As a current or potential homeowner, it's a good idea to have a basic understanding of home maintenance.
Not only can knowing how to fix issues in your home save you money, it can also save you time, as you won't be waiting for a professional to pencil you into their schedule. Having said that, there are some repairs you should leave to the professionals as they can be dangerous or lead to further damage to your home. Here is a list repairs that require professional help:
Although you may know which breaker switch to flip when the power goes out in your kitchen, that doesn't make you a qualified electrician. For any electrical challenges that can't be resolved through a simple fix, contact an expert. For example, if your home needs rewiring you would want to contact an expert. They are the ones who are in the know on current industry standards and can make sure your home and wiring are safe and compliant.
The time you spend on your roof should be limited to cleaning your gutters or retrieving lost frisbees and tennis balls. When it comes to patching holes or replacing the shingles, call in the professionals.
There are several risks associated with attempting your own roof repairs. The most obvious is that you could fall and injure yourself. This risk is higher if your roof has a steep slope, or the repairs require many tools and trips up and down the ladder.
Another possible issue is that you could worsen the damage. If you're inexperienced in roof repair, you could make a mistake, ultimately leading to water damage and potentially void your property warranty, in addition, long-term water damage could eventually lead to a costly mold problem. Save yourself the additional bills and let the experts take care of these repairs.
How Often Should I Check My Roof?
According to House Logic, it is vital your is checked at least once a year. You can climb up a ladder if you are comfortable, but generally, most issues will be detectable using binoculars or your own naked eye.
Additionally, if you have an attic, Red Beacon emphasized the importance of regularly checking it for insulation and other issues. Your attic can give you key information on the state of your roof.
Of course, if it would make you feel more at ease, feel free to call in an expert and have them inspect your roof.
What to be on the lookout for
Shingles are one of the most important things to regularly check. HGTV said homeowners with asphalt shingles (the most common) should be on the lookout for any shingles that are cupping or curling. These are signs of aging, and you may need a professional to determine whether you need to replace just a few shingles or the entire roof. Another sign that your shingles are in bad shape: The material that holds them together starts to show. When this happens, your home becomes extremely susceptible to water damage.
House Logic also told homeowners to keep an eye out for cracked caulk, rust and large clusters of moss or lichen. Moss or lichen on the roof could indicate decay. Check the rubber boots surrounding your vent pipe as well. If they are cracked or showing signs of age, they may need to be replaced.
Protecting your roof against extreme weather
Allstate suggested checking your roof after any bout of extreme weather, from a large rain or snowstorm to excessive strong winds. Any of these could lead to issues with your insulation, drainage or structure. If your roof is damaged during a storm, it is important to fix the issues right away before they get worse or cause more damage.
Winter can be a particularly gruesome time for a home, but there are many measures you can take to make sure your roof stays strong. According to Build Direct, homeowners should allow a light layer of snow to remain on the roof after a storm because it can add some extra insulation. However, any amount of snow over 6 inches could cause your roof to cave-in, so make sure to regularly remove the snow from your roof. It is generally best to hire a professional to do this for you, especially if your house is more than a story tall.
Build Direct also urged homeowners to make sure their roof is properly insulated. Otherwise, heat will escape through cracks and gaps, which will lead to higher energy bills. Use both caulk and insulation batts to seal any gaps. Homebuyers will not be pleased if a home inspection reveals a roof that is not properly insulated.
According to Home Selling Team, when ice dams form on the roof during the winter, water can leak through, so make sure to check your roof for both ice and snow build up.
Indoor signs your roof is in trouble
If your roof is leaking, there are a few signs that will show up inside your house. Home Selling Team said you may find stains on the attic ceiling. House Logic added that the area around a fireplace may become damp, the water heater or furnace pipes may have water stains and there may be dark areas on ceilings or paint peeling beneath the overhangs of the roof. If you notice any of these signs, contact a professional to inspect the roof as soon as possible.
When to replace your roof
Roofs have finite life spans, and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Federal Housing Administration requires a roof to have at least three years left on its life before homeowners can sell their home.
