Home Ownership Habits that Cost You Money

As my father says, “When you own a home, there is always something to do.” I might add that there is always something to spend money on too. In fact, when money is tight, it’s often home maintenance that suffers.

Most people have at least half their wealth tied up in their home. Some of the easiest home maintenance jobs can cost little to no money. Almost every dollar put into home maintenance will pay for itself in the long run. The reward is not only a well-maintained home, but a home that is worth a lot more when it comes time to sell.

Here are a few bad habits that all homeowners should nix:

Not cleaning your gutters: Do this at least two times a year – once in the fall and once in the spring – to help prevent the gutters and downspouts from clogging and the water backing up into your attic and walls.

Ignoring your roof: Inspect your roof while you’re cleaning the gutters and look for loose shingles and signs of wear. We have a problem with moss in my part of the world and it wreaks havoc on roof shingles. So, while up on the roof, we also apply a moss inhibitor once a year.

Cozying up with your plantings: Use tree loppers and pruners to trim the plants and trees to keep them from touching the house. A tree growing too close to your home’s foundation can cause the house to shift and result in a major repair to the foundation. Also, plants that are touching your house can cause damage to the siding, not only by scratching and rubbing, but encourage damp spots that could mildew.

Allowing paint to peel: Keep a coat of good paint on your house. This will protect the materials below the paint from dry rot.

Bugs? What bugs? Visually inspect your house for signs of bug infestations. Our neighbors noticed their wooden floor felt a little saggy when they walked over one part. It turned out to be the start of a termite infestation. They caught the problem early and saved what could have been costly repair.

Allowing mold to take over: Be on the alert for mold and kill it when you find it. Our bathroom had been a repeatedly moldy affair until one day the tile around the tub broke to reveal a mess inside the wall. Our perspiring bathroom window had leaked water into the bathroom wall. We ended up taking out that window, cleaning what we could and replacing what we couldn’t. Costly and time-consuming!

Ignoring dusty air: Keep your heating and air conditioning vents clean. Put that wet/dry vacuum to good use and suck out the dust, pet hair and other goodies that will get blown back into the room. Put all the money you used for antihistamines back into your savings account.

Never changing the furnace filter: Check your filters every month when you use the furnace most. They need to be replaced when they are covered with dust. A clean filter will prevent unnecessary strain on your furnace, and your furnace will use less energy doing its job.

Not cleaning up after your pets: Aside from training your cats to use the litter box or teaching your dog to wait until it gets outside, pet waste in the home is obviously unhealthy and certainly a value-wrecker. A friend of mine couldn’t keep up with the three cats that lived with her, and consequently the carpet was ruined. When it came time to sell her house, my friend had to replace the carpet, pad and some of the underflooring – in addition to further deodorizing the home – before she was ever able to place it on the market.

Not winterizing your outdoor faucets: Take in those hoses and winterize those spigots and pipes if you live in a climate that freezes during the winter. Otherwise, you’ll be mopping up the mess from frozen pipes and paying for their costly repairs.

Ignoring the chimney: A good chimney sweep can spot a chimney in need of repair. A cracked chimney can allow water to leak into your house. They might even advise you to purchase a chimney cap to prevent the rain from causing damage too. Also, too much creosote build-up in your chimney can set the stage for fire. The $100-200 spent on a good chimney sweep is worth the money.

Forgetting to check and replace the smoke detector battery: Go do it now. Please. This is one tool that must work correctly when it is needed.

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