Doing Exterior Home Maintenance is Green

Dilapitated House That Hasn't Been Maintained ProperlyDoing exterior home maintenance on a regular basis is green—it’s good for the environment and your wallet.

I am a smart homeowner much of the time but have procrastinated on exterior home maintenance projects in the past, which never turned out well.

Why is Exterior Home Maintenance Good for the Environment?

A new home has a substantial carbon footprint. Materials are extracted, processed, transported, and constructed at the home site. Energy and water are used during every step of the process. Paints and other chemical compounds are used inside and out. Waste accumulates and is transported to a landfill (hopefully some is recycled).

Properly maintaining an existing home utilizes far fewer resources and creates less waste than large scale repairs or renovations needed due to neglect, or demolishing and building a new home.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

— Benjamin Franklin

Why is Exterior Home Maintenance Good for Your Wallet?

Purchasing a home is the most costly investment many people will make in their lifetimes. Although we spend most of our time in the home, it is the exterior that enables us to enjoy the interior.

Well Maintained Home - Photo: HGTVHome maintenance is like preventative health and car care. Nipping problems in the bud early can avoid big and costly problems later. For instance, fixing a roof leak when it first occurs can prevent water damage and expensive repairs down the road.

With the exception of house flippers and remodeling fanatics seeking fixer uppers, most people do not want to buy a poorly maintained home. Regular maintenance can eliminate pricey repairs needed later to prepare a home for sale. Serious issues uncovered during a home inspection can reduce the sale price or even derail the sale.

Exterior Home Maintenance Inspection and Projects

Inspect the exterior of your home on a regular basis and tackle maintenance projects as needed.

Roof
  • Leaking roofs can lead to mold, dry rot, and damage structural components, drywall, insulation, foundations, and interior furnishings. If needed, making roof repairs should be the top priority.
  • Check for water stains on ceilings and walls, and around windows and doors. Inspect plumbing vent stacks, roof vents, chimneys, skylights, dormers, and keep an eye out for holes leftover from a satellite dish or other equipment mounts. Look for broken, bent, or corroded flashing (the metal used to line joints, seams, and other transition points on a roof), and missing or broken shingles/tiles.
  • Most homeowners should not be walking around on the roof of their home so save the trip to the emergency room and hire a professional.
Siding, Deck, Porch, and Railings
  • Paint and sealant are important components of home weather protection.
  • Siding, deck, porch and railings should be inspected for bowing, dry rot, damage, chipping, peeling, and fading paint.
Walls, Doors, and Windows
  • Air leaks waste energy and money, and if caught early can often be sealed with caulking and weather-stripping.
  • Check for holes and cracks in walls and around doors and windows.
Rain Gutters
  • Clogged rain gutters or downspouts prevent water from running off the roof and away from the home which can damage the walls, foundation, or basement.
  • Regularly clean out gutters and downspouts and make sure they are securely attached to the home.
Landscaping
  • Tree limbs falling on a home can cause an amazing amount of damage, and plants growing on or near a home can cause moisture and insect problems.
  • Keep trees and plants trimmed and away from the home.
Termites
  • Termites will literally eat a home and may not be spotted by homeowners until severe damage occurs, like a porch caving in.
  • Have a professional regularly check for termites and treat any infested areas.

Do-it-yourself vs. Hiring a Professional

Man Climbing a Ladder with ToolsSome projects can be easily and inexpensively done by handy do-it-yourselfers who can climb and work safely on a ladder. Information and how-to advice are available from home improvement stores, books, blogs, videos, and knowledgeable neighbors.

For the not-so-handy homeowner (like me), hire a handyman, contractor, or company specializing in say, weatherization or gutter cleaning.

Larger or more complex projects require professionals. Don’t cheap out. What’s the point of saving a few bucks now only to turn around and spend the big bucks later?

Exterior Home Maintenance for Renters

For renters, exterior home maintenance still matters. Air leaks may increase heating and cooling bills, and water leaks may result in mold and medical bills. If you notice something amiss, inform the landlord.

