It has been a cold and wet winter here in the northwest. But we can’t complain. Its been, and always is, a lot colder in other parts of the country. This time of year a common sight for my husband, Jeff, and me as we walk our dog around the neighborhood is a furnace repair truck in the driveway of a hapless neighbor. Like childbirth, it seems that furnaces only go out in the middle of the night on a weekend. Its always cold, and the last thing that you want to deal with is a cranky appliance. Getting a repair person out at that time is shockingly expensive.
I don’t worry about our furnace going out. Nor do I worry about our roof leaking or my car breaking down. That is because I have Jeff, who is the king of maintenance. I have to admit that left to my own devices, I would put little thought into all of the things that make my life comfortable and convenient. As a result, I would spend a lot more money on costly repairs. Jeff, who managed facilities for high tech manufacturing firms and healthcare organizations in his career, knows the value, in both dollars and time, of regularly maintaining equipment. Our family is the happy beneficiary of his diligence.
Whether its your furnace, your car or any other appliance, regular maintenance will extend the life of the expensive things you own. The longer you keep them and the fewer emergency repairs, the more money you will save in the long run. In addition, regular maintenance is a cost that you can predict and budget, whereas an unexpected breakdown can be as financially difficult as it is inconvenient.
Take your furnace. Forced air furnaces typically last between ten and twenty years. You can ensure your’s lasts closer to twenty by following a regular tune up and filter replacement schedule. An annual tune up will keep the unit in good working order. It will also give you a heads up on parts that may be wearing, so that if you do need to replace them, you can do it during regular working hours, when it isn’t cold and the per hour cost is more reasonable. Changing your filter regularly, every one to three months, will ensure that the unit isn’t working harder than it has to and keep your indoor air cleaner. Your furnace will last longer if it runs less, so experts recommend keeping your thermostat temperature within plus or minus five degrees of your normal temperature when everyone is home and awake. Larger swings cause the furnace to run longer, increasing wear and tear as well as your energy costs. The average new furnace costs between $4,000 and $20,000 depending on the size of your home, so you want it to last as long as possible.
Regular maintenance will also extend the life of your car, and keep you from being stranded on the side of the road. Edmonds.com, a web site providing new and used car data and listings, posted a story about how to make your car last forever. They highlighted Irv Gordon, who has three million miles on his 1966 Volvo P1800. Contrast that with a woman I know who never even changed the oil in her Toyota Camry. It is a testament to the car that it lasted for six years. But it was a total loss when her engine seized, leaving her with no option but to buy another car. Here in the US the average car owner keeps their car for just six years, but they can last and remain reliable for much longer. Following the manufacturers suggested maintenance schedule can keep your car running indefinitely. Cars cost a lot more than furnaces. Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep your’s as long?
Taking care of just about everything you have will make it last longer and save you money. Maintenance is predictable in timing and cost, so it is much easier to budget for than unexpected breakdowns. Setting a little money aside each month for home and car upkeep can keep you from breaking the bank on costly repairs. The more predictable your expenses the more likely you are to stay on track for your savings goals. So dust off that crown, and become your own king (or queen) of maintenance!
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