General home maintenance is something that every homeowner should be conscious of. Whether you live in an HOA (homeowners association) neighborhood or not, maintenance is something that should never be skipped over or taken lightly. Proper dedication to ongoing maintenance will go a long way toward reducing your risks for more serious issues with your home later on.

Home maintenance cost per year usually averages between 1 percent and 4 percent of your home’s value. You can keep this figure on the lower end of the spectrum by being proactive about your maintenance and avoiding some of the larger issues that can come up as a result of poor or absent maintenance. It’s never too late to jump in and start really looking after your home and outdoor space.

Here are a few things that can drive up your home maintenance cost per year, as well as some ideas for how to avoid them.

Electrical

While the general electrical system in your home may not require much in the way of ongoing maintenance, it’s still important to remember basic things that can help cut your home maintenance cost per year. These things include turning off lights when a room is not in use, remembering to unplug electronics when they’re not being used, and other small cost-saving behaviors.

If you’re experiencing issues with electrical outlets or flickering lights, contact a licensed electrician as soon as possible. You may be experiencing trouble with an electrical feedthrough component or some other part of the overall electrical system. Issues with electricity can be dangerous to both your family and your property if left unaddressed, so getting them inspected as quickly as possible should be at the top of your list for the safety of all involved.

Air Conditioning

The AC unit is one area of the home where major savings and major stress can both occur. An AC unit is a delicate machine which has to be looked after properly in order to function correctly for a long period of time. Regular maintenance helps ensure that the unit is clean and functioning well. If you neglect to change the filters when needed, air forced through them can remain contaminated with dust and other particles which can be hard on children, pets, and those with breathing problems. The extra strain is also hard on the unit itself and may lead to extensive problems down the line, including the breakdown of important parts or possibly the entire unit.

The average cost for an AC tune up is between $75 and $185 depending on the company and the checklist they’re working from. An AC unit should be serviced and tuned up every two to three years in its first decade of use, and every two years after that, as the unit ages. Being proactive about your AC system will go a long way toward keeping your home maintenance cost per year down at a manageable level.

If you’ve cleaned all the filters, had the unit checked for loose connections, etc. and are still experiencing problems with your unit, contact an AC repair service. While the cost to repair or replace an AC unit can be high, it’s often much less than the continued cost of running a damaged or otherwise inefficient unit.

Garage

If you have a garage door broken spring issues can be a real headache. Fixing a garage door may not seem like it should rank that high on the list of essential home maintenance, but think of it this way: If you have an attached garage, a damaged or malfunctioning garage door is also a damaged or malfunctioning entry or exit point, which could be very important in the event of a fire, natural disaster, or another emergency. Additionally, A damaged garage door may be a weakened entry point for potential thieves to target. Part of home maintenance is shoring up your perimeter and making sure your property is kept safe and secure.

Garage maintenance has another important result as well — keeping the area clean and organized will go a long way toward keeping the home free of bugs and rodents which may have otherwise found or made a home among the boxes and bags kept in storage. One of the simple things that can up your home maintenance cost per year faster than just about anything is a call to the exterminator.

Cleaning and organizing the garage not only takes the stress of digging through boxes off of you, but it also helps prevent mold from getting started in damp corners of the garage and going unnoticed behind stacks of boxes and bins for months. While most mold is not directly harmful, it’s still not good for the body to breathe in the spores on a continued basis, especially if one has difficulty breathing or allergies already. Keeping the space clean will drastically cut down on the likelihood of needing a cleaning crew or mold removal specialist in the future.

Plumbing

Like the electrical system, there likely won’t be much-continued maintenance for you to handle alone when it comes to your home’s plumbing system. The most important things to do are to keep an eye out for any major changes to your water bills, snake drains when they become clogged, and investigate any potential signs of water damage as soon as you notice them.

If the plumbing system has been compromised in some way, the best thing to do is call a plumbing service as soon as you can. While simple repairs are well within the reach of a committed DIY enthusiast, it’s always best to leave larger repairs and issues to the professionals. Water damage from leaking or cracked pipes can be a physical and financial mess for everyone involved. Severe water damage, when left unaddressed, can cause peeling and cracking walls, warped floorboards, and issues with mold.

Taking the time to make sure all is well with your plumbing may really cut down on your home maintenance cost per year if you manage to catch a potential problem before it has a chance to become a major issue.

