One of the worst aspects of moving from being a tenant to a homeowner is that you no longer have a landlord to take care of maintaining your home. Whether you lack the money, the time or the energy, home maintenance projects are easy to put off.
It’s understandable, but not wise. Not only will deferred maintenance catch up with you when it’s time to sell the home, but it has safety and health implications as well.
One of the most important maintenance chores that you should perform regularly is anything that helps prevent a home fire.
1. Tune up the clothes dryer
Between 2008 and 2010, clothes dryers caused 3,000 home fires resulting in five deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in property loss, according to the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency also states that the primary cause of these fires was lint in the dryer’s trap.
A clogged lint trap reduces the amount of air flow to the dryer and lint is highly combustible.
Maintain your dryer by using the following tips:
- Make it a habit to clean out the lint trap before running the dryer. If it becomes overly clogged with lint, use a brush to clean it.
- Once a month, pull the dryer away from the wall and clean behind it. Ensure that the hose isn’t crushed.
- Call an appliance professional if loads seem to be taking overly long to dry. The venting system may require cleaning.
- Have your gas dryer inspected annually. He or she will check the connections and the gas line, to ensure there are no leaks.
- Replace plastic or foil vent tubes with rigid metal ones. The former can sag and lint can build up in the low points, according to Consumer Reports.
2. Maintain the chimney
Chimney fires are most commonly caused by a build-up of creosote on the walls of the chimney. Have your chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year. Here are a few other ways to ensure your chimney is safe:
- Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods.
- Install a chimney cap on the roof to prevent sparks from flying, landing on the roof and starting a fire. Chimney caps also prevent combustible materials from entering the chimney.
- Have the chimney professionally inspected for damage immediately after a large storm, flood, or earthquake.
3. Check the home’s electrical outlets
It’s a good idea to check all of the outlets in the home at least once a year. First, touch them. If they feel hot you may have a wiring connection failure. Call an electrician for further inspection.
Press the test button on your ground fault circuit interrupters monthly.
While you’re thinking of ways to prevent a home fire, consider ways to battle one. Ensure that your smoke alarms are in good working order. Change the batteries twice a year whether or not they are dead. Replace smoke alarms that have reached 10 years of age.
Check your fire extinguisher every month and call in a professional fire protection company to check it annually.