A large part of homeownership is learning how to upkeep and maintain the property. It can be hard for first-time homeowners to find the confidence to jump in with two feet to manage these home maintenance tasks that can sometimes seem overwhelming.
Moving into my home one year ago, I could never have predicted the amount of time I would spend researching small home improvements and maintenance that I should be doing if I want my asset to stay healthy. In that sense, your home is like your exercise routine. The time you spend working on home maintenance may not always be your first choice. But, you know that taking those steps can help keep your property in good condition.
Why is home maintenance necessary?
Home maintenance is essential for a few reasons. For one, you need to take preventative measures to ensure that your insurance stays intact. If there is flooding in your basement or a storm causes mass damage to your roof, your insurer may find that your negligence as a homeowner was the initial cause of the issue at hand, and your insurance policy may cover the loss or the cost. Knowing this, I’ve been sure to take control of my upkeep as best as possible.
After asking homeowners what their a-ha moment was in helping the realization that homeownership is complicated, most of the replies confirmed that doing that extra bit of home maintenance is better than having a precautionary tale to tell your friends.
For the financial blogger Boomer and Echo, finding out their washing machine needed its drain pan cleaned out regularly was a harsh lesson to learn after eight years of buildup. A washing machine is potentially one of the most likely appliances to cause a flood in the home. A drain pan can help prevent this expensive repair.
Drain pans channel water out from underneath your washing machine and are more likely to exist in homes where the washing machine is on an upper level. If there is an unpleasant smell in your laundry room or area, it’s likely time to clean your drain pan.
Other reminders of why home maintenance tasks are so essential are because without them; you’re more likely to experience damage to your property. From changing a furnace filter to pest control, you should be aware of learning how to manage certain household tasks on your own.
What types of home maintenance can you do yourself?
As a first-time homeowner, one of the best ways I’ve learned about my responsibilities is reading and watching content online. YouTuber Rob Kenney of “Dad, How Do I?” says the same. Kenney initially created the channel as an ode to anyone who had grown up without a father figure, like him.
In just 50 days, Kenney amassed one million subscribers, making the desire to learn how to do things yourself seem as obvious as one may think. Most of his content revolves around basic tasks you’d complete around the home, like unclogging a sink or putting up a shelf.
Because Kenney is a learn-as-you-go homeowner, it’s relatable to learn from someone who has been in your shoes.
Kenney says that the first time he laid laminate flooring was quite the experience. “It didn’t snap together as it does now, and the flooring was tough to keep straight, but I managed,” says Kenney. Two days later, bad luck struck and a pipe under his kitchen sink leaked, and the water got underneath the laminate flooring. “The laminate flooring has a backing made of plywood, so the flooring swelled up and looked awful,” Kenney says they did their best to dry out the flooring, but the joints were never the same.
Some home maintenance tasks are easier than others. The best way to learn is not by doing, but researching whether you should do it yourself first. To save time, here are five home maintenance tasks you should be able to do by yourself:
#1. Paint touch-ups or patching holes in drywall
If you’re a homeowner, you’ve likely dealt with your fair share of chipped corners and peeling paint throughout your home, mainly if it’s an older property. Staying ahead of these necessary touch-ups and holes can make for much easier upkeep than if you ignore them.
Ignoring chips can lead to a homeowner needing to paint an entire wall rather than a small section. A great how-to guide is this six-step walkthrough article and video from Home Depot that can make any homeowners’ first time patching drywall go much smoother.
#2. Sealing floors and walls with caulk
Sealing floors and walls from moisture help protect your home from water damage. It’s also an eco-friendly and efficient way to eliminate drafts in doorways and windows – lowering your heating bill.
To start, you can purchase silicone caulking specially designed for windows and doors and a caulk gun for under $20 from any home renovation store. It would be best to seal any gaps where door and window trim connect with both the interior and exterior walls.
#3. Fix a running toilet
A more complex, but still manageable DIY maintenance task is to fix a leaking or running toilet. The first step is to find out what’s causing the leak. There are a few ways to attempt a diagnosis, including putting food colouring into the tank to see if the water runs into the bowl or to watch the water levels in the tank after you flush.
The DIYNetwork has a solid six-step breakdown of how to fix your toilet, and a video to watch if you are a visual learner. Although this task is manageable without professional help, you still need the appropriate supplies and about half a day to complete the repair.
#4. Unclogging a drain, toilet or sink
An everyday household chore you might have to manage regularly is to unclog sinks, drains or toilets. To prepare for the inevitable, it’s always a good idea to have a plunger, toilet auger, and drain cleaning solution. For a natural cleaning solution, baking soda and vinegar can do the trick. But, for more intense clogs, you might need to purchase a non-toxic or chemical-based drain cleaner.
For guidance and support, Dad, How Do I? has a video to walk you through the steps you should take.
#5. Cleaning out your gutters
The last home maintenance task to DIY is cleaning out your gutters and downspouts. All you need to accomplish this chore is a ladder, a spotter or safety mechanism for the ladder climber, gloves, and potentially a tool to scrape any sticky materials from the gutters.
Once you set up, you can begin to clear out the gutters by hand and finish off by cleaning out the dirt and debris with a hose. You should also check your downspouts for any clogs.
How do you know if you should hire a professional?
Before you start taking things apart or start a significant home renovation project, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Some common ways to determine whether home maintenance requires a professional is by asking yourself some simple questions.
- Do you have the skillset to accomplish this task?
- Do you have enough time to complete this task?
- Do you have the appropriate tools on-hand?
- Is it safe for you to do this job on your own?
- Are you really going to save money doing it yourself?
Any job that includes plumbing or electrical work is likely not a DIY project for an amateur. There are tradespeople that go to school for these specific tasks for a reason. They are unsafe and require special tools that an average homeowner likely doesn’t have.
If you are taking on a task that puts you or another member of your family in danger, including climbing on your roof to hang Christmas lights or cleaning the gutters, you might want to consider whether it’s worth the risk.
Ultimately, most home maintenance is small enough to manage on your own, but specific seasonal jobs require professional support. For a clear picture of your responsibilities as a homeowner, our monthly home budget includes a solid breakdown of the expenses you pay to keep your home in the best condition possible.