Heating System Maintenance – Tips – Ask this MN Realtor

So this morning I happened to be sitting in a classroom learning about some of the most common home defects.  The highlight for me was on the heating system.  Why was this the most beneficial?  I learned two things that can keep the repair-person away and reduce those high service costs.

First off he shared a tip that was really super simple and yet he said that most persons don’t do a very good job of this one.  His tip…  Change the filter every 30 days year round if you are running a central air system along with heating.  He also recommended buying the most reasonable filter.  Unless you have an added need for allergy reducing its better to have a bit more dust.  These more expensive filters can actually be costing you more in more ways than initial cost.  He said that the furnace must work harder to suck in that fresh air and that some furnaces will actually shut down if they are not getting an adequate supply.  He also shared that this lack of air can actually cause the system to overheat and shut down, or to overwork, overheat, and maybe cause a fire.  Yikes!  Needless to say, I was listening!  I will be buying a box of low cost filters and will be marking my calendar to make sure I get a new one in place every 30 days.

The second tip that I found really good was one I had heard before from an inspection company.  That tip is to leave the fan on the system running always.  He said that the mix of heat or cooling is more even in the home because of this constant movement and that the running of the system will actually reduce wear and tear on the system making it likely last longer.  He promised that this will only add a tiny bit to your monthly energy bill.

Two tips is good, but how about a bonus tip?  This inspector shared a story about a visit he had been on a few years ago.  He had stopped at the address, noticed that the homeowner had plastic on the outside of the windows.  Later when inside he seen all of the children wrapped in blankets and watching tv.  Since he had been outdoors it took him awhile to notice that the house was really cold, about 62 degrees.

He took the homeowner downstairs to the heating system and found it interesting that the homeowner commented on a smell of plastic burning coming from his furnace.  The duct work was very hot to the touch.  The homeowner thought something was wrong, but did not know what and since it was working (matter of opinion).  The inspector asked when he had last changed the filter and the homeowner said “filter?”

Apparently the homeowner did not know that you needed to replace filters in the furnace and so in three years the home never had a filter change.  The two of them spent over an hour cutting and pulling out the bits of filter, dust, etc from the filter slot.  The inspector sent him to the store for a cheap filter, he replaced it and the homeowner spoke with him about a month later saying that the home was now heating so well that he was able to remove the plastic from the outside of the windows.  He was lucky not to have burned down his home or break his heating system.  He likely reduced the life of his furnace however.

A great story and great reason to change out those filters.  It does make a difference.  Did you know that filters have an arrow for air flow?  Do you know which way to install the filter so that it is working its best?

Ready for that last tip?  Always, that is ALWAYS, put the arrows toward the furnace!

What home maintenance tips can you share with me?  Do you have a good story of a house maintenance disaster or near disaster?

Kim Woehl is a licensed real estate expert with Keller Williams Premier Realty and can be reached at 651-214-1459.  Please give her a call if you are considering buying, selling, relocating or just would like to see what is available in the current market.

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Cost worthy fixes before Listing your Home

Cluttered and unorganized old books

Image by Yuba College Public Space via Flickr

Read on for some great tips!

Some projects are not only time consuming but cost lots of money as well and the return on investment just isn’t there.   According to Marketing Company they came up with this list.  The great news is that these projects could all be done for $1000.00 or less.

At the top of the list was de-cluttering, which included cleaning off counter tops and removing most personal type items.  Take the time to clean closets and do a general deep clean on the home.  Don’t forget to wipe down heat vents and cold air returns.  Wash wall switch plates and clean all door knobs.  It’s the small things that can sometimes have a huge impact.

Clean windows inside and out to make the home as bright as possible.  Remove older curtains and open the windows to let in as much light as possible.  Update old fixtures and take away anything that is covering the windows or reducing light.

Everyone has heard about staging now a days, but what does this really mean?  Take a walk through your home and remove any extra furniture that makes your home seem small or crowded.  Add some artwork, a few new towels etc to make your home look inviting, new and clean.  Consider the senses by adding background music or even fresh baked goods.  These little things make your house your home and will appeal to buyers.

Next take a step out your front door.  Walk to your curb and take a look like it was your first time.  Adding a few bushes, plants and some mulch can make a huge difference when it comes to your homes curb appeal.  Keep the lawn mowed and trimmed.   Consider edging the driveway and or curb.   If existing bushes have become too large, give them a haircut to bring them back into shape.

Shampoo or replace any worn or soiled carpeting.  Take a few minutes to repair those creaky spots in the floor.  A bit of elbow grease now can bring in a buyer.

Lastly take a look at electrical and plumbing problems.  Make sure you don’t have any leaking sinks, showers or toilets.  Remove any mildewed areas.  Update electrical outlets and replace wiring if needed.   Make sure that the wiring will work with modern appliances.  If something doesn’t work, replace it with a fixture that does.

For many of us we may have went ahead and tackled these projects anyway, but when you know that your return will be worth your effort, it sure makes the job more worthy of your time and energy.