Home maintenance tips to avoid big repairs in future

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A little money spent on home maintenance can save you a lot of cash on repairs down the line. It all starts with an easy home inspection.

You take your car in for a regular checkup to keep it running, but how about doing the same for your home? It is, after all, your biggest investment.

John LaRocca, a certified home inspector, says there are a number of things homeowners should inspect at least once a year.

At one home, LaRocca found a sinkhole forming in the front yard caused by a leaking sewer pipe underground.

"We have saturated soil, which could have sewage in it. Children can play on it. You don't want that situation going on. Plus, it could actually collapse at some particular point," LaRocca said.

It's a repair that should be made right away.

Also at the home, there was soil sloping toward the foundation. This could cause water to collect there.

"It will allow the foundation to settle, which causes cracks in the foundation system as well as in the house. Many times, we see cracks inside the house. It's often related to this kind of an issue," LaRocca said.

As a solution, LaRocca said the homeowner should make sure the water is drained away from the area in some way.

"A good thing to do would be to put a patio here, something solid, so the water would not penetrate the soil and will be going away from the house," LaRocca advised.

When was the last time you looked at your water heater?

"Just make sure there's no water sitting down here in the tank, or water stains from where water had been leaking," LaRocca said.

Also, he advised to check for stains around the vent line where it goes through the ceiling. Such stains could indicate a roof leak.

LaRocca also pointed out that the hoses connected to your washing machine should be checked for leaks. He said it's always a good idea to look behind the washer to make sure there is no accumulating water or mold.

One simple inspection people often overlook is the furnace and air-conditioning filter. If it's dirty, LaRocca said it will clog up the system and decrease efficiency. A dirty, clogged filter can also cause the system to overheat and shorten its lifespan. This is particularly true with the air-conditioning system.

If you're planning on buying a home, make sure to hire a professional home inspector with all the right credentials.

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