Bare Minimum Homeownership

We all know someone who does the bare minimum, or even less. It’s an unfortunate truth of life that not everyone has the time or energy to be on top of everything all the time.

And that’s okay. But, of all things to put on the back-burner, home maintenance should not be one of them.

Your home, especially if you own it, is your asset. Which means, if you care for your home it can retain its value or even exceed the price you purchased it for. Every home requires up-keep, even brand new ones.

Doing the bare minimum could lead to being oblivious to the importance of home care and in turn getting overwhelmed by the work and not knowing know where to start, so it never happens.

Let’s start simple, when was the last time you looked at your air filter? Changed it? In an article on the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health by James L Sublett, a Curr Allergy and Asthma Representative he states, “Simple forgetfulness by the occupants in replacing the filter at suggested maintenance intervals may be the most common issue. HVAC service technicians frequently find filters that have not been changed for years when providing repair or maintenance services. Dirty filters themselves can become a source for air contamination by allergens, particularly fungal spores, and can then be trapped, colonized, and released downstream as the overloaded filter fails. Other issues, including air bypass from poor filter fit and duct leakage, may further confound the effectiveness of filtration in HVAC systems.” [1]

Sometimes it’s easier to live by the motto “If it’s not broken – Don’t fix it,” while you definitely don’t need to get over your head in an unnecessary project for something that works and you aren’t qualified to repair, preventative home maintenance is beneficial in the long run.

Exterior home care is equally as important. Not only is the exterior the face of your home that everyone sees, but there are also important necessities that help keep everything running smoothly, like your gutters and air conditioner.

While it may be tempting to hide your bulky grey exterior air conditioning unit with plants or bushes, In an article written by Laura Reynolds on homeguides.com she says “Shrubs planted closer to the condenser than 3 feet will not only act as baffles to air movement, they can also shed leaves, twigs and other plant materials that might end up in the fins around the sides or fan casement of the unit. Grasses and perennials that grow more than 6 inches high should also be planted at least 2 to 3 feet away from the base of the unit because ventilation for the unit is also drawn from that area.” [2] Not only should you not plant anything close to your unit, it is also imperative that you periodically check to make sure that there is nothing obtruding or interfering with your A/C. If you do find something, carefully remove it with gloves.

If your home is equipped with gutters, it’s also essential that you keep an eye on those. Gutters are put in place to help rain water roll off of your roof, away from your siding, and into a specifically deemed safe area for the water to go. The US Department of Energy says that gutters help direct the water down and away from the home, reducing the chances of rain saturating the soil around the foundation.[3] This means that if your home has gutters, you may want to grab a ladder and peek up there from time-to-time to make sure they are clean and without clogs.

Another thing to keep an eye on is your caulk lines. Caulk is a rubbery, flexible sealant that is used to repair cracks and gaps. The caulk lines you primarily need to check are around your door and window frames to make sure they have no air leaks. Air leaks can mean that you’re exposing your home to exterior elements that it wasn’t built for and you could lose out on excess energy that may be used to compensate for the leak.[4]

Do you know how to turn off your water? Or where your power breaker is and what the switches on it do? Another symptom of bare minimum homeownership is neglecting to know how to navigate around small issues that arise that require that knowledge. Because every home is different, it would be beneficial to locate your power breaker, and if it’s not labeled, go through turning on and off each switch and label them yourself. As far as turning off and on the water to your home, the valve is typically in a utility area or outside wall of the house and can be turned off by turning it clockwise.

I’m sure by now you’re overwhelmed. But I promise this bit of advice is about more than just your home, but about your psychological health as well.

Keep your house clean beyond just being tidy, clean your floors, dust, and declutter your house. Too much clutter could cause you to feel like your home is a constant unfinished project, which will lead you to never completing anything else around your home. According to Psychology Today “In 2011, researchers at Princeton University found that clutter can actually make it more difficult to focus on a particular task. Specifically, they found that the visual cortex can be overwhelmed by task-irrelevant objects, making it harder to allocate attention and complete tasks efficiently.”[5]

This seems like a lot, I know. It’s difficult to come to take things off of the back-burner and make them a priority. But it’s important to take care of these things, your home provides you shelter and warmth and a place to call your home. If you don’t take care of it, how can it continue to take care of you?

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165134/#

[2] https://homeguides.sfgate.com/far-away-should-plants-around-c-unit-51750.html

[3] https://basc.pnnl.gov/resource-guides/gutters-and-downspouts#quicktabs-guides=0

[4] https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/services/do-it-yourself-energy-savings-projects/savings-project-how-seal-air-leaks-caulk

[5] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201607/the-powerful-psychology-behind-cleanliness

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