Tips for setting up regular household maintenance

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

When major appliances break in your rental homes, it can wreak havoc on your finances. While you’re not the ones using these appliances, they are still your responsibility. Worse, the appliances you’re responsible for are often the most expensive to replace: furnace, hot water heater, refrigerator, oven/stove, etc. It is in your best interest to preserve the lives of these appliances as long as possible.

The secret to preventing appliance breakdown is to perform regular maintenance on them. This takes just a few hours for a whole house, and you need only perform the maintenance once a month — once every other week max. It will be worth your while, though. All that work you put in will allow these appliances to run longer, saving you big dollars in the long run.

Here are a few tips for ensuring that you perform this maintenance and avert disaster.

1. Put it on your calendar

Your cell phone can be a hugely helpful tool in your real estate investing career. Not only can it keep you connected with your email, which is the most important part, it also provides tools to keep you organized. Chief among them is the calendar. Use it wisely and you’ll have no problems keeping up with scheduled maintenance.

It doesn’t matter if you use the iPhone, an Android, or any other phone. You can set up recurring calendar tasks on any of them. Just create an event and have it repeat at a certain interval. If you’re performing maintenance at one property on the second Saturday of a month, you can set that to recur on the second Saturday of every month. When you wake up that morning, you’ll already have the task in front of you.

2. Replace those filters

The one appliance you don’t want to break is the furnace. Unfortunately, oil furnaces can break down in under 10 years, while gas furnaces can last slightly longer, up to 15 or so years. The last thing you need, then, is for the furnace to break down after seven or eight years. A decent furnace will cost you more than a thousand dollars, so you want it to last as long as possible.

One key to preserving a furnace is to regularly clean the air filters. Clogged air filters can place more strain on the motor, which will cause the furnace to break down quicker. Wash out filters at least once a month, and replace them every three months. You might also want to look into higher tech filters, too, such as high-efficiency pleated filteres with built-in electrostatic charge.

3. Tighten and clean pipes

How much does a bottle of Dran-o cost? Between $5 and $10, depending on the specific product. How much does a plumber’s visit cost? Just to come out to your site can cost you nearly 10 times the cost of the Dran-o. So it’s advisable that you nip potential plumbing problems in the bud. Don’t wait for those drains to clog. Run them through as you perform other maintenance.

At the same time, check pipes beneath sinks for loose joints. This is another area that can cost you if not detected early enough. Loose pipes can cause leaks, which can cause property damage. Once you’ve cleared out those pipes, make sure they’re nice and tight. The combination will save you plenty in plumbers visits.

4. Seal windows and doors

If you’ve taken on responsibilities for any utilities, it’s in your best interests to ensure that your tenants consume as little as possible. If they’re going to leave the windows open in the winter and run up the heating bill there’s little you can do. But you can make sure that when they close those windows that heat does not escape. All it takes is a monthly visit.

It’s easy to identify and seal window leaks. It just takes some cleaning products and a little caulk. Patch that up and you’ll keep the hot air in and the cold air out, reducing the heating bill. Your wallet will thank you.

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