Written by Zoe Fox
As Real Estate Agents, we love helping our clients be successful at all aspects of homeownership including maintaining your biggest investment. With the proliferation of home décor shows it’s easy to get carried away dreaming of shiny light fixtures and the perfect shade of gray but when you’re thinking of what it takes to keep a house in good working order you’ve got to get into the “guts”. Whether you are a first-time buyer needing a primer, or you’re just wondering where to start here are a few pointers to help you make an easy routine for home maintenance to keep your home humming along happily for years to come.
Most of us aren’t getting up on our roofs on a regular basis, so it’s a good idea to hire a professional roofer to come and evaluate your roof every 3-5 years to check for wear and tear and do any minor repairs. The typical rubber (modified bitumen) roofs common in Philadelphia are best maintained by having the roof re-coated with a “silver coat” and touching up the asphalt sealant around any roof penetrations. Regular roof maintenance can also help cut down on energy bills.
Take a moment to check under all your faucets for minor leaks that if left might cause larger damage. Listen to your toilets—are they running? (Is your water bill oddly high?). Are there any drains that are backing up or smelling funny? Does your yard drain have any debris blocking it or any drainage issues outside? If you haven’t signed up for water & sewer line insurance (see our blog here!)
now is a good time to take care of that, for less than $100 yearly it’s worth it.
The number one piece of advice for homeowners with central air is to change your filter! You can get away with doing it 2x a year but if you have pets or have done construction inside recently you probably want to change your filter at least quarterly. It’s also a good idea to hire a licensed HVAC contractor to come thoroughly clean and maintain your air handler at least once per year. They should also check your condenser to make sure it’s fully operational and charge it with coolant before the first hot day of the year. If you have radiators, watch a YouTube video on how to bleed them yearly to make sure they are properly pressurized when you are ready to heat your home most plumbers can also help you do this and check out your boiler system for a small cost.
Take a look outside –is the electrical line coming into your house weathertight and in good condition? Is your electrical panel clean and dry? Check to make sure any exterior lines are in good shape, especially after storms. Also now’s the time to get the ladder out and finally change that one lightbulb you’ve been meaning to get to.
Take a moment to test the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You can buy combination detector boxes and Philly code requires at least one on every floor of the house, and ideally one in each bedroom as well. Check your fire extinguisher situation and make sure it’s not expired. If your home has a sprinkler system have a professional service, the system annually to flush any standing water and ensure that it is properly pressurized.
Peeling paint can be a safety issue especially if you have a property built before 1978 which is likely to have a layer of lead-based paint buried deep down take care to address peeling or chipping paint by coating it with a fresh layer of latex paint. Outside, make sure the frames of your windows and doors are caulked and painted to protect from water damage.
If you have rental properties, make sure you are making annual safety checks and taking care of any minor maintenance issues before they become a midnight phone call happy tenants, happy house, the happy landlord.
I set myself a reminder on daylight savings day to do all my random house tasks so that I know I’m revisiting my list at least 2x a year for each property and then I can rest easy for another 6 months.
Take a moment to understand your homeowner’s insurance policies do you need more coverage or specialty insurance? Reach out to your insurance agent to review your coverage and see if you might even be able to save money.
There you go, an ounce of prevention! For all our friends and clients in the Philadelphia area, please reach out if you’d like a copy of our curated contractor recommendations and our professional services list.