Monday, September 22, 2008

Make Home Repairs Before Autumn Sets In

Making small home repairs can prevent larger issues laterWhen you're working, wrangling the kids and generally living a full life, it's easy to let taking care of your home fall to the bottom of the priority list. But you need to stay on top of maintenance chores if you want to keep your home and all the good things in it functioning smoothly.

As fall approaches, it's time to start thinking about a top-to-bottom inspection to check for any damage and to prepare for the upcoming cold winter months.

Bite-sized projects

When it comes to staying one step ahead of maintenance headaches, we have to admit, our preference would be to bury our heads in the sand and hope that someone else takes care of any problems. Fortunately, we learned a trick that helps us overcome that mental block. If we break a big task down into smaller tasks, and then put one task on our to-do list each week, we will surprise ourselves by tackling something we didn't think was possible.

For example, Sarah recently moved into a new house and there were about 50 little maintenance issues, such as a knob that had fallen off the dresser drawer and a leaky faucet that was keeping her up at night, which she knew she had to deal with. So she broke it down. Week one, she created a checklist. Week two, she went to the hardware store for all the supplies she'd need to fix the broken things. Week three, she fixed the broken knob. And so on. When you're feeling overwhelmed, break the project down into smaller bite-sized steps, and you'll be off to the races in no time.

Getting help

If you keep putting off maintenance tasks because you're too busy, reach out to others who can help you. I am happy to admit that I am out of my depth in many areas of home maintenance. Why? Because that means my job as a homeowner is really about finding the right people to help me for the right price.

Here are three essential chores to tackle this week to get your home ready for the transition to fall.

No. 1. Change esssential batteries

Don't wait until your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors chirp at you to be changed, since that usually happens when you're busy doing something else (like sleeping). Buy a few extra batteries when you're at the grocery store this week and swap out the old batteries for new ones in all of your detectors.

No. 2. Change the filters

As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool -- thus wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure. If it's been more than three months, buy some new filters and put them in your heating and cooling systems this week.

No. 3. Sweep the chimney

Chimneys need periodic examination and thorough cleaning to maintain efficiency and to reduce the chance of a chimney fire. Book an appointment with a chimney sweep to have yours professionally cleaned and checked for loose or missing mortar.

By: Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore
Detroit News; September 20, 2008

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