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Home renovation roster

Spring is a good time to plan for home projects you may want to tackle in the coming year. And we don’t just mean cosmetic updates. Regular maintenance of all the major home essentials is always worth the effort—and the money.

Heating and cooling

Don’t wait until things break down. If you maintain them properly, furnaces and air conditioners have a lifespan of about 15 to 20 years. Schedule an annual maintenance appointment with a heating-and-cooling professional who can check that these workhorses are running efficiently and safely.

In between visits, make sure you change the furnace filter every three months. A clogged filter means that your furnace has to work harder, and increases energy usage. Plus, a clean filter means improved air quality in your home. It catches bacteria, pet dander and other contaminants that can be particularly harmful for those with allergies or asthma.

Nobody likes a surprise breakdown in the middle of any season. The air conditioner will give you a bit of notice that it needs your attention by not cooling properly, likely driving up the hydro bill. With both units, keep an eye out for leaks and an ear out for unusual noises.

Keep the HVAC system in shipshape; air ducts should be cleaned every two to four years.As well, the cleanliness and maintenance of a humidifier or dehumidifier will keep them in top working order and improve air quality.

Plumbing and water heating

You can’t afford a leaky hot water tap, so deal with plumbing problems as they arise, not months down the road. Worn-out washing machine hoses, sticky or leaky shut-off valves and temperamental toilets all need your immediate attention to prevent flooded bathrooms and basements. Fixing leaky pipes also means reducing overall water consumption, which is a valuable natural resource. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in areas with limited access to clean water.

A water heater should last 10 years. If yours is a rental, simply call the supplier for free repairs or an inspection whenever there is a problem. Faulty thermostats and elements are likely culprits. Leaks, rusty water and weird noises are also telltale signs. When replacing the tank, make sure you read the fine print, because rental agencies are notorious for locking you into a lengthy contract you might regret down the road. If you plan to be in your home for 15 to 20 years, purchasing a heater is often recommended.

Roofing and windows

Fixing the roof when it needs it should be your number-one priority. Don’t ignore signs of leaking. An asphalt shingle should last 15 to 30 years, but watch for evidence of shingles that are cracking, curling up or flying off altogether. Moss is also a harbinger of bad news, as is a sagging roof structure. Due to their long lifespan, asphalt shingles are considered sustainable because they don’t require frequent replacement. Metal and solar roofs are two other environmentally friendly options, the latter of which can convert light into electricity.

With doors, changes in seasonal temperatures and humidity can cause them to swell or shrink, which can lead to slamming and sticking. Examine the door hinges and tighten the screws. If the hinge is worn out, replace it. To help with slamming, add weather stripping or self-adhesive pads to the top and bottom edges.

Windows should last 20 to 25 years. If you notice a draft, see condensation between the panes or have difficulty opening, closing or locking them, it’s time for new windows. Installing energy-efficient windows means that your heating and air conditioning units don’t need to work as hard, reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere. And prompt replacement allows you to keep up with energy-saving efficiencies, as well as any rebates that might come with that territory.

Major appliances

When large household appliances stop doing their job—or start giving you signals that breakdown is imminent—call for maintenance so that the problem doesn’t get worse. Fridges can lose their Freon, dishwasher motors can seize and dryers can even catch fire. Consider the issue of safety here, too, particularly if you can smell burning rubber or plastic. A fridge and range should each last 12 years and a dishwasher about 10 years. The washer and dryer will last at least 10 years. Beyond these points, be prepared to start researching a new one.

If you need to replace an appliance, consider purchasing an Energy Star–rated item. The higher the score, the more efficient the item is, which is not only beneficial to the environment, but to your wallet, too.

Review your policy

Speak with a licensed CAA Insurance Agent to review your home insurance policy to ensure you’re fully protected. Visit us online or call 1-888-545-7254 for details.

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