23 Vital Home Maintenance Tasks & Savings Tips To Do Before April

Posted by Marie Laurent March 1, 2021

Bring in the new season with these 23 tips & tricks that will keep your home running smoothly and your wallet feeling fuller. The best part is, you can do all these without needing to leave your home!

COVID-19 Update: Please be aware of scammers & opportunists trying to take advantage of these difficult times. We at Home & Garden Pro Tips are a Seattle-based content publishing company that is supported through sponsored content alongside of our tips and reviews. Thanks to your engagement, we are able to keep our entire full-time staff employed and working from home. All opinions are our own, and we only recommend reputable companies that provide excellent service and understand what we are all going through.

1. Check for Proper Drainage Around Your Foundation

Walk around your house and check that the ground hasn’t settled creating any low points where water can collect near your foundation. If you do identify any, simply fill in with soil. Constant water pooling around your foundation can cause serious (and expensive) problems as saturated soil freezes and thaws over winter months.

Check that your rain gutter downspouts are clear and moving water out and away from your home. If necessary you can purchase downspout extenders to move the water further towards natural draining spots. Checking that your drainage systems are working properly will manage all the additional rain and snow this season.

2. New National Programs in 2020 Can Save You Hundreds On Your Mortgage

The Current Administration Can End These Programs At Any Time, We Urge Consumers To Take Advantage Now

Still unknown to many is a brilliant Government Program called the Enhanced Relief Refinance Program (E.R.R.) that could benefit millions of Americans and reduce their payments by as much as $3,264 per year! You could bet the banks aren't too thrilled about losing all that profit and might secretly hope homeowners don't find out before time runs out. Check my E.R.R. eligibility »

URGENT: So many homeowners could still benefit today, but sadly, many do not realize that it can end at any time. Remember, E.R.R. is a free program and there's absolutely NO COST to see if you qualify and this can save you $272 every month on your mortgage bills. See if you qualify now before it's gone »

So while the banks happily wait for this program to end, the Government is making a final push and urging homeowners to take advantage. The good news is that once you're in, you're in. If lowering your payments, paying off your mortgage faster, and even taking some cash out would help you, it's vital you act now and see if you could qualify for E.R.R. or a better rate in today's marketplace.

How do I qualify?

Step 1: Click how long you've been in your home below to instantly check your eligibility for free.

Step 2: View your new lower rate and save money!

How many years have you owned your home?

3. This May Be Counterintuitive but... Keep the Heat On

Keep the heat on always, Stephen Fanuka, host of Million Dollar Contractor, urges. Even when you go away. By doing so you can keep your pipes warm and prevent them from freezing, while also saving money on having your heating system work extra hard when you return to bring the house back up to room temperature. Lowe's suggests updating your thermostat (if you haven't already) to a programmable version so you can set the house for one temp when you're home, and another for when you're away.

Last year I replaced all of the thermostats in my house with the Nest learning thermostat. It learns your schedule to keep your home comfortable when you are home.

4. Check Outlets & Power Cords

Electrical appliances are the 4th leading cause of fires in the home and many can be prevented by a simple check of the health of your cords and outlets.

All you have to do is walk around your home and inspect your cords, outlets and surge protectors. Make sure the cords are not frayed, especially paying attention to where they have to bend. Confirm there are not burn marks around any outlets and spend a minute or so with each outlet and surge protector listening for any zips or zaps. Replace any that do.

This is also a good opportunity to unplug any electrical devices that you don't regularly use and may be leaching electricity and costing you money (especially those that have those big black wall-wart transformers -- those are notorious for drawing power when the device they supply power to are off: you should be able to tell if the transformer feels warm to the touch).

5. Save On Monthly Household Bills & More!

Is maintaining the health of your house-related expenses as important as maintaining the house itself? We think "yes", so we've curated a short list of some of our favorite online offers for homeowners.

Full disclosure: This section of tips is sponsored, and allows us to keep writing and sharing helpful content with homeowners like you. If you do decide to take advantage of the following items, Home & Garden Pro Tips may receive compensation.

We've hand-picked and verified the offers to be relevant to our readers, but if you're not into that sort of thing, feel free to skip right along!

6. Turn Ceiling Fans to Clockwise Direction

Ceiling fans are a great investment for summer months, they can actually still be utilized in the winter.

