Home Improvement

5 Home Fixes You Should Never Ignore

4457771344_479f9f52d4_zFor most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Don’t run the risk of devaluing your investment by nickel-and-diming when it comes to repairs. Here are five crucial areas that should never be ignored when there are signs of problems.

Water leaks

Water is the biggest enemy to your home’s well-being. Leaks are a gateway to mold, mildew, rot and bug infestation. Periodically examine areas around tubs, toilets and sinks and watch for stains and dark areas on ceilings. If you catch a leak in time, it’s generally a simple, inexpensive fix that you can most likely do yourself. Left unchecked, it could lead to structural damage and major repairs.

Roof and siding damage

Your home’s exterior is the first line of defense against water and weather. Cracks and defects can make heating and cooling more difficult, resulting in higher energy bills, as well as allow pests and even small animals to invade. A sunny day is a good time to grab a pair of binoculars and inspect your roof for cracked, curled or missing shingles. When checking siding, pay special attention to the areas around doors and windows. Caulking small cracks or openings can prevent bigger problems in the future.

Cracked foundation

By definition, your home’s foundation is where it all starts. Minor problems can blossom into a nightmarish web requiring costly professional work. Walk around your home and check for cracks wider than 3/16”, measuring with a ruler or the pointed end of a No. 2 pencil. If it can fit down to the yellow paint, it’s time for some intervention. Mark minor cracks so you can monitor them and make sure they don’t grow larger. Horizontal cracks can be more serious because they affect a larger segment of the foundation wall, so have an expert check them.

Sputtering electrical system

Electrical problems can mean ruined appliances at best and fires and electric shocks at worst. Flickering or dimming lights when you start the vacuum or microwave are usually signs of trouble. You can ease the situation by adding more circuits to evenly distribute power usage, but it’s a good idea to have an electrician come in to inspect your panel for problem areas. He should also be on the lookout for connection problems by checking outlets, switches and lighting fixtures.

Poorly operating HVAC

When your heating and cooling system malfunctions, the immediately obvious problem is comfort. It also wreaks havoc on your budget in the form of higher energy bills, and in extreme cases can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide. Annual inspections, including cleaning and filter replacements, will help to extend the life of your furnace and A/C. When to repair and when to replace? If the cost of the repair is more than one-third of replacement, bring in the new. In a related issue, if you have a fireplace you should have your chimney cleaned once a year to prevent a buildup of creosote, which is highly flammable.

Like their owners, homes need regular maintenance now to prevent major problems down the road. A little time and TLC will pay dividends in a durable, comfortable home for you and your family for years to come.

Image by CMH-90 and licensed through Creative Commons.

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Jerry Hahn is a handyman specializing in window installation and repair in the Des Moines, IA area.  He is an avid outdoorsman and is looking forward to spending this summer fishing.