19 Vital Home Maintenance Tasks

As the winter months approach and the weather starts to cool down, the drastic change in temperature can have a significant impact on your home. This is especially the case when it comes to your expenses. Luckily, there are things that you can do to reduce your costs. Let's discuss a few helpful tips.

1. Inspect Cords, Outlets, and Surge Protectors

House fires can often be traced back to electrical appliances. In fact, they're one of the leading causes. And this is unfortunate when you consider how easy it is to check the condition of your cords and outlets.

So inspect both the cords and outlets in your home. You should also pay close attention to your surge protectors. If you notice fraying in the cords, burn marks around the outlets, or noises coming from your surge protector then these are things that should be replaced.

You may also notice that certain devices are plugged into the wall even though you rarely use them. This can cost you a lot of money unnecessarily, especially transformers. So unplug them in--specifically if they feel warm to the touch.

2. Use Smart Thermostats

One of the best ways to reduce the cost of utilities is to purchase a smart thermostat. These automated devices will adjust themselves according to your personal schedule. When you're home, the home will be cooled. When you're away the thermostat will shut off. This way, you'll always be comfortable but never have to foot the bill for cooling an empty space. So replace your thermostats and let them learn your routine.

3. Use Coke To Clear Clogged Drains

There's hardly anything more annoying than a clogged drain. And that's because the repair usually requires special tools and chemicals that you don't have access to. Luckily, you don't have to be at the mercy of the clog. Instead, you can use coke and its phosphoric acid powers to get rid of it. The process is pretty simple.

First, remove any debris around and inside of the sink. You may need a flashlight for better visibility and a tweezer to collect debris that's stuck inside of the drain. Then pour a 2-liter bottle of Coca Cola down the drain. Make sure that you're pouring steadily so as to avoid splashing. Give the foam time to dissipate and continue pouring until the liter is completely empty. Finally, let it sit overnight and then run hot water for around 5 to 10 minutes. The Coke should eat away at your clog, but if it didn't repeat this process until the clog is gone.

4. Check Your Insulation

Insulation has the ability to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Not only that, but it can play a huge role in keeping down the costs. That's why it's a good idea to check your attic and make sure that it's well-protected, especially if it's unfinished.

So take a look around and examine between the beams. Is there more than 12 inches of insulation in each of these areas? Ideally, you should have even more insulation if you live in the north. Also, your insulation should have a value of R38 in order to ensure that cold air doesn't bleed through.

If you notice that your insulation is damaged or that you don't have enough, then you need to replace it or install more. If you're unfamiliar with this process the Department of Energy offers a free guide. This guide also includes information about how much insulation your home needs based on your specific location. And as an added bonus there are certain states that give homeowners a 75% refund as an incentive for insulating their house.

5. Don't Be Shy With the WD-40

Most people understand how effective WD-40 is in quieting squeeky hinges and loosening bolts. However, it can also be useful when it comes to other things around your home. For instance, WD-40 is known for its ability to displace water. After all, WD does stand for Water Displacement. And this makes it ideal for waterproofing. So if there's moisture outside, spay a bit on your boots or shoes.

WD-40 can be used to detour wildlife. It's especially handy if you have a bird feeder that's often disturbed by squirrels. Simply spray a little around the feeder and watch these little creatures slide off.

This solution can also be used to get rid of unwanted residue. If you have glue or sticky substances on your hand it will dissolve it. If you have stubborn scuff marks on your floors it will cause them to disappear. Also, if you're having a hard time getting rid of those lime stains around your toilet bowl use this spray and brush them away.

6. Be On Time With Your Mortgage Payments

Many people are unaware that Congress recently passed a new program called "E.R.R." or Enhanced Relief Refinance Program. The goal of this particular program is to help lower mortgage payments and it expires in October of 2019. It's one that could change the lives of millions of Americans by reducing their payments by more than $3000 per year.

As you can probably imagine, the banks aren't happy about this as they'll lose a lot of money in the process. They're eagerly awaiting the deadline and hoping that this change is kept as quiet as possible. However, the good news is, once you've been accepted, you're in.

So make sure that you check your eligibility before time runs out as this opportunity could be shut down at any time this year. You stand a better chance of qualifying and getting a better rate if you pay off your mortgage quicker, even if it means taking out cash.

