Top Ten Inexpensive Repairs that will Save you Money

Friday, September 13, 2013

If you’d rather spend your housing budget on cosmetic improvements than emergency repairs, you should spend a little bit of time and a small outlay of cash on home maintenance chores. Not only will these minor repairs and cheap projects save you money now by reducing your use of energy or lowering your water bill, a little preventative care can help you avoid a major hassle and a big bill from a contractor. Here are the top ten home repairs that will save you money:
1.    Caulk. Caulk tops everyone’s list of the cheapest and most effective ways to take care of your home inside and out. You should check the caulk around your windows, doors and other openings to see if it’s loose or rotting. If so, dig it out and replace it and you’ll likely notice lower heating and air conditioning bills. Fix the caulk around anyplace there’s water such as your bathtub or shower and your kitchen and bathroom sinks to prevent leaks that could lead to expensive repairs.
2.    Fix leaks. A dripping water faucet isn’t only annoying; it can also waste thousands of gallons of water. Fix it yourself or hire a plumber to save on your water bill and avoid potential damage from water or mold.
3.    Clean your gutters. When your gutters are filled with debris they can easily overflow in a rainstorm or getting jammed with snow. The damage caused by water collecting near your foundation and seeping into your basement can cost thousands to fix. Consumer Reports estimates that it costs $100 or more to hire a professional to clean your gutters; if you’re not afraid of heights, you can do this yourself.
4.    Get an HVAC service contract. Replacing your heat pump can cost $6,000 or more, but a service contract that costs under $200 per year can keep your system running longer and more efficiently. You’ll typically get two inspections per year with your contract and a break on repair costs. Make sure you change your filter at least every three months or, better yet, every month. A dirty filter can damage your system and reduce energy efficiency, which increases your utility bills.
5.    Insulate. Check your attic, your basement and your garage to see if you have enough (or any) insulation in place. Extra insulation reduces your energy use and lowers your utility bills.
6.    Hire a chimney sweep. If you use your fireplace often, be sure to have it inspected annually and cleaned to avoid a dangerous and costly fire. Even if you’re an occasional user of your fireplace, you should have it inspected every three years to make sure there aren’t any cracks in the lining or too much creosote, which can cause a fire. You may also want to consider buying fireplace doors to eliminate drafts and lower your energy bills.
7.    Touch-up your paint. Peeling paint on the trim on the exterior of your house can leave wood exposed, which will allow it to warp, split or rot. Touch up the paint before this happens and you save hundreds of dollars by avoiding the need to replace the wood.
8.    Clean your dryer vent. Even if you’re diligent about cleaning the lint filter on your dryer each time you use it, your dryer vent can build up lint or dirt. Pay a professional approximately $75 and you’ll find that your dryer works more efficiently, which will save money on your utility bill. In addition, you get the safety benefit of avoiding a dryer fire.
9.    Maintain your water heater. Your water heater generates about 12 percent of your utility bill. To allow it to operate more efficiently, drain about a quart of water from the base every three or four months to remove the sediment that builds up. You’re likely to see a reduction in your utility bill.
10.    Check your sump pump. Test your sump pump to make sure it works before the next storm hits. Even an inch of water in your basement can cause extensive damage. If you don’t already have a battery back-up system, consider investing in one so that your sump pump works even if the power goes out.
Keeping your home systems in good repair not only saves you money, but it can keep you and your family safe from the danger of a fire and mold.