The mechanical systems in your home control temperature and humidity and provide you with clean, hot and cold water. When these critical systems fail, you can be certain it will cost you money. Keeping them in good working order is one of the best ways you can save money on home expenses. By maintaining your mechanical systems, you extend their life and reduce the risk of a catastrophic failure. To help you with your maintenance plan, here are some things you should do and not do:
DO: Make a Plan
A solid preventative maintenance plan is the most valuable tool you can put in your home maintenance toolbox. Knowing the condition, and likelihood of failure for your home’s systems means you can make appropriate decisions and budget for major repairs.
Your plan should include details about all of your home’s systems including installation date, model and serial numbers, service history, and expected lifespan. Add to this a schedule for maintenance and replacement, and a budget including expected costs. On this last note, a ballpark number to use is 3% to 5% of the value of your home per year (More on this in a future blog).
DON’T: Wait Until Something Fails
Ask a plumbing or heating service professional about failures and they will tell you they always get calls at the most inconvenient times like the middle of the night on the coldest night of the year. When these systems fail, the consequences are often high and collateral damage is common. Plan to replace and old water heater BEFORE it fails. Mitigate the risk of collateral damage by considering and addressing the “what ifs”:
- What if the furnace fails while I am out of town? Have someone check on your home frequently while you are gone
- What if the water heater fails and drains out? Make sure any water flows into the floor drain and not all over the basement floor
- What if I get a major leak in my plumbing supply lines? Make sure your main shut off valve is in good working order and accessible
DO: Follow the Manufacturer’s Directions
Most manufacturers provide recommended maintenance in the documentation that comes with the equipment. These recommendations are based on data collected over years of addressing service issues and will be the best possible information you can get for any component in your home. If you don’t have an owner’s manual for any component, contact the manufacturer directly for information.
DON’T: Choose New Components Based Solely on Price
This is truly a case of “you get what you pay for”. In most cases it costs you more over time to continually replace a cheap component than it does to use and maintain a better-quality option. Higher quality products often come with better warranties and more responsive service departments. If you aren’t sure what products are good and what are known to have problems, ask your service professional what they recommend.