By Dixie Somers
Congratulations on your new home! You survived the paperwork. You got all of your belongings moved in and everything unpacked. You even got a lawnmower, some power tools and a massive tool chest. Now what?
Many new homeowners don't even think about home maintenance until something breaks, but that's not the best way to take care of your new home. Here are three tips to help you protect your investment and keep your property in good shape for years to come:
Create and Follow a Home Maintenance Schedule
A good place to start is by following a home maintenance schedule. Just as your car needs to have an oil change and get its components checked and maintained regularly, your home and yard will need some regular maintenance, as well.
If you bought new appliances, make sure you send in your warranties and keep all your owner's manuals that came with them. If you bought an older home, the previous owners may have left those documents in a kitchen drawer for you to reference. Some of these appliances will have recommendations for repairs and maintenance.
You'll need to mow your lawn, trim your bushes and perhaps even top your trees from time to time. For pest control, you may need to spray or have ground treatment performed a few times per year, too. Don't be afraid to do some research and speak with professionals about maintenance specific to your location.
Have All of Your Home Systems Checked Regularly
It's important to get your electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems checked annually to keep them in good shape. Some of these tasks can be done yourself; for instance, you might need to clean your air filters, remove debris from the vents and flush out your water heater.
Many home repair companies will offer a free inspection at various times of the year or have a maintenance program, so be on the lookout for those. Calling up some local companies and asking if they offer free inspections or have any special pricing is also a good option. Some companies specialize in just one system, such as plumbing, while others are able to work on everything. Knowing what they work on and what their reputation is in that specific area before talking with them will help you in your search. For example, if you live in an area that's known for being warm most of the year and your home's plumbing needs some work, finding a company that offers air conditioning, as well as plumbing services, could be helpful.
However, if you already have a plumbing service in mind, you might just want to go with the best air conditioning services, regardless of whether or not they offer services in other areas. Check customer reviews on Yelp, Angie's List, Google, Facebook and the BBB when searching for a new company. Always go with one that is experienced, licensed, bonded and insured.
Follow a Cleaning Schedule
Home maintenance often focuses on repair work, but keeping your home clean can be just as important and can add a lot more enjoyment to the experience of homeownership.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to housecleaning, but it's a good idea to perform some cleaning tasks at least once per week, such as mopping the floors, vacuuming, spraying down the shower and faucets and dusting the shelves.
Deep cleaning every month or so is also a good idea. This could mean actually moving furniture around, pulling out the washer and dryer to clean behind them and clearing out the garage. You might think that some of those tasks are unnecessary at those short intervals, but another advantage of moving things around is that it also gives you a chance to inspect for pest problems, water damage and similar problems that can quickly escalate into expensive repairs.
Being a homeowner is very rewarding on many levels, but homeownership comes with a great deal of responsibility. As long as you put in some effort on a regular basis, you should have no problem keeping your home in good repair.
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer from Arizona covering Art Douglas for the home maintenance industry. She is a regular contributor to RISMedia's Housecall blog.