When you're working, wrangling the kids and generally living a full life, it's easy to let taking care of your home fall to the bottom of the priority list. But you need to stay on top of maintenance chores if you want to keep your home and all the good things in it functioning smoothly.
As fall approaches, it's time to start thinking about a top-to-bottom inspection to check for any damage and to prepare for the upcoming cold winter months.
Sarah on "Bite-Sized Projects":
I wouldn't describe myself as the handiest person. When it comes to staying one step ahead of maintenance headaches, I have to admit, my preference would be to bury my head in the sand and hope that someone else takes care of any problems. Fortunately, I learned a trick a long time ago that helps me overcome that mental block. If I break a big task down into smaller tasks, and then put one task on my to-do list each week, I will surprise myself by tackling something I didn't think was possible.
For example, I recently moved into a new house and there were about 50 little maintenance issues, like a knob that had fallen off my dresser drawer and a leaky faucet that was keeping me up at night, that I knew I had to deal with. So I broke it down. Week one, I didn't actually fix anything. I simply created a checklist. Week two, I went to the hardware store for all the supplies I'd need to fix the broken things. Week three, I fixed the broken knob. And so on. When you're feeling overwhelmed, break the project down into smaller bite-sized steps, and you'll be off to the races in no time.
Alicia on "Getting Help":
Guilt: It's the one thing that isn't worth one iota of energy. If you keep putting off maintenance tasks because you're too busy (or because you're too scared to mess them up), stop beating yourself up and reach out to others who can help you. I am happy to admit that I am out of my depth in many areas of home maintenance. Why? Because that means my job as a homeowner is really about finding the right people to help me for the right price. I definitely know how to do that!
Here are three essential chores to tackle this week to get your home ready for the transition to fall.
No. 1. Change Essential Batteries
Don't wait until your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors chirp at you to be changed, since that usually happens when you're busy doing something else (like sleeping). Buy a few extra batteries when you're at the grocery store this week, and swap out the old batteries for new ones in all of your detectors when you get done putting the groceries away. If you live with others, ask them to help, too. Once you're done, enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your detection systems are ready.
No. 2. Change the Filters
As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool -- thus wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure. If it's been more than three months, head to the hardware store, buy some new filters and put them in your heating and cooling systems this week.
No. 3. Sweep the Chimney
If you plan to spend a long winter cozied up to a warm fire, a thorough chimney cleaning is in order. Chimneys need periodic examination and thorough cleaning to maintain efficiency and to reduce the chance of a chimney fire. Book an appointment with a chimney sweep to have yours professionally cleaned and checked for loose or missing mortar.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife(at)getbuttonedup.com.
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com