The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Maintenance tasks

There is not a whole lot of winter time maintenance to tell all of our listeners about except a few items to be aware of. The amount of snow we received last year in the Omaha area lead to many homes with ice damming, roof leaks, interior damage and insurance claims. It should be a high priority to get the snow removed from the lower 3 ft of roof to prevent the damage.

Other maintenance tasks that should be accomplished this month include:

1. Change or clean the furnace filter (should be accomplished each month. Save money with the type you can clean and reinstall. I would advise to purchase two, one to clean/let dry and the other installed in the system and rotate them.)

2. Check the operation of your whole-house humidifier. Inspect the unit to be sure it is not leaking water onto the furnace or floor and be sure the wick (filter looking device) is not clogged up with too much calcium deposits.

3. Clean and inspect any room-type humidifiers you may have throughout your home. They also have a wick that should not contain so much calcium deposits that it restricting the flow of water. Keep an eye on a humidistat in your home to be able to tell if either humidifier type is working. If you do not have a humidistat you can purchase an inexpensive one at a local hardware store. Many times they are attached to a thermometer. (the kind that show temperature, humidity and barometer, see photos of older and newer style units). The goal is to keep the humidity near 35% through the winter but it also depends on your comfort level.

4. VERY IMPORTANT! Inspect your home for leaks, build-up of ice on the inside of the home and for any visible gaps or cracks in the foundation, walls, siding or drywall. Especially look in the basement around the pipes that protrude to the outside of the home (water spigots). If any are frozen and split they can be isolated (shut-off and/or add a valve to keep them from flooding the basement when they defrost later). The whole point of this inspection is to limit further damage by noticing something that has the potential for failure.

Here are other tasks that usually get neglected and can be completed easily in January:

Take photos or videos of all of your personal property like furniture, stereo equipment, computers, bedroom sets etc. If you ever have a fire or other major damage you'll have a record of the items in your home. Make a listing of model and serial numbers of appliances, tools, electronic equipment etc. Also make an account of #'s of clothing items, CD and DVD listings, etc. It will be so much easier dealing with the insurance company with a good record of your household items. Make a couple copies and have relatives store them for you or keep it in a safety-deposit box.

Set up your annual savings plan to tackle your home maintenance and repairs. Industry experts suggest 1-3% of the home's value per year should be set aside for maintenance. To figure out your home value you can visit the county tax assessor's website (Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawatomie counties are online). Multiply that figure by .01 to .03 to get the annual savings amount. Take that new number and divide it by 12 to get the monthly amount you should put aside to have that kitty of money for home maintenance and repairs. I'd keep it in a separate savings account so you'll be less inclined to spend it for other items. If your home is new or very well maintained I would save near the 1% figure; If it is older or not well maintained I would save at the 3% level.

REMEMBER: Spend hundred$ now in maintenance or thou$and$ later in repairs. The sooner you notice maintenance needs the less likely it will turn into full repairs. It is usually about a 10:1 ratio. What you could spend for $100 in keeping the home maintained will cost you $1000 to have repaired if the maintenance is neglected. Visit this site monthly and complete (or have someone like Mr. Handyman complete) the maintenance for you to save you thousands over the life of your home.