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Home Maintenance Tips

Being a homeowner brings with it many responsibilities. There are a number of things that must be dealt with from a maintenance standpoint. Here, we will give you a list of things to do to keep things in good shape. If you're handy, most of them can be done on your own. Otherwise you can reach out to a company or handyman to have them done for you.

Get to know the pros: First-time buyers can be prepared by assembling your very own "home team" of contractors and service people well before you ever need them. Find local home maintenance specialists through the recommendations of family and friends, and by connecting with referral services like Angie’s List. The Realtor who helped you find your new home can also put you in touch with pros whose work quality and ethics can be trusted. If you were renting, ask your property manager if they have someone that they would recommend.

Understand your home's operating systems: It is a must to understand the basics of your home's mechanical systems, even if you will need to call a pro for major home maintenance and repair issues. Know where your main water line is and how to shut it off in an emergency. Get acquainted with the fuse or breaker box, and label essential and non-essential systems for quick reference and energy-saving shutdowns when you're away for extended periods of time. Set a routine for heating and cooling system maintenance, including annual tune-ups by an HVAC contractor, frequent filter changes, and sealing leaky ductwork.

Take care of the exterior: Caulk windows and trim. In the fall, before it rains look for cracks in the trim around the windows and sidings of your house. The cracks allow water to intrude and slowly damage the wood on the interior. If the crack is wider than 1/8 of an inch or deeper than a half inch you can purchase some flexible foam backer rod at a local hardware store and then caulk over it.

Inspect and touch up exterior paint. Though frequently we imagine painting simply as a way to make the house look better from the outside, it is truly a mechanism by which we protect our home from water intrusion. While things are dry, inspect the home’s exterior from top to bottom, including the trim. Look for paint that has blistered, bubbled, peeled, and cracked. Scrape, sand and fill the holes with high-quality patching compound. Use primer on the bare spots and then follow with paint.

Once or twice a year you should also clean the muck out of your gutters. Depending on the amount of trees around your home these can fill up quickly. Hire someone (around $50-$100) or get a stable ladder (and someone to hold it) and do it yourself. But clean the gutters on a regular basis.

Interior Maintenance: We constantly get calls for mold and mildew inside the bathroom. Simple things can be done that would keep many of these problems from arising. Check the caulking regularly around the bathtub and shower. Check for small cracks and holes in your grout. Water can get into the spaces and create mold and mildew on the backside of the tile, grout, or caulk. Continued exposure to water can lead to damaged wood in and around the bathtub or shower.

While you are in the bathroom make sure to check all of the seals, hoses and valves in the toilet. This can keep leaks from occurring as well as help maintain the correct amount of water flow through the toilet.

Check your air conditioner’s instruction manual to locate and remove the filter. Hold it up to the light: If it's dark and dirty-looking, replace it. Filters trap dust, pollen, spores and airborne debris, keeping your home's air clean and extending the life of your air conditioner. If you have children and pets in the home make sure to check your filter frequently and change it as needed. Plain fiberglass filters cost a couple of dollars each. Pleated, fine-mesh filters that trap allergens and other irritants may cost a few dollars more but they keep the unit cleaner while improving indoor air quality.

Inspect pipes and valves below sinks and hoses connecting your washer. These fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” category. People don’t pay attention until it’s too late. Damage here can result in either a slow steady leak or even worse, a break that can quickly flood a room. Make sure fittings are sealed and no leaks are present. Change them as needed.

Though you may be tempted to let some of these slide from time to time, maintenance is important and can save you money in the long run. Living in Florida brings a number of concerns that other areas of the country just won’t face. High rainfall and temperatures create more opportunities for cracks, water intrusion, mold and other damage. Take the time to care for your home and you will keep problems to a minimum.

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