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What's your home maintenance style?

November 14th, 2017 at 01:23 pm

Is anyone else enjoying "The Durrells" on Masterpiece Theater? Raising your family on a charming Greek island sounds so....idyllic.

Yesterday I finally got the info I needed to dispose safely of the rest of my spent smoke alarms. Most were my mother's. (She kept everything.) They have a small amount of radioactive material in them so they should NOT be thrown in the trash. Nor does my town household hazardous waste event accept them for drop-off.

Each smoke alarm maker only accepts their own brand back for recycling. So I had to track down and call 5 separate companies. So I have 3 packages to mail off today and then I'm done with that particular chore. I wanted to do the right thing and unlike a lot of my mother's stuff, this was one item I knew I could part with.

I also ascertained that my Kidde kitchen fire extinguisher is NOT on the recall list. If you have one, be sure to check their listing of recalled fire extinguishers and/or call them. It applies to extinguishers sold decades ago, so don't think because yours is old that it's not on the recall list.

Yesterday early before work the electrician I use came over to have a look around with the aim of installing a stand-by generator.

I told him I'd calculated wattage of the key items I'd want working during a power outage (furnace, fridge, microwave, TV, computer) and it came to just 5,000 or so kilowatts. I believe the smallest generator they sell is 7500 watts so that's all I think I need and I don't want to pay more for something that's going to deliver 100% power during an outage. However, that's what he initially tried to tell me I should do. Which disappointed me a little because my past impressions have been that he's very honest. I'll be curious about what price he comes up with.

One thing I'm not crazy about is adding yet another "system" that should have annual maintenance. So far I've got the furnace, furnace humidifier and central air now, all of which should be tuned up annually. Actually, I cleaned my humidifier myself and just ordered a replacement filter for it. The problem is, you only look at these things once a year so you tend to forget actually what steps you should take. But I'm trying.

The furnace I can't do myself, of course. I almost always pay for an annual tuneup, my thinking being, i don't want to risk problems in the dead of winter with no heat. But I wonder if everyone does this. I learned my mother never had hers serviced until she had a problem with her heat and it cost over $2,000 in repairs.

I used to do a chimney cleaning every year as well, for similar reasons, even though I have no fireplace here and the chimney is the furnace chimney. Then i got a stainless steel liner in it which in my mind makes it even less likely there'd ever be a fire or creosote buildup, so I've been doing the cleanings every other year. My father doesn't think it's necessary at all, but he's no expert. I've been thinking of calling my local fire department to ask their opinion. Of course the chimney sweeps will tell you it's important because they want the business.

The one I had scheduled to come this past Saturday was a no-show. Well, he eventually arrived about 2 hours late, after I had left to do other things. My weekend time is too precious. I wrote them a bad review on Angie's List. It's Customer Service 101. Show up as scheduled. They never even called me to tell me they'd be late or anything. I just have not heard from them since!

How do you handle household maintenance issues for your furnace, whole house humidifiers, central air and generators, etc? Are you religious about annual servicing or don't you bother?

9 Responses to “What's your home maintenance style?”

  1. Dido Says:

    I usually have the furnace checked. Never the chimney--didn't know that was a thing. Something new to worry about!

    My sister and I both have absolute conniption fits about home maintenance because our mother never even let us change a light bulb when we were kids. Nor did she let my father! Dad didn't know anything and whatever Mom knew, she kept to herself, so we are both clueless and get panicky with anything to do with home maintenance.

    I did have a home inspection done when I bought the house 12 years ago and took care of most of the minor electrical issues. There's still some knob and tube electric in the house that I should have replaced. One is in a storage closet where I virtually never turn on the light--it's in the guest bedroom (a/k/a storage room) so I don't even go in that room more than 3 times a year. The kitties hang out there so I think of it as their room. But the other knob and tube is in the kitchen, so I guess I should have it done.

