Five Annual Home Checkups that Save Headaches Later

Home maintenance is important — in fact, experts recommend that homeowners save one percent of their home’s value annually to use for upkeep. That said, there are plenty of annual home checkups that homeowners can perform to save themselves time, money, and aggravation later. Here are five annual checkups that can prevent major impacts on your home.

1. Have the HVAC system professionally cleaned and serviced. 

Line drawing of a house with a line down the middle, left side is red with a white outline of a sun, the left side has a blue background with a white snowflake drawingOne of the biggest losses of energy for any structure can come from your heating and cooling system. To gain the most efficiency and achieve both maximum comfort and the highest level of performance from your HVAC system, you’ll need to give it some TLC every year. By performing either seasonal or annual maintenance — or more likely, having a professional do it for you — you’ll be able to save some significant money. An HVAC maintenance professional will perform a visual inspection, looking for problems like frozen coils, water leaks, and dirty elements, as well as changing the filters and performing any necessary programming on your thermostat.

2. Salt your water softener.

Line drawing icon of a teardrop with a plus sign in the middle within a red circleIt’s easy to forget how important water is in our lives, especially for a less-visible component like a water softener. These popular units are designed to minimize mineral content like calcium or magnesium, which can clog pipes and reduce the efficiency of appliances. However, every water softener has a resin tank that uses tiny resin beads to swap out harmful minerals with sodium. The salt required to make the water softener work has to be replaced regularly, so an annual checkup is a good time to do it.

3. Test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, and change batteries.

Line drawing of a smoke detector filled in with redAs much as we rely on them, electronic devices can fail. Batteries die, and other components of smoke and carbon dioxide detectors can decay over time. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends that smoke detectors be tested at least once a month, and batteries replaced at least twice a year. You may need to check more often if the detector often gives false alarms, emits short beeps randomly, or frequent kitchen or industrial smoke has caused it to activate often, which can wear the unit out faster than normal.

4. Clean out your gutters.

Icon of a house gutter outlined in redCleaning out the gutters isn’t a chore anyone looks forward to, but it’s an invaluable exercise. When gutters get clogged with heavy, dangerous debris, it can lead to physical damage, injuries, water damage, rot, mold, and foundation damage. It’s easy to complete this chore yourself, but if you’re physically compromised or just don’t like doing it, simply hire a professional.

5. Inspect your roof.

Icon of a house roof colored in redIt’s easy to overlook a roof inspection in the hurry of doing chores and performing preventative maintenance. Add in an annual reminder to your calendar or checklist to go out on a warm day and identify any problems. You can perform a thorough inspection using binoculars, looking for suspicious characteristics like cracked caulk, rust spots, missing or broken shingles, or masses of moss or lichen. If you find any significant problems, be sure to contact a roofing professional to help you assess and restore your roof to serve its original purpose.