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Home repair timeline


GutterWhen you’re adding up all the costs associated with buying a home—down payment, closing costs, the myriad fees, etc.—it’s easy to forget about the money you’ll have to set aside for home repairs.

Experts suggest that homeowners budget about 2 percent of their home’s purchase price each year to cover both routine and unexpected maintenance costs. Did you know that something as simple as a clogged gutter or poor grading by the foundation—both of which cost virtually nothing to repair--could cause water to leak into your basement, resulting in damage that might cost thousands to repair?

HSH.com has developed a home repair timeline so you can be sure each month and each year you’re keeping your home in the best condition possible. Just like you, your home grows older each year and needs to be properly maintained to keep it in top shape.

After all, a properly maintained home is healthier, safer, prevents larger and more expensive repairs down the road, and will help attract more homebuyers when it comes time to sell.

Performing a few simple monthly maintenance tasks on your home can prevent costly repairs down the road. And the good news is that most of these chores are DIY-friendly, should only require common household tools and cost very little to perform.

These monthly repairs include:

  • Check HVAC system filters and clean or replace if necessary. Expect to pay from $30 to $100 for the best reusable filters, but disposable types normally cost much less.
  • Look for leaks around toilets and sinks.
  • Test smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.
  • Inspect grout and caulking. Touch up any voids or cracks in tubs and showers.
  • Check kitchen vent hood filter. Clean or replace if needed.

For more information:

  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=Custom-HVAC-Filter-One-Size-Doesnt-Fit-All&AC=8&ID=1874
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/toilet-troubles.shtml
  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=Smoke-and-Fire-Detectors&ID=1943
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/choosing-the-right-caulk.shtml
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/appliance-vents--exhausts-for-old-house-restorations.shtml

Unless you're a fan of cold weather, your natural inclination might be to hunker down during the winter and wait for spring's arrival. But before going into hibernation mode, here are a few winter home maintenance chores that should be attended to:

  • Watch for ice dams. Ice buildup in gutters can lead to roof leaks. This issue should be handled by a contractor.
  • Check for air infiltration. Cold air infiltrating around doors and windows can cause higher heating bills. Many gaps can be eliminated by applying a little caulk.
  • Test your sump pump. If you have a basement sump pump, make sure the switch is on and pour a little water in the crock to ensure it starts. Many basement leaks occur during upcoming spring thaws.
  • Close foundation vents. Crawl space ventilation is good for your home during the spring, summer, and fall. However, during the winter months, closing the vents can help lower your heating costs.
  • Cover outdoor air-conditioning units. Snow and ice can damage outdoor air-conditioning units if they aren't protected. Covers are available at most home improvement stores, but even a secured canvas tarp will do.

For more information:

  • http://www.roofingkey.com/roofing-maintenance/dealing-with-ice-on-your-roof-and-gutters.html
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/windows/how-to-repair-windows.html
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/curing-those-wet-basement-blues.shtml
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/old-house-foundations-ventilation.shtml
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/air-conditioner-maintenance-101.shtml

Winter can be tough on your home--even if you live in an area that receives little or no snowfall. Here are a few maintenance tasks that should ensure your home is ready when spring flowers begin to bloom:

  • HVAC checkup. It's a good idea to have your system tuned up before air conditioning season arrives. However, this isn't a DIY project. Always use a trained professional. Expect to pay about $200 per unit for a basic semi-annual checkup.
  • Roof inspection. Winter snow and ice can damage shingles which could lead to leaks. You can inspect your roof with binoculars, but repairs are best left to a qualified contractor.
  • Check gutters. Ice buildup during the winter months can cause gutters to loosen and sag. Gutters that don't drain properly may create drainage issues.
  • Inspect sidewalks and driveway. Cracks and buckles caused by freezing temperatures should be repaired before they become a major issue.
  • Check seals around doors and windows. Cracked caulking should be touched up to prevent the loss of cooled air all summer.

