Running a sober living home? Congratulations, you’re providing a life-changing service for those of us in recovery. It’s a hard job (and one that’s often misunderstood) but it really does help many of us change our lives for the better. For people attending a drug rehab or addiction center, a stay in a sober living home can strengthen their recovery and give them a long, happy life.
We won’t tell you running a sober home can be very difficult, because you already know. However, there are certain home improvement tasks that can be very easy to fall behind on … and with pricey results, if you let them go.
Not only does keeping ahead of these tasks help keep your home safe and pleasant, it’s also a way to avoid some of the red flags that can turn off potential residents.
Here are 5 easy-to-forget sober home maintenance jobs to be aware of.
Smoke Detectors: The First and Last Line of Defense in a Sober Home
Sober living homes often have a larger than a usual number of people living in them. Keeping them safe is job one. In a house, that falls to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (and if you don’t have those, put them in immediately).
Smoke detectors and CO detectors save lives unless they’re not working. Regularly check to make sure the batteries in the devices are working, and it’s not a bad idea to replace the batteries at least once a year.
Having these critically important devices is required in most states, so making sure they’re in working condition won’t just help keep your residents safe, it’ll also preserve your reputation.
The Roof & Gutters: Why Drainage is the Problem that Sneaks Up on You
Pop quiz: When was the last time you thought about the gutters on your sober home?
If “never” is the answer, you’re not alone. It’s easy to neglect these crucial bits of your sober home’s infrastructure. This is especially true if your sober home is in the southwestern US, or California, where rain can be very rare.
The problem is that clogged gutters can cause massive amounts of water damage to your sober home. Drainage issues are among the most damaging problems a sober house can have. Fortunately, there are ways to take care of it.
First, make a habit of doing checks around the exterior of your sober home. How are the downspouts? Are they watertight, pointing away from the house, and discharging at least three feet from your home? Also, look for indentations or other signs of water pooling too close to your foundation.
Secondly, clean your gutters at least once a year. Do it before the rainy season, if that’s a thing where you live. While you’re up there, check out the roof – look for broken, cracked, or missing shingles. If you see black gritty stuff in your gutters, that’s a major sign asphalt shingles need to be replaced.
Also, anything growing on your shingles – moss, algae, and whatnot – are signs of a big problem, along with culprits like rust, dry rot, or caulk that’s been damaged.
Air Conditioning: Don’t Play It Cool with Your Sober Home HVAC System
Every location in the US has a hot season and having a great air conditioner is a major selling point for your sober home.
Unfortunately, HVAC systems can leave you feeling hot under the collar when they stop working during a heat wave. While most HVAC work is best left to the pros, you can keep your air conditioner and furnace happy by regularly changing their air filters.
About that HVAC work: don’t wait until it gets hot out to get your AC unit checked. Have a tech come out and do maintenance on it during the off seasons before it gets too hot (or cold).
The Bathrooms: Keeping the Most Popular Room in Your Sober Home Fresh
Sober living houses are communal living spaces, and your bathrooms are going to see a lot of traffic. It’s no slur against your residents; it’s just that in a busy house, bathrooms see a lot of wear and tear. A lot of it is due to water.
As is the case with gutters, water damage can be both incredibly expensive and fiendishly hard to fix. In the bathroom, that means your bathtub and/or shower stall. First step? Make sure the tub/shower is draining okay.
Second, look at the caulk around the tub and make sure it’s not pitting or peeling. If your bathroom is tiled, check to see that the tiles aren’t damaged and the grout holding them together is nice and hard, not crumbling when you press it.
Bathrooms are no joke – it’s the room in your house that often requires a complete (and expensive) do-over when there’s enough damage. Also, make sure it’s aggressively kept clean for obvious reasons.
Smaller Tasks: Water Heater, Clothes Dryer, Refrigerator, & Window Maintenance
It’s exceptionally easy to fall behind in these more minor areas. Like other areas of your house, they’re fine until they’re not. Here are three areas you should make a habit of occasionally checking:
- Water Heater: Flush it once a year. Why? Sediments from minerals in your water build up inside of it, which can cause your water heater to rust out. This means you’ll need to buy a new water heater, and they’re not cheap. Flushing it will extend your water heater’s life.
- Clothes Dryer: Your dryer vent duct is easy to ignore, but it can cause house fires due to built-up fabric and dust. Plus, a clogged dust vent can smell nasty. Use a shop vac to get rid of the dust inside your ductwork, and make sure the outside vent is covered – animals like to nest in them.
- Refrigerator condenser coils: These bits at the rear of your refrigerator help keep your refrigerator stay cool. Cleaning them is super easy – just pull your fridge away from the wall and wipe them clean. If they get dirty, your refrigerator (which we’ll bet is one of your sober home’s gathering spaces) won’t be as efficient, and dirty coils can dramatically shorten your refrigerator’s life.
- Windows: Ever hear of a “weep hole?” We didn’t either … until we researched this blog. Weep holes are the little holes on the outside of your frames – they help the window frame drain water. Every so often, give them a once over and make sure water is draining from the window and there are no bugs calling them home.
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