New Year To Dos for Your Home
With the start of a new year, it's always a good idea to assess your home and its needs. Taking stock of appliances, home systems, and other items that make a house a home will help guide you to home improvements needed, appliances that may be near the end of their lives, and any other updates that can help to boost your home's worth. Listed below are major home systems to evaluate in the new year to help give you peace of mind.
In the winter and summer months a home's HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems are put to good use. January is the perfect month to replace disposable filters or wash permanent ones in your home's HVAC or humidifier systems. Filters should be regularly replaced or washed when use is high or during peak seasons.
The start of a new year is an excellent time to vacuum all heat vents, especially those that are located on the floor. The vents are overly susceptible to dust, dirt, pet hairs, and other particles that float through the air. Vacuuming heat ducts helps clean your home's HVAC system and can help with any problems brought on by indoor pollutants, mold, pollen or anything else that finds its way into an air duct. Vacuuming has also been known to help with any heating or cooling issues related to clogged air ducts. January is also a good time to check for any leaks in your home's forced air heat ducts. If any are found, seal the leaks with duct tape.
Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Checking alarms and detectors is especially important when cold temperatures in the winter leave homes closed up. This month inspect, clean and test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and be sure to replace any that are faulty, no longer working or old.
Very few homeowners actually have to use a fire extinguisher; many times these important tools get overlooked for maintenance. January is a great time to inspect and charge any working fire extinguishers you may have in your home. Fire extinguishers should also be placed in all accessible areas of the home where fires are more likely to occur: kitchens, garages or areas that house furnaces, boilers, fireplaces and stoves.
Fire Evacuation Plan
Do you have a plan in place in case of a fire in your home? January is the perfect time to form a fire evacuation plan. Go over the plan with anyone who might live with you, and if you have kids dedicate a time to have a practice fire drill. Should your home's bedrooms be on a second or third floor, invest in a fire escape ladder, many of which can be found at your local hardware store.
Leaking Windows and Electrical Outlets
With winter setting in, finding the weak points in your home will not only help keep your home warm, but it will also help cut down on heating bills. Identify any windows that may have broken seals by looking for condensation on the inside of the window. Examine electrical outlets throughout your home for any drafts, and insulate those that may be letting in cold air.
Check and Test GFCI Outlets
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are a must have in your home. These special outlets protect people from electric shock by monitoring the amount of current flowing through the outlet. If there is an imbalance of current, the outlet trips the circuit of the appliance, cutting off the electricity. You can test GFCI outlets with a circuit tester that has its own GFCI test button. GFCIs do wear out, and their lifespan is about 10 years. Replace GFCIs that no longer function properly -- these outlets save thousands of lives each year.
Many homeowners have home safety and preparedness at the top of their priority list, and the New Year stands as the perfect time to discover what improvements and fixes your home will need in the coming months. Other items to look at in a new year:
- If you're in an area that is known to have inclement weather, make sure you have proper snow removal equipment and have alternative energy options in case of power outages
- January is also a great month for reviewing warranties and product information on a furnace, large appliances, and any other big ticket items in the home
Preventative maintenance will not only save you money and keep your home safe, but houses that do not keep up with maintenance have been known to lose up to 10% to 12% off their appraised value. The US Census has estimated that annual maintenance can cost between 1% and 3% of a home's initial costs dependent upon the geographic location of the home. With the New Year, getting a head start on yearly to dos, and anticipating yearly maintenance, will put you ahead of the issues and have you prepared for any upcoming and unforseen fixes.