Halloween Safety Tips for Palos Verdes Homes

Halloween Safety Tips for Palos Verdes Homes


Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  Here are some tips below to make your Palos Verdes home safe for Trick or Treaters:

Do Halloween Dangers Lurk at Your Entryway?
By: Oliver Marks
Is your front entryway ready for Halloween visitors? Keep everything fun and accident-free with these seven safety tips.
Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween — as long as it’s just a trick.

To help you avoid any real-life scares — such as falls, fires, and traffic accidents — around your property this All Hallows Eve, play it safe while you’re setting up your Halloween lights and decorations.

Here are seven simple precautions recommended by John Pettibone, curator of Hammond Castle, a Gloucester, Mass., mansion that draws thousands to its renowned 20-room haunted house every Halloween season.

1. Light the Scene

Providing plenty of illumination ensures that your visitors can see where they’re walking, helping to avoid missteps and falls. Pettibone suggests using the highest wattage bulbs your outdoor lighting fixtures can safely take (check the label on the socket), and adding landscape lights every few feet along your front walk.

“We use the solar-powered kind because there’s no wiring needed,” he says. “Just push them into the ground, let them soak up the sun during the day, and they’ll light up the walk after dark.”

2. Secure the Footing

Clear your walk, steps, and stoop of any obstructions that could trip youngsters focused more on tricks and treats than watching where they’re going. That means moving potted mums and jack o’lanterns out of the way, and hammering down any nail heads protruding out of your steps.

If you have a concrete stoop, which can get slippery when wet, apply friction tape ($16 for a 60-foot roll of 1-inch-wide tape) to ensure stable footing, says Pettibone. He also stocks up on chemical ice melt ($20 for a 50-lb. bag) just in case of an early freeze.

3. Tighten the Railings

If your porch railings are wobbly or broken, family members and friends may know not to lean too heavily on them, but Halloween visitors won’t. So hire a contractor or handyman to fix the problem. It’ll make your home safer for guests all year round. Because more strangers come to your front door this night than the rest of the year combined, now is the time to take care of it.

4. Eliminate Fire Hazards

Don’t put real candles into your carved pumpkins or paper lanterns. “That’s a fire waiting to happen,” says Pettibone. Instead, pick up a bulk pack of LED-bulb faux candles, which emit a yellowish, flickering, battery-powered light that looks amazingly similar to the real thing — without the danger.

5. Secure your Property

To prevent burglaries and Halloween pranks — especially on mischief night the previous evening — make sure to keep all windows and doors (other than your main door) locked shut.

You might have an electrician add motion-sensor lights around your property, so anyone who walks down your driveway or around into the backyard will be discouraged from intruding any farther.

6. Set the Scene

In addition to spooky items like cotton cobwebs and half-buried skeletons, consider a few safety-related scene-setters. Pettibone suggests propping open the screen or storm door so it doesn’t get in the way when there’s a big group of kids congregated on your stoop. “We use yellow caution tape to tie open the door,” he says. “You can order it online and it works well with the Halloween theme.” A 1,000-ft. roll of 3-inch-wide caution tape is about $8.

You’ll also want a working doorbell, so if yours is broken, either hire an electrician or handyman to fix it — or install a wireless doorbell in its place.

7. Enhance Street Safety

Four times as many child pedestrians get killed on Halloween night than a normal night. So limit the danger as much as you can by clearing parked cars off the curb to allow better visibility and placing a reflective “watch for children sign” at the edge of the road. For for high-traffic roads in Halloween-intensive neighborhoods, consider posting an adult in the street with a hand-held traffic control light to help maintain safety.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.


Maintaining Your Palos Verdes Home

Maintaining Your Palos Verdes Home

Palos Verdes home courtesy of Arvin Design

The article below lists some simple inexpensive maintenance solutions for your Palos Verdes home.  The family home is often one of our most valuable assets and it is wise to keep it maintained.

