Leap Year reminds you that there are things in your life that need to be taken out and dusted off occasionally. Now is a good time to think about those home maintenance projects that only need to be done every four or five years.
Here are six things that you should check up on in 2016, then again in 2020, and again in 2024.
#1 Schedule a Home Inspection
Maybe you got your home inspected just before you put in an offer to buy it, but have you thought about an inspection since then? An occasional inspection—about every five years—will help you gauge upcoming maintenance needs and prepare for expenses.
The maintenance inspection is different from a standard home inspection in that the homeowner is right there with the inspector and they can talk about potential issues. If the inspector sees some evidence of water damage but needs to take a peek inside the wall to know how extensive it is, the homeowner can give permission on the spot and a thorough investigation can be made.
Another difference is the focus on the life expectancy of major parts of your home. It’s like going to the doctor for a physical exam. You’ll know what’s working well or what’s going to need some maintenance in the next four or five years. This way you’ll be able to prioritize and save for home maintenance rather than be caught off guard by an emergency.
Inspectors are not trying to sell you anything. They provide an unbiased professional opinion so you can make good choices about keeping your home in good repair.
#2 Repaint the House
All told, it really depends on the type of material and finish you have on the outside of your house as to when it needs to be repainted. If you live on the sunny, salty, breezy coast, you may repaint much more frequently than five years. If you have a sheltered home in a mild climate, you might have seven years before you need to repaint. Here are the basics.
• Wood siding needs to be repainted every 3-7 years or stained every four years
• Aluminum siding needs to be repainted every five years
• Stucco needs to be repainted every 5-6 years
• Materials like fiberboard can go 10-15 years and brick up to 20 years
Durability of your paint relies on several factors like how well the previous paint job was done and the climate you live in. Inspect your paint once a year to check for moisture, termites, mold, chalkiness, and other issues. Never put off taking care of your paint. The longer you wait the more involved and expensive the repaint job will become.
#3 Empty the Septic Tank
How often you empty your septic tank depends on the size of the tank and the size of the household. A 1500 gallon tank for a family of four needs to be pumped every four years. Check up on the tank once a year to get ahead of any potential problems, which are dangerous and expensive.
Though your septic tank does have a bacteria ecosystem that breaks down much of the waste that comes out of your house, there are things that cannot be broken down by the system, like plastic and other solids that don’t decompose. Pumping is necessary to get rid of the pile up of these solids.
#4 Clean the Chimney
Once again, the frequency at which you maintenance your chimney relies on how much you use it and what type it is. The Chimney Safety Institute of America suggests that it be inspected annually for buildup and blockages (like bird’s nests).
Gas fireplaces are fairly clean burning and don’t require sweeping as often as a wood-burning fireplace. They should still be inspected yearly to ensure they are in safe and proper working order, but as for cleaning, the rule of thumb is that once there is 1/8” of buildup, it’s time to get the chimney swept.
#5 Replace Washing Machine Hoses and Dryer Ducts
Broken washing machine hoses can dump hundreds of gallons into of water into your home per hour. Likewise, dryers caused almost 15,000 fires in the U.S. last year. This is definitely one to add to your leap year maintenance list.
While you are at it, upgrade your hoses and ducts to ones that are safer and won’t fail as dramatically. Try steel-jacketed hoses and metal ducts instead of vinyl. Plan on replacement every five years, not only to keep your home safe, but to have increased energy efficiency and make your appliances last longer.
#6 Inspect Grout and Tile
Your tile and grout are pretty reliable. They keep your floor nice for years on end. But like paint, you don’t want to let grout and tile get damaged or worn out or you risk letting moisture and contaminants under your floor.
Carefully inspect your grout and tile every four to five years. Look for cracks, breakage, and discoloration. In the meantime, consider resealing your tile and grout every two years or every year if you deep clean it frequently or have very high traffic.