Being a military family often means one thing is guaranteed – you’ll end up moving at least a few times over the years. This can make home-related issues a bigger concern.
When you know there’s a good chance you’ll have to move in three or four years, maintaining your home is a top priority. Whether you rent or buy a house, keeping it in top condition is crucial for making sure you get your deposit back or get the best sale price possible. The other benefit of regular maintenance is that it lowers your monthly living expenses.
Here’s a rundown of the top ways military families can keep their homes in tiptop shape even if they are only there a few years.
Get the HVAC Professionally Serviced
The HVAC system is one of the most expensive components of a home, and it adds significantly to the monthly electric bill. One way to cut the costs and keep equipment in the best shape possible is to have the HVAC serviced at least once a year. A professional can give everything a once over, find air leaks, recharge the refrigerant and fix small issues before they become big. It’s usually best to do this in spring since the summer season is when the HVAC is used most. And the last thing you want to deal with is losing your AC in the middle of summer.
The good news for renters is that the landlord may pay the entire bill or at least part of the cost since a professional HVAC service can increase the lifespan of the system. Keep records of the HVAC servicing if you own the home so that you can show buyers how well you’ve maintained the property.
Change Out the Filters
Another HVAC-related maintenance step is changing out the air filters on a regular basis – at least every two months. The Alliance to Save Energy notes that this not only keeps the air in your home cleaner it can also save up to 15% on your energy bill. When filters are clean the air can move more freely and the HVAC system doesn’t have to work so hard.
Have the Water Heater Serviced Too
Another major component in the home is the water heater. It is the second most power hungry system in your home and accounts for about 18% of the energy bill. Energy Star estimates that the average lifespan of a water heater is about 10-20 years. The older it gets the less energy efficient it becomes. One way to increase the longevity and efficiency is with a professional tune up. It’s also best to drain the furnace once every 3-6 months to remove sediment that builds up.
The good news for military families is that VA loans can be used to make energy efficiency improvements, like replacing an old water heater.
Check Your Fire Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Fire is the biggest danger for any residential property. But fire protection is about more than protecting the home, it’s about keeping your family safe. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 47 states have laws regarding smoke alarms and 24 others have carbon monoxide detector regulations. Landlords are required to have working fire alarms installed in most of these states. However, it’s up to you to maintain them and make sure they are working.
At least once every six months you should test the fire alarms. The most common problem is batteries going dead. This is easy to check by simply pushing the test button.
Checking for Asbestos Issues
Homes built prior to 1977 regularly used asbestos because it’s a very good insulator and fire resistant. However, officials now know that this mineral can cause serious health risks if it’s breathed in, including mesothelioma, which has had a dramatic impact on military personnel. If your current home is older then you may want to have it checked for asbestos. A professional inspector can search the home top to bottom to determine if it’s present and if it poses a health risk. If it’s in good condition and in an area like the attic you may be able to leave it in place without it being a health threat.
In addition to regular cleaning and upkeep these are the best ways for military families to keep their homes running like a well-oiled machine until their next move!