5 Maintenance Tasks to Ignore at Your Peril
By: Jeanne Huber  Published: August 3, 2012
Are you a pro at procrastination? Get off the couch for these 5 critical maintenance jobs; left undone, the consequences could cost you thousands — or worse.
Homeownership means regular maintenance and repair chores, but some are more important than others. Here are five that should top your priority list:
1. Make Sure Your Appliances Aren’t Being Recalled

Why it matters: The non-profit “Consumer Reports” magazine wrote an eye-popping piece about how often home appliances catch fire: more than 150,000 residential fires each year from 2006 to 2008, resulting in 3,670 injuries, 150 deaths, and $547 million in property damage. About half the fires appear to have been caused by faulty appliances. Some had been recalled for defects that could cause an appliance fire, but the home owners weren’t aware.

What you need to do: Write down the model and serial number of each appliance, then check at www.recalls.gov for recalls and what action to take if something you own is involved. Keep your list so it’s easy to recheck; it sometimes takes years for problems to become evident. Keep tabs at HouseLogic for notices about recalls.

Maintenance cost: Free

Worst case if you put it off: You don’t learn that your dishwasher or clothes dryer has a safety defect, and the machine catches fire and burns your house down.

2. Check for Leaks and Fix Them

Why it matters: Water does more damage to houses than anything else, since persistent leaks lead to mold and mildew, rot, and even termites and carpenter ants (they like chewing soggy wood since it’s soft). Yet if you fix a leak soon after it starts, there may be no long-term damage at all.

What you need to do: Inside, keep your eyes open for dark spots under pipes inside sink cabinets, stains on ceilings, toilets that rock, and of course drips. At least once a year, inspect the roof. If you find leaks, fix them immediately. Otherwise, call in a plumber.

Maintenance cost: Negligible for a simple fix, such as a new washer. A visit from a plumber might set you back $250; a roof repair, a few hundred dollars to $1,000.

Worst case if you put it off: Drips ruin the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and run down into the floor sheathing and joists underneath, so you need a structural repair, plus new cabinets and new kitchen flooring. Or the roof rots, so you need a new roof and repairs to rooms directly beneath.

3. Test Your Sump Pump and Backup Pump (or Install a Backup Pump If You Don’t Have One)

Why it matters: The middle of a storm isn’t the time to discover your basement sump pump is clogged, nor is it the time to begin planning for a backup pump. You need them ready before the water arrives.

What you need to do: Fill the sump pump pit with water and make sure the pump switches on and sends water out the discharge line. If you have a backup pump, repeat the test, but unplug the main pump first. If the backup pump runs on batteries that are more than two years old, replace your sump pump. If you don’t have a backup pump and are on municipal water, get one that runs on water pressure. If you’re on well water, your only option is the battery kind.

Maintenance cost: Testing is free; a water-powered backup sump pump, including installation, costs $150-$350; a new battery for a battery-operated sump starts around $200.

Worst case if you put it off: The pump or pumps don’t work when you need them and your basement floods, ruining everything in it and forcing you to tear out drywall and carpeting.

4. Renew the Finish on Your Hardwood Floors

Why it matters: Every wood floor needs to be refinished periodically, but the trick is to get to the job before the old finish wears through. Then you can apply a fresh coat without having to sand into the wood. Since sanding wears away some of the wood, being able to skip that step can extend the life of your floor by decades.

What you need to do: If your floor is dull but OK otherwise, repair scratches and apply a hardwood floor refinisher ($6-$18 per quart). If the old finish is really scratched up, call in a pro to buff it and apply a fresh finish.

Maintenance cost: If you just need the refresher coat and apply it yourself, you can do 500 sq. ft. for around $25. If you hire a pro, figure on $1 per sq ft.

Worst case if you put it off: The finish wears through. If your floor is thick enough to sand, expect to spend $2.50 per sq. ft. for a new finish. If the floor can’t be sanded, you’ll need a whole new floor — $8-$20 per sq. ft., if you stick with wood.

5. Protect your Foundation

Why it matters: If anything goes wrong with your foundation walls — serious cracks, uneven settling — you could be in for one of the most expensive home repair jobs possible.

