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Simple steps of home maintenance can save money

July 06, 2007|By LYNN LITTLE

Spend a sunny summer weekend snooping around your house. Look for paint that is peeling and cracks that need sealing. Keeping your house well-tuned helps make it safer, more energy efficient, more economical and more comfortable.

Homeowners who take the time to complete some simple jobs around the house can reduce or eliminate costly repairs later. By keeping up on small maintenance jobs, you can save money on larger repairs, protect your home equity and possibly increase the resale value of your home.

Start at the top with the roof. Check for winter damage. Look for missing or damaged shingles, and arrange for them to be replaced. If flashings in valleys, joints and around chimneys or vents are rusted or damaged in other ways, they should be repaired or replaced.

In the attic, check the underside of the roof for water stains, which could indicate leaks. Open vents and check protective screens.

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Check gutters and downspouts. If gutters and downspouts are clogged, water can back up under the shingles and cause structural damage. Remove debris from clogged gutters using a garden hose or your hands. Gutters also should be checked for holes, leaks, and missing or bent hangers.

Check for moisture in the basement. If a problem appears to be caused by runoff from the roof or from surface water, the problem can often be corrected by directing water away from the basement. Downspouts should direct water away from the home. To help direct water away from the house, use a 6-foot gutter extension and slope the ground away from the house, allowing at least 2 inches of slope per foot. Patch cracks in basement walls, and follow with a coat of sealer.

Other items on the home maintenance checklist include:

· Clean window wells, if necessary.

· Check driveways and walkways for cracks and other deterioration; patch if needed.

· Replace storm windows with screens.

· Service air conditioner before it will be needed.

· Clean porch, patio or deck. Waterproof, if needed.

· Check lawn and garden areas for other hazards, such as uneven ground or a fence that might need repair.

· Service the lawn mower, and store gas and oil out of children's reach.

· Check garden hose for leaks, repair or replace.

· Check and clean the clothes dryer vent: A clogged vent can reduce the effectiveness of the dryer. It also can cause a fire.

Basic home maintenance usually is not expensive or time-consuming; however, it can reduce or eliminate repair and/or replacement costs in the future.

If you would like more information on dealing with mold and moisture in your home, send an e-mail request to LLittle@umd.edu with "mold" in the subject line, or you can send a self-addressed, stamped (41 cents) business-size envelope to Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County Office, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713. Mark the envelope, "mold."




Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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