For more information:

  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=HVAC-Service&AC=8&ID=807
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/inspecting-pitched-roofs.html
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/gutters/how-to-repair-gutters.html
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/DIY-concrete-and-crack-repair.shtml
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/caulking-windows-doors.shtml

Vacations, golf outings or lounging by the pool may be on your schedule this summer, but save a little time for your home. Relax with the knowledge that your house is ready for summer by taking care of these DIY-friendly chores before hitting the links:

  • Trim around outdoor HVAC units. Grass and weeds growing around the units can affect their efficiency and could even cause expensive damage.
  • Inspect your decks. If the wood is beginning to show its age, summer can be a good time to apply a coat of stain or sealant. Expect to pay a little under $20 a gallon for a premium sealant that should provide roughly 200 to 300 square feet of coverage.
  • Check siding. Warm weather is ideal for pressure washing your vinyl or fiber cement siding.
  • Inspect foundation and crawlspace. Look for cracks that may need repair.
  • Test lawn irrigation system. If you have an underground lawn irrigation system, leaks in the pipes or connections can cause your water bills to skyrocket.

For more information:

  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/heating-cooling/hvac-contractors.html
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/gardening/restoring-wood-deck.shtml
  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=How-to-Start-Pressure-Washing&AC=27&ID=1905
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/old-house-hazards-cracked-foundations-11715.shtml
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/landscaping/how-to-repair-sprinklers.html

Before you get too caught up carving pumpkins or watching football, reserve a few weekend hours to take care of these autumn home maintenance tasks:

  • HVAC system inspection. Have a qualified HVAC mechanic inspect your system to ensure it's ready to heat your home all winter. The cost should be about the same as the spring tune-up.
  • Turn off outside hose bibs. If you don't have frost-free exterior faucets, shut off their water supply and drain the lines to prevent freezing.
  • Inspect fireplace. Always have a professional inspect wood stove and wood burning fireplace chimneys prior to starting the first fire of the season. Costs can vary depending on how much cleaning is required.
  • Clean gutters and check roof. Remove all debris that can trap snow and water during the winter. This can be a DIY-friendly project unless your home is taller than two stories.
  • Check exterior grade. Fill in any depressions near the foundation that can trap water or snow causing basement leaks.

For more information:

  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=8-Tips-on-Hiring-Heating-Cooling-Contractor&ID=2867
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/frozen-pipes-serious-problems.shtml
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/is-your-old-chimney-in-workable-condition.shtml
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/gutters/how-to-clean-gutters.html
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/site-drainage-issues.shtml
  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=5-Tricks-to-Spotting-a-Roof-Leak&ID=2916

Just like you, your house and its many components get a year older every 12 months. Here are a few annual maintenance tasks that can help your home age gracefully:

  • Clean clothes dryer exhaust. Lint buildup can affect the dryer's efficiency and may create a fire hazard.
  • Lubricate garage door springs. Whether you have an opener or not, greasing your garage door springs can make it much easier to operate.
  • Drain hot water heater. Sediment that collects in the bottom of the heater can affect its longevity.
  • Clean septic tank. If your sewage collects in a tank, it should be inspected annually and emptied as needed. Depending on where you live, emptying a tank should run in the neighborhood of $200 to $500.

For more information:

  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/venting-your-dryer-outside.shtml
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/pictures/garage-doors/sectional-panel.html
  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=Clean-Hot-Water-Heater&AC=5&ID=1889
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/6-ways-to-avoid-septic-system-problems.shtml

Several large maintenance issues pop up as your home approaches its fifth birthday. Fortunately, a couple of the items are DIY-friendly and the others shouldn't be too expensive:

  • Clean heat ducts. Accumulated dust and dirt may eventually restrict airflow and might even pose a health hazard. Costs vary depending on your home’s size, but expect pricing to start around $300.
  • Seal grout. Avoid stains and discoloration by adding a fresh coat of sealant to your bath and kitchen tile grout every 2 to 5 years.
  • Get a termite inspection. Look for evidence of termite damage to your home every year, but a professional inspection can find hidden problems before they turn into major costs. Some companies offer free inspections.
  • Replace caulking around windows and doors. All caulking eventually gets too old to do its job effectively. Installing new material can help keep your home energy efficient.