HGTV said roofs with asphalt shingles last 15-40 years, while those with concrete, slate or terra cotta tiles can last between 20 and over 100. However, be careful with those tiles because when seasons change, they can expand and contract, which means they crack easily. Regardless of what type of roof you have, make sure to check it regularly. If you spot something you think seems off, do not step on it or try and test it, contact a professional immediately.
When your entire roof shows signs of aging, it unfortunately may be time for a replacement. Luckily, sellers see a huge return on their investment for doing so. The National Association of Realtors® 2015 Remodeling Impact Report found the average cost of a new roof is $7,600, and sellers recover 105 percent of the value ($8,000) when they sell their home.
The better you take care of your roof and the more often you check for issues, the longer it will last. Put off replacing the roof as long as possible by giving it yearly check-ups and fixing small issues before they become large ones. A healthy roof will bring you one giant step closer toward passing a home inspection.
Similar to roofing, there are some plumbing repairs you should be able to perform yourself like; unclogging a drain or toilet and changing a faucet. However, plumbing gets more complicated than those simple tasks and that’s where the professionals come in.
For example, say you have a leaky pipe. This is something you may think you could handle on your own, but just patching the leaky spot in the pipe can cause more problems down the road and should be left to a professional. There are plenty of other seemingly easy tasks that can also cause problems. For example, when installing a toilet, you must ensure the proper seals are in place to prevent leaks. Furthermore, pipes must be tightened as much as possible when addressing other plumbing issues for the same reason.
Over time, a small leak becomes a big issue, as even the tiniest air gap is enough to let water slip through. With pipes that are not visible, you could create a haven for mold and have severe water damage on your hands. After the mold inspection, cleanup and final repair costs, you figure to spend more than if you had called a professional.
Having a dryer in your home is one of life's modern conveniences we sometimes feel we can't live without. When it goes on the fritz, it's not only inconvenient, but it can be expensive to repair. In order to cut down on some of the repairs, dryer maintenance is crucial. Here are a few easy things you can do yourself to clean and care for your dryer.
The Lint Screen
The lint trap in your dryer is such a simple thing. Yet it has a myriad of effects on things like drying time and even safety matters. It is important to clean the dryer lint trap after every load of laundry.
Make sure to never allow lint to build up in this screen. Even if there is a little bit on the screen, this makes the laundry take longer to dry and makes your dryer work harder.
Furthermore, an excess of lint on screen can sometimes start a fire. It's not a common thing yet do you really want to take that risk? Every year, dryers cause more than 15,000 house fires in the U.S.
About every three months or so, clean the lint trap with soap and water. This removes residue and built-up areas of debris. These chemical residues cannot be seen but they are there and can hinder the airflow and increase the time it takes to dry your laundry.
Never Dry Dirty Clothes
While this seems like a given, it doesn't just mean clothes that are filthy. Sometimes people dry things like beach towels or clothing after being caught in the rain. According to Compact Appliance:
In order to keep the interior of the dryer as clean as possible, avoid putting any soiled clothes in your dryer. Alternatively, make sure that you’re only drying clothes that have been made wet by going through the washing machine. If you want to dry clothes or towels that are wet for some other reason – for example, a day at the beach – put them through the washing machine first.
By doing this, you avoid getting any dirt or other unnecessary materials inside the dryer. Extraneous materials could clog the dryer or even cause parts of it to corrode.
Clean the Vent
Another area that needs cleaning due to safety concerns is the vent. While this doesn't have to be done at every load of laundry like the lint screen, it should be done at least a couple of times a year. If you notice things like clothes taking longer to try, a bad smell, or the dryer is hot to touch, it may be time to inspect and clean the vent.
Similar to the lint screen, a build-up of debris in the vent causes added stress to your dryer and can even become a fire hazard
Any large obstructions or big pieces of lint can be removed by hand. For the rest, there are special brushes you can get to reach the places your hand cannot. This is an area different from your lint screen and is typically located in the back of the dryer where it connects.
Inspect the Vent Duct
The vent duct is the pipe or piece that goes from the dryer to the wall. Look for crimping or torn areas that need replacing. These do eventually degrade and although it may take a few years, it is important to make sure it's in good condition. You don't have to do this often - but at least once a year is good practice. You can easily do it while doing the rest of your yearly inspection.