7. Save Money On Household Expenses

Saving money on your household expenses is just as important as home maintenance. That's why we've put together a list of offers that cater specifically to homeowners. Admittedly, this list is sponsored. That means that when you take advantage of any of these offers, we're compensated. However, it's what helps us to continue providing useful content to readers like you. We've screen each offer to make sure that they apply to our audience, but if this doesn't sound like something you'd be interested in then skip on ahead to the next helpful tip.

8. Replace Your Filters

If you find that your equipment needs a lot of replacement parts, specifically in the winter, then it may be because you're not replacing your filters. Old filters cause your equipment to work hard which means that they will wear out faster. So save yourself thousands by purchasing new, $10 filters for your HVAC. This ensures that everything can run as efficiently as possible.

9. Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

You could be costing yourself an extra $10 more per month in utilities plus the cost of regular visits from repair technicians. And it's all because you're not cleaning the coils of your refrigerator. You see, refrigerator coils have the job of cooling and condensing. They can be found at the very back or across the bottom of your refrigerator. If they contain debris, then they're unable to properly release heat. As a result, the compressor will work longer and harder to do its job which will inevitably shorten the refrigerator's lifespan.

If you want to make sure that your refrigerator is running efficiently and reduce your service calls by 70% then you need to clean these coils twice a year. If you have pets that shed then you need to do it more frequently as their fur can cause clogs. Use a coil vacuum or cleaning brush. The brush tends to be more effective because it's designed to bend and fit into tight areas. You may also use these tools to clean the coils of your air conditioner and dehumidifier.

10. Be On the Lookout for Air Leaks

Another great way to save money on your utilities is to check your home for air leaks. This can be easily done with the help of a candle. Hold a lit candle to areas in which two different materials are meeting and then move the candle slowly around the closest external facing windows and door frames. If there's a draft then the flame will follow it.

This is a simple fix. Just add caulk or weather sealing tape to the leaks. This can save you as much 15% on your energy costs. Just keep in mind that you'll need to be able to tape cleanly in order to get the ideal finish.

11. Install a Smart Home Alarm System

Whenever the temperature rises so does the amount of criminal activity. One of the best ways to ensure that you're not a victim of any of these crimes is to install a smart home alarm system. ADT provides its customers with best in security so that you always feels safe and protected--whether you're at home or away.

In fact, they've been gracious enough to provide our readers with a special offer worth $850. Not only will you feel better about the safety of your home, but you'll get a lot of free equipment including a wireless remote and a $100 gift card. So make sure that you ask for your free quote today.

12. Replace Your Windows

Would you like to lower your energy bill by as much as 40% monthly? Well, try installing new energy-efficient windows. Not only will replacing your drafty windows save you money, but it will also add to your curb appeal. Just make sure that you shop around in order to get the best price. You may actually qualify hundreds in discounts from companies like Anderson, Pella, and Champion.

13. Flush Your Water Heater

The reason why it's so important to flush your water heater is that it helps to do away with all of the debris and mineral deposits that tend to build up in your system. This will help it to run more efficiently, extend its life, and cut down on costs. The average water heater should be flushed every 1 to 3 years. However, if the heater is relatively old and has never been flushed then you may need professional advice.

If you're interested in doing this project on your own then it requires six simple steps. First, turn your knob to the "Off" setting. Next, turn off the unit's electricity or the gas line. Turn the blue knob so that it shuts off the cold water. Turn the hot water on in the tub or a sink as this will ensure that a vacuum is not able to form while the tank is draining. Then, connect your garden hose to the water heater's drainage spigot and turn the spigot on so that the entire tank drains. Finally, once the tank has been drained, flush the tank by turning the cold water back on. Make sure that all of the water that comes out of the hose is free from debris. You can work in reverse order to turn the tank back on.

14. Clean Your Gutters

Gutters play a huge roll in the protection of your home. This is specifically true when it comes to the walls, roof, landscaping, and even the foundation. That's why huge problems develop when they're not properly taken care of. Clogged gutters can result in both interior and exterior damage. They can lead to a leaky roof and mold. They can also cause pest, rodent, and insect infestations.

While most homeowners have the ability to clean their own gutters, there's still an element of danger that comes with this particular task. In fact, the Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that in the year of 2009 alone over 200,000 people went to the emergency room after having fallen from ladders.

