Owning a home requires a lot more responsibility than renting. If something breaks down, there’s no landlord to come and fix the problem; it’s in the owner’s hands. That means the responsibility of keeping a home clean and maintained is up to the homeowners. Your realtor, mortgage lender and everyone on the Internet has told you how important it is to keep your home maintained, as well as thousands of ways to do it. But why is it so important?
Home Maintenance Saves you Money
The first reason home maintenance is so important is that it saves you, the homeowner, money. “That can’t be right,” you’re thinking. “I spend so much of my time, money and energy cleaning and maintaining. How does that save me money?”
While it’s true, maintenance takes some money, dedication and hard work, in the long run you save much more money than if you didn’t do maintenance. Why is this? According to Your Money: the Missing Manual, for every dollar you spend on preventative maintenance around the home, you save approximately $100 in future repairs. That’s because taking care of small problems now (a dirty filter or clogged drain) makes it so you don’t have the problem worsen over time and develop into a larger issue (a burned-out HVAC motor or burst pipe.) Those bigger problems that tend to crop up after not maintaining a home cost significantly more than a new furnace filter every month or so.
Home Maintenance Keeps Your Home Running Efficiently
The worst part of maintenance is that it’s just that: maintenance. It requires completing a task repeatedly, and often, to provide upkeep for your home’s working parts. It’s just like sweeping the kitchen floor; you must keep sweeping it every week or so to keep it clean. If you didn’t, imagine the state of the floor! Now think about how often you clean your dishwasher’s filter or unclog your bathroom drain … probably not as often as you sweep the floor, correct? Yet you probably use them almost as often as you use the floor.
Just like you have to continue to sweep your floor to keep it usable and clean, you have to clean and maintain the other parts of your home to keep them usable. If you don’t, you will end up having your home run less efficient. If you don’t clean the furnace filter, you’ll be paying for more gas or electricity as your HVAC system works hard to cool or heat air in your home. If you don’t clean the evaporative coils under your fridge, it has a harder time keeping your food cool, and uses more energy to do so. When you maintain your home, you keep it running efficiently, which also saves you money with lower utility bills.
Home Maintenance Increases your Home’s Value
When you drive a new car off the lot, it immediately drops in value. The resale value decreases the longer you drive the car and the older it becomes. This principle doesn’t work the same for a home. In fact, the longer you own a home, the more you could increase its worth. Of course, home values have to do with the market and not solely what you do to the house, but you can still have a direct effect on your home’s value by maintaining your house.
How does this work? If you decided to put your home up for sale tomorrow, and you hadn’t maintained any of your systems and appliances, you would find that the home inspection report would probably show that your home had a lot of problems or potential problems. Buyers would either want a discounted rate depending on the issues that your home may have or ask you to replace or repair systems that may give them trouble in the future. Either way, you won’t be getting as much money out of the sale of the home as it could potentially be worth.
However, if you had maintained your systems and appliances as per the manufacturer’s instructions, the home inspector would find less issues you’d have to take care of while doing an inspection, and you’d most likely end up getting more money out of the home.
Home Warranties and Home Maintenance
Home warranties and home insurance don’t generally cover for breakdowns caused by lack of maintenance. You’d be hard-pressed to find a home insurance company that would cover for flooding in your attic or roof if it turns out you never cleaned out your gutters, which caused the flood. The same principle applies to a home warranty: if you never changed the filters for a year on your HVAC system and the fan burned out from too much strain, a home warranty generally wouldn’t cover the repairs or replacement. Why does a home warranty make you maintain your systems/appliances? You have to complete maintenance on your systems and appliances in order to keep them in good working condition and to extend their lifespans. Most home warranty companies only repair or replace systems and appliances if the homeowner has tried to maintain them.