Another year is upon us, and this time, we’re making a New Year’s Resolution that we’re going to keep! This year, put some of that resolution effort back into what is, most likely, your biggest investment by dedicating some time to keeping better maintenance of your home. Simple, daily tasks can have a huge impact on preserving and improving the value of your home, while making it safer for you and your family to live in now!
1. Protect your home from dangerous toxins
This is a fairly simple, yet extremely important step that requires very little in terms of a monetary investment. First, have your house tested for radon. According to the EPA, homes with high levels of radon have been found in every state and levels can vary from home to home — even among directly neighboring homes, so just because your neighbor doesn’t have a radon problem, doesn’t mean you won’t. Radon is naturally occurring and the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, but it can be easily identified and resolved, so there’s no reason to delay in getting this taken care of! You can purchase radon kits for approximately $20 at your local hardware store.
Secondly, install carbon monoxide detectors in every bedroom of your home. This is another small investment, especially compared to its importance. If your chimney or furnace vent becomes blocked or leaks, this extremely deadly gas can build up in your house and almost immediately put you and your family in serious danger.
Lastly, if your house was built or remodeled before 1978, you should consider having it tested for lead and asbestos. If your home ends up possessing either one of these deadly toxins, the effects on your health can be devastating. It’s important to hire a professional to remove any and all lead and asbestos in your home, should either be found.
2. Prevent and prepare against fires
Lint may seem relatively harmless, but in reality, it can become a major fire hazard! Most people know to clean out their dryer’s lint trap between loads, but most homeowners aren’t nearly as diligent when it comes to cleaning lint out from their dryer’s vents and ducts. You can hire someone to do this for you, or you can easily do it yourself, as long as you can actually access the duct/hose behind your dryer. All you need is a lint removal kit and a vacuum, and you’re set. Doing this will not only help safeguard against the possibility of fires caused by lint buildup, but it should actually help your dryer work better, drying your clothes quicker and saving you money. (Also, start getting in the habit of making sure you never leave your house or sleep at night with the dryer running. A hot, running dryer without any supervision = fire hazard.)
For your standard fire precautions, make sure you test your home’s smoke detectors to ensure that they’re working properly and aren’t in need of new batteries. You should also invest in a couple of fire extinguishers for your home, if you don’t already have some. In the kitchen, keep a kitchen-specific extinguisher, like this one. These typically are designed to avoid hot oil splashing and can tackle a grease fire. You should keep a fire extinguisher on every level of your home, near front and rear entrances/exits. Always opt for a dry, chemical extinguisher, as opposed to a water-based one, as water-based extinguishers will only complicate a grease or electrical fire.
3. Reduce your bills and your carbon footprint
If you spent more than you would have liked to heating and cooling your house last year, it might be time to make some upgrades to help you cut down energy use and curb costs. You can make some obvious changes, like making sure you turn off unnecessary lights when you’re not in the room, checking the weather stripping and caulking around your doors, windows and any opening into your home, or simply consciously fighting your will to crank the thermostat when you can just put on a sweater or opt for lighter layers instead.
However, there’s much, much more that you can be doing, including swapping out your light bulbs with either Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or LEDs, both of which are vastly superior to your standard light bulb in saving energy, using up to 85 percent less than standard bulbs. Among other new habits, you can also strive to ensure that you only run your dishwasher and washer when full; make sure to unplug appliances, electronics and chargers that are not being used (as these appliances continue to pull energy, even when not in use); and, make sure you maintain your HVAC system by replacing your filter as needed, scheduling regular inspections and keeping your unit clear from debris to ensure that it’s running efficiently at all times.
4. Maintain a regular cleaning schedule for your home
This might seem somewhat optional when it comes to “maintenance,” but keeping a regular cleaning schedule can be extremely beneficial in protecting against unsanitary conditions, the accumulation of dust, mold and other allergens, as well as potential damage. While it’s certainly not going to hurt to let your house “go” every so often, it’s really best to stay on top of cleaning in your home when you can! Dishes should be done on a daily basis and kitchen counters wiped. Spend a few minutes tidying up every day by eliminating clutter (like junk mail or magazines) and making sure dirty clothes find their way to the hamper, instead of residing on the floor. This will require enlisting the help of the entire family—everybody should be cleaning up behind themselves every day!
On a weekly basis, set aside some time to clean the majority of your house by vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, doing the laundry, etc. Then, once a month, do some deep-cleaning to tackle any of those tasks that you just don’t have the time, energy or attention for on a weekly basis, like wiping the floorboards, dusting fan blades, cleaning the refrigerator, running vinegar through your dishwasher, vacuuming your refrigerator coils, etc. If you’re in the need of some specific checklists to make sure you don’t miss a thing, we can definitely point you in the right direction with these!
6. Have your home inspected
Home inspections aren’t just important to have done prior to buying a new house. Having regular home inspections conducted throughout the years you spend in your home help you to stay on top of the overall health of your home, especially when it comes to the parts of your home that you can’t actually see, like the plumbing. Regular inspections will not only help you catch potentially big problems before they become big, but they will also help when or if the time comes to sell your home by helping you to avoid any nasty shocks when a potential seller has an inspection done. They also act as a clean bill of health, showing that you’ve properly maintained your home over a long span of time!
You should have your home inspected at least every few years, if not annually, depending on the age of your home and any pre-existing issues that your home may have. Home inspections should always be conducted by a professional home inspector and should include inspections of your home’s heating and air systems, plumbing, roof, attic, insulation, foundation, basement, structure, flooring, ceilings and walls.
This year, make a new year’s resolution that will keep your biggest investment clean, safe and valuable for years to come. A small investment in time and money now will reap big rewards in the future, so start your new year off right with these tips to get you started!