During a professional cleaning, the debris will be removed from the roof, downspouts, and gutters. They'll also make sure that there are no repairs needed such as loose gutter spikes. The average cleaning can cost as much as $225. The price typically depends on the height of your home, the length of your gutters, and the complexity of the work. However, in most instances, companies tend to charge a flat-rate fee.

15. Check for Toilet Leaks With Food Coloring

Toilet leaks usually result in an increased utility bill, water damage to the floor, and unnecessary wear and tear on the toilet. However, you can find out where these leaks are coming from with the use of a little food coloring. Simply drop some into the tank and wait for an hour.

After an hour, if you look into the bowl and notice that the color is lighter or paler then it's likely that you need to replace the flapper. This is especially the case if you notice that water is trickling down from the tank to your bowl. Both Home Depot and Lowe's offer flapper kits. You may also check out a few tutorial videos.

16. Clean Your Dryer Vent

At first glance, the lint bunnies in your dryer may not seem like such a big deal. However, the more it builds in the vent, the more flammable the lint becomes and the more likely it is to cause a fire. There's a good chance that you haven't cleaned your vents in years. So either hire a professional to clean the vent or purchase a vacuum attachment that can help you get the job done. This will help you to save money and protect your family and home.

17. Perform Sump Pump Maintenance

Most sump pumps are designed with battery-powered alarms that let you know whenever it's becoming backed up or is not functioning properly. In fact, some models can even call you or get in touch with your alarm company if the water is rising. For the most part, sump pumps are pretty reliable, so these instances are rare. However, it's still a good idea to do routine maintenance. Ideally, you should spend a few minutes every few months, specifically in early spring and when you expect heavy rains, making sure that it's operating properly.

Maintain your sump pump by ensuring that it's plugged into a working GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter, outlet. Make sure that the cord is in good condition. It's not uncommon for the GFCI breaker to trip when they're in damp areas. And this will cause the sump pump to shut off. So it may need to be reset from time to time.

There are instances in which the vibrations may cause the pump to tilt or fall which leads to a jammed float arm. So make sure that your pump is standing upright. You should also ensure that the vent hole is clear.

The pump must be able to start automatically and draining water efficiently. To test this, you can pour a bucket of water down into your pit. If it doesn't start it needs to be serviced.

The pump sucks and this can result in the accumulation of stones inside the grate. This can block the inlet and lead to permanent damage. So clean the grate. You should make sure that the outlet pipes are joined tightly together and are at least draining 20 feet from the foundation.

18. Save By Purchasing In Bulk

People often shop with the idea that larger, nonperishable items are too expensive. This isn't always the case. The key to getting a bargain is judging the price based on the cost per unit. Be on the lookout for coupons and coupon codes for the items that you use the most such as salt or sugar.

There are various coupon sites that are constantly being updated with lots of items. Only search for the products that you need and when you find them buy in bulk. Don't limit yourself to food products, you should also consider things like shampoo and soap. This a great way to save money.

19. Replace Your Bulbs

The best thing about LEDs is that they're significantly more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs. So replace your old ones. Whenever you compare lightbulbs, always consider the lumens number, not the wattages. Lumens will tell you how much light the bulb emits.

You should also keep in mind that you can save $.66 every month by replacing a 60-watt bulb with a 14-watt bulb that is LED. Of course, this is assuming that you're using it an average of four hours per day at $.12 per kilowatt an hour. Even if you simply switch out the five bulbs that you use the most this can add up.

Every year the total deduction in mortgage interest rates is approximately $70 billion, as reported by the Joint Committee on Taxation. Even though Mortgage Insurance (PMI/MIP) was taken away in 2018, the good news is that it's still possible to deduct the money that was paid to property taxes and mortgage interest.

It's important that you take part in this opportunity because not only can mortgage interest be burdensome, but this tax break will make room for the itemizing of other smaller tax breaks. And this means that you will no longer have to settle for the standard deduction.

If you paid over $600 in mortgage interest in that tax year then you can use the 1098 Form. If you're interested in reducing your mortgage by $3,252 per year, or $271 per month, then you need to find out if you qualify for the E.R.R. This government-backed program will save you money, but it's ending soon.

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