Landscaping

Landscaping may be one of the areas where most people understand the need for ongoing maintenance. Many people are very proud of their lawns and outdoor space and look after it well as a result. While having a landscaped outdoor space does add to your home maintenance cost per year, looking after your space properly will lessen the likelihood of any major issues, such as severe infestations, getting started.

The kind of maintenance your lawn and outdoor space requires will partially depend on what kind of design you have and what sort of climate you live in. Generally, though, it’s good practice to water, cut, and weed your lawn as often as it needs it. This goes for flower beds as well. While keeping the grass green is largely an aesthetic choice, keeping it trimmed and free from potentially harmful plants is a matter of safety. Taller grass can hide a variety of dangers, from ticks to snakes, depending on where you live, and certain unwanted plants can appear with thorns or carry toxins that can make you, your family, or your pets very ill.

Pest Control

A surprising amount of routine pest control can be done with simple herbs and spices, or gentle chemical sprays soaked in around the entry points of your home. Take a day and do some research on the best pest control methods for any bugs or other creatures you may be concerned about. This proactive stance will go a long way toward keeping your home free of bugs, rodents, and other pests.

If an issue does occur that you can’t seem to get a handle on by yourself, it’s a good idea to call in home pest control and let them take over. Severe infestations or anything involving larger wildlife is best handled by professionals.

Roofing

Part of home maintenance is checking every corner to make sure a potential problem isn’t being overlooked. This goes double for your roof. It’s best to make a habit of checking your roof as the seasons change, to make sure you’re ready for the swing the weather’s likely to take — from snowy to rainy, from hot and humid to dry and cold, etc.

Start by inspecting the roof visually and noting any areas that look off or odd to you. Carefully inspect these with a sturdy ladder and an attentive spotter. Note if there are any loose or missing tiles or shingles and either repair or replace them yourself if you’re experienced with DIY, or call in a professional to address it.

Cracked, loose, or missing tiles or shingles can let in water when it rains or snows. That water can then seep into the underlayment and the roof itself, eventually breaking through and causing water damage to walls, floors, and ceilings. Left unchecked, this sort of damage can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements. Needless to say, major roof repair is costly, stressful, and best avoided when possible.

Driveway

A newer driveway will not likely require much maintenance to remain at its best, but as it ages, it may need a little more help. Driveway sealing can go a long way toward keeping your driveway in its best condition. Seal coating a driveway will also help protect it from grease and oil stains in the future.

As your driveway ages, you may notice some hairline cracks and potentially larger breaks in the surface. Most of these cracks can be filled in with a concrete filler without too much hassle. If the cracking is too bad, however, you may need to consider replacing the concrete entirely.

Addressing the cracks and stains in the driveway isn’t just an aesthetic issue either — it can be an issue of safety. Severe cracking can create an uneven and make it easy to snag your shoe on part of the slab if you’re not paying attention. This is especially a risk for families with small children or those who are living with elderly relatives.

Flooring

Flooring may seem like an odd thing to place on a list of home maintenance items, but it’s surprisingly important. Keeping your flooring clean reduces the risk of breathing problems in those with allergies or asthma, due to the lack of potentially irritating particulates in the air. This also helps keep filters on AC units from filling up quite as quickly and can help keep the unit in better shape for longer. This goes double for homes with carpeting or an abundance of area rugs as the fibers are more apt to hold on to allergens than hardwood or tile.

Sweeping and vacuuming regularly also helps reduce the risk of pest problems as it removes crumbs and other food sources that bugs and rodents may be attracted to. It may seem strange, but if you want to lower your home maintenance cost per year, start with your floor.

Whatever your flooring is like, if you take good care of it now, you’ll be much less likely to require flooring services later on down the line, which will also keep your overall maintenance costs down.

At the end of the day, home maintenance is about vigilance and taking good care of the things you own, for your own sake and the sake of your family. Some areas are more about keeping an eye out for potential issues than they are about tackling projects and fixing things that have broken, but these areas are just as important as the ones that are more hands-on. Even areas that almost exclusively call for professional help, like plumbing and best control, are vital to the continued health of your home.

If you want to lower your home maintenance cost per year, look into the areas you may have overlooked or brushed off before and see if there are any positive changes you can make. It’s never too late to start looking after your home.

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