For most of us, it seems as if there either isn’t enough time or enough money to tend to every little item that needs repairing around our home. Moreover, it’s easy when you notice the small things—like the slow-running drain or toilet, the water trickling out around the base of faucets, cracks in stucco, chipped caulk around windows, small water stains—to say to yourself, “I’ll get around to those pretty soon.” But it’s remarkable how quickly “pretty soon” turns into weeks or months, and suddenly you find yourself facing a much bigger problem than you’d ever anticipated.
So, painful as it may be to spend the money now, it’s likely to be a much bigger savings over what you might find yourself shelling out later when that small issue becomes a larger one. Let’s take a look at the warning signs that precede potential disasters, focusing on those areas where problems commonly show up.
GUTTERS – Is rain water or melting snow spilling over the sides of your gutters and pooling around the base of your home? This is a double-edged problem. The gutters are probably clogged with dead leaves and other debris. Left uncleared, the material begins to mold and rot, causing damage to the gutters. And the water pooling on the ground, can cause your home’s siding to rot, mildew, or, in a worse-case scenario, there might be extensive damage to the foundation. Not only is a gutter-cleaning in order, you might also want to consider extending the downspout further away from your house.
LAUNDRY ROOM/FACILITIES – Are you finding it takes your dryer two cycles before heavier fabrics such as towels are thoroughly dried? This may be the result of a clogged dryer vent. It’s important to clean the lint tray after each use, and it’s worth considering replacing plastic or foil vents with aluminum ones. The smaller expense now is well worth it if it cuts down on your energy bill or prevents a fire later.
BATHROOMS AND DRAINS – Some bathroom issues are easy to spot. Water pooling around a faucet or around toilets is clearly an indication of a leak. Some of these are easy and inexpensive to fix, if they require little more than re-caulking or tightening connections. Others are trickier. A slow draining sink is obviously a problem (and pouring heavy-duty drain declogger down them rarely fixes the problem; at best, it simply postpones it), but other drainage issues often come without warning and can be disastrous. Depending on the age of your home’s pipes, it’s possible you face the challenge of tree roots growing in through them, causing clogs you don’t even know about until the day that water backs up and floods the bathroom and points beyond. It’s well worth the expense to have a plumbing company annually snake out your drains; it’s much cheaper than replacing carpeting or wooden flooring later!
ROOF – Naturally we don’t find ourselves up on top of our houses that often. The first indications that there may be a problem up there is when we discover ceiling stains or dripping water during rainstorms or snow melts. If you look closely, you might detect bowing in the roof, dampness or staining on attic ceilings or cracks in the masonry around the fireplace. Regular roof inspection is critical, paying particular attention to broken or missing shingles and checking the flashing around chimneys. Roofs take a beating, no matter where in the country you live, and when your roof is in peril, so is everything beneath it.
FIREPLACES – Have you noticed that the glass doors on your fireplace get especially sooty after every use? Is there a smoky odor even when you haven’t had a fire in a while? Is the air around the hearth cooler than elsewhere in your home? A faulty damper permits drafts and allows heat to escape. Smoky smells indicate a build-up of creosote, which prevents proper venting. Crumbling masonry may be a sign that moisture is permeating your chimney flashing. Untreated, these situations can cause anything from carbon monoxide poisoning to water damage to a devastating fire in your home.
These are just a few of those things that start out as minor problems but can quickly escalate into full-blown disaster. And while it can be painful to the bank account to spend the money, the dividends it pays off down the road are well worth the short-term costs.
Remember, too, it’s easy to schedule a visit from a qualified craftsman at your local Handyman Matters location to give your home a thorough inspection, looking for indications of small problems waiting to become big ones. An ounce of prevention today is worth the proverbial cure somewhere down the road.