We asked our contractors what regular maintenance they recommend for homeowners. Preventative maintenance will go a long way in extending the life of the systems and products you have invested in. Too often we coast along until something breaks. That can lead to large and unexpected repair and replacement bills. Take care of your home and it will serve you well.
We always caution homeowners to choose reputable companies. It is important to choose honest service providers. It is typically not a good idea to hire a provider based on a promotional add offering deep discounts. These promotions are often considered to be lost leaders that give repairman a foot in the door. Make sure you know whose foot is entering your home.
Let’s look at what the pros recommend for regular maintenance:
Air conditioning and heating
Have a once-a-year system check. A thorough inspection includes checking the motor, capacitor, connections, coils, refrigerant levels, thermostat accuracy and settings, amp draws, making sure the drain lines are clear and replacing filters (if they are on site). Cost range: $100-$150 per unit depending on size.
If you have a reverse osmosis system, a once-a-year service is required for a maintenance check and filter change. Have them check your water for hardness while they are there. Cost Range: $100-$150 based on the size of the unit. A water softener requires regular salt replacement which can be done by the homeowner. Some water treatment companies will refill salt for the homeowner. The cost of salt averages $50-$60 annually for a family of four.
Refrigerator: Cleaning condenser coils on your refrigerator once a year will keep the refrigerator from overheating and increase the efficiency of the appliance. Have your service man clean the door seals and check for leaks as well. Approximate cost is $180.
Microwave: An annual check of your microwave in recommended to ensure this appliance is not leaking dangerous microwaves.
Dryer: Clean dryer and exhaust vent to the outside of the house every 2 years to help prevent excessive lint build up which causes dryer fires.
Once a year have your plumber out to the house for a service call for the following:
- Check that the water pressure to the home is at appropriate levels (55-65 psi). Pressure that is too high can be detrimental to the water system in a home and can start causing leaks.
- Drain the water heater once a year to flush out calcium and minerals and to help increase its efficiency and lower its running costs. Have anode rods and heating elements checked.
- Check for water leaks. Pay attention to your water bill. An increase in your bill may be the first clue that you have an undetected water leak.
Have your roof checked once a year. Most reputable roofers offer free inspections to homeowners and save them from having to climb around on the roof. The trained eye of a professional can identify existing and potential problems and offer solutions. Some of the things they will be looking for are broken and missing concrete and asphalt tiles, damage and sunburn of foam roofs, quality of underlayment, areas of transition and penetration connections.
Take a water sample into your local pool supply before swimming season begins. With this sample they can help determine if your pool water needs to be drained. When you do drain the pool have a pool company inspect the tile and the plaster for damage.
If you haven’t upgraded to a variable speed pool motor consider replacing it this year. They are quieter and cheaper to run as they require less energy and chemicals. The initial investment averages $1600.
Your electrical system works hard and most of us take it for granted. Old and neglected panels often do not trip correctly. A once-a-year inspection will keep it running efficient and safely. An electrician will inspect the control panel breakers, circuits, wire and bus bar. An inspection will cost in the neighborhood of $220 dollars.
Replace any smoke detectors that are 10 years old or older.
Have the breakers in your box labeled ($150-$300 for the average home)
Add a surge protector at the panel (average cost-$340- $450)
Landscape sprinklers and lighting
Having your timer programmed 2-4 times a year will go a long way in protecting your plants by making sure they have plenty of water. It will also save on wasting water through overwatering.
Don’t forget about the timers on your lights as well. Lights will need to be adjusted based on sunrise and sunset and it is always good to check that wiring is in good condition.
Have your painter check the interior and exterior paint condition. An annual inspection can keep paint fresh longer by keeping any damage in check. They can keep an eye on caulk and drywall as well. A general estimate for a house that is between 1,600 square feet and 2,100 square feet is in the neighborhood of $400 for exterior maintenance and repairs and around $300 for the interior paint.
Expect to repaint the exterior of your wood home every 4-7 years. The exterior of a block home will last 12-15 years.
Homeowners should also double check that their systems are connected to reliable technology.
For the most secure system you will want your security system to be on a cellular network of 4G or 5G. Approximately 85% of cellular systems are on 3G, which will be abandoned in three years. Make sure you contact your provider to see what their plan is for upgrading your system.
If your security system states that you are on 2G, be advised that it is no longer working. If you cancel your land line and it is connected to your security system your system will no longer work, of course.
Home savings account
To budget for repairs we recommend a savings account rather than a home warranty. In our opinion home warranties often fall short of covering what is needed in the event of major repairs. And with a home warranty you are not able to choose the contractors who will perform the work.