If You Have Lived In Your House For 15 Years or More…Posted by Nicole on December 29th, 2022

Remember when you bought your home all those years ago? The seller replaced some things, and you did some work or replaced some things after you moved in… and then you went on autopilot because everything big was fixed! Ahhh…. how nice to just have to worry about changing your air filter for the heating/cooling system, testing & changing the batteries in your smoke & carbon monoxide alarms, clearing the gutters, and treating the moss on the roof every so often. Cruise control, commence!

Now, 10 or 15 years later, what is the condition of your home? If you decided to sell now, what kind of repairs would you have to do? What would need replacement? Let’s tap the breaks and come out of cruise control for a bit to evaluate the situation.

Normally, homeowners just fix things when it becomes a problem… which, for the most part, is fine. But what about when your water heater tells you its life is over by leaking water all over your basement or garage? Or your roof leaks (always seems to happen during a torrential downpour)? Or your furnace stops working (always on the coldest day of the year)? Perhaps it’s time to look at these things again- if nothing else, to give you an idea of when you might expect to replace these things.

We know that one-layer asphalt composition roofs (most common here) in the Portland area can last anywhere from 15-25 years. Water heaters generally last anywhere from 12-20 years. Furnaces usually go about 18-20 years before needing replacement. Replacing an old cooling system is a no-brainer because older, more environmentally destructive coolants are being phased out, and are therefore more expensive to recharge, making repairs or recharging older cooling systems silly in comparison to replacement. And kitchen appliances? Expected service lives are 10-12 years! Don’t get me started on those old toilets that waste gallons and gallons of water every time you flush! (Aaaaaand…. what if rodents made it into your attic or crawlspace and wreaked havoc? Or your exhaust fan came loose in the attic?)

It is important to keep in mind that the quality of components/construction, as well as use and maintenance also play a big part in how much time may be left: Four hot showers per day and four loads of laundry per week is going to wear much faster on a water heater than in a home where there are only two hot showers per week and one load of laundry or a part-time occupant (hello snowbirds).

With these rough service lives in mind, if you’ve owned your house for 10+ years and haven’t done much, you might benefit from looking up the ages of these components or hiring an inspector to look things over for you.

Let’s say you had ALL the mechanical equipment and appliances replaced when you bought your home… 15 years ago. That means the roof, water heater, cooling system, and kitchen appliances are likely nearing their final years (if not months) and the furnace has just a few years left. Wouldn’t it ne nice to be able to budget for these things or be proactive and replace them before greater damage is caused?

The good news is that newer mechanical equipment, fixtures, appliances, etc. are much more efficient than even 15 year old components, so you’ll be giving the earth a fist bump and saving on your monthly utilities. Some things can wait to be replaced, but other things may cause damage if you just let them tell you when they’re done!

A 15 year old asphalt composition roof
A 15 year old asphalt composition roof

6 Reasons to Clean Your Furnace & DuctsPosted by admin on March 23rd, 2015

I recently had the ducts and furnace cleaned at my house. Why, you ask? Here are 6 reasons to clean your furnace & ducts:

1. The life of your furnace. Dirt slows down air movement and creates more resistance so that your furnace has to work harder, reducing the life of the equipment and ultimately costing you more money. This dirt gets stuck inside your ducts, furnace and a good portion gets stuck to your filter. (That means it is VERY important to change or clean your filter so that your furnace doesn’t have to work so hard to push the air through a filthy filter!)

2. Allergies and cleaner air. Even if you don’t have allergies, whatever is blowing around in the air can tickle your nose and get into your lungs. AaaaaahCHOO!

3. Breathe your own air. Especially if you’re moving into a new home, you don’t want to be breathing in someone else’s dust or dead skin, allergens/pollens, dirt and pet hair from 12 years ago. When years of build-up is camped out in your furnace and ducting, a lot of it can just be re-circulated into the air you breathe. Ewwwww!

4. Mold! Air has moisture. Moisture likes to stay in cozy areas. Cozy areas provide a nice home for mold. Where is pretty cozy in your house? Your heating ducts!

5. The secret is the filter. Have you done a remodeling project lately? Has there recently been road construction nearby your house? Any thing that increases particles in the air of your home means that at the very least, your filter probably needs to be changed. Those particles can fill up a filter faster than you think. Depending on how often you use your heating/cooling system,  the depth of your filter, your family’s daily life (smoking, allergies) and if you have pets, it should be changed every 1-3 months. When in doubt, change it out. It is MUCH cheaper to clean or change your filter regularly than to pay for a new furnace.

6. Less dust. If you’re like me, you have little time or energy left after a busy week to clean. Let your filter do the work- you can sit back and relax.

The following are photos of my furnace blower and return air duct the before and after it was cleaned. If I inspect a house and I see a dirty blower or ducts, I recommend cleaning. If I don’t see maintenance records for the furnace, I recommend a complete service.

Furnace blower after cleaning

Furnace blower after cleaning

Furnace blower before cleaning

Furnace blower before cleaning

clean return air duct

clean return air duct

Return duct before cleaning

Return duct before cleaning

A/C Springtime MaintenancePosted by admin on May 7th, 2014

It’s starting to stay warm lately and soon enough you’ll want to use your air conditioning system. Make sure you’ll be ready to go when it’s time!


