A little over seven years ago, I found myself sitting on my partially mowed lawn amid a crumpled heap of snot, tears and curse words in front my newly defunct lawnmower. I had mowed my own lawn most of my adult life and at least four times a year as a child over 8-years-old.
As an adult, I liked mowing the lawn. A well-manicured lawn was the closest thing I could ever come to creating anything remotely considered art. I knew this particular lawnmower had seen better days. I had rebuilt the carburetor (poorly, and with the help of more than one YouTube video), and the catch bag was duct taped together. Truthfully, it was delightfully surprising that the mower had lasted this long. Season after season, I had put the mower in the garage for the winter with gas still in the tank. I never checked the oil, and I had run over a veritable quarry worth of rocks, dulling the blades just a little more each time. Yet, rather than thank it for its long and fruitful life, I cussed it out and kicked it.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have money for a new mower. It certainly wasn’t because this was my favorite mower I had ever owned (or perhaps I would have taken better care of it). It was the fact that this defunct mower was the last relic of my defunct marriage — and the symbolism didn’t end there.
Why is it that some people delay maintenance? A recent survey among 1,000 homeowners revealed that a good 70% of them admit to delaying home repairs and maintenance. As a Realtor, whose primary occupation includes touring a variety of different homes, I can verify that this is true. Chief among those deferments are the appliances. Stoves, ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves are all included. Essentially, these are conveniences, not necessities for some. A stove is great, but if three out of four burners work, it’s good enough. If the dishwasher leaks, just unplug it and wash dishes by hand.
The bigger and more expensive items are next on this list. A sad percentage of people surveyed do not change their furnace filters on a regular basis. Any experienced Realtor can verify this as well. It is a singular occasion when a home inspection turns out with a clean filter or a recently serviced HVAC unit. When it does, however, it is truly a treat. It is also a clue as to how the rest of the home has been maintained.
The water heater is another culprit. The tank should be drained and the sediment washed out once a year. This will enhance the life span significantly. Both the tank as well as the pipes should also be insulated, and if the tank is missing an expansion tank, one should be installed.
Electrical is the next largest deferred item. Oh dear. For the love of everything that is holy, this is not a maintenance issue that should be deferred. I cannot tell you the number of homes I have gone into and opened the…