7 home chores that could save you money in the long run

Got a little extra time to spare today and want to save money? These 7 chores around the house and garden could save you money in the long run by preventing unnecessary damage and decay.

By Carolyn Tate

It will come as a surprise to no one that chores are not created equal. Spending an afternoon hosing the lawn in the shade with an icy beverage in hand doesn’t take the same level of effort as, say, removing a year’s worth of mould from the grout in your shower.

But these chores are worth doing, not only for the sense of satisfaction they can create, but for the thousands of dollars they can save you in the long run. We’re talking tasks that ensure your home remains in good condition, saving you from costly repairs and energy inefficiencies in the future. So sometimes we need to put on our big kid pants (and maybe a pair of gloves) and get the job done.

Are you ready to tick these jobs off your list?

1. Clean your gutters

The main purpose of the gutters in your roof is to allow rainwater to drain away from the house. Cleaning your gutters helps to prevent clogs and blockages, which can lead to water building up in the gutters and causing rust, sagging, tilting, detaching, and even falling off. Also, when the water has nowhere to go, it can pool in one spot in the roof and lead to major roof damage, or it can seep into your home’s foundation and affect your home’s structural integrity. RACV recommends cleaning out your gutters at least twice a year – just before summer and right before autumn. 

Note: if you don’t feel safe working at heights on a ladder, get some professional help.

2. Check your roof for damage

While you’re up there, check your roof for damage. It should be checked at least twice a year, according to hipages, which can be done at the same time that you’re cleaning your gutters. Forbes also suggests having your roof professionally inspected every 3 to 4 years when it’s passed half its expected lifespan. (The lifespan will depend on a number of factors, including when it was built and the materials used – you can learn more here.) Your roof should also be checked after any major weather events. Regular roof inspections can identify and address issues early, such as damaged shingles or leaks. Roof repairs might be costly, but early detection can prevent major expenses.

Note: as above, get help if you need to. If you find any damage, have a professional take a look before you try to repair anything yourself.

3. Prune trees and shrubs

Pruning your trees and shrubs can help them to stay healthy and attractive in your garden, but more than that, it can protect your home from expensive damage. Properly pruning trees and shrubs prevents overgrowth near your home, which can damage foundations and lead to costly repairs. And always check the roots near your home to ensure they’re not creeping towards your pipes or foundations. Cutting the tree roots can help in some cases (and installing root barriers to prevent them from growing back), but in others you may be better off having the tree removed.

 4. Regularly clean air filters

If you give your air-con unit a dust over occasionally, that’s a great start, but it’s not the complete story. It’s important to clean the air filters regularly to ensure it operates efficiently and has a long and productive life. Fujitsu recommends cleaning filters every 3 months if you use your system daily. For ducted air conditioners, you’ll usually find the filters located at the return air grill inside your home, and for a split system, it’s usually at the front of the unit. To clean the filters, remove them from the system (after it’s been turned off, of course), wash the filters in warm water and mild detergent, and let them dry thoroughly before replacing them. Easy!

5. Clean and service your refrigerator coils and seals

What’s a refrigerator coil? We’re glad you asked – and you will be too. Your fridge’s coils are those bendy metal wires at the back, and they compress and cool the chemicals that make your fridge cold. The problem is that dust, dirt and pet hair can build up back there, causing the appliance to work harder and consume more energy. The worst case scenario is that the fridge works itself to death and needs to be replaced. Cleaning the coils every six months or so with a brush and vacuum cleaner should be all you need, according to the New York Times, but if you have a particularly hair pet, you may want to make it every 3 to 4 months.

Your fridge seals are the little springy plasticy bits that seal the door from the main unit. These can become filled with dust or food particles and should be regularly cleaned. Here's CHOICE's guide to how to make your fridge last longer.

Note: always disconnect the power to the fridge before you do any cleaning under or behind it.

6. Test your smoke alarms

The importance of testing your smoke alarms should be a no brainer: it costs you nothing and the price of not testing them is that, if they’re not working properly, you run the risk of having no warning that your house is on fire. Properly functioning smoke alarms can save lives and prevent extensive property damage in case of a fire. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services say we should all be testing our smoke alarms once a month. To test, check that the light on the cover flashes regularly, press and hold the ‘test’ button until the alarm sounds, then release it. All of your alarms should go off because they are all connected, but you should test each one. If any of your alarms is making a ‘chirping’ sound, it needs anew battery.

7. Maintain your water heater

If you’re a fan of warm showers, it’s important to get rid of excess sediment that can build up in your water heater. If left to build up, that sediment can reduce your water heater’s efficiency and reduce the capacity of your water tank. It can also cause long-term damage such as corrosion or blocked valves. You can take care of your water heater by flushing and maintaining it to ensure it operates efficiently. You should do this once a year (or up to 3 times a year if you live in an area with hard water), following this process.


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