Not long ago when we first purchased our home, we started thinking of things we wanted to change or update. While our home is almost 130 years old, it has been slightly updated to a more modern feel. However the home updates were not exactly done properly or professionally, and it is showing. Between stress cracks in the walls and ceilings and some foundational issues, our “dream home” is slowly becoming our money pit nightmare.
Home updates do not have to be tedious or extreme, but even the smallest update can end up saving you a ton of money in the long run. Simple updates like fixtures that are out of date or lightbulbs that are not energy efficient are the first go-to's when people think about updating their home to make it appear up to date. There are many others, but I am going to talk to you about 10 that you should never put off longer than you need to.
5 Home Updates A Homeowner Should Never Put Off
This is essential. Without a good foundation for your home, your home will fall in on itself and it will become inhabitable. At least once a year, you should go around the foundation and notate any cracks, seams, broken corners, or chips on the foundation wall. If seams from the cinderblocks or bricks are breaking away, you will need to reseal them, if there are cracks you may want to look to find out what could be causing the cracks.
Diagonal or vertical cracks in the foundation wall is the result of settling in the concrete foundation and is quite common. If the crack is located closer to a corner and is wider than 1/8 in, it is probably not due to shrinkage or settling but indicates a more serious foundation issue, and it is time to call a professional who does foundation work.
Horizontal cracks often indicate a more serious problem. They are caused by built-up water pressure from the outside of the walls and can lead to a failure in the foundation. Most foundations are designed to handle the pressure of water and soil. Pressure due to heavy rains or flooding can create more serious horizontal cracks that will need to be repaired sooner, rather than later.
When it comes to home updates, insulation is often overlooked. Not because it is not important, but because people just do not think of it. This past winter we had blown-in insulation done. It was amazing how much of a difference it made in the last couple of months of winter. While the holes around our home are not pretty, I will take those over the high heating bills next winter and the high cooling in the summertime.
Our heating bill went from $200 in the warmer part of winter down to $140 in the coldest part of winter. Just with our home being insulated. Be sure when you are insulating your home, that you also seal around windows and doors. They are often where a lot of the air leaks are at.
Not only insulating the walls but be sure to insulate the pipes, also. Especially if you live in any parts of the country that have colder months. Not only will you keep the pipes from freezing, but you will also keep them running efficiently and will avoid home updates that are costly in the future. You do not have to get fancy, you can get simple foam tubing (not the same stuff that you swim in the pool with), and fit it to your pipes. Make sure you put some on the corners and tape them to keep them insulating.
Heating & Cooling Systems
Just like insulation, if you live in a part of the country that gets all 6 seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter, still winter, and almost spring) you are going to want to make sure you factor heating and cooling in your home updates. Heating and cooling systems need to be checked regularly. You will need to swap out filters every few months if you use your furnace a lot. Rinse off your air conditioner unit outside with just a medium pressured hose to knock free dirt, dust, and other debris that can cause damage.
You should have a contractor that you trust come out and check all systems at least once a year. They can do any general maintenance that is needed or gives suggestions on keeping your systems running in top shape. If anyone smokes in the home, you will probably need to do a bit more since cigarettes can cause more build-up on the filters.
Every few years you will also want to have your ductwork system cleaned out by a professional. Dirt, dust, and airborne particles from spray hair products to kitchen cooking sprays can coat your ductwork and cause build-up and restrict airflow to and from your HVAC systems.
Speaking of pipes and home updates. When you are going around making sure that pipes are insulated, check for leaks, cracks, broken pipes. If you can repair them yourself, do so immediately. Two sure tale signs that you leak somewhere is if your water bill jumps without any changes or the obvious, there are puddles or wet spots where there should not be. Even a pipe that drips occasionally can do some pretty serious damage over time. If you find that things can get a bit more tricky than what you are willing to handle, you can call the professionals at Restano, the best experts for plumbing in Pittsburgh.
Make sure the seals around the faucets in your shower, tub, sinks are not broken. Also, make sure that toilets are not running constantly. If they are, you will need to check the flapper, gaskets, and valves are working properly. My kids were notorious for flushing the toilet extremely rough when they were younger, so the chain used to get caught and the toilet would just run constantly. I was able to fix the chain so that it would not get caught anymore and never had problems again. If you have checked everything and your toilet is still running continuously, there could be another issue, and would want to call someone who is an expert in plumbing in Pittsburgh.
Roof , Gutters & Siding
Keeping up with maintenance on your roof, gutters, and siding makes sure that you do not have unwanted or unneeded further home updates expenses in the long run. Check for curled, broken, wavy, or hanging shingles and replace them if you can. Before replacing, be sure you check under the area to see if there is any water damage. If there is, you will need to have the roof replaced. A rule of thumb is that you should have no more than 3 layers of shingles on your roof. Ideally, you should remove the previous shingles before adding another layer.
Gutters should be cleaned out regularly. If there is too much debris, seeds, leaves, etc. in them, they will start loosening from your home and can cause damage. Overflowing gutters mean that they have debris that needs to be cleared out. Once you get your gutters cleared out, you are going to want to make sure that all of the gutters are attached to your home properly and flush. You can attach gutter screens to help keep out the majority of the debris, seeds, etc. but keep in mind that dust, dirt, and smaller seeds can and will get through even the smallest mesh screens and you will still need to check regularly.
Siding needs to be inspected regularly for holes, cracks, pieces falling off, etc. If there are holes, you will want to patch them quickly. Bees, wasps, and other insects can create homes between the outer walls and siding of your home and cause damage. Before patching, be sure to inspect the hole to be sure there is not already a hive being built. If there is, wait until night when the insects are dormant and spray to kill them off. then seal the hole. If there is siding that is cracked or falling off, inspect it again and repair it accordingly to avoid more costly home updates in the future.