This will pull rising hot air up and circulate it back to the level where you can enjoy it by directing it back down the walls and floor. Make sure they are not going counterclockwise, however, because that will have the cooling effect of blowing the air directly down to you. The cooling effect from fans comes from evaporating moisture on your skin by the action of moving air.

7. Use Coke To Clear Clogged Drains

A clogged drain can be a nightmare. When a drain clogs, you may not have the necessary chemicals or supplies to fix it immediately. Instead of waiting and hoping for the water to go down the drain, you may be able to unclog your drain with Coke, which contains phosphoric acid that will eat through the clog.

  1. Clean the area around the sink drain to remove any debris. Shine a flashlight down into the drain, and use tweezers to remove any large debris such as hair or food from the drain.
  2. Open a 2-liter bottle of Coke. Pour it steadily into the drain so you can avoid splashing it everywhere.
  3. Allow any foam to subside, then continue pouring the Coke down the drain until you empty the 2-liter bottle.
  4. Allow the Coke to sit in the drain overnight. In the morning, run hot water down the drain for 5 to 10 minutes to rinse it.
  5. Repeat the process if the drain still appears clogged. Allow the Coke to eat away at the clog overnight, then rinse the drain with hot water.

REMINDER Homeowners Are Saving $309/Month ($3,708/Year) Or More By Taking Advantage Of This New Program in 2021

To prevent a significant recession like we experienced in 2009, the FED has slashed rates to historical lows to ensure that home owners are able to keep monthly payments low and avoid falling behind.

Although millions of homeowners have taken advantage of this relief program, millions more could save hundreds a month according to a recent CNBC study.

Unfortunately, these programs have limited availability in 2021. So we are urging homeowners to verify their eligibility before these programs expire.

Select Your State To Get Started

8. Change ALL Your Air Filters

Replace the air filter(s) in your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, to keep it running more efficiently.

Old filters have reduced air flow forcing your equipment to work harder. This causes parts like fans and blowers to wear faster, especially after a cold winter. A $10 filter can save you thousands on repair costs!

9. Clean Your Refrigerator Coils!

You can eliminate more than 70 percent of service calls with this simple cleaning step. Skip this chore and you’ll be contributing to your appliance repair technician’s retirement fund. Not to mention handing over $5 to $10 a month extra to your utility company because the fridge isn’t running efficiently.

Do it twice a year or more often if you have shedding pets. Their fur clogs up the coils fast.

Condenser coils are located on the back of the fridge or across the bottom. These coils cool and condense the refrigerant. When the coils are clogged with dirt and dust, they can’t efficiently release heat. The result is your compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to, using more energy and shortening the life of your fridge.

Clean the coils with a coil cleaning brush and vacuum. A coil cleaning brush does a thorough job and will easily pay for itself. The refrigerator coil brush is bendable to fit in tight areas. They can be used for cleaning your dehumidifier and air conditioner coils too.

10. Caulk, Paint, and Seal Exterior Wood

Exterior trim can be vulnerable to rot and deterioration. Pre-empt this expensive fix by making sure exposed wood has been treated with correct weatherproof supplies.

Trim around doors and windows is especially susceptible to winter weathering. Most of this painting can be done yourself with some supplies from the hardware store. First identify areas where paint is chipped or flaking away. You’ll need to scrape off this chipped paint and put on a fresh coat. Same with caulking, if there are any areas where you can see it is wearing off, remove damaged caulk and apply a new coat. Given all the moisture that’s bound to come over winter you’ll be glad you did.

11. Re-Seal Masonry

While doing your outdoor check, identify if there are any cracks in the cement on your property. This includes your patios, retaining walls, walkways, and driveways. Sealant can be purchased at the hardware store. It is important to fill any new cracks before applying your cement sealer.

If your driveway is made of asphalt, it is relatively inexpensive to have a company come spray a fresh coat of sealant over top. Alternately, you could buy a bucket of asphalt sealant from the hardware store and roll it on yourself. As with the concrete, be sure to fill any cracks that have developed prior to your sealing top coat. This will stop water from freezing in the cracks and potentially making them worse.

