7 Things New Homebuyers Should Know About Home Maintenance

You're officially ready to make the leap to homeowner. But there's one thing you probably enjoyed before that your new home won't have: maintenance help.

Here are a few home maintenance tips worth considering as you navigate the homebuying process.

1. Learn how things operate and where they are

Before you end up panicking over an unexpected water leak or other mechanical problem, make sure you know the house you’re buying. Determine where the following are and how to operate them:

  • Main water valve
  • Circuit breaker box
  • Water heater
  • Furnace

2. Make sure the alarms and smoke detectors work

Once you buy a home, you'll want to test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly. Change the batteries at least once a year and replace them every 10 years (or according to manufacturer instructions).

3. Change your air filters an average of every three months

Dirty air filters can mean poor air quality in your home, so routinely switching them out is essential. Change the filter every two to three months—or more if you have pets.

4. Care for your appliances to improve their longevity

Appliances are costly to replace, but a little maintenance can go a long way toward postponing that expense. Here are a few tips:

  • Clean your refrigerator's rubber gaskets regularly and vacuum the coils twice a year
  • Freeze vinegar in an ice cube tray and run the cubes through your garbage disposal to clean the blades
  • Steam-clean your microwave by heating water and lemon slices in a microwave-safe container
  • Run one cup of vinegar through your empty dishwasher to keep it smelling fresh

5. Maintain your furnace

Keeping your home properly heated and optimizing your energy usage means getting your furnace serviced by an HVAC professional every year or two (more often for older units).

6. Clean your gutters at least once a year

When leaves and other debris build up in your gutters, the water can't drain away from your home and its foundation. So when you become a homeowner, clear your gutters once or twice a year.

7. Properly stain and seal your wooden decks

A wooden deck that isn't sealed against the elements could suffer from water damage and rot. You can pour water onto the deck surface to see whether it's been sealed recently. (The water will bead up.) Plan to reseal the surface every two to three years.

Take these home maintenance tips to heart: Once you become a homeowner, establishing a regular maintenance routine will help ensure you don't run into costly repairs down the road—and that's well worth the effort.

Keep it up. You're getting smarter about home buying.

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