- Spiff up the front entry. One way to stay on top of your home’s maintenance and protect your investment is to look at it as though you’re a stranger considering it for purchase. Perform repairs as the need arises and try each year to add a little to the home’s attractiveness on the outside. One good way to boost curb appeal, as real-estate agents call it, is to make the entrance more appealing. Once the weather is dry, check steps, decks and porches for wood rot and peeling paint. Repaint railings nd porch steps yearly with durable deck or concrete paint. Wash winter grime and dust off the front door and door frame. Repaint or stain the front door to protect wood doors and give the whole home a little face lift.
- Check for roof dams. Now that the worst of the weather is behind us, pull a ladder up to the roof to check the valleys and remove accumulations of leaves, sticks, tree needles and other debris. Similar to the dangers posed by melting snow on a roof, dammed-up debris can let moisture penetrate the roofing and reach into structural timbers and walls, causing rot and mold. Also, check the flashing's around roof joints, chimneys, skylights and other structures that penetrate a roof for holes or rust. Make repairs or call a professional roofer.
- Book a home inspector. The only time most folks meet a home inspector is during the sale of their home. But by then, you’re learning about troubles too late. To stay on top of your home’s maintenance and head off expensive repairs, hire a home inspector to scrutinize your home from top to bottom. Cost: $250 to $450. Tag along on the inspection so you can see any problems for yourself and learn about your home by asking questions. The inspection will give you either peace of mind that everything’s in good shape or a list of chores to be done. Ask the inspector to help you prioritize the repair.
Indoors: Now move indoors to complete your moisture-detective tour and perform some other TLC.
Banish household smells
- Clean the garbage disposal. It’s good to get in the habit of doing this monthly. Pour a cup of vinegar into an ice cube tray, fill up the rest of the tray with water and stick it in the freezer. When the solution has frozen, pop out the vinegar ice cubes and place them in the disposal with chopped up lemons. Turn it on and let the ice cubes scrub the disposal as they are ground up. The vinegar will remove accumulated grease and eliminate odors coming from the disposal. Clean all drains, including the disposal, two or three times a year by pouring in equal parts salt, baking soda and vinegar, followed about 30 seconds later by two quarts of boiling water.
- Clean or replace garbage cans and pails. Check garbage containers inside and out for cracks and breakage. Replace cracked or broken outdoor cans and use bungee cords to keep lids closed tightly. Take the kitchen garbage pail outside, sprinkle in a half-cup of baking soda and fill the can with hot water. Let sit for an hour, and then dump out the water and use spray cleanser to wipe down the can inside and out. Dry it thoroughly before putting it back in the kitchen. Clean the refrigerator by removing everything and washing down the inside with hot water and baking soda.
- Eliminate bathroom, kitchen and laundry smells. Trapped moisture encourages smelly mildew, mold and rot, which can create odors in the kitchen, laundry and bathrooms. Thoroughly inspect each of these rooms for cracks and breakage in grout and caulking that let water seep behind tile and flooring. Check appliances for plumbing leaks by looking for moisture under or around sinks, tubs, washer, dryer, shower and toilets.
- If you have a front load clothes washer inspect and clean the rubber booth, in most cases you can pull the boot back and clean around the boot, and you might even find that lost sock. Check for toilet leaks: Add a few drops of food coloring into the tank (not the bowl) of a toilet. Don’t flush. Come back in an hour to see if any of the color has reached the toilet bowl. If it has, you probably need to replace the flapper in the tank. If water is collecting around the base of the toilet, the seal – the wax gasket between the toilet and floor – may have failed and need to be replaced.
- Aerators. Kitchen and bathroom faucets consume a great deal of water. Trim your home’s water usage by installing aerators in the faucet heads. Some shower heads accept aerators, too. Aerators mix air into the water to maintain good water pressure while reducing the amount of water flowing through the faucet. They cost $2 to $3 at a hardware store. To install, screw the aerators onto the faucet tip. If you already have aerators on your faucets, remember to remove them annually to clean off any mineral deposits that can clog the screw-on screen and interfere with your water flow. Just toss and replace badly clogged aerators.