If you're a homeowner, the threat of a big, unexpected expense might be keeping you up at night. But if that's what you're losing sleep over, you're not alone. In fact, a recent study from NerdWallet found that the main anxiety shared among homeowners was financing (65%). The simple secret to maintaining a great-looking house without having it drain your bank account? Never falling behind in upkeep. Here, the six things smart homeowners regularly tackle to keep their anxiety levels low, their bank accounts plentiful, and their homes in great shape.
1. They maintain a maintenance fund.
First and foremost, smart homeowners avoid being caught off-guard by repairs by making regular deposits into a house maintenance/update fund. Things can and will break, and smart homeowners keep a small financial cushion for repairs when these things inevitably happen.
2. They keep a home maintenance calendar.
There are so many maintenance tasks to complete around the home, but smart homeowners don't get overwhelmed by them. Instead, they keep a home maintenance calendar (whether on paper or via phone reminders) to keep track of important preventative tasks. For example, while the optimal life of a water heater is between 8 and 12 years, that's only if you maintain it properly. Just writing down "drain the hot water heater once a year" (and remembering to do it) could save you hundred of dollars in repair costs over its lifespan, says John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, a digital home management website. These periodic reminders can help you guarantee your appliances last as long as they should, so you don't have to shell out money to replace it sooner than you need to.
3. They inspect filters regularly.
Every month or so, smart homeowners check all of the air filters (including their furnace filter) in their home. If you have pets that shed or allergy-sensitive family members or if it's a small filter, you probably need to replace the filter every month. Otherwise you're good with switching it out every season. You can also vacuum the filters to double their life span. Clogged air filters make HVAC systems work harder than necessary to pull in air, which raises energy costs, says Michelle Pettit, a home energy expert at Amigo Energy. If you have pets or kids with allergies, you'll want to keep a close eye on these filters and vacuum air vents and AC units routinely to make sure they're free from dust and debris.
4. They check their stovetop hood vents monthly.
A monthly stovetop hood vent inspection is very important from a cleanliness, efficiency and health perspective, says Chip Wade, HGTV's home expert and a Liberty Mutual consultant. According to Wade, not only does a clean vent increase its effectiveness, but it also ensures that flames are less likely to spread in the event of a kitchen fire.
5. They keep an eye out for new issues.
Smart homeowners take a simple walk around their home every season to see if any maintenance issues have sprung up. According to Wade, spring is a great time to check how windows have fared through the winter. "Checking your windows for dry rot and water damage will go a long way toward keeping the hot air out and the cool air in as the weather gets warmer," Wade said.
#6: They check outdoors, too.
Once a month, smart homeowners check the outdoor spigots and irrigation system to make sure both are intact and that outdoor air vents aren't blocked. Wade says that the smartest homeowners even go a step further, removing insulators from outdoor faucets to make sure there isn't a problem with the pipes.