Here Are Some Tips to Maintaining Your Home

They’re (relatively) painless, too.


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Photo of Ira Serkes by Looking Glass Photo

Even in the real-estate-obsessed Bay Area, many of us would rather undergo a root canal than clean out the gutters. However, given that your home is probably your biggest investment, maintenance is a must — and often, it’s not as painful as you think.

“Home maintenance” covers a vast territory, and what needs to be done can vary based on a variety of factors. Here’s a partial guide to some of the most basic caretaking activities to keep your house humming and avoid expensive repairs down the road.

The weather is turning colder, so if your home has central heat and air, this is a good time to have the system serviced. Have a technician check the ductwork for damage and service the furnace and A/C compressor.

Another home maintenance basic: “Test the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms,” said Ira Serkes, an East Bay real estate agent and homeowner.

This is something even the most domestically impaired among us can accomplish. When you purchase the alarm, be sure to note how often it needs to be tested. Then create a reminder with whatever calendar app you use — or write it on a hardcopy calendar. To check the alarm, hit the “test” button. Simple, eh? Installing batteries is also no longer an ordeal as well. Visit YouTube for a tutorial for your particular alarm.

Another easy-peasy home maintenance chore: Cleaning the garbage disposal, according to Val Betti Plumbing, a Richmond family-owned business that has been around for more than 60 years. You can get a garbage disposal brush at most home improvement stores; unplug the disposal and brush with detergent to scrub the grind chamber.

It’s also simple to check for leaks. Look under the sinks and up at the ceilings for water stains; check faucets for drips. Repairing leaks can be a big money-saver, because leaks run up the water bill and cause damage that’s expensive to repair. Again, you don’t have to do it yourself; most handypeople can fix a leak without breaking a sweat.

A Bay Area-specific tip: Check your earthquake emergency supplies. Make sure the food isn’t outdated and that you have emergency water supplies, fire extinguishers, a flashlight, and batteries.

These suggestions all concern the interior of the house, but the exterior is important, too. “Downspouts and gutters can get clogged,” Serkes said. “If they do, they can overflow, and that causes damage.” But you don’t necessarily have to clamber up a ladder; given how common ladder accidents are, it might be the better part of valor to leave it up to a professional.

You’re so used to looking at the outside of your house, you don’t really see it. Take a stroll around the place to see if it needs a new paint job. Not only does exterior paint look good, it protects the house.

With the rainy season on the way and a wet winter predicted, this likely isn’t the best time to try to get a touchup or redo on the paint job immediately. However, given how busy those in the trades are these days, this is probably a good time to get on a painter’s schedule for the spring.

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