• Change the batteries in all your smoke detectors on New Year’s Day. That way you know it is done, and you don’t have to hear that annoying beep later in the year when the battery is running low. This is also a good time to check your fire extinguisher to be sure it is still properly charged.
• Install carbon monoxide (CO) monitors if you have not already done so. That became the law in July 2011. You need one near every gas-fired appliance (heater, stove, water heater). It is also a good idea to put one outside the bedrooms. You can buy stand-alone CO monitors or smoke and CO combined monitors. Change the batteries on these every New Year’s Day too.
• Check your washing machine hoses. They do wear out. It is better to replace them ahead of time for a few dollars than to have one break and cause potential damage by flooding. Have the dryer vent cleaned as well to prevent vent fires.
• Check your hot water heater for rust or leaks. When they burst, 40 or more gallons of water could come pouring into your home.
• Clean out your gutters. Once the rain starts, it is annoying to have it pouring over the gutters because they are filled with leaves. Worse yet it can lead to leaks in your home.
• Check your chimney. If you did not do it in the fall before the wood-burning season, do it now and put it on the fall checklist for this year. Keeping your chimney properly swept and the bricks and mortar in good condition can prevent dangerous chimney fires.
• Take a thorough look around your home at the exterior paint. Make note of areas that need touch up or repainting. This is an excellent spring project when the weather is more predictable. Paint is the outer coat of your home and must be kept in good condition. If not, it can lead to damage of the outer wood or stucco siding of your home. This is far more costly than keeping the paint up.
• Get a pest inspection now and every three to five years. This only costs a few hundred dollars but can prevent wood-destroying situations from turning into projects that could cost thousands of dollars. In addition to inspecting for termites and other wood-destroying organisms, pest control companies can also treat for mice and spiders.
These are just a few things you can do to keep your home in good condition. If you take care of your home, it will take care of you for many years to come. If you want more tips, contact me, and I will gladly forward them.
Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for over 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at www.realtyinsanfrancisco.com.