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3 Home Maintenance Projects You Should Never Ignore

Most home buyers think about painting or decorating when they first move into their house. They can’t wait to update the bathroom or improve the look of the home, but forget to do the 3 most important home maintenance projects that actually help avoid serious problems in the future and save thousands of dollars in repairs.

We’ve highlighted 3 of the most important home maintenance projects you should take care of once the home is yours:

  1. Heating Equipment Maintenance
  2. Chimney Sweep
  3. Cleaning the Gutters and Downspouts

1. Heating Equipment Maintenance:Heating Equipment Maintenance

All heating systems require maintenance, whether it’s oil heat or gas. When purchasing a home it’s a good idea to get the maintenance records from the sellers to find out how often maintenance has been performed.

Oil burning systems should be cleaned once a year which can cost between $150-$300 depending on the size of the system and what needs to be cleaned and serviced. If the home is heated with gas then it can be serviced for around the same price but just once every 2 years. Keep in mind utility companies continue to run promotions for free equipment when converting from oil to gas.  The installation from a certified HVAC installer ranges from $2,000-$4,000, but most oil to gas conversions pay for themselves in 4 years or less.

A great way to offset the rising cost of energy is to replace an old furnace or boiler with new high-efficiency heating equipment. In fact, a new furnace or boiler can save up to 30% of your heating energy use.

Hundreds of dollars in rebates are available. Here are a couple of examples of 2011 incentives offered from National Grid for Massachusetts heating system rebates and New Hampshire heating system rebates.

2. Chimney Sweep:

Cross Section of a Chimney

Both fireplace and furnace exhaust vents should be cleaned

A simple yet important home safety improvement that a home buyer should invest in is to have a professional chimney sweep, even if you don’t have or use a fireplace. All heating systems have exhaust vents that must be cleaned.

The same type of dangerous build-ups can occur with furnace flues and gas fired appliances. Hot water furnaces and forced hot air furnaces both should be inspected annually. Gas systems can get a build-up that is referred to as “scale” that forms when moisture and gas by-products combine. Too much of this coating can result in poor performance and possible carbon monoxide backing up into the home.

So many homes in New England have working fireplaces and with winter coming a lot of home owners don’t realize how important this is. Chimney fires can happen quickly.

If you are purchasing a home with a fireplace you plan to use, it’s a good idea to hire a chimney sweep company to come and clean it all out before you use it for the first time. A clean chimney will also ensure that your fireplace is operating efficiently, which will provide homeowners with the most heat while reducing the amount of smoke that gets into the house. On average this can cost between $250 and $400.

3. Cleaning the Gutters and Downspouts:    

Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Cleaning the gutters is a maintenance project that is so important yet no one thinks of it until an ice dam forms. Melted water from the roof will back up behind the ice, under the shingles and into the house.

Cleaning gutters and downspouts are essential for protecting your home during heavy rains. Gutters will prevent your roof’s fascia boards from getting wet and rotting out. Properly installed downspouts prevent water from pooling beside your foundation and seeping into your basement.

If you don’t feel comfortable climbing up a tall ladder with a garden hose, or getting on top of the roof, then don’t attempt to clean the gutters yourself. Call a gutter cleaning company to come out and do it for you.

Typical costs for Gutter Cleaning (from costhelper.com)

  • Cleaning the gutters on a single-story 1,500-square foot house with about 160 linear feet of gutter will run $70-$200.
  • Cost for a single-story 2,000-square foot home with around 180 linear feet of gutter is about $90-$225.
  • A two-story 2,500-square foot home with 200 linear feet of gutter runs $100-$250.

What Should be Included in a Gutter Cleaning:

  • A gutter cleaning service should clean out the leaves and debris, bag the waste and then flush the entire system. Some services will also inspect and tighten fasteners and reseal end caps and outlets.

Additional costs:

  • For three-story homes, or anywhere a 40-foot ladder is used, a second worker is required. Add about $75-$200 to the price.
  • Downspouts can take extra time and may bring the total cost up to $500 if seriously clogged.

If you do decide to clean your rain gutters yourself, just be careful. You can use a garden hose to wash them out, or you can use a leaf blower and blow them out.

These maintenance projects don’t require a large amount of time on a regular basis, but will save you many hours of repair work. Remember, taking care of these 3 maintenance projects will help keep your home in top condition, support your home’s value, and save you thousands in repair bills down the road.