For more information:

  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/heating-cooling/ducts-and-vents/
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/old-house-kitchen-bath-tubs-showers.shtml
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/architecture-and-design/common-signs-of-termite-infestation.shtml
  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=Caulking-Basement-WindowsWhy-You-Should-Consider-It&AC=5&ID=1786

As your home gets older, components often begin to wear out. Longevity is normally determined by frequency of use, but here are a few items that might need attention as your house reaches the end of its first decade:

  • Paint exterior. If your home has wood siding, don't wait until flaking starts to think about painting. This can be a DIY project, but after starting you might wish a professional had been hired. Expect to pay a painting contractor about $1.50 per square foot for two coats of latex exterior paint.
  • Install new dishwasher. Many dishwashers reach the end of their lifespan at about nine years. New models have a wide price range depending on their features, but around $500 should get you a good dishwasher.
  • Replace kitchen sink. Steel sinks begin to show their age after five years of use and often must be replaced before reaching 10 years of service. This can be a DIY project if you have the right tools and the ability to work in tight places.
  • Replace kitchen microwave. Microwaves often wear out after about nine years of use. The cost of a new unit can vary widely depending on size, style and features.

For more information:

  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/siding/exterior-siding-materials-how-long-they-last.html
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/appliances/dishwasher/
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/pictures/bathrooms/sinks.html
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/appliances/oven/

Many of your home’s components need replacement every 15 years. Here are a few items that may need attention:

  • Replace hot water heater. Gas and electric hot water heaters normally last about 10 to 11 years. Replacing an electric unit can be a DIY project for handy homeowners, but gas models should always be installed by a professional. Expect to pay $300 or higher for a hot water heater with a storage tank.
  • Replace garage door opener. Most garage door openers last 10 to 15 years depending on frequency of use. A new unit can often be installed by an experienced homeowner, but in many cases it might be best to hire a contractor.
  • Replace smoke detectors. All smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years regardless of whether they appear to be working properly.
  • Install new refrigerator and range. Most refrigerators and ranges last in the neighborhood of 13 to 15 years. Installing electric models is normally just a matter of plugging them in, but gas ranges should always be installed by a qualified contractor. Costs for these appliances can range from about $500 to thousands of dollars, depending on the unit.

For more information:

  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/advice/4-home-repairs-youd-rather-put-off.html
  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=Thinking-About-Garage-Door-Installation&AC=6&ID=1337
  • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/purchasing-and-installing-a-smoke-detector.shtml
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/pictures/appliances/refrigerator-freezer.html

Every 15 years, several maintenance tasks can put a healthy dent in your budget. However, these components may need replacement to keep your house safe and energy efficient:

  • Check roofing material. The life expectancy of a roof varies based on the type of materials. Many asphalt shingle roofs last from 20 to 30 years, but some higher quality materials can protect your home much longer.
  • Replace exterior decks. Your local weather and how often sealant is applied can determine how long your home's wooden deck remains safe and structurally sound. The average lifespan of a wooden deck is considered to be about 20 years.
  • Replace kitchen and bathroom faucets. It may be time to replace your kitchen and bath faucets when they're about 15 years old. A handy homeowner should be able to handle the project if they have the right tools.
  • Install new HVAC units. The life expectancy of your home's HVAC system components is largely determined by how they're maintained. However, even units that have been properly serviced begin wearing out when they're 15 to 20 years old--in some cases even sooner. New units can vary in price based on size and efficiency rating and should always be installed by a qualified professional.

For more information:

  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/roofing/new-roofing-years-it-can-last.html
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/decks/how-to-build-a-deck.html
  • http://ideas.reliableremodeler.com/Article.aspx?Title=Modern-Faucets-Overflowing-with-Convenience-and-Efficiency&AC=6&ID=787
  • http://www.improvementcenter.com/heating-cooling/hvac-what-longevity-can-you-expect.html

Now you’re ready to manage your house to last as long as you live in it. HSH.com teamed up the several home improvement websites to produce this timeline. Our partners include: ImprovementCenter.com, ReliableRemodeler.com, OldHouseWeb.com and RoofingKey.com.

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