My March 30 column on Yahoo!Finance outlines the top five preventive maintenance projects for spring – tasks that can save tens of thousands of dollars in repair or replacement down the road. You can find the first five tips at this link: http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/moneyhappy/27797. The other tips that didn’t make the column follow.
(Not a homeowner? For more tips on saving, getting out of debt and managing your money, click this link www.moneyandhappiness.com.)
6. Test your air conditioner as soon as the temperature rises above 40 degrees. If you wait until the first hot day to try it out, you may find yourself waiting a week or more for a repairman in the event of a problem. Ask your contractor if they offer an early-bird discount.
7. Inspect decks and patios. If you have a deck, sometimes the fasteners will back out, and the deck boards will warp slightly. Screw them back in with drive-it type galvanized screws rather than nails, recommends David MacLellan, author of The National Home Maintenance Manual. Wash and seal the deck with an ultraviolet-resistant sealant. As for patios, look for heaves and cracks, especially if you put salt down in the winter, which can eat away at the top surface. Brush down the areas affected by salt and power-wash the patio. See this link for information on renting the right kind of power washer. http://www.ehow.com/how_172493_rent-pressure-washer.html Replace crumbling concrete or stone.
8. Inspect fencing and grounds. If you find nails sticking out of fencing, remove them and replace with a larger nail in the same hole. Take a walk around and inspect the grounds of your property, keeping an eye out for critters that have taken up residence under decks. If you have firewood stacked near the house, move it at least 30 feet away to avoid termite infestations. Cut back bushes or other landscaping that scrape against the home’s exterior. We have several trees in our yard that are more than 100 years old; we call a tree service this time of year to make sure they’re still in good health (and not in danger of falling on the house in a storm).
9. Have your chimney professionally cleaned. This removes the build-up of tar and creosote from the flue, and helps avoid flue fires.
10. Test your landscape irrigation system now, before your plants are dying for a drink. There may be sprinkler heads that have broken open or valve that’s malfunctioning. Test each station; MacLellan recommends having two people do it together with cell phones, one at controller, and the other verifying whether or not it’s working. “If a valve is broken, you can buy a new one for $20 and screw it into valve top,” says MacLellan. “If the head is bad, you just have to dig it up, cut the pipe and glue on new pipe and head for less than $100.” Make sure the sprinklers do not hit the house or other structures on the property.
10. Remove the drain traps and get the gunk out. See this link for a how-to. http://www.mrrooter.com/plumbing/guide/drain_traps.aspx
11. Test your sump pump. Before the first April showers, pour water into the silo until the pump clicks on. See this link for more info: http://www.ehow.com/how_16652_understand-sump-pump.html
12. Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and check that fire extinguishers are still in operating order.
You can download a free Home Maintenance Guide and Checklist at http://www.housefixit.com/.