12. Protect Your Home

With rising unemployment and economic uncertainty comes an increase in property crimes like burglary and theft. There's no better deterrent and protection than a world class home alarm system. ADT provides a state-of-the-art smart home alarm system that makes you feel protected when you're at home and lets you have peace of mind for when you're not.

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13. Save Money on New Windows, and Benefit from Greater Energy Efficiency

Many people opt to replace old drafty windows at home with new energy-efficient ones. Replacing old windows can also lower your utility bill by 40% per month and increase your home’s curb appeal.

You may also qualify to save $100s in seasonal discounts from manufacturers like Pella, Champion, and Andersen. Make sure you find the best price you can get by shopping around to compare pricing from local professionals.

Get My Quotes For New Windows »

14. Gutter Cleaning Is Crucial — Especially Right Now

Leaky & clogged gutters could cost you tens of thousands of dollars!

Gutters are an integral piece of your home’s well being. They serve to control the flow of rainwater to protect your roof, walls, foundation and landscape.

But when neglected, experts say gutters can turn from a necessity to a nightmare. A gutter clogged with leaves, sticks and other debris can cause a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home. Contractors say gunked-up gutters also make nice homes for pests, rodents, mold and honeycombs from bee infestations.

Although cleaning gutters is a task most homeowners can do themselves, it can be dangerous work. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, falls from ladders sent more than 240,000 Americans to hospital emergency rooms in 2009 (the most recent year available).

During a cleaning, a professional should remove of all debris from the roof, gutters and downspouts, while checking and repairing any loose gutter spikes. The cost of gutter cleaning ranges from $75 to $225 for an average home, depending on the length of gutters, height of the home and scope of work. Most companies charge a flat fee per foot of gutter, but the cost can go up depending on the complexity of the work.

15. Area Rugs on Hard Floor

Re-think your interior design or change it up for the season. Area rugs are great in the winter for not only protecting floors from additional elements being tracked in, but also as additional insulation. They help warm up the space.

It is also a great time to add larger and darker entryway mats. Salt and ice from outdoor sidewalks can be tracked in and cause extra wear and tear on high traffic areas. It’s nice to make sure you have durable mats that will take some of the brunt and protect your investment. In main living areas you can switch area rugs around from other rooms for a refreshed winter look.

16. Clean Out Your Dryer Lint Vent

Corral those lint bunnies. Those deceptively harmless looking little fluffs love to snuggle down in your dryer vents and lint traps. Before you know it, they multiply like, well, rabbits. Dryer lint is extremely flammable if you let it build up in the vents. You can hire someone to do this for you, or you can do it yourself and buy a vacuum attachment made specifically for cleaning out dryer vents.

Chances are this task has not been done in years. It's okay! You know what you have to do, and you'll feel better and more safe once it's done. This will not only save you money, it will protect you, your family, and your valuables.

17. Maintain Your Sump Pump

Most sump pumps are equipped with water level or flood alarms, usually battery powered, that alert you if the pump isn't working properly and water is backing up. More sophisticated systems can notify your alarm company or call your cell phone if the water starts to rise. Fortunately, this shouldn't happen often. Sump pumps on the whole are quite reliable. But as with any other important piece of equipment, regular maintenance is always a good idea. Spend a few minutes every couple of months, when heavy rains are forecast and in early spring to ensure reliable sump pump operation. Basic sump pump maintenance is usually as simple as doing these few jobs.

  1. Make sure the pump is plugged in to a working ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet and the cord is in good shape. In damp areas, GFCI ­breakers may trip, effectively shutting off the sump pump. Check in on your sump pump periodically so you can reset the GFCI if necessary.
  2. Ensure the pump itself is standing upright. Vibrations during operation can cause it to fall or tilt onto one side. This can jam the float arm so it can't activate the pump.
  3. Periodically pour a bucket of water into the pit to make sure the pump starts automatically and the water drains quickly once the pump is on. If the pump doesn't start, have it serviced.
  4. Physically remove a submersible pump from the pit and clean the grate on the bottom. The sucking action of the pump can pull small stones into the grate, blocking the inlet or damaging the pump over time.
  5. Ensure the outlet pipes are tightly joined together and draining out at least 20 feet (6 meters) away from your foundation.
  6. Make sure the vent hole in the discharge pipe is clear.

