Now that summer is winding down and we are thinking of hunkering down for the cool weather, it is an opportune time to catch up on routine home maintenance — but where to start?
For many, a home is their largest investment. Keeping track of these items can seem more manageable and less daunting once you realize how simple some tasks can be.
Grab your tool belt, and check out these often-overlooked tips from our Associates.
WINDOWS AND WINDOW HARDWARE
“Getting ready to sell your house and wondering if those old windows need to be updated? Defer to your utility bills — if they seem excessive, it is likely that your infrastructure is inefficient and you’d be trying to pass this on to a savvy prospect. You may not have to blame it on the old windows — many are extremely efficient, and some people think the new ones aren’t made the way they used to be. Check older windows: do they open and close easily and safely, and they’re not drafty? If so, there is a simple, inexpensive update you can do while keeping those Steady Eddie windows. Change the window sash locks. It’s amazing what this facelift can do! Even hardware that is period-perfect is available online!”
-Janet Caterson Price, Alexandria Office
HOSES AND UNDERGROUND WATER SYSTEMS
“When will you no longer need to have your garden hoses outside and shut off and drain your outside hose bibs? This is a really important regular maintenance item because you don’t want to have a frozen or burst pipe when the outside temps drop below freezing. Best advice is to pick a date in the fall that you will remember each year. Perhaps the weekend the time changes. You will also want to be sure you winterize any underground watering systems as well.”
-Nick Kuhn, Arlington Office
“Remember to change the filter in your furnace and even more importantly, make sure to use filters. During a recent home inspection, the inspector found no filter. Guess what? The sellers had to pay for a system check and cleaning to assure my buyer that the system was clean and operating properly. A few dollars for a filter would have saved the sellers a couple hundred dollars!”
-Lauren Tawil, Washington DC Office
“Changing out your air filters will keep you healthy and indicate that you are on top of home maintenance. Don’t forget to keep the grate clean as well.”
-Laurel Conger, Alexandria Office
CHECK A/C CONDENSATION
“Condensation created by A/C has to go somewhere. In a window unit A/C, it just drips outside. But in a central A/C, it has to be piped to a drain. The problem is that drain can clog, leaking onto the floor and into the furnace. Since most A/C “interior coils” sit on top of the furnace, a leak can actually KILL the furnace in addition to causing a minor flood! Check out these tips to prevent this:
- The interior part of the A/C sits on top of the furnace. They share the same fan and ductwork. Look for the white/beige pipe coming out of the lower edge of the A/C.
- This is your condensate line. It should tie into a drain, but can also go to a pump which then pumps to a drain or outside.
- Many people have a Cleaning “T”. This allows for cleaning during the summer months, when water is actively being made by the A/C.
- Flush the pipes with bleach – your furnace will thank you! During the summer, pour a cup of bleach into the “T” every few weeks to flush it and prevent algae buildup.”
-Peter Crouch, Alexandria Office
CLEAN OUT THE CLOTHES DRYER VENT
“Probably one of the most overlooked maintenance items I see at home inspections is cleaning out the clothes dryer vent. It’s very simple to do, you just need a lint brush and a screwdriver. The vent on a clothes dryer can become clogged with lint over time, causing the dryer to dry less efficiently and possibly resulting in a house fire (Yes, this does happen. It happened to a friend of mine!). To clean your dryer vent, scoot the dryer out to access the back and detach the ductwork from the dryer with a screwdriver. Use a special lint brush with an extendable handle to clean the inside of the dryer and the inside of the ductwork pipe, being careful not to poke a hole in the flexible duct. Then go to the outside of your home and remove the exterior vent cover. Sometimes you will find bird nesting materials, so check this frequently. Use the same brush and clean the vent duct. You should do this once a year. Your dryer will thank you with less electricity used!”
-Miriam Miller, Alexandria Office
McEnearney Associates Blog: Home maintenance tips from our Associates