Related Posts

Resources

Pick 5 for the Environment

Pick 5 for the Environment Logo (not available as of 2014)Pick 5 for the Environment is an international initiative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of State. I heard about it while watching the BeGreen2013 – National Summit on Environmental Education and Sustainability, so went to the U.S. EPA Pick 5 website to check it out.

Pick 5 Initiative

Pick 5 was introduced several years ago via a U.S. EPA news release dated 04/22/09.

“As part of its Earth Month outreach efforts, EPA today launched ‘Pick 5 for the Environment,’ encouraging the public to commit to taking at least five actions to protect the environment. Pick 5 helps people identify ways they can protect their environment and makes use of social media sites to allow them to share their tips and stories.”

In a short video, Leilani Munter, an American race car driver, said to offset her carbon footprint she adopts an acre of rain forest for each race. Wonder how that pencils out. At least she’s taking responsibility for her choice of profession.

The It’s My Environment video is a collection of video snippets from all around the world showing people taking Pick 5 actions. It was fun to watch.

The Pick 5 actions are still relevant today. Visitors to the Pick 5 website are encouraged to learn about potential actions, pick 5, make a pledge via email, and share their story.

Water

  • Use only the water you need, and reuse when possible.
  • Help keep water clean by using biodegradable and environmentally friendly cleaning products.
  • Dispose of solid and liquid wastes and medications safely.
  • Protect your local water source from pollutants, excess pesticides and garbage.

Air

  • Use human powered modes of transportation to get from place to place!
  • Pass on gas! Take public transportation, carpool, and plan your day to reduce trips and vehicle emissions.
  • Make sure your home’s air is healthy.
  • Buy locally, or grow your own!
  • Reduce your potential for exposure to mercury.
  • Plant a tree. Or plant many trees!
  • Prevent additional air pollution by finding alternatives to burning your waste.

Land

  • Use pesticides safely!
  • Learn about composting, try it out!
  • Learn about ‘Greenscaping’!
  • Learn about the native species and the negative effects of non native plants and animals in the environment.

Energy

  • Save energy at home.
  • Go renewable! Create your own power from wind, the sun, water, or biofuels.
  • Find alternate ways to reduce use of diesel and other fuels for transportation, production and energy.
  • Find out how much of your home’s energy is supplied by renewable sources, seek to increase it.

Waste

  • Reduce.
  • Reuse. Upcycle! Take something that is disposable and transform it into something of greater use and value.
  • Recycle metals, plastics and paper.
  • E-cycle.
  • Don’t litter! Properly dispose of trash and waste.
  • When purchasing goods, opt for sustainable, recycled or reused resources. Choose items in less packaging.

Advocacy

  • Participate in a local environmental festival or event.
  • Organize a local event!
  • Establish a Green Award program in your community.
  • Talk to a friend about Pick 5!
  • Find a ‘Green Mate’ across the globe, double up to make a difference.
  • Share your commitment on social networking sites.
  • Join or start a green club in your community.
  • Bring environmental education to your local schools and community.
  • Raise Awareness!

My Pick 5 for 2013

Rather than select actions we are already doing (which we’ll continue doing anyway), I decided to select 5 new actions to take for 2013.

  1. Help keep water clean by using biodegradable and environmentally friendly cleaning products. I’ve wanted to learn more about eco-cleaning products. No time like the present.
  2. Learn about the native species and the negative effects of non native plants and animals in the environment. We live in a Monterey Pine forest with limited water. We don’t irrigate our yard so I’d like to learn about native plants that require no irrigation and invasive plants to keep an eye out for.
  3. Go renewable! Create your own power from wind, the sun, water, or biofuels. Late last year, we decided to put solar panels on the roof of our house. They are being installed next month so I think it’s fair to count this action for 2013.
  4. E-cycle. Although our farmer’s market provides a monthly e-cycling program, we have yet to take our collection of old electronic equipment. This is the year.
  5. Share your commitment on social networking sites. I started on this one by signing up for a Twitter account and started tweeting @unlikelyenviro.

Consider visiting the Pick 5 website and picking your own 5 actions for 2013.

Related Posts: BeGreen2013 — National Summit on Environmental Education and Sustainability