* Washing Machine Fill Hoses “When they break,” says Vendituoli, “they can cause thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of damage,” particularly if the machine is on the second floor. Check your hoses once a year, he recommends, and if you see any signs of brittleness or age, shut off the water and replace them. “It’s always best, too, to make sure you have shut-offs and know where they are,” he adds, “so you can get the water off quickly” if there’s an accident.
* Gutters Cleaning the gutters, says Vendituoli, “absolutely needs to be done every year.” Even if you have guards on your gutters, he maintains, they can get bent by a heavy snow load or branches falling, causing debris to accumulate and overflow water to soak your exterior — and, ultimately, interior — walls. “It’s also relatively common that gutters aren’t attached properly right up against the fascia boards. Visually inspect that every year to make sure they’re properly attached because of what could have happened in the winter months.”
* Decks Every spring, you should check the underside of your deck, according to Vendituoli, to make sure the fasteners haven’t rusted or the attachments pulled away from the house. “Make sure everything’s secure,” he says. “If you’re not comfortable with something, hire a contractor to come over and make sure all is well.” One Internet search on the words “deck collapse” will tell you why.
* Utility Bills Keep an eye on them to make sure there are no major changes from one month to the next; if there are, you’ve probably got a maintenance issue somewhere in the house, says Vendituoli. He was once asked to suss out why someone’s water bill suddenly went sky-high. He checked everything he could think of, finally taking the lid off the toilet tank. “You could barely hear the water leaking,” he says, “but when they looked at their past bills they found it was 50 gallons a day.”
And that, like most other neglected maintenance issues, is just money down the drain.
Elizabeth Gehrman is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.