As a first-time home buyer, the thought of having to take care of a property can be overwhelming. When you own a home, it’s now your responsibility when something breaks—no more submitting a repair request to a leasing office or landlord. If you’ve never unclogged a toilet or painted a wall in your life, that can be scary. How will you know what to do to keep a whole house in good condition?
To help you gain confidence as a new homeowner, it’s important to know just what home maintenance tasks should be on your radar, as well as popular myths that might actually waste your time or end up damaging your home. And if you decide you need help keeping your home in tip-top shape, knowing where to turn can be a lifesaver. We’ll also cover the differences between handymen, tradespeople, and appliance repair technicians.
What is Home Maintenance
First of all, what exactly are your new responsibilities as a homeowner. While there are extensive lists of what tasks you should complete each season, home maintenance comes down to few key areas.
If your home has a yard or garden, you’ll want to ensure the grounds are well-maintained. Not only does this improve your home’s curb appeal, it can also help prevent damage to your home’s structure from things like falling tree limbs or insect infestations. You’ll also want to occasionally check the exterior structure of your home to make sure it doesn’t need repairs. Maintaining your home’s exterior might include tasks such as:
- Mowing the lawn
- Trimming the trees
- Mulching the flower beds
- Watering plants and foliage
- Raking leaves
- Cleaning out the gutters
- Checking the roof for loose or broken shingles
- Inspecting exterior paint for signs of chipping or peeling
The inside of your home is where you’ll spend most of your time, so it’s important to ensure you and your family are living in a safe and comfortable environment. When it comes to maintaining your home’s interior, your list might include the following:
- Installing and regularly testing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Fumigating for pests like ants and roaches
- Inspecting your chimney annually (if you have one) and cleaning it periodically
- Touching up paint on the walls
- Checking windows and doors for drafts and applying caulk sealant if necessary
Appliances and Systems
As a first-time homeowner, maintaining appliances might be the most daunting task there is. These devices are responsible for ensuring a happy and healthy quality of life, and if one breaks it can turn your whole world upside down. Not to mention, HVAC systems, water heaters, garbage disposals, and dishwashers also tend to be some of the most expensive things to repair or replace.
To save you money and headaches down the road, there are a few appliance-related tasks you should add to your home maintenance checklist:
- Call an HVAC technician to inspect and service your home’s system twice a year
- Change out your HVAC filter regularly
- Have your dryer vent inspected and cleaned annually
- Drain your water heater from the bottom annually to remove sediment, then refill it
- Clean the dishwasher periodically with vinegar
- Flush the garbage disposal with baking soda
Common Maintenance Myths
As you can see, owning a home comes with a lot of responsibility. However, if you get into a good rhythm with home maintenance tasks, it can save you time and money in the long run and also provide a sense of satisfaction.
That said, it’s sometimes difficult to know the best way to go about completing some of these tasks, and many homeowners fall back on common maintenance myths that can actually harm rather than help your property. Here are a few that you’ll want to avoid:
Cutting the Grass Shorter Means You’ll Mow Less
Mowing your lawn in the Texas summer—or spring—heat is probably not your favorite thing to do. But cutting the grass shorter won’t lead to fewer mowing sessions and can in fact lead to an environment that invites disease and weed infestation. That means potentially more yard work for you. So, instead of cutting the grass super short, it’s best to set your mower blade height to cut off no more than the top third of the grass.
You Only Need to Clean Gutters Once a Year
While trees in Texas might not shed quite as many leaves every year as those in the northeast, it’s still important to clean out your gutters both in the fall and in the spring. Any kind of debris can clog gutters at any time of year, preventing them from directing water away from your house and risking potential damage to both the interior and exterior of your home. Gutters full of debris can also serve as a haven for insects, rodents, and mold—all things that can cause headaches for homeowners.
Bathroom Exhaust Fans Don’t Need to be Cleaned
Bathrooms are, by their very nature, a humid environment. Bathroom exhaust fans are crucial to removing built up condensation and should vent out of the house and not to your attic or interior space to avoid moisture buildup. Without this additional ventilation, mold and mildew can form.
Placing an exhaust fan in the bathroom is just the first step. These fans should also be cleaned every six to 12 months to prevent mold and mildew in the fan itself. Dust can build up over time as well, covering the motor and causing the fan to work less efficiently.
Need Help? You Have Options
Undoubtedly, a time will come when the maintenance your home requires is beyond your level of expertise. When it comes to home maintenance and repair, there are a few different types of services you can rely on, which fall more or less into the following categories:
- Handymen: These are men (and women) who are competent in a variety of skills and can complete a range of different repair or maintenance jobs. Handymen are great for completing odd jobs around the house that don’t require a high level of training or expertise. Think: replacing door hinges, fixing your fence, changing doorknobs.
- Tradespeople: These are individuals who have extensive training in a trade, like plumbers, electricians, masons, and carpenters. If the maintenance task you need completed requires a high level of expertise, it’s usually best to contract a tradesperson who specializes in that area. Think: fixing a burst pipe, replacing a garage door, creating a brick wall.
- Appliance repair technicians: These individuals have a less wide-ranging skill set than handymen, and less formal training in specific trades than tradespeople. However, they have a high degree of specialty in the specific appliance that may need repair. Think: the refrigerator is making a funny noise, your washing machine won’t drain, your stove won’t come to temperature.
Tackle Maintenance Tasks with Confidence
Home maintenance is a simple fact of homeownership, and as with all things, practice makes perfect. As you settle into your new home, you’ll also settle into your role as your home’s caretaker and gain confidence in your skills.
As you continue to make your house a home, you might consider adding a home equity loan or HELOC to your funding options. Talk to an Amplify expert today about how to leverage your home’s equity for a renovation project!