Keep your home in tip-top shape and avoid spending money on repairs

March 12, 2013 3:02:28 PM PDT
It's easy to cut corners when it comes to home maintenance when you're looking to save money, but a little fixing up around the house can actually be an important money saving tool.

Jennifer Galluzzo remembers the day the shower floor shifted under her feet.

"It had completely molded out underneath," she said. "The shower needed to be completely gutted and redone."

The culprit? A backed up bathroom vent. She learned it should be cleaned every two to four months.

"We were completely surprised," Galluzzo said.

Polyana DaCosta with says Galluzzo's story is all too common.

While there are no statistics, Bankrate says anecdotal evidence shows a growing number of homeowners simply aren't aware of -- or find it tough to pony up money for -- basic home maintenance, cleaning and repair. But, by coughing up to a few hundred dollars early on, you can save thousands or even tens of thousands down the road.

"When you're on a tight budget, the mentality tends to be 'why fix it if it's not broken,' but instead it should be 'let's take care of it now before it becomes an issue,'" DaCosta said.

Start with the H-VAC units -- or heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning. A yearly tune-up by a professional can help prevent a furnace blower breakdown.

You should also schedule an annual termite inspection.

"I've seen people who have to replace an entire wall because of termites," Environmental inspector Robert Weitz said. "They can do substantial damage."

So can a chimney fire, so have it swept and inspected for cracks each year.

Weitz says dryer fires are also common.

"Periodically, the dryer vent either needs to be cleaned out or it needs to be really replaced if it's a flexible dryer vent," he said.

Clean out your gutters four to six times a year to prevent significant flooding and water damage, and have your roof inspected once a year.

"Over a period of time, the shingles will start to curl. They'll become deteriorated," Weitz said. "If you put it off too long then water will enter the house."

Finally, check for mold on a regular basis. It has the potential to destroy walls, cabinets, flooring and more.

"The best places to check for mold are in the basement where water can seep in through the foundation or where water leaks end up, up in the attic for a lack of ventilation, in bathrooms," Weiz said.

If you have a wooden deck, be sure to power wash and seal it every one to three years, depending on use. Replacing an entire deck can be pricey. We're talking anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000.

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