November 1, 1999
Five things homeowners forget to check
Quick things to check in your home, for little or no cost
by HouseMasters of America
Maintaining your home is the best way of maintaining your home's long-term value. In order to locate problem areas and save yourself some big bucks in the long run, here is a list of five things often overlooked when maintaining your home:
- Change Air Filters Regularly: Filters in central air or heating systems should be changed or cleaned regularly in season. Clogged filters force air systems to work harder, waste energy, and deteriorate faster. An efficient filter, which can be replaced for around $1, can save energy bills.
- Divert Rain Water From House: Most lower level or basement water penetration problems are caused by mishandling of roof water. Water from gutters is coming towards the house, rather than being diverted away. Install downspouts, elbows, and splash blocks or piping to divert water away from your house (at least three feet away, to be safe). This can be done for around $10.
- Install a Set-Back Thermostat: Much energy is wasted by over-heating or cooling your house during hours of unoccupancy or sleep. A dual set-back thermostat will automatically adjust your heating or cooling system for peak and non-peak times, and will avoid the yo-yo handling of the heating/cooling system. This can be done for under $100 dollars by your heating company, saving tons on energy bills in the long run.
- Check Roof Flashings Anually: Most roof leaks are caused by missing or faulty flashings (metal sheets that divert water) around chimneys, vent-pipes, and roof plane changes. An annual flashing check and sealing will reduce interior water leaks and damage. This can be done by the homeowner inexpensively or by a professional roofer, which will obviously cost more.
Look for Insect Activity: Wood-destroying insects cause homeowners millions of dollars in damage each year. Look for evidence of insects, such as sawdust around wood members and mud tubes on interior and exterior walls, which are signs of carpenter ants or termites. Be sure there is at least six inches between your siding and foundation soil to prevent moisture in the wood, which attracts these creatures. The inspection by the homeowner is free, and early detection of these insects can result in a minimal bill from companies who eradicate these situations. Letting these problems go leads to much larger expenses.