9 Home Repairs You Can Count On (and When to Expect Them)

If you have ever purchased a home, you know that saving for that down payment is tedious. After budgeting and making financial sacrifices, the last thing any new homeowner wants to worry about is expensive home repairs. But unless you are prepared to ask the right questions of the previous homeowner, you may need to stick to the dreaded budget for longer than you think.

Here is what you need to know about common home repairs before you buy.

Roof (every 30 years)
The life expectancy of an asphalt shingle roof (the most common type in America) is about 30 years, with the average roof replacement costing around $12,000—although more accurate estimates are based on size, pitch (slope), and surface material. More high-end roof materials include slate, sheet metal, ceramic, and, of course, solar panels, all with varying life expectancies.

Windows (every 30 to 50 years)
When it comes to windows, wood casement windows have a longer life expectancy than aluminum casement windows, averaging about 50 years (wood) versus 30 years (aluminum). Obviously, the number and quality of the windows will greatly affect the replacement cost, should it be necessary. And for a better return on your investment, look for windows that are ENERGY STAR qualified. To get the most of existing windows, or when replacing windows, go to www.energy.gov for more information.

Gutters (every 30 years)
Gutters and downspouts are estimated to last for about 30 years; however, inefficient or improperly installed gutters can lead to a backup of water or ice, and can damage roofs, siding, and even a home’s foundation. Any standing water near the drainage point of a downspout may indicate improper installation, and you should ask the previous homeowner how long this has been occurring.

Central Air (15 years)
Much like a furnace, the lifespan and efficiency of a home’s central air conditioning depends on the relation of the size of the unit to the home. Several factors come into play when choosing the right unit for a home, such as the amount of wall and attic insulation, the efficiency and placement of your windows and doors, and the orientation of your home to the sun.

Furnace/HVAC (15 years)
A furnace replacement is on the mid-to-higher end of the home repair spectrum. Proper maintenance plays a big part in the lifetime of a HVAC system, so be sure to ask the previous homeowners about their upkeep. If you do need to purchase a new system, make sure you do your research, and understand the term annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), which measures how efficiently a furnace converts gas into heating energy.

Hot Water Heater (13 to 14 years)
A water heater replacement is one of the most common household repairs, considering their life expectancy is about 13 to 14 years for a gas and an electric unit, respectively. It is not difficult to determine when you need to replace your water heater, as a decrease in water temperature will dictate the replacement.

Carpet or Vinyl Flooring (11 years, 30 years)
Interior projects, like flooring replacement, are often for aesthetic purposes rather than need-based replacements. But if you are considering a home with carpet, you should know that the lifetime of a carpet is only about 11 years. When considering an update, know that vinyl or tile flooring usually has about a 30-year life expectancy.

Hardwood Flooring (100 years)
Real hardwood floors have the longest life expectancy—up to 100 years—but may require refinishing to keep them looking new. Since there are many variations of wood flooring, it would be wise to do some research into which type best fits your family’s needs. Some flooring may be more sensitive to moisture or prone to scratching, and therefore require more maintenance.

Fireplace (100 years)
If you’re considering a home with a fireplace, you should know that, while fireplaces look nice and create relaxing environments, there is some very serious maintenance required to ensure safety. Although the lifetime of a wood burning fireplace is around 100 years, annual maintenance is still required. You should also consider the amount of homeowners insurance coverage required for a home with a fireplace.

By considering these important and often costly parts of your home, and asking questions about them beforehand, you will feel more confident in your purchasing decision, and you’ll be more likely to avoid headaches during the home inspection process. And once the home is finally yours, use the home maintenance schedule to protect your investment and get the maximum life out of your home.

8 Easy Ways to Eliminate Pet Odors from Your Home

If you’re one of those families that has multiple pets, you know it can be hard to keep your home clean and smelling fresh. Here are some tips on how to keep your home from smelling like a pet store!

Bathe and groom your pets regularly.
This will keep excess dirt, oils, dander, and any odors that may be on your pets’ coats from being carried throughout your house. Brushing and grooming can be done more often, since it is just as important. Whenever possible, brush your pets outside to prevent loose hair from finding its way onto and into furniture and carpeting.

Get rid of the hair on your furnishings.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a pet attachment or a lint roller to do away with loose hair at least once a week. If the lint roller or vacuum attachment isn’t working, try using a rubber glove (assuming that a little dampness is all right for your furniture, of course). Put in on your hand, moisten it a bit, and gently glide it over the surface.

Vacuum the floors.
You should try to vacuum your floors once or twice a week, depending on the number of pets you have in your home. This will help lessen the amount of hair and cat litter on the floor that leaves behind those lingering pet smells. You can also use a squeegee to pull up the stray hairs in your carpet that your vacuum can’t get to.

Check your air filters.
Pet hair can build up and clog your air filters. Be sure to change your air-conditioning or furnace filters at least every three to six months.

Be sure to always use disinfectants.
Many odors are caused by bacteria. Try using high-quality sanitizing cleaners that kill more than 99 percent of germs for those lingering odors and surface bacteria. Be sure to use products that are safe for curious tongues and noses!

Eliminate those urine odors right away.
If your pet has an accident inside, clean the area right away using an enzymatic cleaner. These are designed especially for eliminating pet odors and destroying any pheromones and molecules left behind.

Don’t forget to wash their bedding.
If your pet has a bed with a removable cover, be sure to wash that, as well as other pet bedding, at least twice a month.

Keep up with the litter box.
You should scoop the cat litter at least once a day. Keep the litter fresh with baking soda, as this can be used to absorb the smell. Try using a plug-in air freshener in the room where you keep the litter box.