The Most Affordable Ways To Deal With 6 Common Home Maintenance Tasks

African American father and son washing clothes in washing machine at home.
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If you’re like most homeowners, you probably left a few key things off your spring cleaning checklist because the cost is beyond the boundaries of your budget. Well, it might be worth taking a second look.

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There are plenty of ways to reduce or even eliminate the cost of some of the most important and expensive home maintenance tasks. Here are six of the simplest cost-saving fixes for you to do around the house.

Conduct Your Own Energy Audit

Whether you realize it or not, it’s very likely that your money is literally going out the window — or out through the space under your door, or through hidden gaps, or through shoddy insulation in the attic.

If your cooling bills are sky-high in the summer and your heating bills are burning through your budget in the winter, you’d be wise to conduct an energy audit. Your lower energy bills will eventually make up for the $405 that HomeAdvisor says the average home energy audit costs — or you could just do it yourself.

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver program provides a checklist and instructions on how to find the air leaks, inefficient lighting, spent insulation, and outdated appliances that are gobbling up your home’s energy and jacking up your bills.

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Plug Gaps in Windows and Doors With Weatherstripping

Chances are good that your energy audit will reveal a whole lot of thermal transfer around your doors and windows. Believe it or not, this is good news. You can probably prevent most of that heat transfer and lower your energy bills with a quick and easy fix — DIY weatherstripping.

According to This Old House, it’s all about choosing the right kind. Here are the five most common types:

  • V strip or tension seal: Made of metal or plastic, these V-shaped strips spring open to close gaps.
  • Felt: Sold in rolls, this kind of weatherstripping is inexpensive, but it needs replacing after a year or two.
  • Foam tape: Made from EPDM rubber or open- or closed-cell foam, this variety is perfect for plugging irregular gaps.
  • Door sweeps: Door sweeps are installed under the door to fill the gap between the threshold and the door.
  • Tubular silicone, vinyl, or rubber: Perfect for gaps between the base of doors and windows or between the door and jamb, tubular weatherstripping makes an effective air seal.
Make Your Money Work for You

Prevent Thousands in Home Damage With a $20 Tree Pruner

Trees and shrubs give shade and draw critters like squirrels and birds, which are cute outside. When those same cute critters set up shop in your attic or behind your walls, however, they become menacing monsters. When tree limbs and branches brush up against your house, they provide a bridge for animals to enter and infest your home. They can also damage shingles and siding, which can lead to water damage and a whole host of other problems.

Professional trimming services cost an average of $460, according to HomeAdvisor. But according to Family Handyman, pruning and trimming are DIYable tasks for most people in most cases, although ladder work that involves heavy branches is a job for the pros. You can get a high-quality pruning saw and pruning shears on Amazon for about $20 each.

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Test Your Sump Pump Before Water Starts Rising

If your basement has a sump pump, the time to learn how well it works is not when you come home to find your basement covered in a few inches of water. Water damage costs an average of $3,230 to repair, according to HomeAdvisor, but an easy yet crucial preventative measure is completely free.

Test your sump pump a few times a year by simply pouring a bucket or so of water into the pit to make sure the vertical float triggers the pump to remove the water. If it does, you’ll rest easier the next time it rains. If it doesn’t, you’ll probably need a new switch, according to Reddi Plumbing, which is a whole lot cheaper than the aftermath of a flood.

Drain Your Water Heater To Remove Sediment

The average cost to install a new water heater is $1,220, according to Home Advisor, but depending on the unit, it can run much farther into the thousands.

The good news is, your old, leaky heater that delivers only lukewarm water might not need replacing — and if it isn’t failing yet, you can prevent all those headaches with a free and simple fix. Sediment collects at the bottom of the tank, causing damage-inducing hotspots on gas models. On electric models, that same sediment can ruin the lower heating unit.

By flushing and draining the water heater once a year, you can improve its efficiency and extend its life. There’s not much to it, according to HGTV, but the particulars vary by model and type. No matter the model, always start by shutting off the water and turning off the unit.

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Clean Your Dryer Vent To Prevent Wasted Energy, and Perhaps Much Worse

Clogged dryer vents can waste energy and diminish your dryer’s performance — if you’re lucky. In the worst of cases, clogged vents can and do cause house fires. Don’t wait until you smell something strange to pick up a vent-cleaning kit for around $25.

Pull your dryer away from the wall, according to Architectural Digest, disconnect the duct, and vacuum inside. From there, you’ll use the cleaning kit as directed, reattach the duct, and get ready to cozy up in your warm, dry clothes.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.
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