Start 2023 right by making some good new year’s resolutions about property maintenance. Your home is probably the biggest expenditure you will ever make, so it makes good sense to ensure it continues to be healthy and safe (and valuable!) well into the future.
So, here we go, in no particular order:
Stay on top of things! Create Seasonal Maintenance Checklists - and stick to them! Schedule maintenance and renovation jobs for the coming year. You’ll be glad you did.
Think about the maintenance jobs needed to get or keep your house in order, from the smaller tasks to the bigger jobs, and think about the costs involved for larger renovations, and when you could feasibly afford to do them. Once you've drawn up your to-do list, prioritise the most urgent jobs and set a realistic timeframe to complete it.
According to Mike Holmes, of Holmes on Homes, “Nothing lasts forever unless you make sure it does. That means building it right and doing the proper maintenance.” (Check out Mike Holmes’ five New Year’s resolutions for your home here. BTW, did you know that c4u are the designated Okanagan Home Inspectors for the 'Holmes Approved Homes' program for new builds?!)
Keeping water away from your property (especially around the foundation) is key to maintaining its integrity.
Over the winter, do what you can to help your house out. Shovel snow away from the foundation. If you have lots of snow and moisture sitting up against it, when it eventually melts it is going to end up where you really don’t want it.
It's important to have your heating and cooling systems maintained at least once a year, and ideally, before their respective seasons kick in. After all, you don’t want to be without AirCon is July or heating in February. This includes regular maintenance checks from professionals, changing HVAC filters frequently and checking your furnace filter monthly.
Dirty HVAC filters can compromise the quality of your indoor air and make your heating and cooling systems work less efficiently. Generally, you should change your filters every 90 days. HVAC is one of those things you need to keep on top of; a minor issue could easily escalate into a major one with these complex systems.
Likewise, your furnace filter keeps your indoor air clean by keeping dust, allergens, and other icky stuff from entering (and possibly damaging) your furnace. Depending on the size of your house (and whether you have a pet), you may need to swap out your furnace filter as often as once a month. The only way to know for sure is to check your filter every 30 days or so. If you can’t see clearly through your filter when you hold it up to light, it’s time for a new one.
Top Tip: By packs of filters and keep them at home. That way, if you need to change one, it’s a quick five-minute job!
Do not take chances with the air that you breathe. If you suspect you may have mold (which can lead to health problems) in your property, C4u’s air quality testing can establish whether or not this is the case. (Learn more about c4u’s air sampling tests here.)
Also, always make sure your house can ‘breathe’. All bathrooms and attics should be clearly and freely vented to the outside. A house that can’t breathe is a prime candidate for mold.
Check for air leaks in your home at least once a year. Doing so could not only make for a more comfortable indoor environment, but also, save you money on heating and cooling bills. After all, it's pretty easy to add insulation around doors and windows.
Top Tip: Take a lit candle and walk by your window indoors. If it starts to flicker, you know you have too much draft coming through.
It’s important to consistently and carefully survey your home’s foundation for any possible openings, which could provide easy access for rats, mice and other unwanted pests to enter your home. If you see a crack in your concrete, calk it ASAP.
Your fireplace and chimney can be a huge fire hazard if you don't maintain them properly. Have yours cleaned and inspected at least once a year – and possibly twice if you use your fireplace often.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are key to your home’s safety. Every floor of your house with bedrooms should have both a fire detector and a carbon monoxide detector installed. Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous – and sneaky. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house and kill you.
Remember, it's not enough to just outfit your home with these safety devices; you need to ensure sure they're working properly.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors commonly come equipped with test buttons. Just hold the buttons down and wait for the beeps to make sure your units are working properly. And while you're testing, take a minute to remove accumulated dust that could compromise your devices' performance. And remember to replace the batteries regularly.
PS: Also make sure to buy fire extinguishers and keep them in the right place.
A clogged dryer vent could pose a fire hazard. Take proactive steps to prevent debris buildup and keep your dryer working efficiently while reducing the risk of it catching fire. It’s also a good idea to bring in a professional to clean it out once a year, or more frequently in some homes with heavy use.
A clogged dryer vent can also make your dryer work less efficiently. If you've noticed your clothing isn't drying as quickly as it once did, a dirty vent could be the culprit.
Your home’s first line of defense is its roof. A solid roof can protect your home from weather events and keep water out and should be inspected once a year. (Did you know c4u Inspections Ltd does roof inspections for both condition and insurance purposes? Learn more here.)
Your attic can also let you know how your roof is holding up. Look for water stains in the attic, especially around the rafters.
Also aim to do a thorough gutter cleaning at least once a year. Clogged gutters can lead to improper drainage, which can lead to water damage inside and outside of your home.
Trimming your trees is a good thing to do at least once a year, and winter can be your best time to do it. Trees tend to be bare during the winter months, so it's easier to spot any hanging branches that need to be cut down. Plus, hanging tree limbs can be a problem during the winter. They can buckle under the weight of snow and cause damage to your property. They can also give squirrels and other critters direct access to your nice, warm attic, which you want to avoid.
Cleaning your refrigerator coils, air conditioner, showerheads, dryer vents or dishwasher aren’t usually top of mind but doing so will keep your home looking and running better long-term. Debris that accumulates under, on top of and around your appliances could cause them to work less efficiently.
Aim to clean your appliances thoroughly a few times a year - especially if you have pets. Pet hair can collect underneath your fridge in particular, and compromise its performance.
Think about making some eco-friendly changes that will help the environment and might also help your budget by reducing your energy costs. Think about drying your clothes on a line, replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, and making sure there are no drafty windows or doors to help reduce the carbon footprint of your property.
When you own your own home, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Therefore, it's important to prepare for that financially. Generally, most people should expect to spend 1% to 3% of their home's value on annual maintenance and repairs, and you may want to err on the higher end of that range if you really want to avoid any unpleasant financial surprises. In the long run, knowing you're equipped to pay for repairs will reduce your stress load and can, in turn, help you get more enjoyment out of your home.
Have a wonderful 2023, and enjoy your property to the fullest. Home is where the heart is.
c4u Inspections Ltd. wishes you all the best in the coming year, and looks forward to helping with all your property inspection needs in 2023!