What you need to do: Every year, check to make sure the soil around your house slopes away from your foundation walls at least 6 inches over 10 feet (rain gutter downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house).

That slope keeps water from getting down right next to your foundation, where it could cause basement walls to lean, crack the masonry, and cause leaks. (For houses with crawl spaces, keeping water away makes sure excess water doesn’t pool underneath your floor, making for damp conditions that encourage mold, rot, and insects.)

Maintenance cost: Topsoil is $10-$20 per cubic yard, plus delivery. You’ll pay $50-$100 per cubic yard if you buy by the bag.

Worst case if you put it off: Hydrostatic pressure causes your foundation to settle, cracking your basement walls. A full excavation is necessary to stabilize, repair, and seal the foundation walls — a $15,000 to $40,000 job.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Ideas To Keep Your Palos Verdes Homes Cool

Ideas To Keep Your Palos Verdes Homes Cool

Desert Flower courtesy of Arvin Design

The local news has reported that the temperatures will be going up 10 degrees this weekend, and the humidity is about to start again.  Keeping Palos Verdes homes cool has been on my mind this last month.  As most Palos Verdes homes do not have air conditioning, I appreciated this article below with ideas on how to keep cool without it.

How to Keep Your House Cool Without AC
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon  Published: March 20, 2013

Want summer comfort but hate the AC? Follow these tips, and you’ll keep your house cool without frosty air conditioning.
You don’t have to switch on the air conditioner to get a big chill this summer. These tips will help you keep your house cool without AC, which will save energy (and avoid AC wars with your family).

Block that Sun!

When sunlight enters your house, it turns into heat. You’ll keep your house cooler if you reduce solar heat gain by keeping sunlight out.
Close the drapes: Line them with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day. Let them pillow onto the floor to block air movement.
Add awnings: Install them on south- and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.
Install shutters: Interior and exterior shutters not only reduce heat gain and loss, but they also add security and protect against bad weather. Interior shutters with adjustable slats let you control how much sun you let in.
Apply high-reflectivity window film: Install energy-saving window films on east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter. Mirror-like films are more effective than colored transparent films.
Here’s more information about energy-efficient window coverings.

Open Those Windows

Be sure to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside. Cool air helps lower the temps of everything — walls, floors, furniture — that will absorb heat as temps rise, helping inside air say cooler longer.

To create cross-ventilation, open windows on opposite sides of the house. Good ventilation helps reduce VOCs and prevents mold.

Fire Up Fans
Portable fans: At night, place fans in open windows to move cool air. In the day, put fans where you feel their cooling breezes (moving air evaporates perspiration and lowers your body temperature). To get extra cool, place glasses or bowls of ice water in front of fans, which will chill the moving air.
Ceiling fans: For maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans spin in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too.
Whole house fans: A whole-house fan ($1,000 to $1,600, including install) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents. Make sure your windows are open when you run a whole-house fan.

Power Down Appliances

You’ll save money and reduce heat output by turning off appliances you’re not using, particularly your computer and television. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip.

Don’t use heat- and steam-generating appliances — ranges, ovens, washers, dryers — during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line.

Plant Trees and Vines

These green house-coolers shade your home’s exterior and keep sunlight out of windows. Plant them by west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest.

Deciduous trees, which leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, are best because they provide shade in summer, then let in sun when temperatures drop in autumn. Select trees that are native to your area, which have a better chance of surviving. When planting, determine the height, canopy width, and root spread of the mature tree and plant accordingly.

Climbing vines, such as ivy and Virginia creeper, also are good outside insulators. To prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 inches away from the house.

Speaking of shade, here are smart, inexpensive ideas for shading your patio.

Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Substitute CFL and LED bulbs for hotter incandescent lights.