Check the Exterior Vent
The exterior vent is often susceptible to things like weeds and even bird nests. In fact, this is an area where creatures like rodents can enter if not properly fitted. If you do have that kind of problem, find a ventilation cover and use that. They're affordable and simple but do a lot to keep out unwanted guests.
Clean the Inside and Out
Keeping the inside and outside clean is more than just an aesthetic thing. A dirty dryer barrel can cause residue to get on your otherwise clean clothes. And as far as the outside, a dirty dryer can start to corrode due to soap on its finish. Your dryer will look better but it will also last longer.
Another thing to keep in mind is to prevent mold by wiping down the dryer after every use. Any wet areas should be cleaned so that the mold doesn't have the chance to grow. This goes for your washer as well.
Caring for Your Dryer is Crucial
Taking care of your dryer simply takes regular maintenance. Yet, it's well worth it. It ensures that your clothes dry faster, your dryer is safer to use, and you have less repair calls.
Check for Mold
A common enemy of homeowners is mold, as it can grow in places where they don't often see daily, meaning they must check areas of their home in which it is most prevalent.
To understand exactly where mold tends to grow, owners would be wise to find the parts of their residence in which they don't find themselves often: dark areas where there is plenty of moisture which allows mold to thrive.
Checking in areas of a basement and attic, along with crevices throughout a home, such as the space between a bathtub and cabinet in a bathroom for instance, are places where homeowners can find the most mold activity.
The importance of finding and eliminating mold is imperative for owners for many reasons. If they ever want to put their property on the market, they will want to eradicate any traces of the substance. In addition, mold can also lead to many health concerns and the best way to ensure the health and safety of all those living in the home is to eliminate mold as soon as it’s found. Those who experience bad allergies or have lung issues are particularly susceptible to worsening health when exposed to mold.
Once all areas of a property where mold exists have been identified, homeowners should get to work on removing what they can. However, areas where there is substantial build-up should be dealt with by professionals experienced with eliminating it. While this may come at a price, owners will be able to rest easy knowing their homes aren't becoming overwhelmed by the substance.
Check for Water Leaks
Every day, water runs through your home's pipes and into fixtures and appliances. While this is an incredible convenience, it can cause property damage when an issue causes water to leak out of the pipes and into your home. Even slow and nearly imperceptible leaks can lead to a high-water bill and structural damage to your house. If you suspect that you may have a leak, it's important to locate the source quickly and ensure that no further water is lost. Here are some guidelines for finding a leak and stopping the flow:
Identify the source
Finding the location of a water leak can be more difficult than it initially appears. In many cases, the water will travel from away the leak site, which makes source identification tricky. You'll know there is a leak somewhere in your home if you notice a ceiling that has begun to sag or become wavy. This will likely be accompanied by discoloration and dripping water. Sometimes, water will not come through the ceiling but will instead end up trapped in a wall. In these cases, the wall itself will become wet, and paint or wallpaper will bubble or otherwise react to the moisture.
Once you realize you have a leak, check whether it's coming from your plumbing system or dripping in from outside the house. In most cases, it's easy to tell where water is entering because dirty water will have come in from the outdoors. If all the water dripping in your home is clean, you can be relatively sure it originates in your plumbing. An unusually high-water bill is also a dead giveaway that the leak is related to your home's water supply.
If you discover that the leak is related to plumbing, it's often smart to check your appliances, toilets and sinks for issues before turning your eye toward the pipes in your walls. Appliances and toilets pull water from your plumbing through flexible tubes that connect to the metal pipes in the walls. These tubes can become weak with age, which can cause tears and leaks. Luckily, this type of leak is easy to fix. Simply purchase new tubes and affix them to the back of your appliance or fixture.
Consider the water main
If there are no signs of a leak in your house, but you continue to experience a high-water bill, the issue could be with your water main. The water main brings water to your building from the municipal plumbing system and runs under your yard. Sometimes, these pipes can become cracked, which will lead to a slow leak that can become very costly over time. If you suspect a hole in your water main, contact the city for repairs.