When it comes to home maintenance, it’s worth considering Benjamin Franklin’s famous advice that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Keeping on top of regular maintenance jobs inside and outside your home can help you avoid costly repairs in future. It can also help ensure your home is prepared for natural disasters like the recent floods.
“The unfortunate reality is that bushfires, floods and other extreme weather events don’t go on holiday when we do,” says Darren Turner, general manager of RACV’s home division.
“Completing maintenance tasks to protect and prepare your property for these events is something we need to be mindful of all year round.”
Jobs for outside your home
One important job to keep on top of is clearing your gutters, Mr Turner says.
Leaves and other debris can clog your gutters and downpipes and lead to costly repairs. Old, deteriorated gutters can also potentially cause damage to your home if the overflow seeps into your roof cavity or walls.
In the warmer months, clogged gutters can also be a fire risk — another reason to keep them in check.
It’s important to be careful if you’re working on the roof or a ladder. Also, keep in mind that work to alter or detach the downpipe or gutter may need to be done by a registered plumber.
Besides your gutters, here are some important home maintenance tasks:
- Clearing debris around your property — especially if you live in a bushfire-prone area. If your home has been flooded, make sure to wear protective gear.
- Pruning trees close to your house — this can help you reduce risk of fallen branches and bushfires. Pruning can also give your plants a boost. If you own your home, a well-maintained garden can also add value to your property.
- Mowing the lawn — regular mowing is good for your grass and can help keep snakes and other pests at bay.
- Sealing any gaps that may have developed in windows and doors — this is important for avoiding costly repairs for water damage. It can also help you save money on heating costs.
If you’re renting, Mr Turner says it’s still important to be mindful of the general upkeep of the property, such as mowing and gardening.
“Should repairs or replacements be required to windows, doors or faulty electrical fixtures … notify property managers immediately,” he says.
Maintaining your washing machine
Much like your home, keeping an eye on your appliances can also help you save money over the long run.
Andrew Zutt, who works as an appliance repairman in Geelong, says an occasional hot water cycle can prolong the life of your washing machine.
“Some people try to save on power consumption by using a cold wash. They’ll keep doing that, and that can help mould grow,” he explains.
“[It can also mean] the seals don’t get properly heated … so they get brittle.”
You don’t need to run hot washes all the time; Mr Zutt recommends doing it once every six washes or so.
“Cycle it through … I know my partner will run a cold wash, so [when it’s my turn to do the washing] I’ll put it on a hot wash,” he says.
Why it pays to check and clean filters
Another simple tip is to regularly check the filters of your dishwasher, vacuum, clothes drier and other appliances.
Sometimes, people don’t even realise they need to change the filter in their dishwasher, Mr Zutt says, and it can lead to expensive repairs.
“They’ll clog up then you might have a drain pump that will fail,” he says.
Clogged filters can cause problems for motors in vacuum cleaners, he adds, which could lead to costly repairs or replacement parts.
While appliances have become more affordable over the years, sometimes “cheap” models can end up costing more over the long run.
Mr Zutt says appliances should be treated as investments: “[If] you buy a washing machine, you shouldn’t skimp and get the cheapest special … you want to have it last for 10-15 years”.
Mr Zutt’s biggest tip for improving the life of your appliances? Read the instruction manual — and properly.
“Always refer to the manual. If something doesn’t seem right, then contact your manufacturer or service agent,” he says.
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