    I've had plumbing fixed when things broke and the gutters replaced when they were rotting through. Next up is replacing the roof, probably next year. The thing (*other than the furnace) that I have been religious about is having my flat roof seal-coated once every 3 years or so to prevent leaks. This time I got an estimate for both the seal coating and roof replacement. It's getting a bit late in the season to do it, and it's only been two years since it was last done (and the roof still looks pretty good), so I'll forego the seal coating this year and replace it either next year or the year after, depending on when I can coordinate with my neighbor. In a twin house with a flat roof, you get much better protection if you coordinate to have the replacement done at the same time. Fortunately so far my neighbor seems on board with the idea--I have to get the actual estimate to him this week.

    We'll also have to coordinate to replace our stairs at some point, which are concrete and beginning to crumble (his half worse than mine). Another neighbor keeps them patched and usable, but their days are numbered. The houses are 101 years old and the stairs are banked too steeply so that anyone with bad knees has a horrid time getting in to the houses. That's another project to add to the maintenance list, but that fortunately is a once and done, not recurring maintenance.

  2. Merilee Says:

    With regard to the size of the generator, we had to get a whole house one. We were told the National Electric Code requires it. It is nice to know if the power goes out you can be warm and cook. Maintenance on ours runs $200 a year.

  3. Carol Says:

    I have the furnace ( oil) cleaned once a year and the septic pumped every year and a half ( fewer people living here. )

  4. Bluebird Says:

    We have our furnace/AC/whole house humidifier checked twice a year (so in the fall for furnace and spring for AC). Our fireplaces are gas, so we don't have them checked annually. The older one has a chimney so we had it cleaned about 8 years ago. If we had a generator, we would have it checked annually if that was recommended. Small price to pay for peace of mind.

  5. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Good question ... so far 1 1/2 in, just what has to be done and no more (and sometimes less ...)

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    In my experience, no one we hire recommends any of that stuff (regular/preventative maintenance), and our stuff tends to lasts longer than average without all the fussing with it. I was just discussing this with my dad because we had by far the oldest water heater on the block, and replaced it recently. His experience is the same, and has been my example. We were reasoning that the more people fiddle with stuff the more you open yourself up to problems.

    But I think there's more to it. We have always lived in mild climates and are very conservative. I did live in this house alone for one year here and we didn't have kids until later. We use far less water than average to begin with. This could be more to the point why the 5-bedroom water heater lasted us so long. I think all of the above plays into it, and is how we approach everything. Totally the same way with cars. If it ain't broke, I am not going to fix it. Applies to many other areas. (But the flip side is we never put off repairs, at all. If I know it needs fixing and it's mechanical, then it's fixed like yesterday). {I always get comments here that we must take exceptional car of our cars; I have no idea why any old car wouldn't last 20 years. But I get the sense that is more climate/regional than anything else. I am thrown off it is presumed we take GREAT care of our cars because the truth is we ignore absolutely all the recommended maintenance except like oil changes. Which again, I do religiously. So there is always that flip side of the coin. Yes, I take the oil changes VERY seriously?).

    Of all the things you mentioned, all we have is a furnace and A/C. I could definitely see being more careful in a situation like a cold climate where lack of heat could be more of an emergency. We just don't have that situation.

  7. PatientSaver Says:

    Well, but to your point, MM, a water heater is not really the same thing because it doesn't require annual maintenance/servicing.

    It may come down to, do you want to spent a fairly modest amount of money each year to prevent a breakdown at an inopportune time (like dead of winter or when you're not home) or would you rather spend a lot when things finally do break down?

  8. MonkeyMama Says:

    They do recommend annual servicing on water heaters, PS. I am not aware of any "required" maintenance on any of our appliances.

    If that's what it actually comes down to, then that would be the sensible choice. My point is that it makes more sense to just pay modest amounts to fix things after they break (or more often when they obviously need fixing but before they actually break). & most I know paying for maintenance have more problems anyway. But everyone has different variables (like climate) to factor.

  9. rob62521 Says:

    We had our chimney cleaned in December of 1999. Why? Because of the 2000 scare. We don't burn anything in the fireplace so we don't have it checked. We do have our furnace and a/c checked once a year though.

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