The average single-family homeowner spends around $2,000 a year on maintenance, according to Bankrate.com. That is considerably less than the monthly fees for most condos or co-ops. But even though the monthly outlay for those homeowners might be lower than that of condo or co-op owners, house owners generally are not squirreling away those savings for a rainy day. Nearly half of them have less than $1,000 saved, and a third have nothing saved, according to Liberty Mutual Insurance. So when that sump pump suddenly fails, odds are, we’re scrambling to pay the plumber for a new one.
Examples of less frequent home maintenance that should be regularly forecast and budgeted include repainting or staining outdoor wood or metal, repainting masonry, waterproofing masonry, cleaning out septic systems, replacing sacrificial electrodes in water heaters, replacing old washing machine hoses (preferably with stainless steel hoses less likely to burst and cause a flood), and other home improvements such as replacement of obsolete or ageing systems with limited useful lifetimes (water heaters, wood stoves, pumps, and asphaltic or wooden roof shingles and siding.
While you’re at it: Don’t cheap out and use rock salt instead of water-softener salt, even though rock salt costs half as much. It contains far more impurities that will clog up the works, and you could wind up needing to spend $600 or more for a new water softener. Make sure you always follow these home care tips to save you time, money, and stress.
This is a fun one. Composite wood paneling may have been all the rage in the 60s and 70s, but unless it’s still in perfect condition and painted white, it’s probably an eyesore. Popping off this decorative paneling can take minutes, and is seriously satisfying. Just be ready: you never know what condition the wall is in underneath. Be prepared to do a little plaster repair and, of course, repaint. Click here to learn how to prepare a wall for painting.
If a screw turns but doesn’t tighten, the screw hole is stripped. Here’s a quick remedy: Remove the screw and hardware. Dip toothpicks in glue, jam as many as you can into the hole and break them off. You don’t have to wait for the glue to dry or drill new screw holes; just go ahead and reinstall the hardware by driving screws right into the toothpicks.
Many towns have handymen who work part-time, for friends or family or neighbors, who are skilled in a variety of tasks. Sometimes they advertise in newspapers or online. They vary in quality, professionalism, skill level, and price. Contractors often criticize the work of previous contractors, and this practice is not limited to handymen, but to all trades. Handymen have advertised their services through flyers and mailings; in addition, free websites such as Craigslist and SkillSlate help customers and handymen find each other.
When the kitchen faucet leaks, you can’t just call the super. Instead, you have to find a handyman willing to do the work — unless you want to figure out how fix it yourself. But that would mean spending half a day at Home Depot wandering around the plumbing aisle. Buy the wrong materials and you may be back at the store a week later, or calling that handyman anyway to fix your mistake.
How to DIY it: This job can be messy, so protect nearby surfaces by covering them with plastic or cardboard. Spray the springs with garage door lubricant (about $7 at home centers). Don’t use oil, grease, or other lubricants. They may be cheaper, or you may have them on hand already, but they won’t work as well and tend to pick up dust and grit—just what you don’t want on moving parts.