16 Things All Smart Homeowners Do Once a Year

Think of these small steps as vitamins for a healthy home. Do them just once a year and you’ll save a bundle in emergency service calls

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Drain your hot water heater

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“Sediment builds up over time at the bottom of the tank, causing corrosion,” says John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada. “Partially draining it removes the sediment and keeps the heater running more efficiently—and keeps it running longer.” These tricks can keep your house warm without hiking your heating bill.

Check your ductwork connections

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Ducts in either the attic or crawl space can sag over time, and then the connections become loose. “If this happens, you end up spending more on utility costs because the air you’re paying to heat or cool is escaping from the loose ductwork into the attic or crawl space, not into your living space,” Bodrozic says. (Related: Are you maximizing your storage space? These tricks help you squeeze more in.)

Clean out the dryer vent duct

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The back of your dryer is connected to a vent that leads outside. This duct gets lint buildup over time, which not only causes the dryer to work harder, increases energy costs, but it’s also a huge fire risk, as backed up lint is extremely flammable. Check out the other things that could be making your home a fire hazard.

Update your home inventory

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Knowing what you own is crucial. “We accumulate things over time, and you want to make sure you are properly covered in your insurance policy for not only the contents of your home, but the structure itself,” Bodrozic says, “especially if you invested in it with home remodel projects.” (Related: Here’s what interior designers notice about your house as soon they walk in.)

Review your homeowner’s insurance policy

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When doing yearly checks, many homeowners don’t think of their insurance. “Make sure that your policy continues to cover weather hazards like hail and wind,” advises Renee Tarnutzer of Understory. “Be sure to review your deductibles. A homeowner will want to determine the cost of replacing your roof, for example, if it was damaged in a storm and an estimate of their out-of-pocket costs for that repair or replacement.”

Inspect your roof

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“A roof inspection is critical because roofs are the most commonly damaged part of a home during severe weather,” Tarnutzer says. “Roof longevity can erode quickly and cause leaks, stains on walls, and even flood damage.” Kyle Gesuelli, home improvement expert at Handy adds, “Take a good look at your attic for signs of water damage, because if there are water stains on the ceilings or walls, it’s a sure sign that your roof needs some attention.” From the ground you can check for missing shingles or misplaced tiles. Dimples on the surface of the roof can indicate damage from hailstones. Any missing or damaged tiles should be replaced immediately to avoid leaks reaching the inside your home. It’s also helpful to find out when your roof was last replaced. (Related: Don’t miss the secrets home inspectors won't tell you.)

Clean your gutters

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Buildup from fallen leaves and pine needles can rot and eventually clog the downspouts and even damage parts of the gutter. “As gutters help the home to cope with heavy rain flow, they’re bound to accumulate debris throughout the year that can obstruct the flow of water and lead to overflowing,” Gesuelli says. Hire a professional if your gutters are high enough to require a special ladder.

Check your foundation

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“A failing foundation can be the biggest and most costly problem,” says Steve Wadlington, president of WIN Home Inspection. Look indoors for the warning signs, including gaps and cracks in hardwood floors, or cracks at the corners of door jambs and window frames. See the very personal details your home reveals about you.

Look for water damage

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“Existing water damage can lead to big problems if left untreated,” Wadlington says. “Look for evidence around sinks, plumbing fixtures, and under windows for mold, broken caulking and leaking around sinks, or bubbling paint on drywall.” Erase the wear and tear on your home with these home improvement hacks.

Clean out your garage

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Garages are often home to much more than cars. Not just extra sports equipment and a backup fridge, but possibly rodents and bugs too. Sacha Ferrandi, founder of Source Capital Funding of San Diego, California, recommends cleaning your garage once a year by taking out everything and deep-cleaning the space, “which will not only maintain the longevity of your garage, but will keep you organized and active as you use your newly cleaned space,” he says. Don’t miss these ingenious uses for the junk in your garage!

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