Your home is likely your largest investment, and it can quickly become a money pit if you ignore regular maintenance. Your home is not a static thing, but a collection of systems all interacting with each other and the environment. If you aren’t paying attention you could have a bad week like our client, Angela had. What would you do if you were in Angela’s shoes? Better yet, how can you prevent this from happening to you?
What A Mess
Angela called us one day in a panic. Her tenant had called to let her know there was “some water” in the basement laundry room. She had just finished a full renovation of the basement and had even sold the house so this couldn’t come at a worse time. Angela asked a professional inspector for some help determining the extent of the water and what damage may have resulted. She was in for a shock. What’s worse: it was an easily preventable problem.
The extent of water damage in Angela’s basement was staggering. The tenant wasn’t sure how long the problem had been going on, perhaps as much as a couple of days, certainly no longer. In that time, water extended from the utility room into the living room and kitchen. The newly laid laminate flooring was warping and curling. Baseboards were swelling with moisture in several locations, and mold had already started to grow on the drywall near the source of the leak.
What Caused This?
The culprit was a common home maintenance problem, something lurking in almost every basement in Calgary: a crusted, clogged humidifier. In Angela’s case, the part that stops the water from running into the pan was crusted over and no longer worked. This caused water to run continuously, overflowing the pan. Very little water is supplied to these appliances, but over time with a continuous flow a large volume of water ended up on her floor.
While it all started with a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment, it quickly became a huge, costly problem. The newly laid laminate flooring was ruined not to mention baseboards, freshly painted walls, and even some of the wood framing that was now saturated and growing mold. Now Angela faced thousands in unexpected expenses and little time to address the issue.
Could Angela have prevented this disaster? With a solid preventative maintenance plan. Preventative maintenance is a concept ubiquitous to industrial and commercial facilities. Knowing the lifespan of equipment and having a maintenance budget and schedule just makes sense if you can’t afford any surprises. So why is this not practiced more often for our homes?
The fact is that no matter what your long-term plans are, applying preventative maintenance instead of corrective maintenance will give you more time, money, and peace of mind. In Angela’s case, having regularly schedule maintenance completed on the furnace, hot water tank, humidifier, and other mechanical equipment in the home would have resulted in this equipment being repaired or replaced before such a dramatic failure. Angela could also have installed moisture sensors in key locations for early detection thus reducing the impact of any failure that does occur.
Planning For Prevention
Ok, so now you know that you should have a preventative maintenance plan. But how does that happen? Depending on your comfort level, you may opt to try some home maintenance yourself. If you are not handy at all or have no time or interest, there are local companies who can help you get the work done. Regardless of what you choose, it’s your home to manage so you should have a sense of what needs to be done and how often.
In the past, some homeowners kept binders with information about their home including receipts and warranty information and a calendar showing what needed to be done next. More recently, electronic calendars and cloud services have filled that role. These tools are useful, but they aren’t helpful if you don’t know how to perform a task. Nurture my Home has a tool that helps you with all of this: WHAT to do, WHEN to do it, and HOW to do it. Subscribing to Nurture my Home gives you access to a custom maintenance checklist with video tutorials and access to live technical support from local experts.
No matter what you choose, make sure to make preventative maintenance a part of your routine and save yourself the headache of Angela’s bad week.