Maintaining a home is like eating a healthy diet. Everyone knows there's a whole list of things that should be done, but nobody really wants to spend the weekend painting the guest room, snaking out a slow sink drain, or cleaning out the gutters.
Still, just as some delicious, low-carb dinners are easy to prepare, not all maintenance tasks are onerous either. Some of the smartest upkeep projects you can do require less time than it takes to grill a salmon steak.
Even if you're lucky enough to have a great handyman's number programmed into your smartphone, these jobs are just too quick and effortless to hire out. Says Gino Goe, a property manager in Santa Barbara: "The most meticulous weekend warriors don't think to do these things, yet anyone can knock them out in minutes for virtually no cost, even if you don't have a basement workshop — or own a flannel shirt."
And they'll make your house more comfortable, efficient, and beautiful.
Whether your mechanical equipment is state of the art or aging and inefficient, you can reduce your energy costs by ensuring that it's operating at peak effectiveness.
Start by taking a leaf blower to your air conditioner's condenser (the box sitting outside) or the outfacing end of your window units to remove the muck and debris within, recommends Biddeford, Maine, plumber Jim Godbout. That move alone could knock 10% to 15% off your cooling costs, he says.
Also, slide your clothes dryer forward, pull off the vent hose, and vacuum out the built-up lint (get directions at ThisOldHouse.com). That can cut the laundry-related portion of your electric or gas bill by as much as 25% to 30%, estimates Godbout, the former president of the Maine Plumbing and Heating Contractors Association
And if your heating system uses radiators, buy a "key" for a few cents from your favorite hardware retailer and use it to bleed the air out of the system (see FamilyHandyman.com for a step-by-step guide). That could slash next winter's heating bills by as much as 20%, Godbout says.
Make things last
A few simple moves can also prolong the life of costly-to-repair elements of your house. Windowsills are extremely prone to rot, for instance, so peek out each window to check for any cracks in the sill paint, says Castle Rock, Colo., contractor Dean Bennett.
Use a few dollar's worth of exterior caulk to seal any fissures that you find and keep rainwater out. If the paint damage is extensive, the problem has unfortunately moved beyond a quick fix: Hire a pro to scrape and repaint them or do the job yourself.
Similarly, pruning back shrubs to leave a foot of air space around your building — checking your lawn irrigation system to ensure that the spray isn't hitting the house or garage — will help delay your next $6,000 to $10,000 paint job.
Article provided by:
Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Best In Client Satisfaction – Zillow and Seattle Magazine
Windermere Real Estate Seattle – Northwest