When it comes to home maintenance, it’s important to keep your house in excellent shape—from top to bottom.
That means keeping your roof, ceiling, and flooring in good repair. Not only are they integral to your home’s structure, but they are also costly to repair and replace. Therefore, keeping them well maintained should extend their lives and ultimately save you money. Of course, your homeowners insurance may repair or replace your roof and other parts of your home if a covered disaster strikes, but routine maintenance is still your responsibility.
Make Your Roof a Top Priority
With regular checks and routine maintenance, you can prevent little issues from turning into big, expensive repairs and maximize the life of your roof.
To catch problems early, have your roof inspected twice a year by a roofing professional. That person should be bonded and insured, and if your state, county or city requires roofer licensing, they should also be licensed. If you’re not sure what the requirements are for contractors in your area, check with your local building codes department.
When inspecting your roof, the roofer will look for active leaks or problems that could lead to leaks, such as loose or missing shingles. Roof problems are common and, in fact, lead to 39 percent of homeowners insurance claims, according to the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association.
In addition to having your roof inspected, it’s important to perform seasonal maintenance, or hire a qualified professional to do the work for you. Here are two of the most important things you can do to keep your roof in shape year-round:
1. Remove leaves and clean gutters. Piles of leaves can gather in roof valleys , retain rainwater and cause damage to the roof. Water from clogged gutters can “wick” into the roof and even cause rafters to rot. Therefore, during the fall and the spring, clear the leaves off your roof and out of your gutters. You can remove the leaves from a low roof with an inexpensive roof rake and clean the gutters yourself, or you can hire a professional to do the job.
2. Prevent damage from snow and ice. During the winter, if you live in a cold climate, take steps to protect your roof from problems caused by winter weather. Snow is heavy, and those extra pounds can add stress to your roof. In fact, a one-foot accumulation of snow can place thousands of pounds of extra weight on your roof.
Snow on a roof can also lead to the formation of ice dams, which can cause serious damage. “That ice can work its way into the soffits and damage the drywall inside the house,” says Forest Lines, president of the Ohio chapter of the National Association of Home Inspectors. You might be able to use a roof rake to remove snow, or you can hire a snow and ice dam removal service to remove the snow and ice with shovels and steamers.
Eventually, there may come a time when your roof does need to be replaced. Barring a natural disaster or another catastrophe, the lifespan of your roof depends on what it’s made from. Here’s how long some common roof types are expected to last according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors:
- Ordinary asphalt shingles: 20 years
- Wood: 25 years
- Architectural asphalt shingles: 30 years
- Metal: 40 to 80 years
- Simulated slate: 10 to 35 years
- Slate: 60 to 150 years
If your roof needs to be replaced, ask for bids from at least three qualified, bonded, insured and appropriately licensed roofers.
Keep Your Ceiling Above Par
Most well-maintained ceilings should last for the entire lifespan of your home. Keeping your roof in good shape is the first step to protecting them. However, there are problems other than roof leaks that can damage your ceiling. Here are two ways to keep your ceiling in good repair:
1. Protect your ceiling from mildew and mold damage. Controlling the humidity level in your home is an important step toward keeping your ceiling free of mildew and mold. Aim for humidity levels of 30 to 60 percent, and use a dehumidifier if necessary. If your home doesn’t already have exhaust fans in the bathrooms and the kitchen, have fans installed. In the bathroom, make sure the toilets are in good repair and not leaky. And consider painting bathroom and kitchen ceiling with mold inhibiting primer and paint.
2. Avoid smoke damage. Smoke rises and smoke from cigarettes, cigars or pipes can absorb into drywall and other surfaces in the home. Consider prohibiting smoking in your home to prevent odor absorption and staining of your ceiling and walls.
Smoke damage can also be caused by food burning in the kitchen. To avoid smoke damage and maintain your safety, never leave cooking food unattended. Also, install a smoke alarm on each level of your home.
If you have had extensive smoke damage, you might need to hire a fire and smoke remediation company certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Remediation. They will use ozone treatments and other professional tools to repair smoke damage and eliminate odors.
With proper care and maintenance, you may never have to replace your ceiling—unless they’re made from certain materials. For example, acoustical ceiling tiles last about 40 years, but if your home has tiles that are 25 years or older, they may need to be replaced to avoid asbestos exposure.
Get Down to Protecting Your Floor
Floors take a beating from footwear, furniture, pets and moisture that is tracked inside during bad weather. But you can extend the life of your flooring with proper maintenance.
Here are three steps you can to take to keep you and your family on solid footing in your home:
1. Perform routine floor cleaning. With any type of flooring, it’s important to follow the manufacturer instructions for cleaning and maintenance. To keep hardwood floors clean, promptly wipe up spills or moisture that’s tracked in from outside, and avoid steam cleaning or wet-mopping your floor. Sweep with a broom daily, vacuum weekly and clean with hardwood floor cleaner monthly.
2. Avoid easily preventable floor damage. To protect floors from wear caused by snow, dirt, and debris, use floor mats at every entryway to your home. Also, leave high heels by the door, especially if the shoes are in poor repair. Put felt protectors under furniture legs, and lift rather than slide your furniture to move it across a room.
3. Deep clean or refinish as needed. Every so often, your floor will need a little extra TLC to extend its life. For example, hardwood floors need to be refinished with a maintenance coat every three to five years, and to be refinished about every 20 years. Most carpet needs to be deep cleaned every 12 to 18 months, but check the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure.
If you have pets, or if someone in the house smokes, you might need to shampoo your carpet more often. You can do it yourself or hire a company certified by a trade organization such as The Carpet and Rug Institute.
The lifespan of your floor depends on the material it’s made from, and you may never have to replace a floor. Here’s how long some common floor types are expected to last:
- Hardwood: 100+ years
- Bamboo: 100+ years
- Tile: 75 to 100 years
- Concrete: 50+ years
- Vinyl: 25 years
- Laminate: 15 to 25 years
- Carpet: 8 to 10 years
If you do need to replace your flooring, turn to experienced professionals. For hardwood, look for a hardwood floor installer certified by the National Wood Flooring Association. For carpet, find an installer who follows carpet installation standards set by The Carpet and Rug Institute.
Follow these maintenance guidelines for peace of mind—knowing that you have solid structures above your head and below your feet to keep you, your loved ones and your belongings cozy and safe.