Death, baseball and apple pie.
All three are part of the typical American Dream. Plus, homeownership!
Our homes become part of our fabric because they provide the foundation for many great memories over the years.
There is a lot of discussion about the financial commitment to homeownership, but there is also the difficult challenge to maintain the physical house as well.
Like everything in life, as a home ages, it begins to show the wear and tear.
For first time or novice homeowners, it is helpful to note the common areas of concern. From heating, electrical and plumbing to energy costs and air circulation, there are a variety of signs to recognize and commonsense checks homeowners can conduct. For any issues or questions, then contact a professional to audit any potential concerns.
Standard Heating Maintenance
Keeping your home warm is pretty important, especially during a New England winter. Interestingly, there are many factors that help maintain a home’s warmth.
At the core of home heating is keeping the hot air inside the home, while protecting the major appliances. The furnace, hot water heater and boiler (as applicable to your home) are heavily used during the winter. Fortunately, there are some smaller and cost effective ways to protect these appliances and keep the warm air inside the home.
Check the Temperature
The standard temperature for hot water heaters should be no more than 120 degrees (fahrenheit).
Water that is hotter than 120 degrees can scald you or any member of your family (particularly children). Double check the temperature because any energy used to heat the water any higher is wasted.
Hot Water Heater Blankets
There are specific blankets made for hot water heaters.
For older homes, or older hot water heaters, the blankets help insulate the heater. The insulation keeps heat within the hot water heater and helps prevent it from dissipating.
If you decide to use a hot water heater blanket, please heed the recommendation of the Department of Energy and be “careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment.” Also of note, this is not applicable for tankless (or on demand) hot water heaters.
Insulate Hot Water Pipes
Water that travels through pipes that are exposed to colder air will lose heat as they move from the water heater to your faucets. In particular, check the first three feet of piping around the hot water heater because this is the key area where water starts to lose temperature.
Pipe insulation because it can raise the temperature of your water by 2-4 degrees. In fact, the Department of Energy provides some tutorials that show homeowners how to find and apply the proper insulation.
Save with Proper Insulation
A functional house is a working system. Heating and cooling systems impact energy usage and the electrical bill. Installing proper insulations is the glue that keeps your home air the right temperature.
It is a common misnomer that proper insulation is just foam padding (or the pink stuff) added in the attic. More insulation doesn’t just fix drafts, it simply adds layers. The Department of Energy provides homeowners with a guide to attic insulation.
However, proper insulation identifies leaks in the house and addresses ways to improve the air circulation.
Avoid Bad Insulation
If you have a new home, then you can likely rest assured that the insulation is up to modern standards. If you have an older home, then it might be a good idea to check the insulation. Some homes may be really good at remaining cool in the summer, but fail to retain heat in the winter.
Find a Complete Solution
First time homeowners should consider implementing a complete solution. To identify any and all air leaks, then have a professional conduct an energy checkup because it will help save on energy costs over time.
There are plenty of trouble areas, such as doorways, windows and electrical outlets. The Department of Energy has a guide to caulking and weatherstripping and companies offer home energy solutions to help evaluate your home.
Cut Energy Costs with Common Solutions
Homes are expensive. The good news is there are a many simple solutions to to save some money over time that be reinvested into larger home projects.
Technology is fantastic. In the last few years, there are many new home products that leverage technology to help control energy costs.
Programmable thermostats are useful because they ensure your home temperature is just right. For those that keep a routine schedule, then a programmable thermostat works to raise or lower the home temperature based on when your family is home. Keeping the house cooler when nobody is home helps save.
Use Energy Saver Appliances
Although energy saver appliances will cost more upfront, they will save money over time. First time homeowners will want to focus on reliability and efficiency. For example, an energy efficient refrigerator will use about the same amount of energy in 20 years that a standard refrigerator will use in 7 years.
Use LED Lights
Again, LED lights will cost more upfront, but will last longer and use less energy. LED bulbs last much longer than incandescent bulbs, so they are great for high use areas like the kitchen or family room.
Ensure Safety of Electrical Systems
In all likelihood, your electrical systems is up to code. If you recently bought your home, then checking the electrical system should be part of the standard home inspection. For new homeowners, it might take some time to understand how much of an electrical load the home can handle. A good tip is knowing how to recognize how your circuit breaker works because when the power goes out on a chaotic morning, you’ll want to fix it fast.
Common Plumbing Problems
Plumbing is typically out of sight, out of mind. Until it is in sight, then plumbing issues cause major problems.
Check for Proper Piping
Pipes are like the arteries of your home. The pipes move water throughout the house so faucets run smoothly. If you have an older home, then in all likelihood, there will be older pipes.
For the most part, plumbing problems do not suddenly appear. To help alleviate any issues, consider finding a qualified plumber before any problems appear.
Avoid Clogged Drains
The good new is clogged drains are avoidable. Focus on understand what substances are ok for kitchen drains and garbage disposals.
- Avoid pouring cooking oil and/or fat down the drain – it solidifies in the pipes.
- Avoid putting poultry skins, starch, stringy or fibrous waste down the drain – these substances (chicken, turkey skins, potato peels, celery, coffee grinds, etc.) don’t break down in the disposal.
As a reminder, turn the water on before putting food or waste down the kitchen drain and allow the garbage disposal to “catch up” after each cup of waste is poured down the drain.
Check Under Sinks and Toilets
Running toilets and leaky faucets are like drips of money being flushed down the drain. Fortunately, homeowners with a DIY attitude can fix that constantly-running toilet and use the same skills to fix sinks as well.
Avoiding leaky or running faucets is important because it can lead to water damage and mold over time. If you cannot fix by yourself, then call a plumber to help.
Prepare your Home with Preventative Maintenance
Homes are long term commitments. Preventative maintenance works to protect your home because routine supervision and tweaks keep home systems in working condition.
One final tip to keep your home working properly is a home maintenance checklist. A routine checklist helps ensure homeowners do not overlook basic things.
For example, check the hot water heater and furnace towards the end of the fall so they are in working condition in the winter. Similarly, check the air conditioning unit towards as the weather starts to turn warm.
We have a lot of fun inside our homes. For many, our homes are part of family stories and lasting memories. We want to support our families and our homes help. Fortunately, there are simple and common sense solutions to keep our homes in great shape. If any of the checks and balances reveal any substantial issues, then consider asking a professional. SolvIt is always here to help!