Also, try insulating your garage door to prevent heat buildup.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Photo of desert flower courtesy of Arvin Design

Palos Verdes Peninsula Mandated Water Use Restrictions

Palos Verdes Peninsula Mandated Water Use Restrictions

Photo courtesy of Arvin Design

Palos Verdes homes owners are searching for ways to conserve water.  Governor Brown issued an executive order calling for a mandatory statewide water use reduction of 25% and the State Water Resources Control Board has been drafting regulations proposing that the Palos Verdes Peninsula which includes four cities and lots of green space, reduce their water usage by 36% beginning June 1, 2015.  They will reevaluate the percentage of reduction in February 2016.

All consumers in our area will be given an individualized water budget that will state the amount of water they may use each month without incurring higher costs.  It will based on the units of water that the residential customer used in 2013.  This should appear on your water bill soon and can be obtained now at the www.calwater.com website.  A drought surcharge will be applied to each CCF used above your allotted budget with charges of $9.54 per unit exceeded.

There are several reasons you can appeal your allotment – health or safety reasons, economic needs, additional occupants or if you have already significantly achieved long term water savings.  To appeal, go to www.calwater.com/appeal.  You will also be able to bank the unused units of your water allotment for use in future months going forward.  The water restrictions now put in place require that landscape irrigation be no more than three days a week.  No hardscape watering, no water fountains except with a recirculating system, no washing of motor vehicles unless using a shut off nozzle, no watering for 48 hours after measurable rainfall, no filling or re-filling of pools/spas except to maintain operating levels and after structural repairs.  If you are notified of a water leak you must repair it within five business days.

According to California Water Service, Palos Verdes Irrigation Schedule is between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.  Even Street Addresses may water Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  Odd Street Address may water Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

Water waste violations are: 1st reported violation –  you will be given written notice to install a real time water measurement device; – 2nd reported violation you will be given notice plus a $5o fee; – 3rd reported violation you will be given a notice plus $50 fee and 4th reported violation you will be given written notice plus authorization to install a flow restriction device on your service line.

If you are looking for some conservation or rebate ideas, here are just a few being offered by Cal Water: High efficiency clothes washer rebates, smart irrigation controller rebate, water smart turf removal rebate and the water use efficiency evaluation program.  Also to help save water around your home Cal Water has partnered with FreeSprinklerNozzles.com for single family accounts, and they are giving away free spray nozzles. Click here for Cal Water forms with rebate information, and information on how to get your free sprinkler nozzles.

Photo above courtesy of Arvin Designs.

Palos Verdes Beaches Make Honor Roll List Again This Year!

Palos Verdes Beaches Make Honor Roll List Again This Year!

California has the most beautiful beaches along its coast, and Palos Verdes homes owners have some of the cleanest beaches right here on the peninsula to enjoy.  On June 17, 2015, Heal the Bay reported that Palos Verdes beaches and coves are in the current top Honor Roll 2014-2015 list for California.  This means that our local waters have received grades of A & A+ throughout the year.  Heal the Bay assigns weekly grades to more than 440 sites along the West Coast for summer dry-weather water quality and to another 60 locations that are on year round monitoring.  Heal the Bay is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to making Southern California coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy and clean.  They use science, education, community action and advocacy to pursue their mission.

Heal the Bay published their first Beach Report Card in 1990 that covered about 60 locations in Los Angeles County.  At that time, beach goers knew little about the health risks of the water around them.  Since that time, there is a great deal more information to help keep pollution and sewage spills off our local beaches.

The Beach Report Card (BRC) is based on the routine monitoring of beaches by local health agencies.  They collect water samples checking for bacteria that indicate pollution.  The better the grade on the beach means the lower the risk of illness to beach goers.

The Beach Report Card program is funded from grants from different foundations.  Volunteer groups and outside funding are constantly needed to ensure this program continues to minimize the pollution of our beaches.

To read more about Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card program click here.

To read my prior article on Heal the Bay beach report card click here.

