10 Home Mistakes You Can't Afford To Make
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Task Master1 of 11
By Andie Huber
From regularly cleaning out the sewer line to getting the boiler inspected, there are certain home maintenance chores that can't be postponed or overlooked. To keep your family safe and to avoid costly damage, here are ten household chores to put on your checklist today.
Bugging Out2 of 11
It is essential to keep a tidy house and regularly dispose of built-up trash inside and outside your home. This not only prevents rodent infestations, it prevents bugs like termites from invading your space and possibly causing structural damage. If you must have a stack of garbage outdoors (from a renovation project) or even a large pile of unused firewood, albeit temporarily, keep it away from your walls. That way you'll see potential problems before they get out of hand.
Sewer Saver3 of 11
No one thinks about the sewer line until there's a problem—unfortunately by then, it's usually too late and can cost you thousands of dollars. Find out where and how your city line connects to your house, whether or not the line is clear and free of obstruction, and make it a yearly priority to have the system cleaned out.
Fire Hazard4 of 11
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 170 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year. Carbon monoxide detectors (and fire alarms) should be installed in every bedroom of your home and 10 to 15 feet away from any furnace or gas stove in your home. Thankfully there are products that combine the two.
Stay Charged5 of 11
Once you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home, it's essential to change the batteries every spring and fall. Even if the test on the alarm says the unit is working properly, put in new batteries that will last through the months ahead. And while you're at it, charge and change the batteries in flashlights, emergency radios and any other emergency supplies that require this type of power.
Boiling Point6 of 11
In addition to maintaining your hot water heater and boiler all year (checking the pressure, making sure there are no leaks or cracks), schedule a yearly inspection so a plumber can make any necessary repairs before the cold season really sets in. If you don't, a small problem could end up damaging the entire unit, which will be costly to replace.
Chimney Sweeps7 of 11
Wood-burning fireplaces are a winter staple, but they bring their own set of dangers that need to be addressed before you light your first log. Besides professional cleanings that will help keep your chimney running efficiently (and get rid of potential animals that may have set up house during the warmer months), pay attention to the amount of build-up on the interior, called creosote. It's a dark, flammable substance that occurs when wood isn't burning properly—a major fire hazard.
Soot Safety8 of 11
It's essential to keep the floor of your fireplace clear to keep it working efficiently. If you've recently used your fireplace, wait a few days before sweeping out or vacuuming up ashes. That will give burning embers a chance to fully cool down and extinguish. You don't want to sweep up any hot pieces into a container that has the potential to ignite and cause a fire. Discard the soot in a metal trash bin kept outside and away from your house.
Gutter Check9 of 11
Leaves, debris and animal nests all find their way into gutters during the year—clean them out before winter rains start. If you leave these blockages, ice can form in the gutters (causing ice damming) and lead to water-stained ceilings, ruined roofs and structural damage. There are handy products out there like the iRobot gutter cleaning robot that will help get the job done, but a ladder, hand spade and a hose will work just as well.
Pipe Problems10 of 11
Forgetting to shut off exterior water sources (for underground sprinkler systems and outdoor hoses) can cause extensive damage to your home. Pipes can burst inside your walls and cause flooding—an expensive proposition to fix, not to mention all the personal items you'll lose from water damage. Locate and turn off the outdoor shut-off valves (there may be more than one!). Drain the pipes for any leftover water to prevent it from freezing and expanding during winter.
Into the Woods11 of 11
Large, mature trees should be inspected at least every three years by a certified arborist for dead or cracked branches, any type of rot or decay and overall health. An intense ice or snowstorm can uproot trees, leading to serious damage. You'll want to remove any potential hazards and ensure that if branches fall, they won't land on your home.
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