- Look at the roof
I don’t recommend getting up on the roof yourself. The risk of falling off is very real. Instead, find a reliable and reputable roofer and hire them to inspect your roof once a year. And if you’ve been hit by an especially bad wind storm or notice water stains on the interior ceilings, call for a roof inspection right away. Better to address these problems quickly. You can even contact your insurance company to have a roof inspection done after a storm.
- Check for leaks
That pesky plumbing system requires a lot of attention. One of the sneakiest, but most damaging problems, is the seemingly innocent drip.
Once or twice a year, remove everything from under your sink cabinets and make sure that the area under the sink pipes is dry. What you’re looking for here is that slow leak that will cause rot to the cabinet and the floor below. An easy way to check for leaks is to clear out the area and place a large bowl under the plumbing. Use the sink as you normally would and check after 24 hours. If you see any drops of water in your bowl, you may have a slow leak. Definitely get it fixed.
Also check the areas around your shower, toilet and laundry utility sink.
Did you know that failing to shovel your sidewalk can land you in court? Think about the postman who slips and falls on your icy sidewalk. It is a duty to give clear passage to people using the steps and walkways to our homes.
Those of us in areas prone to snowy winters had an especially hard time this year with snow removal. Right about the middle of February ice melt disappeared from the store shelves as the constant thaw freeze made puddles into skating rinks.
At the beginning of the winter season, stock up on shovels, sand, and ice melter. And prior to a big storm, get an extra couple of bags. You’ll always end up using more than you think. Especially if your car gets stuck in the driveway.
- Emergency car service
Check into a roadside assistance service that will help you in case of flat tires, empty tank or pulling your car out of a ditch. Having friends is nice but they may not always be available or have the equipment necessary to help you.
For me, I have a car plan attached to my cell phone service. It runs about $4 per month and covers any car as long as I’m on scene with my cell phone. It came in handy when I had to get the car winched out of the driveway this year.
Typically the domain of the man of the house, now is the time to break out your owner’s manual and figure out the recommended service schedule for your car. Do you get your oil changed every 3000 miles? Maybe your car only requires an oil change every 5000 miles… Do you get your tires rotated regularly? Doing so will help your tires to last longer. Find a local garage with a good reputation and get in the habit of giving your car a spa day. It will thank you by lasting longer and costing you less money for major repairs.
This same maintenance attitude goes for anything with an engine, like lawn mowers and riding tractors. They all love oil changes!
- The smell of gas
If your home heating runs on natural gas, make sure to familiarize yourself and your kids with the smell of natural gas. Most importantly, once you smell gas your #1 priority is to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Don’t call the gas company from within the home. And no matter what, do not turn on the lights to investigate. That little spark caused by the clicking of the light switch is enough to ignite any gas that may have collected in your home and blow the place up. This is one of those times where you run first and ask questions later.
- Self maintenance
Lastly, and most importantly, take care of your own health. You’re running the show now and are probably the sole bread-winner. It’s important for you to get those yearly checkups and exams. Be honest with your doctors about the little odd things that are going on with your body. It’s easier to treat problems when caught early. You have to make yourself a priority because there are others counting on you, now more than ever.
If you’re wondering where I learned my maintenance skills, I watched a lot of home repair shows back when they were more DIY-based, not so much to do every project presented, but to get familiar with the way a house was put together and learn the vocabulary. I’ll never be a plumber and working with electricity scares the life out of me, but I know enough to understand a contractor and ask questions about the scope of work.
After all, my family and I are the ones who live in the house 24/7. I want to know it’s in good shape.