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Essential Home Maintenance.

Sometimes the best fix for a home is actually to not have the problem in the first place. Doing some of the things on this list to your home regularly will keep your home from needing costly repairs later.

1. Test your garage door opener monthly to ensure that it reverses when it hits an obstruction or when its sensor beam is interrupted. This is a safety factor that should always be working on the opener.

2. Vacuum the clothes dryer's exhaust duct at least once a year. If the duct is plastic, replace it (it's a fire hazard). Rigid sheet-metal ducting is best. I know I have listed this before but this is one of the most common causes for house fires.

3. Replace furnace filters quarterly, or as recommended by the furnace manufacturer. This will keep the dust down in your home and also keep the air clean.

4. Test all GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets monthly. Press the test button and use a voltage tester to make sure the power goes off.

5. Clean leaves and debris from the condenser of a central air conditioner seasonally. This will keep the unit operating at optimal performance.

6. Once a year, vacuum the refrigerator coils underneath the appliance.

7. Have the fireplace chimney inspected and cleaned annually.

8. Inspect window and door caulking and weather stripping yearly.

9. Replace the batteries in smoke detectors two times a year. And remember, even recent hard-wired smoke detectors have backup batteries that must be replaced. If you have never checked yours, do so. It is easy to remember to do it every time you change your clocks ahead or back.

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