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Whether your approach to life maintenance is to plan out every detail or improvise at the last moment, chances are you’ve fallen into the trap of procrastination.
And while that’s OK for chores like folding the laundry or doing the dishes, putting off some tasks and repairs can lead to serious – and costly – consequences.
It can be difficult to discern which tasks can wait and which ones need immediate attention. Here is a list of potential home- and car-related to-dos you should consider addressing sooner rather than later to save some big headaches down the road.
Get an oil change for your car
Oil is the life blood of an engine, and it’s responsible for lubricating the rotating parts inside the mechanism in addition to helping cool it, said Fred Hules II, chairman of the Automotive Service Association’s board of directors.
The oil also contains additives that keep a car engine lubricated and clean, but those additives diminish over time, he said. This is why it’s important to replace your oil, Hules said.
Every car is different when it comes to what type of oil to use and how often to replace it, so it is important to refer to your owner’s manual, he said. Many vehicles make it even easier by flashing an oil change message on the instrument panel when it’s time, Hules added.
The next step is to bring your car into a car mechanic who will be able to better asses the vehicle and replace the oil. Once you find an automotive service professional that you like, stick with them because they can learn more about how you use your car and make specific recommendations to prolong its life, he said.
When you go in for an oil change, have them check other parts of the car like the washer fluid, engine coolant, transmission fluid, differential fluid and spark plugs, Hules said.
Here is a list of vehicle shops to find a car mechanic near you.
Check your tire pressure
Having the proper tire pressure can make your tires last longer and ensure they make good contact with the road, which helps with traction when driving and breaking, Hules said.
One of the most neglected tires is the spare tire, he added. When he checks new customers’ cars, many of them have a flat spare.
“It’s a bad day when you have a flat tire, and you certainly don’t want it to be any worse when your spare tire is flat,” he said.
Hules recommended checking your tire pressure once a month. Most cars will alert the driver when the pressure is low, but you also can use a gauge to find how much pressure is in each tire and compare that to ideal levels listed in the vehicle owner’s manual. If your tires are low, use an at-home tire inflator or visit a local gas station.
Clean your closet
There may not be a monster in your closet, but a gigantic mess in there could be just as scary.
After moving or living in the same space for a while, it’s understandable that items accumulate. Many of them likely make their way to the closet at some point during rush cleanings in an attempt to make your other spaces less cluttered.
Disorder, even tucked away in a closet, can have a strong negative impact on your mental health, often leading to stress, depression and anxiety, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
One of the bulkiest items in your closet is your clothing. The first step when organizing clothes is to donate items that do not fit you well and throw away ones that are beyond repair, said Barbara Reich, founder and owner of Life Organized in New York City.
When deciding what clothes to keep, ask yourself if you will realistically wear the garment in the next year. If it’s a no, donating the piece to a local charity is a great and sustainable option, according to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
It can be overwhelming taking every item out of a closet, so you should clean section-by-section, Reich said. Set aside an hour or two each time you clean part of your closet to ensure you have adequate time to make a difference.
After that, sort the clothing by type of garment then color, which gives you a better sense of what your wardrobe looks like, she said.
“I didn’t realize how many black sweaters I have; I can really stop buying black sweaters,” Reich said.
Repair water spots on the ceiling
If you notice a damp area on your ceiling, that means there is unwanted moisture in that area, said Kurt Clason, the 2022 chair of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers.
The moisture likely indicates that there is a pipe leak inside the wall or a leaky roof, he said.
If caught early, a repair person could simply cut a hole in the drywall, fix the leak, and place a new piece of dry wall on the ceiling, Clason said.
If you ignore the leak, the water can lead to mold and mildew growth and, in more serious cases, flooding, Clason said. The costs of these types of repairs add up fast, he added.
“I’ve never seen drips get better in time. They always get worse, so you want to make sure you take action to prevent that,” Clason said.
Reapply bathroom caulking
Caulk is a material used in various areas around the home to seal gaps and make an area watertight. It is used in many areas of a bathroom, particularly in baths and showers.
Over time, caulk can peel away, leaving open seams for water to reach your walls, Clason said. Studs, the wooden materials used to make most walls, and floorboards are not designed to be wet all the time, so they will rot fairly quickly, he explained.
Once the wood around it has rotted, a bathtub could fall through the floor, Clason said. If the bathroom is on the second floor, it could lead to ceiling drips and water stains for the room below, he added.
Fortunately, caulking is easy to fix if caught early. Once you notice caulk starting to peel away, use a caulking remover or a bottle or can opener to remove the rest in that area, Clason advised.
After it is removed, draw a new line of caulk along the gap to create the seal, he said. Both the remover and caulk can be purchased at a home repair store and are very affordable, Clason said.
Replace broken weather stripping
Weather stripping is the flexible strip around exterior doors intended to seal off the inside of your home. If you notice it dragging on the floor when you open the door or pieces of it breaking off, it’s time for a replacement, Clason said.
A faulty weather strip can allow exterior air into your house, which reduces the energy efficiency of your home – and also increases your electric bill – he said.
Heavy rain or snow can find their way through the cracks and potentially cause severe damage to flooring, especially wood, Clason said.
Many hardware stores sell weather stripping, and it is an easy repair process. The bottom strip is a little trickier than the top and involves taking a door off its hinges, so you might want to call a professional for help, he explained.