time to fill, or if the valve never shuts off, a $10 repair can solve it.
Smoke/Carbon Monoxide (annually)
Every year on Halloween, I replace the batteries and test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in my house. Why Halloween? It seemed appropriate to me. You can pick any day you like. Because fire and carbon monoxide alarms are potentially life saving, I made it a annual tradition in my house so it would never be forgotten.
Some homeowners are happy just to cut their lawns and they don't mind weeds, and that's OK. I like a lush lawn, so I do stick to a lawn maintenance plan.
I used to do this myself, but alas, age is taking hold and I now hire it out to a local lawn care company. I've been very pleased with the job they do and it's been affordable. I do believe curb side appeal really adds to a home's value.
The best maintenance is preventative, and I try hard to keep all of my home's systems in good working order. If I can accomplish this, I know the value of my home is secure. And it’s the old saying goes, “If you take good care of your house, it will take good care of you!”