Photo courtesy of Portuguese Bend Beach Club in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Join PVE – CARES Senior Program At Palos Verdes Golf Club

Join PVE – CARES Senior Program At Palos Verdes Golf Club

Palos Verdes Golf Club - Front

PVE-CARES Senior Program will be hosting their lunch and learn program “Cinco de Mayo” at the Palos Verdes Golf Club on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at 11:00 a.m.  Palos Verdes homes owners over the age of 65 can join this program which was established to assist residents who want to enjoy living in their own homes as long as possible.  PVE-Community Assistance & Resource for the Elderly & Seniors (CARES) offers many events showcasing City services for seniors – from updates on security issues, how to notify the police department when leaving on vacation, to local assistance in health care and medical needs.  Members will receive information, sent directly to them, regarding all the activities.  The City of Palos Verdes Estates established this program to assist seniors with phone calls, home visits, resources from handy helpers and educational programs.

“Cinco de Mayo” is open to both new and existing PVE-CARES members and will include an introduction/update on the senior services.  Join them at the PV Golf Club at 11:00 a.m. to enjoy lunch and learn what PVE-CARES can offer you or a senior you care about.  Police, Fire, Neighborhood Watch and many other organizations will be on hand to answer questions about PVE senior services.  This event is free and open to all residents.

Please RSVP to the Community Relations Officer McCullough at 310-378-4211.

To read my prior article on PVE-CARES click here.

Photo courtesy of Palos Verdes Golf Club

Palos Verdes Home Improvements Cost vs Value 2015

Palos Verdes Home Improvements Cost vs Value 2015

Palos Verdes home courtesy of Arvin Design

How do you get the highest sales price for your Palos Verdes home?  A realistic listing price is important in addition to decluttering/staging along with possible home improvements.  Which home improvements and remodeling projects give the greatest return on investment?  For owners of Palos Verdes homes (and Los Angeles County) who choose upscale remodeling, the top three projects for 2014-2015 are a little different from last year.  The remodeling project with the highest return on investment is Window (vinyl) replacement at a 108.4% return (wood window replacement had a 93.9% return), followed by Garage Door replacement at a 103.1% return and both Grand Entrance and Siding replacement (fiber-cement) at an 89.4% and 89.6% return according to Remodeling Magazine’s “Remodeling 2015 Cost vs Value Report” (www.costvsvalue.com).  Curb appeal is important to buyers who are getting the first impression of your home.  In the midrange category, steel entry doors receive the number one return on investment at an outstanding 149.7%!

Of the top 13 upscale remodeling projects with the best return on investment for Los Angeles County, 6 are under $25,000 and include both vinyl & wood window replacement, siding replacement (foam-backed vinyl & fiber-cement), garage door replacement and grand entrance.  A Master Suite Addition which is the most expensive at $266,900 only nets a 54.1% return.

Owners of Palos Verdes real estate remodel for different reasons, like the need for more space, to improve the functionality of specific rooms and to update them.  Kitchen and bathrooms are usually the most expensive remodel as plumbing and/or appliances need to be moved and/or replaced.  There is no specific report for Palos Verdes homes but there is a Remodeling 2014 Cost vs Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com) for Los Angeles County which is broken down into Midrange priced projects and Upscale priced projects.  When you  open on the download button (www.costvsvalue.com), choose Pacific and then Los Angeles –  you will be prompted to register before gaining access to the report.  When you click on the project name (i.e. Bathroom Remodel) you can then read the features of that price range to compare to your own.

Remodeling just for resale rarely nets you a dollar for dollar return.  Most remodels are done for the enjoyment of the homeowner (who still wants to maximize their return when they do sell).  My experience is that most buyers are looking for newer kitchens, bathrooms, master suites and nice yards.  Curb appeal is also important because it is the buyer’s first impression of the home.

To read my prior article on Cost vs Value 2014, click here.

Photo courtesy of Arvin Design

Palos Verdes Free Holiday Tree Pick Up

Palos Verdes Free Holiday Tree Pick Up

Christmas Tree

Palos Verdes homes owners are fortunate to have free Christmas tree pick up after the holidays.

Palos Verdes Estates residents are scheduled for pick up of their Christmas trees beginning December 26 through January 16, 2015.  This year, service will be provided during your normal weekly trash pickup.  Trees will be removed from your normal trash enclosure or trash area.  After January 16th, however, you are responsible to cut and bundle your tree securely with twine or rope and leave it in your trash area.  Stands and all decorations including tinsel must be removed.  Lightly flocked trees are acceptable.  Fore more information you can contact Athens Services at (888) 336-6100.