  • Clear the immediate area around the unit- much vegetation growth has happened since you last used the unit!
  • Do NOT use when the temperature is below 65 degrees- this can damage the system!
  • When you first start the air conditioner, set your thermostat 5 degrees above room temperature to lubricate the system.
  • Change the filter at the interior unit- this should be done regularly, especially if you have allergies!
  • Learn what to have a qualified professional do for you.
  • Learn about Freon and how low levels can damage the system.

If you haven;t had your A/C system, serviced in a while, it’s probably time. Don’t wait until scorching temperatures are in the forecast!

Roof Maintenance TipsPosted by admin on June 9th, 2013

Wondering what to do to keep your roof in tip top shape? Read this Seattle Times article to learn some roof maintenance tips.

With all the moisture we have in the Pacific Northwest, your roof is one of the most important components to maintain!

Spring Cleaning & MaintenancePosted by admin on April 12th, 2013

It’s that time again! I imagine you’ll be doing some spring cleaning and yard work when the weather gets nice again. It’s a good idea to also do some basic maintenance around your house to save money, energy and possibly headaches later. If you maintain the systems in your home, you will have less of a chance of an expensive catastrophe and your appliances and house components will last longer, saving you money in the long run. Here are my recommendations for spring house maintenance:

Clean or replace your HVAC filters. This needs to be done regularly- I recommend doing it monthly when in use. A clean filter saves on energy costs and extends the life of your system. A dirty filter forces your system to work harder (reducing the life) to force air through all the built-up dirty particles and can re-distribute pollens and dirt throughout your home. Do you have allergies? This is a MUST!

Vacuum your refrigerator coils. Dirty coils (on the back of your fridge) cause your fridge to work harder to extract heat from the interior of the fridge which means more money out of your pocket! Use a vacuum cleaner hose or a brush to clean the coils.

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. This is probably the easiest but most often skipped home maintenance task. Having these in working order is important for safety of you and your family so don’t skip it! for added safety, get a carbon monoxide detector for each level of your home and each bedroom as well- safety first!

Clean your dryer vent. This also saves energy and money- when your vents are dirty, the exhaust air from your dryer doesn’t have a clear path to the exterior, so it has to work harder which causes inefficiency as you may have to run your dryer for longer periods of time. This means higher energy bills. Built-up lint is also a fire hazard. Be sure to also clean your lint trap inside the dryer before EVERY cycle!

Clean and inspect the gutters. I know I recommended this in the fall too, but dust, pollen, leaves and branches fall year-round and spring is the second most important time to clean them. Evaluate the overall condition of the gutters- be sure there are no leaks and that the drainage is away from the foundation. Use a gutter scoop to clear gutters and be sure the connections to downspouts is also clear. A friend of mine said he found a tennis ball in his gutter- no wonder it wasn’t draining properly!

Clear space around your AC compressor. Prepare for the warmer weather by clearing anything that can block airflow- this increases efficiency and extends the life of your unit.

Prepare your lawn mower. Sharpen the cutting blade and change the engine oil. Your mower will run like a champ and your lawn will look better too.

Happy spring!

Autumn Maintenance – get ready for the rain and cooler temperatures!Posted by admin on October 26th, 2012

It’s the time of year when we are forced to say goodbye to warm, dry weather and hello to cooler, wet weather. This means that you should make sure your home is weatherized and ready to go when you have to turn the heat on. Weatherizing your home can save you hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs and will make your living space much more comfortable. Follow these tips to prepare your home for fall!

Change your furnace air filter if you didn’t change it at the end of the summer. A dirty filter can make air flow difficult, which is hard on your furnace- it can reduce the life and cost you money before it was ready to be replaced. It’s also good to get the old particles from last season out of your house, especially if you have allergies.

Clean and inspect the gutters. Get rid of leaves & debris before the rains come along and clog up the system. Evaluate the overall condition of the gutters- be sure there are no leaks and that the drainage is away from the foundation.

Call the chimney sweep. Have a professional inspect and clean the chimney before you start a fire.

Verify that vents are open and unobstructed. It is a dangerous mistake to close off the vents in the crawlspace and attic. You are not keeping heat in but instead actively supporting mold growth. As humidity increases during fall and winter, ineffective ventilation prevents moisture from escaping and mold growth is usually the result. Though vents should be screened to keep out rodents, air should flow freely above the insulation in attics and below the insulation in crawlspaces.

Weatherstrip your windows. If you have old, original windows they can be quite drafty. Weatherstripping can save you considerable money in heating costs.

Disconnect garden hoses. Store hoses in the garage or a shed for the winter.

Cooling Equipment MaintenancePosted by admin on July 12th, 2012

Simple tips to keep you cool.

Now that it’s actually summer (finally), be sure you’re maintaining your hard-working cooling equipment. Unmaintained or poorly maintained units can shorten the life of your equipment, cause the air output to be warmer than desired and can also waste a lot of energy. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the earth!

– Clean or replace filters every month. Dirty filters impede airflow.
– Keep the condensing unit free of debris.
– Trim vegetation near condensing unit to ensure proper air flow and circulation.
– Straighten bent condensing unit fins with a fin comb so air can move adequately.

Stay cool out there!