Homeowners who will be remaining inside their cozy confines for the foreseeable future may have developed an awareness for all corners of their home. Sheltering in place has presented a unique opportunity to catch up on some much-needed routine maintenance. After all, ‘tis the season for spring cleaning.
With the increased traffic in your home since everyone’s there continuously, normal wear-and-tear on your belongings and the house itself is increasing,” said Christopher O’Rourke, Mercury Insurance vice president of property claims. “Keeping up with smaller maintenance tasks protects you from the need to file an insurance claim against larger issues down the line.
Here are some home maintenance tips that can help save you money.
Inside your home:
- Flush the water heater to remove sediment that accumulates on the bottom of the tank.
- Replace filters (HVAC, refrigerator, dishwater, etc.) to prevent dust, debris and germs from affecting the functionality of your appliances.
- Clean filters in the laundry dryer duct and oven range hood.
- Wash the inside of your washing machine to prevent mold and mildew, and get rid of odors.
- Fix weak or broken door and window locks to ensure your home is secure.
- Inspect door, window and garage door seals to weather-proof your home and save on energy costs.
- Clean kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans to prevent mold, mildew and odor buildup, and to protect the surrounding surfaces of these areas.
- Re-grout or re-caulk tub, shower and bathroom fixtures as necessary to prevent mold and mildew.
- Inspect the pipes under your kitchen and bathroom sinks for leaks.
- If there’s a bathroom in your home that’s not used often, turn the faucets on and off, and flush the toilet once a week to ensure water continues flowing through the pipes properly.
- Clear all drains and the kitchen sink disposal, if applicable, to ensure proper flow of your plumbing systems.
- If applicable, test, check and clean your sump pump to prevent floods and protect against water damage.
- Vacuum out refrigerator coils to rid it of dust and dirt buildup.
- Maintain fire extinguishers to ensure proper function in case of emergency at least once per year. Check for dents, leaks, rust, chemical deposits and other signs of wear. Ensure the pin and tamper seal are intact. Remove any and all equipment or belongings blocking the extinguisher from immediate use.
- Check appliance hoses (washing machine, dishwasher or refrigerator) for cracks or leaks to ensure appliances run better, faster and longer. Consider replacing rubber hoses with steel-braided hoses, which are less likely to blister, crack or wear out.
- Inspect the interior foundation, noting sloping floors or sticking windows and doors – these can indicate the foundation is shifting. In this case of a shifting foundation, contact a foundation repair expert to perform a professional foundation inspection and consult with a structural engineer when necessary.
- Inspect the attic space for proper insulation and ventilation, which will prevent mold development.
- Ensure the basement and/or crawl spaces are receiving proper ventilation and are free of water buildup to ward off dampness and any pests.
Outside your home:
- Clear the yard of weeds, dry brush, grass clippings and twigs. Trim trees, bushes and hedges. Mow your lawn regularly. Landscaping plays an important role in protecting your home from fires.
- Have diseased or damaged trees inspected to determine if they should be removed, so they don’t topple over unexpectedly.
- Maintain all gutters by clearing debris, repairing holes or cracks, and replacing missing caulk to ensure the proper collection of water and to avoid overflowing or flooding.
- Ensure the downspout is attached properly to the house to avoid damage such as wood rot, mold and mildew.
- Inspect the exterior foundation, noting major cracks or bulging of exterior walls – these could indicate the foundation is shifting.
- Inspect the roof for damaged, missing or old shingles, and signs of sagging or aging to avoid weather damage and ensure proper roof ventilation.
- Check the condition of siding and windows, paying close attention to any chips, cracks, holes or loose pieces that could allow unwanted water to enter the home. Prior to washing any siding, ensure windows and doors are shut and properly caulked to avoid water seeping in. Touch up exterior paint to protect siding from weather damage. If there are any water stains, this may indicate the gutters haven’t adequately moved water runoff. Wood siding with openings or damaged areas can protrude and invite pests to burrow through.
- Clean the outdoor air conditioning unit to increase efficiency and prevent breakdowns. Consider having a professional inspect the exterior condenser coil and compressor to ensure they’re clean and free from blockages.
- Check for signs of pests. Prolonging extermination services could jeopardize your home’s structural integrity.
- Inspect masonry chimney for water infiltration (misplaced joints between bricks or stones and any vegetation growth). Reseal masonry as necessary.
- Inspect decks and patios for loose, warped or splintered boards. Remove leaves and debris that have collected in narrow spaces. Hose down stone-covered patios for easy cleaning.
- If you own a gas grill, check that the burner jets are clear of any obstructions, and check that gas hoses and connections are secure. Also, clean your grill of any ash and grease residue.
Whenever necessary, hire a professional to inspect and improve areas of your home requiring additional attention. To help protect your home and your family, learn more about our homeowners insurance options at Mercury Insurance.