The City of Rolling Hills will be recycling their trees as part of their regular trash pick-up program.  Just put it out on your regular green trash day, and the trees will be picked up from December 26 through January 16, 2015.  Remember to remove everything from the tree including the stand; flocked trees will be picked up also.  For more information, contact Waste Management at (310) 677-6500.

Rancho Palos Verdes will be recycling trees as part of their regular trash pick up from December 26 through January 16, 2015.  Once again, remember to remove everything from the tree.  This year, they will also offer free extra trash collection during those dates.  However, you must place the extra trash bags next to the gray trash cart.  For more information contact EDCO Waste at (310) 540-2977.

Rolling Hills Estates will be recycling trees as part of their regular trash pick up from December 26 through January 16, 2015.  All trees must have everything removed from them including the stand before pick up.  For more information call Waste Management at (310) 800-774-0222.

To read my last article on Holiday Tree Pick Up click here.


Winter Water Saving Tips

Winter Water Saving Tips

Photo of Bluff Cove courtesy of Arvin Design

Even though it has rained all day, Palos Verdes homes owners can begin to implement their winter water saving tips.  Make sure that you have your sprinklers turned off, and you can put buckets or large clean containers in areas where the run off is the strongest.  Also always redirect downspouts so as to capture the water.  This water can be used for your garden or plant areas.  We have cooler weather in these winter months and your lawns and plants do not need as much water as other times of the year.  It’s also a good idea to adjust your irrigation controller to avoid over watering.

The California Water Service Company is asking customers to reduce water use by 20%.  Although this number may seems like it would largely impact our residential usage, at this time of year and with a little help from conservation practices, it is within reach.  Some of the more known conservation areas that will help include kitchen faucet aerators, high efficiency shower heads, hose nozzles, bathroom faucet aerators and toilet leak tablets.  To get a conservation kit that includes the items listed above go to www.calwater.com/kit.

Cal Water is also offering rebates and incentives when you purchase water efficient devices.  They have a high efficiency toilet rebate, high efficiency clothes washer rebate, smart irrigation controller rebate and outdoor water saving devices.  To learn more about these rebates and others go to www.calwater.com/rebates.

For more information on kits, programs and rebates go to www.calwater.com or call (310) 257-1400 for more information.

To read my last article on conservation tips click here.

Photo of Bluff Cove courtesy of Arvin Design



Taking Care Of Your Palos Verdes Home

Taking Care Of Your Palos Verdes Home

courtesy of Arvin Design

I am often asked by Palos Verdes home owners what they can do to increase the value of their home.  Here are some great maintenance ideas which will increase home value:

Is Your Home Older Than Its Years?
By: Lara Edge  Published: October 14, 2013
Would you throw away $20,000? You are if you’re letting your home age faster than it should. Here’s a simple maintenance strategy to keep your home young.
You know how Dr. Oz says that if you keep your body fit and your mind nimble, you’re likely younger than your chronological years? The same principle applies to your house.
An out-of-shape house is older than its years and could lose 10% of its appraised value, says Mack Strickland, an appraiser and real estate agent in Chester, Va. That’s a $15,000-$20,000 adjustment for the average home.
But good maintenance can even add value. A study out of the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University finds that regular maintenance increases the value of a home by about 1% each year.
So if you’ve been deferring maintenance, or just need a good strategy to stay on top of it, here’s the simplest way to keep your home in good health.

