Knowhow-Now Article

How Home Maintenance Saves Money

You take pride in your home, and you want it to last for many more years. You know it is important to maintain your home on a regular basis. Letting needed repairs wait can be costly because the damage only increases with time and becomes more expensive to fix in the end. These are things you know, but if you are working full time and also have other responsibilities, it can be hard to get around to those home maintenance chores. Also, when you know a repair or upgrade needs to be done, you are faced with an important question: "can I do it myself or do I need to hire a professional?" Hiring someone can be costly. Plumbers make $65 an hour, electricians at least $30. Here are some tips to help guide you if you find yourself in this situation.

There are many small maintenance chores you can definitely do yourself and save money. One example is pipe insulation. If you have exposed pipes in your basement, putting insulation on them is quick and easy. The insulation is inexpensive. Labor is the big expense here, and since you are doing it for free, it is a good deal. The insulation will save on energy costs and keep your pipes from freezing. Frozen pipes, you surely know, can be a disaster.

Tip: Prior to starting work on your house, write down everything that you will need to do. You should also be sure to share your plans with someone that has some experience to ensure that you have not forgotten anything.

Another example is caulking. For the price of a caulking gun and a tube of caulk (less than $10 total), you can seal leaks around windows and make your heating and air conditioning more efficient. Caulking around tubs and sinks is also easy. You do not need a plumber to do this. It is preventive maintenance that will head off damage to walls and flooring. The saying that "Prevention is worth a pound of cure" is especially true when it comes to home maintenance.

Control your energy use with timers on your lights and dimmer switches to reduce light to the amount actually needed. Use lower watt and new CFL high efficiency bulbs. You might need help to install a dimmer switch, but before you hire someone, check out the YouTube videos. You may decide you can confidently do the job yourself.

Tip: If you are going to pursue more than one project in a room, be deliberate in how your sequence them. If both the cabinets and the floors need to be replaced, doing the cabinets first is a good plan.

Ceiling fans pay off in comfort and in lowered energy costs. They pull down the heat that accumulates near the ceiling in winter, equalizing room temperature. They provide a cooling breeze in summer, and may make it unnecessary to turn on the air conditioning on some days. As with an electric switch, installing a ceiling fan is marginal as far as skills go. Many homeowners do it themselves, but others do not feel comfortable doing it. Get instruction on how to do it, then decide whether you feel confident doing it yourself; hire someone if you do not.

Replacing filters on your furnace and air conditioners is a job you can easily do yourself, and needs to be done annually.

Tip: Beware contractors who offer to complete your job faster than expected, at a cost. Contractors have a number of reasons to finish a job quickly.

Some leaky faucets are easy to fix or replace. But others can be challenging when they involve tiny springs that are hard to place just right. You may struggle with this, but just remember that your time is worth $65 an hour.

Adding insulation in your attic is another easy call for the do-it-yourselfer. Again, it requires no special tools or expertise, and saves you labor costs as well as heating efficiency.

These tips can help you get started on home maintenance tasks. You are sure to find many more as you go along. Put safety first, but do the tasks you are capable of and you can see your maintenance costs come under control.

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