Home Advisor: The fastest way to turn your home into a money pit

By Jenna Schuster
Forgetting to maintain your household systems can create big problems in the long run.

The fastest way to turn your home into a money pit? Neglecting it. Ignoring routine household maintenance can cause damage to your home — and even create dangerous living conditions down the road! The good news is spending a little money on upkeep here and there will help you avoid the need for pricey repairs. Get a jump on these maintenance tasks to keep your home in the best shape possible:


Testing your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors is one of the most important home maintenance tasks you can perform. After all, working monitors don’t just prevent costly fire damage; they can also save your life! According to the U.S. Fire Administration, you should test your smoke alarm once a month using the test button, and you should replace the unit once every 10 years. You should also test your carbon monoxide monitor once a month. And don’t forget to change out the batteries for each detector annually!


Sump pumps are useful for keeping groundwater out of your basement. They move water away from your foundation and prevent flooding. Taking good care of these devices means testing them regularly — about once every few months in the spring, summer and fall. Otherwise, you could face extensive mold, mildew and water damage. There are a few ways to test your sump pump on your own, or you can hire a professional to do the job for you.


Gutter cleaning prevents roof leaks, and neglecting this necessary task can bring about serious home damage and a host of big repair bills. Leaks can result in mold, flooded basements and cracked foundations — all of which can be avoided when you hire a pro to clean your gutters at least twice a year. (If you have pine trees, you may need to have your gutters cleaned more often.)


Staying on top of HVAC maintenance will ensure that your unit is running smoothly and efficiently. Be sure to replace the filter every two to three months, or per your manufacturer’s instructions. Also, it’s important to have a professional service the unit once a year. They can perform routine checks of the equipment, test the efficiency of your model and adjust your HVAC according to your needs. Not only does this keep your unit in good shape, but it also helps prevent fire hazards down the road. And keeping up on maintenance means you won’t have to replace your unit prematurely!


Jenna Schuster is a reporter for HomeAdvisor, an online marketplace connecting homeowners with trusted service professionals to complete home projects. Visit HomeAdvisor.com