Focus on Your Home’s #1 Enemy
If you focus on nothing else, focus on moisture — your home’s No. 1 enemy.
Water can destroy the integrity of your foundation, roof, walls, and floors — your home’s entire structure. So a leaky gutter isn’t just annoying; it’s compromising your foundation.
Keeping moisture at bay will improve your home’s effective age — or as Dr. Oz would say, “real age” — and protect its value. It’ll also help you prioritize what you need to do. Here’s how:
Follow This Easy 4-Step Routine
1. When it rains, actively pay attention. Are your gutters overflowing? Is water flowing away from your house like it should? Is water coming inside?
2. After heavy rains and storms, do a quick inspection of your roof, siding, foundation, windows, doors, ceilings, and basement to spot any damage or leaks.
Related: How to Tell if You Have a Drainage Problem
3. Use daylight savings days or the spring and fall equinox to remind you to check and test water-related appliances like your washer, refrigerator, water heater, HVAC (condensation in your HVAC can cause leaks) or swamp cooler, and sump pump. It’s also a great time to do regular maintenance on them. Inspect any outdoor spigots and watering systems for leaks, too.
4. Repair any damage and address any issues and leaks ASAP.
Don’t procrastinate when you spot minor leaks or drips inside your house. Ongoing small leaks can slowly erode pipes and fixtures, and even cause mold and mildew issues you won’t notice until it’s too late.
Say you’ve got a bit of cracked caulk around the kitchen window. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold damage and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.
To help you with this routine, we have several guides with specifics and tips:
How to Prevent Water Damage
Inspecting and Maintaining Your Roof
How to Inspect Windows and Doors for Leaks
Spotting Foundation Problems
How to Help Your Appliances Last Longer
Caring for Siding
Once you settle into a routine, it becomes easier to handle other maintenance tasks, which will only do more to protect and enhance your home’s value. Plus, you’ll get to know your home better, which will help you spot other one-off problems, such as termites and other wood-destroying insects, that can cause costly damage.
If You Want to Take Home Maintenance to the Next Level . . .
If you’re a geek about home maintenance like we are, and you want to do more than water patrol, these ideas will help you keep your house in great shape.
Give yourself an incentive to do maintenance. Maintenance is your springboard to sexier projects like a kitchen remodel or basement makeover. So plan a room-per-year redo. This way you’re maintaining, fixing, and improving. For example:
In your basement:
Check for dark stains that could signal plumbing leaks. If you find any leaks, fix them.
Check your ductwork for leaks that are wasting energy.
Clean the lint out of the dryer vent. The machine will last longer, and you’ll help prevent fires.
Caulk and seal basement windows to stop air leaks.
Once your space is moisture sealed, you can start converting it into a family room or other livable space.
Add a basement ceiling.
Brighten it up with paint.
In your kitchen:
Clean out all the cabinets, then wipe them down. It’s a great way to purge and get organized.
Take a good look under your kitchen sink. Remove all the wastebaskets and cleaning supplies to help you spot any leaks, and fix them.
Pull out the fridge to give that yucky alcove a thorough cleaning. Check the drip pan for moisture that can spawn mold growth.
Update cabinet hardware and adjust hinges if necessary.
Re-caulk the seam between your backsplash and wall to keep moisture out. To give your whole kitchen a low-cost facelift, how about a new backsplash?
Re-paint the walls using paint with a tough, semi-gloss sheen that stands up to repeated cleanings and resists moisture.
Keep a maintenance fund. Some sources say you should save 1% to 3% of your initial house price annually to pay for maintenance. On a $200,000 house, that’s $2,000-$6,000 a year. Yeesh, that’s a big nut.
Alternatively, make it a goal to save enough money to do a major replacement project, so the bill won’t catch you off guard. Probably the biggest single replacement project you’ll have is your roof or siding.
You can build up this fund over several years by paying yourself a monthly assessment — whatever you can manage. Keep it in a separate account to avoid the temptation to tap it for hockey tickets or other impulse buys.
If you need to replace the roof before you have a fund, an equity loan is an option. But consider very carefully.

If you’re practicing maintenance in the way we’ve outlined here, you won’t need $2,000 per year to manage your home’s natural aging process. Some routine tasks, such as cleaning rain gutters and changing furnace filters, could cost you $300 or less per year.
Your house takes care of you — not just for shelter but as a financial asset. Return the favor and keep it hale and hearty by caring for it with regular maintenance.
Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

 Photo courtesy of Arvin Design