Home maintenance: essential for preserving home value

May 31, 2018 - 4 min read

In this article:

You can lose about 10 percent of your home’s value by not performing these important maintenance tasks:

  1. Check your foundation and make sure water cannot pool there and that it’s not crumbling
  2. Inspect and maintain your roof annually
  3. Service your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems

There are many small chores (like cleaning dryer lint) that you’ll also perform more frequently, and some big ones (like painting or re-siding) to save up for and do every few years.

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Home maintenance: essential for preserving home value

Kids who don’t do their homework suffer poor grades. Dental patients who don’t brush and floss lose their teeth. And homeowners who skip home upkeep tasks lose their money.

That’s because ignoring home maintenance leads to costly repairs. What’s more, your home can lose 10 percent of its value when you don’t maintain it properly. You’ll feel the hit when it’s time to sell, and buyer offers are less than expected.

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Learn what’s required to keep your home working right and looking good. Doing these chores yourself can save big money. It can also increase your DIY skills and confidence.

Why it pays to keep up with maintenance

James Strilcic, owner of JPS Furnace & Air Conditioning, says a little prevention goes a long way.

“Owning a home comes with many perks. But it also comes with many time-consuming challenges,” he says. “Home maintenance can sometimes feel like a never-ending task. But it’s vital to the longevity of your home’s components and systems. Regular maintenance and checkups can help save you unnecessary expenses in the long run.”

Andrew Ziehler, owner of Ziehler Lawn and Tree Care, agrees.

“Routine upkeep helps protect your investment. It minimizes the risk of large replacement costs down the road. And it can enhance the benefits your home provides,” says Zeihler.

Doing the math

Upkeep isn’t cheap. Experts say you can expect to pay 1 to 4 percent of your home’s value yearly on maintenance and repairs. If your home is worth $300,000, that can range from $3,000 to $12,000 a year.

Yet research suggests that maintenance is worth it. It can up the value of your home by around 1 percent every year.

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Also, proactive upkeep is less costly than doing nothing. The latter all but guarantees that you’ll have a major repair or replacement bill eventually.

Consider: the average annual cost to clean and check a furnace is about $100. But replacing a broken furnace can cost $4,220. And the average bill for a pro to design and install a gutter and downspout drainage system is only $160. But foundation repair will likely set you back $3,996.

Home maintenance checklist

Want to keep your home healthy, safe and running smoothly? Follow these tips from HUD and the Center for Healthy Housing. To prevent:

Crawlspace/basement and attic issues

  • Check that the sump pump and floor drain are working (spring and fall)
  • Inspect for water damage/puddles/wet surfaces (spring and fall)
  • Look for signs of pests (fall)
  • Ensure that insulation is intact (fall)
  • Check/fix ductwork connections; be sure fans exhaust to outdoors (annually)

Building envelope problems

  • Be sure gutters are discharging water away from the home (spring)
  • Check the attic for any roof leaks (spring)
  • Ensure that roof shingles are in good condition (spring)
  • Inspect the chimney, valley, skylight flashing and plumbing vent (spring)
  • Check for peeling paint or water damage on the inside of exterior walls (spring)
  • Look for leaks at door and window sills (spring)
  • Check that flashing is intact beneath windows and doors (spring)
  • Repair and lubricate doors and windows (as needed)
  • Clear exhaust ducts and clean dryer vent (spring and fall)
  • Clean downspouts and gutters (spring and fall)
  • Drain outdoor hoses/faucets (fall)

Plumbing, appliances and fixture issues

  • Clean kitchen range hood screen (as needed)
  • Clean ranges and ovens (fall)
  • Check the shut-off valve/supply on all toilets (annually)
  • Inspect washer and dishwasher hose connections (annually)
  • Check for shower/tub surround damage (annually)
  • Examine the refrigerator icemaker connection and drip pan (annually)
  • Check drains and traps beneath showers, tubs and sinks (annually)

Electrical and detector issues

  • Be sure ground fault interrupters are working (spring and fall)
  • Inspect cords for damage (spring and fall)
  • Test and replace batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke alarms (spring and fall)

HVAC matters

Want to ensure that your home heats, cools and exhausts properly? Strilcic provides this advice:

  • Replace furnace filters (monthly or quarterly, depending on need)
  • Have the air conditioning system checked and cleaned (spring).*
  • Clean exhaust fan screens/outlets (spring).
  • Have the heating system cleaned and checked (fall).*
  • Check for hot water heater, boiler, and water main/meter or well pump leaks (fall).*
  • Clean outdoor air screens/intakes (fall).
  • Check thermostat operation and replace batteries if needed (annually).

Any tasks marked with an * asterisk should be handled by a professional HVAC tech, says Strilcic. “Most of the other items can be done yourself. Simple things like replacing your furnace filter regularly can save you money on your energy bills. It also helps remove contaminants in your home’s air. And it prevents early repairs.”

Landscaping to-do’s

Eager to secure the health and beauty of your grounds? Ziehler recommends these steps:

  • Clean up any yard debris and dead plant matter (spring)
  • Apply herbicide crabgrass pre-emergent to your landscape beds to prevent weeds (spring)
  • Apply fertilizer and weed control to your lawn; fertilize your other flora (spring and summer)
  • Inspect for insects; apply proper insect control measures (spring and summer)
  • Sharpen your mower blade; mow your grass at least weekly (removing no more than one-third of the grass blade) (spring and summer)
  • Water your lawn and flora; water deeply, infrequently, in the morning, and before you see signs of drought stress (spring and summer)

Ziehler says it’s crucial to maintain your lawn and grounds.

“Well-managed landscapes are less susceptible to insects and diseases. A professional can identify the onset of a problem before it devastates your lawn or landscape. That can cost thousands of dollars to replace,” he says. “Plus, healthy landscapes and lawns are great for the environment.”

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Erik J. Martin
Authored By: Erik J. Martin
The Mortgage Reports contributor
Erik J. Martin has written on real estate, business, tech and other topics for Reader's Digest, AARP The Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune.