Six money saving home maintenance tips

Preventative home maintenance can help save a bundle and protect your investment.


The majority of U. S. households, 63 percent, have equity in their own homes. For many, it's the largest piece of their asset portfolio, according to U.S. Census data and University of Illinois Extension.  Regular maintenance and repair should be in your plans so that you can retain the value of your home.  It requires time and money, whether you do the work yourself or hire someone else.

Home maintenance should be done monthly, seasonally or annually, so the expenses should not be a complete surprise. Prepare by setting aside money each month toward a home maintenance fund so that it will be there when you need it. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau monthly payment worksheet says a common rule of thumb is to plan to invest one percent of your home value in home maintenance each year. For example, if your home's market value is $100,000, then 1 percent is $1,000. This amount may vary depending on your home and needed repairs.

It’s a good idea to walk around inside and out monthly to visually inspect for potential issues. Look up as well as down.  Use a checklist such as this one from the University of Georgia Extension. 

According to, the four key concerns are:

  • Water Drainage/Damage: Rain (and snow in cold climates) can cause serious water damage to insulation and drywall. Be sure gutters and downspouts are working.  Look for stains and mold growth, damp carpeting, loose tiles, and cupping wood floors.
  • Heating/Cooling Issues: Yearly cleaning plus regularly change the filters (monthly is recommended by experts) for both long life and efficiency of these systems. If you have a fireplace, annual flue cleaning is essential to prevent the considerably higher expense relining the flue.
  • Roof Damage: Heavy snow, heavy rain and high winds can influence roof quality.  Look for signs of damage on the roof and in the attic for water leaks.  Asphalt shingles generally last about 20 years, and aluminum or steel shingles last about 50 years.  Avoid walking on the roof and do not store heavy items in your attic.
  • Windows: Although aluminum windows are less costly, wooden windows last about ten years longer.  Check regularly for peeling paint, cracks and chips in the glazing.

Several government assistance programs are available to better afford repairing and improving your home.  Home improvements such as the cost of insulation, energy-efficient exterior windows, and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems qualify for IRS residential energy tax credits. Installation costs do not qualify. Visit the Energy Star website, for details.

Plan ahead to fit home maintenance tasks into your schedule and expenses in your budget.  Find tips in Jinnifer Ortquist’s article on Planning Home Improvements and Costs.  Doing small repairs promptly can save you from large, costly repairs later. For example, small leaks in a roof can lead to significant damage in internal walls over time.  Also learn about assistance programs and energy tax credits to stretch your dollars.  For more information about homeownership in Michigan, go to the Housing link at

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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