10 things a home owner can do to make his home live longer
1. Clean air filters; This is key as dirty filters in your air conditioning will restrict the airflow through the system and thus the efficiency of the system. If you notice it is not cooling as well as it did a few months ago then this is the first thing to check. It is an easy job and does not require the help of a professional. The filters are usually in behind the return air vent near the heater location. They also may be located in the air duct immediately behind the blower unit, which is usually in a closet or the attic. New filters are only a few dollars and have the size printed right on them. Home Depot and Lowes have a good supply. You will need to change them out every couple of months if you are using the system regularly.
2. Check and seal gaps around doors and windows; Close your front door and look for daylight around the edges. This is where your outside air is getting into the house and reducing the efficiency of the heating and cooling. The remedy is simple. Go to a hardware store and purchase some weather striping. It comes in rolls long enough to do 1 door. It is self-adhesive so it can be easily installed. Make sure you don't leave gaps. It comes in varying thick nesses so don't go overboard on it. Just get it thick enough to close up the gap. If it is to thick then it will make the door hard to latch.
3. Check for water leaks; Periodic inspections under sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms is highly recommended. Pull out the cupboard contents and take a good look for any active leaks in the water lines and drains. Feel the deck area for signs of dampness. Also run you hands around the water lines and drain lines to feel for water. Sometimes a leak will seal itself but it will leave a telltale stain or rust spot. Either way it needs to be fixed, as the water damage will continue, not to mention the possibility of mold growing in the damp area. Not to mention the possible health risks associated with this.
4. Keep your drains clean; Dirty slow and blocked drains are a pain and a health hazard. We never pay any attention to drains until they block up and by then it has become and expensive emergency. Clean drains keep the wastewater flowing freely away from the house. Drains get blocked with hair in the bathroom sinks and tub. The kitchen drain will get blocked with food scraps that have been put through the disposal that was beyond the ability of the disposal to handle, this stuff gets stuck in the drain and problems result. I this happens in the kitchen you may be able to handle it yourself by removing the drain lies under the sink and cleaning them out. A simple job. If that does not do it then you may need a professional rooter company to come in and snake out the drains. The bathroom blockage, particularly in the hand basins can be handled with a simple barbed plastic rod available from the hardware stores. Poke it way down the drain and pull lit back. The barbs will pick up the hair and remove it. If this fails there is hair dissolving drain cleaners available that usually work. If no then back to the rooter company.
5. Clean your gutters before the rains come; Gutters collect all sorts of leaves, dirt and trash from the roof run off. If you have trees a near you house the leaves will get into the gutters and fill them up and block the downspouts. When it rains the gutters overflow. The added weight of the water in a full gutter can often damage the gutters, pulling them out of alignment or causing them to come completely off the building. Dirt gutters also hold moisture and this causes premature damage to the metal. Cleaning these is a job for a professional, as it needs to be done from a ladder or from the roof. For those who are not knowledgeable roof and personal damage can easily result from this. Clean gutters allow them to work as designed.
6. Clean your chimney; Most modern fireplaces have gas fires and metal chimney flues. These don't cause the soot build up you get in older brick chimneys burning wood etc. A dirty chimney can be a fire hazard as the heat can cause the soot to burn. If you have an older house and burn wood in your fireplace a chimney cleaning every few years is a wise precaution. If you are unsure if it needs a cleaning get a flashlight and lie on your back and take a look. The soot build up is easy to see. There are professional chimney cleaning companies that will do the job for you.
7. Inspect your roof; Your roof is one of the most expensive repair jobs you may face. Roof inspection and maintenance is key to getting the most from it. There are many different types of roof covering and depending on what you have will dictate how you deal with it. A composition tile roof is easiest to inspect as you can safely walk on it and see what is going on. Is there broken tiles, granulation loss, degraded ridge caps etc will all need to be attended to. A concrete or clay tile roof is a different matter as walking on it will probably cause broken tiles and more damage than you have before you start. A pair of binoculars is helpful to see what is going on. Look for cracked, broken or loose tiles. If you cant see this well them a professional roofing company will do a roof inspection for you and fix the problems.
8. Do an attic inspection; among the things to look for are a) is there any evidence of pests. Do you see rat droppings anywhere? You can set traps or get a pro to come and help. B) Is the insulation covering all the areas of the attic? Is there any gaps, does it look compacted. It would be at least up to the level of you ceiling joists and preferably much higher. The more insulation you have the better it will work and the lower you energy costs will be. Get advice from a pro as to what you need. c) Check you vent lines and make sure they are all connected. A bathroom vent blowing into the attic will be pumping moist air where you don't want it, not to mention smells etc. d) Is the attic ventilation unobstructed. Sometimes insulation can be pushed up against the vents particularly the vents under the eves. e) Check you air / heat ducts and make sure why are all connected and in good condition. It is expensive to be blowing cold air into your attic where it is not needed. f) Check for open electrical boxes. The covers on these are designed to contain any sparks that may come from an electrical short. Also they keep rodents out. Buy and install the covers if needed.
9. Keep trees away from the building 'Trees close to the building have several problems. The roots can cause foundation damage as the trees grow. If they are already there then removal and killing the roots is the only option. Trees that overhang a roof allow rats and possums etc to get on your roof. If they find any attic access then they will be sharing your home with you. Keep the branches well clear of the roof. The other problem is the leaves will block gutters and create problems as covered earlier.
10. Keep your fences in good repair; These are often overlooked. A broken post in a wood fence greatly overloads the whole system and will cause premature destruction of the other fence members. Get a broken post repaired before it causes more damage. Same for broken gates. A block fence that is leaning or cracked has major structural problems that need to be addressed. If the fence is also a retaining wall it becomes doubly important to get it repaired.