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Answering all those burning questions you didn’t know you had about home ownership.

3 Annual Checkups for Your Home

Picture of Jessica Dabkowski

Jessica Dabkowski

Helping you with all things homeownership!

With work, play, family, Netflix and busy schedules, it is easy for regular home maintenance fall off your to-do list.

Like many homeowners, you might try to cram projects into one weekend, or you push maintenance tasks off until you “have more time” (GUILTY OF THIS ONE!). Worse yet, disaster strikes and you get slapped with a monster bill to deal with a problem that regular maintenance could have prevented.

I’ll let you in on a little secret that could change your life: automation.  Set yourself up with a professional who will keep you on their annual calendar for maintenance service.  We’re talking “steampunk automaton, set it and forget it, send me the bill and leave me alone” automation.

Why It’s Worth Shelling Out the Dough

There are three yearly professional service contracts you should consider once you move into your home – HVAC (heating & cooling), pest/termite control, and a chimney sweep.

Setting these services set up on a yearly maintenance plan will keep you on schedule with the appropriate level of maintenance. Rest easy, (and dare I say, smugly) knowing that full adulthood has been achieved because you have a professional who will use their expertise to monitor these three key areas so you can avoid preventable and predictable household catastrophes.

At first glance, it feels like a lot of money to spend every year when there is the potential that nothing needs to, in fact, be repaired. However, the upfront costs will be well worth it in the long run, helping you avoid more costly damage to your home and unnecessary distress and disruptions for your family.

As a reminder, please take a hot minute and do your homework when it comes to hiring any business. You want a reputable, reliable and trust-worthy company that services your home properly and does not overcharge or suggest unneeded repairs. Always scour agreements carefully so you know exactly what you are signing up for and how much the services will cost.

1. HVAC (Heating/Cooling) System

This is the biggie for most homeowners. Your heating and cooling system affects your day-to-day life all year long, and you want it running smoothly and efficiently.

No one wants to come home to frozen pipes on a frigid January night or have the air conditioning unit break down during the hottest week of August! A service plan goes a long way towards preventing these issues. Take if from me, dealing with a furnace that is not blowing hot air when it is -8 degrees in Michigan is unlikely to be your definition of fun.

Here’s what to expect:

A service plan with a professional HVAC company will ensure that your system is serviced at least twice a year, at the change in seasons, so we’re talking about early fall and late spring in our neck of the woods. Ideally, this is functioning before your system needs to crank out hot or cold air, but, hey, we live in Michigan so there are no guarantees.

A technician will test, inspect, and clean (as necessary) to ensure your HVAC system is safe and functioning properly. Once you have entered into their system, the company will contact you annually to schedule your maintenance visit, which takes the onus off you and places it squarely on someone else. #winning

The cost of a service plan is typically less expensive than if you scheduled two separate visits without a contract. Some companies also provide discounts on parts and future replacements. In addition, you will likely get scheduling priority when something does go wrong! This is extremely helpful during the holidays, weekends or insane weather events (not sure if you know, but your A/C will only go out during a week of record-breaking temperatures – you’re welcome for that little psychic reading).

2. Pest Control and Wood-Destroying Insects

Confession time: My neighborhood has rats. During the pandemic, the restaurants near my home all shut down and their dumpsters were sadly empty…which means the rats were hungry and migrated into nearby neighborhoods to forage for food and cover. And so, rather than be terrified to step out into my yard after dusk, I bit the bullet and hired a company to set bait on a regular basis. It was money well-spent.

No one likes to admit it but most homes have one or two particular pests that need to be dealt with, whether that involves spraying, baiting or degnoming Mrs. Weasley’s garden.

Pest control really isn’t a true do-it-yourself job. Sure, you can set up a trap or two or get out some ant spray from that big box store, but it really is not as effective as preventative measures used by a professional technician. Left unchecked, pests can wreak total havoc on your home, totaling hundreds or thousands of dollars of damage.

Here’s what to expect:

A service contract with a pest control company will schedule regular maintenance and inspections throughout the year. They know what to look out for at certain times of the year and at the change of seasons.

It’s all about “control” and preventing an infestation of a wide range of pests such as mice, roaches, spiders, flies, termites, hornets, carpenter ants, etc. If you have an infestation or a potential problem, the company will know how to solve the situation in a safe and efficient way that will save you money in the long run.

You will develop a relationship with the company and most likely with your neighborhood technician who will know your home and yard and its “problem” spots and best of all, you won’t lie awake at night wondering if you will hear the scritchy-scratch of rodent feet.

3. Chimney Sweep (and not just for fireplaces)

Chim Chiminey, Chim Chiminey, Chim chim cher-oo – Dick Van Dyke made this job look way more glamorous than it is. This task is definitely not a DIY one since it can be dangerous and dirty!

Cleaning and inspecting your chimney requires a certified chimney sweep service whose expertise will help prevent your fireplace from experiencing any combustion issues or creosote buildup that could cause a fire in your home. This is definitely one of those scenarios where skipping routine maintenance can lead to dangerous and devastating results.

And just because you don’t cozy up to a fire waiting for Santa to appear, doesn’t mean you can skip this one!  Some homes have a chimney to vent a gas furnace or gas water heater, and those need inspecting all the same.

Here’s what to expect:

The chimney service should inspect and clean your chimney at least once a year, more if you use it often. This inspection is critical before you begin using your fireplace for the season! The inspector will look for defects in the firebox or flue, build up of creosote or if there are any blockages. He will also check the chimney for structural integrity, including any leaks or cracks that need to be addressed.

As a reminder, I’m just a girl standing in front of a computer asking people to read her, and as such, I make no claims at being an expert. But hopefully, you recognize that I speak sense and automating these scheduled maintenance tasks will make your life easier and more safe. As always, I’m here for you, happy to answer questions and provide resources so you can be busy living your best life, doing other less boring things. Happy homeownering!

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