An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure: Home Maintenance Checklist Safeguards the 'Health' of a Home

Residents of Sponsored Block Get Helping Hand from Sears

You know the old adage, but do you know how it pertains to your home and what to do about it? Many people don't. In fact, surveys show many homeowners do not plan or budget for their home maintenance costs, which can mean that small problems could become big, expensive ones. This fall, the Sears American Dream Campaign (a $100 million community commitment to help millions of Americans outfit and maintain their homes and families) is reminding homeowners across the country to pay attention to their home maintenance needs. And this week, Sears, and its local program partner, Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago, are helping residents in one Chicago neighborhood to do just that.

Starting Tuesday, Sears Product Repair Service Technicians and other Sears service professionals will conduct free home maintenance assessments for 14 homeowners residing on one block in the Auburn Gresham Englewood neighborhood. The assessments will include preventative maintenance checks on plumbing, heating and electrical systems, appliances, windows and siding.

The sponsored block, the 7500 block of South Parnell, is home to several families who have made long-term investments in the community. Preventive home maintenance will help them preserve and even enhance the value of this investment.

"NHS is proud to be part of this educational outreach to the resident homeowners on this block. This effort builds on our commitment to preserve affordable housing in Chicago and helps homeowners to better understand the importance of home maintenance," says Bruce Gottschall, executive director for NHS of Chicago.

Sears has developed a convenient checklist of the most important items to assess and maintain every year that can help safeguard the long-term health of a home.

Fall is a great time to pay attention to the seemingly minor repairs that can increase the value, safety and efficiency of a home. According to Sears, of its 14.5 million service calls in 2002, the company saw an increase in service calls for heating systems and cooking appliances during the fall season. By planning for and making routine annual assessments and house repairs, homeowners can often prevent more costly surprise expenses in the future.

Housing experts recommend setting a little money aside every month (one to three percent of the market value of your house annually) to pay for maintenance and repair costs. These funds can help defray the large expenses that occasionally occur as a house ages -- and can even happen in a new house. Saving money and planning ahead can prevent those unforeseen bills from becoming big financial headaches.

Many of the checklist items can be performed by the homeowner, but it is important to know when an expert is needed. Certified technicians should be called for major appliances, chimney cleaning and electrical and plumbing work.

Sears, Roebuck and Co. is a broadline retailer with significant service and credit businesses. In 2002, the company's annual revenue was $41 billion. The company offers its wide range of apparel, home and automotive products and services to families in the U.S. through Sears stores nationwide, including approximately 870 full-line stores. Sears also offers a variety of merchandise and services through its Web sites,, and, and a variety of specialty catalogs.

Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc. is Chicago's largest non- profit housing organization. NHS of Chicago has more than 27 years of experience in educating residents of Chicago on home ownership, as well as offering innovative and affordable home purchase, home improvement, and home rehab loans.

                    The Sears American Dream Campaign
           Bi-Annual Home Maintenance "Top to Bottom" Checklist

  1.   Roof: Check roof and around vents, skylights and chimneys for leaks.
       Repair as necessary.
  2.   Attic: (Fall) Close vents to conserve heat.  (Spring) Open vents to
       ensure proper ventilation.
  3.   Gutters: Clean gutters and drain pipes so leaves won't clog them and
       be sure they drain away from the house.  (Fall: In cold-climate
       areas) Drain outside faucets.
  4.   Fireplace: Clean fireplace of ashes.  (Fall) Check chimney for loose
       or missing mortar.  Have chimney professionally cleaned.  Make sure
       damper closes tightly.  (Spring) Leave damper open for improved
       ventilation if the home is not air-conditioned.
  5.   Filters: Remember to clean or replace filters once a month, or as
       needed.  Check and clean dryer vent, air conditioner, stove hood and
       room fans.  Keep heating and cooling vents clean and free from
       furniture and draperies.
  6.   Safety Equipment: Ensure that all smoke detectors, carbon monoxide
       detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working order.  Replace
       batteries in appropriate devices as needed, or at least twice each
  7.   Air Conditioner: (Fall: In cold-climate areas) Remove window air-
       conditioners, or put weatherproof covers on them.
  8.   Refrigerator: Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight.
       Test them by closing the door over a dollar bill.  If you can pull
       the bill out easily, the latch may need to be adjusted or the seal
       may need to be replaced.  In addition, if you have a coil-back
       refrigerator, vacuum the coils at least twice each year.  Your
       refrigerator will run more efficiently with clean coils.  Also, stock
       up!  A full refrigerator uses less energy than an empty one.
  9.   Faucets: Check for leaky faucets in kitchen and bathroom(s).  Replace
       washers as necessary.
  10.  Windows and Doors: Seal drafty doors and windows.  If you added up
       all of the small cracks where heating and cooling escapes from a
       home, it would be the same as having a window open.  Replace seals as
  11.  Storm Windows and Screens: (Fall) Take down screens (if removable
       type) and replace with storm windows.  (Spring) Remove, clean, and
       store storm windows (if removable).  Check and patch all door and
       window screens.  Put screens up (if removable type).
  12.  Siding and Paint: Look for cracks and holes in house siding or paint.
       Replace caulk if necessary.  A carpet knife can work well for cutting
       away old caulking from house siding.  Slice down alongside it from
       both directions with the hook-like blade, then use the knife to lift
       out the old caulk bead intact.
  13.  Basement: Check basement walls and floor for dampness.  Be sure to
       clean dehumidifier regularly, if you have one.
  14.  Heating System: (Fall) Have heating system serviced.  Change filters.
  15.  Hot Water Heater: (Fall) Drain hot water heater.  Remove sediment
       from the bottom of the tank.

For more home maintenance tips, or to learn more about the community outreach efforts of the Sears American Dream Campaign, log on to .

SOURCE: Sears, Roebuck and Co.

CONTACT: Media, Linda Blakley of Sears, +1-847-286-8862, Cell,
+1-312-206-6842, or Mary Fran Riley of NHS, +1-773-329-4129, Cell,

Web site:

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