Basic home maintenance saves you money in the long run

  • Fri Jul 31st, 2020 3:30pm
  • Life

Nailing It Down

By Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty

Here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor, people often ask us what types of things they need to do to keep their homes well-maintained.

And then there are those people whose houses suggest — in even a casual drive-by — that they might not be too aware of how to take care of what is likely their biggest investment.

If you need a good wake-up call, remember that most homeowner insurance policies do not cover deferred maintenance. In other words, if you discover this summer that the caulking on one of your windows wasn’t secure, so over time water has been seeping in onto your hardwood floor, and that floor now needs to be replaced — you are most likely not covered for that.

Or, maybe all those steamy showers have taken their toll and you realize that you have mold taking over your bathroom. (Still, check on this; a few homeowner policies cover some severe mold remediation. Oh, but remember that deductible gets paid first!)

When it comes to deferred maintenance — that is, maintenance that has been put off — usually water of some type will be involved in the deterioration of a part of your home.

So while the weather is better now and there’s less likely rain to cope with, we thought we’d give you a list of chores you should consider tackling this summer to keep things running smoothly at your house.

Not all of these chores are suitable for all homeowners. Even if you are a DIYer, use wisdom as to which ones you should tackle yourself and which ones are better left to a handyman or other professional. We recommend using licensed, bonded and insured contractors with good references.

Basic home maintenance is key

The summer is the perfect time to thoroughly clean up and air out garages, shops, barns and outbuildings. Wash any windows inside and out. Keep your eye on your “junk” as you tidy up. Maybe some of the items can go to places like Habitat’s Restore in Hoquiam, the Goodwill or Earthwise in Aberdeen. Maybe some of them can even be sold through Grays Harbor Swap and Shop or e-bay.

Are you cutting — and stacking — fire wood this summer? If so, remember to place it at least 25 feet from your house to discourage bug and critter infestations into your home.

How’s your deck looking? Especially if it’s older, you may want to give it a safety check. Look at the posts holding up the deck to ensure they aren’t rotting at the piers, and that the metal brackets are not rusty. Even treated wood will fail, especially where the deck boards are nailed into each joist. This is where water tends to get trapped, leading to rot and failure.

While you are examining the structure, make sure you see the hex-heads of bolts staggered along the on-edge deck’s rim joist attached to the house. If you only see nail heads, you will want to consult with your contractor or building official for a much-needed complete deck inspection.

When was the last time you thoroughly washed your sidewalks, cement steps and porches, and any other walkways? That “green” we’re so famous for here can grow in the form of moss on all those places. It doesn’t tend to cause much of a problem in summer, but when the rains come it can become treacherously slick.

This is the time of year to also consider staining or painting your decks and fences. Not only does a fresh coat of paint or stain on your deck and fences freshen up the overall look of your home, but it also actually can lengthen the life of the wood. Before restaining a deck or fence, make sure to give it a quick scrubbing with 30 Second Cleaner. It will dry fast and be ready for the next step. Power washing wood decks will require several drying days before painting or staining.

While you are at it, check the strength and security of any fences you might have. If they are intended to keep animals safely inside, check all possible escape routes. Maybe this is the year that you and your neighbor will get together to build a new fence together or fix up the old one.

When was the last time you painted your house? Our environment is rough on paint and stain, which serves as the biggest barrier you have to keeping the moisture out. On the Harbor, most homes need to be painted every four to eight years. The key to a good job is the tedious prepping — scraping off paint, recaulking, etc.

Even if this isn’t the year for a new paint job, a good scrub on the exterior can do wonders for the look of your house, not to mention that it can serve to lengthen the life of your paint job! We recommend 30 Second Cleaner. Apply it with a scrub brush — using a long pole, if needed — and give the siding a light scrub. (Make sure to rinse it thoroughly.) Follow the package directions and use a regular hose with flood nozzle to rinse off.

Pressure washers can damage the paint and siding in the wrong hands, and using this cleaner is cheaper and much faster.

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Our Facebook page is also a great place for you to comment on one of our Nailing It Down columns, ask a housing-related question or private-message us. You can also let us know what kinds of topics you’d like to see in future columns. Perhaps you have a housing or maintenance question you’d like to see covered.

You can also visit our website at www.nwghc.org. We keep a library of all our past columns there.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or buying, call 360-533-7828 or visit 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is fully ADA-compliant.