Putting off routine maintenance around the house nearly always results in headaches, wasted time and sometimes major expenses. While it’s called “routine” maintenance, many homeowners don’t know where to start when trying to plot a routine maintenance course.
Here`s the experts` checklist to help homeowners do what it takes to keep those home-related headaches at bay, season-by-season.
Home Maintenance Tips:
• Clean your outdoor furniture, and refinish it if necessary, to prevent rust and damage from freezing. If you store your outdoor furniture inside for the winter (which is recommended, if at all possible) allow for some airflow. Encasing the furniture tightly in plastic could lead to moisture damage.
• Schedule any indoor painting you need done. Professional painters aren’t as busy in September, and the weather is usually ideal for leaving windows open for ventilation.
• Properly discard or store paint, caulk or adhesives in a heated area to prevent them from freezing. Call your local hazardous material removal service for instructions on discarding products that could be toxic. Drain all gasoline containers, including lawn mowers and other gasoline-powered tools.
• Check insulation in your attic, basement and other areas for any dirty spots, which often indicate air leaks into or out of your home. If you find any holes, seal them with caulk.
• You can save 10 percent or more on your energy bill by reducing air leaks in your home, so take a look around for drafts around doors and windows and seal those you find. One easy way to test for air leaks is to hold a lit stick of incense around windows and doors. Drafts will cause the smoke to drift with the current. Pay special attention to any airflow beneath your doors, as opening and closing often causes door sweeps to wear out.
• When it`s dark exterior lighting is very important. Check all your bulbs and consider using timers to turn lights on at dusk and off in the morning.
• Before you light the first log, get your chimney cleaned and make any necessary repairs. Fireplaces that are used regularly during the season should have an annual cleaning to prevent chimney fires.
Hiring a Handyman: avoid the pitfalls.
Handymen continue to be in high demand. However, the fact that handyman is a broad term, coupled with the increasing complexity of home systems, can leave homeowners wondering if a handyman’s the right contractor for the projects on their list.
Here are a few tips to help you determine if a handyman’s right for you, and if so, which handyman:
• Make a list of what you need done. Include as much detail as you can. Have this list on hand when you call to make an appointment. Talk through your list with the handyman or contractor. Most professionals are going to tell you up front if it’s a job outside their area of expertise. And, in the case of some of the larger handyman shops, knowing what jobs you need done, often determines which employee they send to your house.
• Choose the same way you would for a larger project. Talk to at least three different handymen. Get estimates on price and how long it will take to complete your list of projects. Ask for and check references.
• Does the work require a licensed professional? This is most often the case with electrical and plumbing work. If it is required, check to see that your handyman has a valid license to do the work.
• Walk through the house with the handyman, pointing out all the tasks on your list. It will give him/her the opportunity to ask questions, as well as better understand your expectations for the job.
• Know what’s included in the price, for instance: Are they charging you a trip fee? Can you purchase the supplies yourself, rather than paying for the handyman’s drive time to-and-from the home improvement store?
• Hiring a handyman may not be cheaper than hiring a specialized professional. For example, a professional plumber may be able to diagnose and fix your problem much quicker than a handyman.
• Expect good service. Just because a handyman may be considered a “jack of all trades,” it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect good service. Many in the industry are taking steps to meet homeowner demands in relation to professionalism, know-how, experience and even etiquette. In fact, some companies have helped draft rules guiding the conduct of their employees to improve customer satisfaction.
• When you find a good handyman, keep him! A handyman can become a good resource for you, especially if you use him regularly. He will come to know your house and can help identify issues before they become costly problems.