Spring Cleaning: Proactive Home Maintenance Can Save You Money
During winter, certain weather conditions can be tough on your home. As spring approaches, so does the opportunity for an annual spring cleaning and home maintenance routine. From cleaning the gutters to inspecting your mechanical systems, every completed chore can help your house operate more efficiently, keep your family safe and save you money in the long run.
As the new, warmer season arrives, you’re likely contemplating your spring cleaning to-do list and adding tasks to it. While a clean and tidy home is always an important and admirable goal, remember that springtime home maintenance is also an essential and worthwhile endeavor.
To make sure your home is in good working condition, it’s wise to perform spring cleaning and maintenance both inside and outside of your home.
The Value of Spring Cleaning
Proactive, seasonal home maintenance may save you money in the end. For example, a professional annual checkup of your air conditioning system usually costs less than $200. But if you allow those checkups to lapse, potential problems might go undetected and that could mean having to replace the entire system, an expense that could run in the thousands of dollars.
Most people don’t realize you can lose around 10% of your home’s value if you don’t keep up with routine maintenance and repairs. The good news is that you only need to spend about 1 - 4% of your home’s value per year on upkeep. Remarkably, real estate agents and appraisers told Rachel Kurzius with The Washington Post that you can protect the value of your home by taking care of a few simple maintenance items. Below are some tips for where to concentrate your efforts.
Inside Your Home
- Electrical outlets and cords: Check electrical outlets and cords throughout your home for potential fire hazards. Replace any fraying cords and tack down ones that could cause someone to trip and fall. According to the National Safety Council, falls accounted for 33% of all nonfatal injuries in 2020 and one good way to prevent falls is by securing or rerouting electrical cords.
- Fire extinguishers: Check all parts of your fire extinguisher for signs of damage, and double-check that the pressure gauge needle is in the “green” range. Be sure adults who live in the home know where to find the fire extinguishers, should they need them.
- Air conditioning: Have a professional inspect and tune up your air-conditioning system. Set yourself a reminder to change your air conditioning filters every 30 to 90 days, depending on the type, to keep clean air flowing easily. Keep in mind that while fiberglass air filters are less expensive, they'll need to be replaced more often than pleated air filters.
- Water heater: Check your water heater for leaks and signs of corrosion. Most water heaters require flushing one or two times per year to prevent rust and a buildup of sediment. If you find any leaks, call a professional to take a closer look and make any necessary repairs.
- Attic: Survey your attic space, looking for any signs of animal or insect breaches. Chewed wires and scat are some of the indications you have pests in your attic. Locate how and where they’re gaining access and repair those areas. Keep your eyes open for mold, too, which can hint at possible leaks or water issues. If you find any mold, determine the cause and eliminate it before warmer weather causes it to grow.
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and flashlights: Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Ensure all devices are in working order. This is also a great time to replace batteries in flashlights. After all, pop-up storms in spring can cause unexpected power outages. Be ready with flashlights that are powered up and ready to go.
- Dryer: According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year. Be sure to clean out your dryer’s vent each spring to prevent fires from sparking.
- Seals and weather stripping: Check around your home to be sure weather stripping around windows and doors as well as sink seals in the bathroom and kitchen are in good shape. Look closely for early signs of peeling or cracking caulk. Re-seal anything that needs attention to prevent water from causing damage and to keep pests out of your home.
Outside Your Home
- Roof: Although we think of a roof as an outdoor item to inspect, it’s a good idea to start your roof inspection in your attic, as mentioned above. Check for any signs of water leaks which could be one sign of damage. Inspect the outside of your roof next for any weather damage from rain, hail or overhanging tree branches to reduce the possibility of costly leaks. If you see loose or missing shingles or any raised or bent nails, it may be time to have a professional evaluate the condition of your roof.
- Foundation: Take a look around your entire foundation, noting if there is any standing water pooling around it. Look, too, for any areas that appear to be cracked or crumbling.
- Gutters: Clean leaves and other debris from gutters and downspouts to reduce the possibility of water damage, especially to your foundation. Spring is an especially good time for those of us who live in Texas to keep an eye on gutters – make sure it’s not getting clogged by blooming live oak tree pollen.
- Trees and loose items: Visually inspect trees for damage or rot, and remove any dead trees that might blow over in heavy winds or during a storm. Remember that Spring is not the season to prune live oak trees as they are more susceptible to oak wilt from February through July. Experts recommend only trimming live oak trees in fall and winter. Spring is also an ideal time to secure any loose items in your yard that could blow around during an unexpected spring downpour.
- Lawn equipment: Make sure lawn mowers, tractors and other equipment are tuned up before using. Take some time to fill them with gas, too, so they’re ready to go when you need them.
- Paint: Check the paint around the outside of your home that may need a touch-up. Be sure to also note any cracked, peeling paint or damaged siding. Repaint and repair any damaged areas to prevent water from getting in or pests, such as ants or termites, from burrowing inside.
With proper care and maintenance, your home can maintain its value while providing shelter, safety and comfort to you and your loved ones. Spring cleaning is a great excuse to put those routine tasks front and center of your to-do list, so that you can devote the remainder of the year to lower-key maintenance.
This spring, why not take an additional step toward protecting your home and review your homeowners insurance policy? Ask yourself:
- Do I need to update my coverage limits?
- Does my current policy reflect my current needs?
- Am I taking advantage of available discounts (e.g., bundling home and auto insurance to save money)?
These are all important considerations, as good insurance coverage is a reflection of the pride you have for your home and household.
Kurzius, Rachel “10 Easy (or Free!) Ways to Boost Your Home Value.” The Washington Post, September 28, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/home/2022/09/28/how-to-increase-home-value/.
“Fall Safety: Take Steps to Remain Independent Longer.” National Safety Council, https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/older-adult-falls?. Accessed on December 30, 2022.
“Top 10 Preventable Injuries.” National Safety Council Injury Facts, https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/all-injuries/deaths-by-demographics/top-10-preventable-injuries. Accessed on December 30, 2022.
“Statistical Reports on the Fire Problem in the United States: Fire Causes.” U.S. Fire Administration, https://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/reports/fire-causes. Accessed on December 30, 2022.
“How Often You Should Change Your Air Filter.” The Home Depot, https://www.homedepot.com/c/ab/how-often-you-should-change-your-air-filter/9ba683603be9fa5395fab90cf4eb97a. Accessed on December 30, 2022.
“How to Perform a Roof Inspection.” American Home Shield, https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/repair-maintenance/diy-tips-roof-inspection/. Accessed on December 30, 2022.
Williams, Geoff. “6 Spring Cleaning Tips to Prevent Insurance Claims and Protect Your Home and Wallet.” MoneyGeek, Updated December 22, 2022, https://www.moneygeek.com/insurance/homeowners/spring-cleaning-tips-to-protect-your-home-wallet/.
“When is The Best Time to Trim Trees?” Texas Tree Surgeons, November 22, 2019, https://texastreesurgeons.com/blog/2019/11/22/best-time-to-trim/.
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