You’ve gone through the process of buying a home — waiting for the loan approval, making offers and counter-offers, dealing with inspectors, signing contracts — and now, you’re finally settling into your new place. It doesn’t take long for a question to begin to form in your mind: How on earth am I going to maintain this place??
Even blenders and toasters come with owner’s manuals. Your home? Nada.
But don’t despair, and don’t panic. While certain things are best left to trained professionals, there are a number of things a homeowner can take care of on their own. Here are six things just about any homeowner can handle themselves:
1. Attic Insulation
If you don’t have enough insulation, you’ll be wasting money on heating and air conditioning. Your home’s insulation should have at least an R-30 rating insulation. (“R” refers to thermal resistance.) That would be equal to a minimum of 8 inches of fiberglass insulation. Homes in colder regions should go with R-40 or R-50, or a minimum of 12 inches.
Insulation is affordable, and upgrading a home from R-15 to R-30 can potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year in your heating and energy bills. Simply unroll the insulation in place, using a staple gun to secure it if needed.
2. Roof Maintenance
Most asphalt shingle roofs last about 15 years. A lot of homeowners just put a layer of shingles over the old ones instead of replacing the entire roof. However, roofs with multiple layers might conceal hidden problems such as leaks, rotted sheathing and compromised wood. What many homeowners don’t know is that the difference between a new layer and a brand new roof is relatively small, only about 25 percent.
Signs a roof needs replacement: Buckled, cracked or missing shingles, granule texture loss from the surface of the shingles, leaks in your roof.
To preserve your roof:
• Keep tree branches cut away so that they are not touching it.
• Remove moss buildup every 4 to 5 years. (Only if you are comfortable with heights, ladders and working on your roof.) Mix equal parts water and chlorine bleach. Spray it on the affected area, and then scrub it clean with a brush.
• Clean your gutters at least once a year or install leafless gutters. Cost of leafless gutters is $10 – $20 a foot (vs. $4 – $7 a foot for traditional gutters.)
Nothing freshens up a living space like a new coat of paint, and this is something most everyone can do, especially interior painting. Why hire a painter when you can do it yourself? Use spackling compound to fill in small holes or cracks before starting. Make sure surfaces to be painted are clean and smooth. Use masking tape for masking moldings and drop cloths to protect floors and furniture. Start with a layer of primer, and then paint the walls with whatever color you desire!
4. Non-Toxic Ant Control
Issues with ants in your home? Sprinkle baby powder at known entry points.
5. Washing Machine Maintenance
The filter on a washing machine can clog from time to time, negatively impacting the performance of the unit. The solenoid valve can have issues as well. Repairing or replacing these is as simple as buying the new part and following the instructions on the packaging.
6. DIY Plumbing
Paying a professional plumber can be very expensive. Here are some plumbing tasks you can do on your own:
- Low faucet flow: This issue is likely caused by a sediment buildup inside of the aerator. Unscrew it from the nozzle’s end and wash thoroughly.
- Banging noise in water pipes: Indicates that all air has escaped out of the pipes. (Water pipes actually work better if they contain pockets of air.) To fix, start by draining your system. Shut off the water main valve. Open all faucets, and then flush every toilet. Turn off all faucets. Re-open the water main valve. With air back in your pipes, the banging noise should stop. (If it doesn’t, contact a plumber.)
Home maintenance need not be scarier than your mortgage! For any question or issue you have, there’s probably an article or video online that can help walk you through it. This article can help get you started as a DIY homeowner. Give it a shot — you might surprise yourself!