Buying a home is expensive and maintaining it is an ongoing expense that can eat into the healthiest budget. Throw in a few unexpected large repairs, and you may feel a real strain on your wallet.
It costs an average of $1,204 per month to maintain a home, including utility bills, insurance and property taxes. About $168 of that is repairs and general maintenance. There are some ways you can save money on these expenses and do repairs on the cheap.
- Leaking Roof or Electrical Issues
Keeping your home well-maintained now saves money down the road and prevents costly repairs from creeping up. Some home repairs are just too risky to put off, and those should be taken care of first.
Some examples of things you don’t want to put off, whether you do some of the work yourself or pay someone else to do it for you, include a leaking roof, foundation damage or electrical system repairs. Putting off fixing these issues could lead to further damage, mold or even a house fire. It isn’t worth risking your family’s health and well-being because you’re on a tight budget.
- Roof Maintenance
Some basic maintenance every year allows your roof to get the maximum wear possible. A properly installed roof can last up to 25 years, but you can’t just install it and forget it. Every fall, take the time to remove any debris or leaves from gutters to prevent buildup and damage.
Clogged gutters keep rain and melting snow from draining off the roof. If leaves build up over time, the result can cause a saddled roof. In addition to clearing debris from gutters, inspect them for damage, such as being bent or not draining correctly.
Tubes of caulk are fairly inexpensive, and with a little practice, you’ll start caulking like a pro. A little caulk prevents water from getting into the siding, windows and crevices of your home and creating an issue with water freezing, expanding and causing damage over time.
Every year, remove damaged or old caulk and replace it with new around windows and exterior joints. You’ll also want to replace caulk in bathrooms and kitchens to prevent water from getting behind counters and cabinets and creating mold issues.
- Seal Outdoor Surfaces
Take the time to seal your concrete and wood decks to make them last as long as possible. This is a labor-intensive process and can run a few hundred dollars if you have a lot of area to cover, but saves the cost of breaking up and replacing concrete or installing new decking.
Sealing outdoor surfaces protects them from the elements. In the case of concrete, if there is an unsealed crack and water gets into it and freezes, it can begin to break up. A simple job of sealing the concrete helps prevent and minimize the damage.
- Inspect Heating and Cooling Units
Get in the habit of doing a monthly inspection of your heating and cooling unit. Regularly replace filters, which is a quick and inexpensive job that saves wear and tear on your unit. You’ll also want to do seasonal maintenance as weather shifts from warm to cold and back again. If your furnace is older, an annual inspection before winter hits protects your family from deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Snow Removal and Lawn Care
The average cost of lawn care is around $158 a month, and snow removal is about $115. However, you can drastically reduce the cost of lawn maintenance by doing the work yourself. Your local home and garden center is a great resource for purchasing fertilizer and other lawn-care items.
If you’re unsure how to handle a specific problem, such as crabgrass, your local master gardener extension office has experts who offer workshops or will answer any questions you might have.
Protecting Your Investment
Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make. Maintaining it and keeping it in tip-top shape protects that investment. There are many repairs you can do on your own inexpensively.
However, keep in mind that some tasks require the help of a professional, such as electrical work, and you’ll need to budget for times when you have to hire a contractor to fix an issue for you. Protecting your investment requires being aware of the condition of your home and taking care of the small things before they become big problems.
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