18. Why Are Homeowners Ditching Their Home Insurance For This?

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19. Be Prepared for Snowmagedon

Don’t wait until it’s already starting to come down to think about what supplies you will need to stay safe throughout the snowfall. Make sure you are prepared with supplies to shovel your walkway and driveway. This could even include a cordless snow blower. If you go this route, make sure you have batteries and have tested how to use it.

If you are able to stay more minimal, it is smart to stock up on sidewalk salts to melt snow and ice as well as a sturdy snow shovel. This will keep you from panicking and having to think about these items when they may be harder to get, or worse yet, out of stock! It’s also a good idea to have a few more canned goods, soup broths, and pet food on hand in case there are some unanticipated days where it’s harder to make it out.

Having these few efficient things in mind before winter hits will hopefully help for a smoother transition for you and your home into these cooler months.

20. Automate Your Thermostat & HVAC system

One of the easiest things you can do to instantly start saving money on your heating and cooling bills is to get an automated thermostat. These smart thermostats will learn when you are home and make sure the home is at a comfortable setting during those hours so you're not cooling the house when no one is around to enjoy it. They also learn when you're going to be home so they can adjust the temperature before you step in the door to ensure your house is always comfortable!

Last year I replaced all of the thermostats in my house with the Nest learning thermostat. It learns your schedule to keep your home comfortable when you are home.

21. Replace Your Inefficient Bulbs With LEDs

If you’ve never updated the lightbulbs in your home, consider switching to LEDs. These bulbs are about four times more energy-energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs and last for many years. One tip: When comparing bulbs, use the lumens number to compare bulbs, not the equivalent wattages. Lumens indicate the actual amount of light emitted by the bulb.

Remember also that under normal usage (four hours a day) and average electrical rates ($0.12 per kilowatt-hour), replacing a 60-watt bulb with a 14-watt LED saves about $0.66 per month. Now multiply that by all the bulbs in your house to see how much you’ll save every month. Even switching just the five most-used light bulbs in your home could save you upwards of $40 a year on your electric bill.

22. Flush Your Water Heater To Extend Its Life

Regularly flushing out your water heater is an important task. Getting rid of the gunk and mineral deposits that accumulate will help your water heater run more efficiently as well as prolong its life, saving you money in the long run.

Depending on your model, aim to flush your water heater every one to three years. Really, the job is so easy, it wouldn’t be a bother to do it at least once a year.

However, if your heater is old and has never been flushed, it may be better to call a professional to get advice specific to your situation. On the same note, if you're not comfortable with the follow steps, always err on the side of caution.

  1. Turn the knob on your water heater’s thermostat to “Off”
  2. Turn off the gas line or electricity to the unit.
  3. Turn off the cold water supply (usually a blue knob similar to an outdoor hose spigot).
  4. Important: turn on a hot water tap in a sink or tub. This prevents a vacuum from forming in the system while draining the tank.
  5. Connect a garden hose to the drainage spigot. Then turn on the spigot and drain the entire tank.
  6. Once drained, turn back on the cold water supply to flush the tank. Look for water coming out the hose to be clear and free of sediment.

That's it! Simple right? Once completed, just follow the steps in reverse order to get the system back up and running.

23. Use Colored Dye to Check for Toilet Leaks

Water leaking from your toilet tank will not only cost you money when it comes to your utility bill, but it can also cause water damage to your bathroom floor and premature wear of your toilet’s internal workings.

To check if your tank is leaking drop some food coloring in the water tank and check an hour later. If the bowl shows signs of coloring (like turns pink if you use red dye) you have a bad flapper.

If you find that your toilet is leaking from the tank to the bowl, the flapper needs to be replaced. Grab yourself a new flapper kit from Lowe's or Home Depot and check out YouTube for some great instructional videos!

IMPORTANT: Deduct Your Mortgage Interest & Property Taxes On Your Tax Return

A report from Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation estimates some $70 billion in mortgage interest deductions annually among American taxpayers. While the Mortgage Insurance (PMI/MIP) deductions were removed last year, you can still deduct money paid to mortgage interest and property taxes.

Make sure you get your fair share — not just because mortgage interest can be substantial, but this tax break alone opens the door for many taxpayers to itemize other, smaller breaks instead of settling for the standard deduction. Simply use Form 1098 if you have paid more than $600 in mortgage interest in the tax year.

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