Your home is your castle. It’s your safety net to the world around you. Every day, as you drive to work, run errands, go shopping, or walk the dog, you are surrounded by unpredictability. You place your trust in others to keep you safe. When you step out of the home, your guard goes up, and when you return home, you have solace in knowing that you are in the one place where you don’t have to worry about a thing.

While this may seem like an ideal way to look at the home, it’s true for a lot of people. You can relax at home and know that things are simply going to work. Until they don’t. A lot of people take their plumbing, heating, and air systems for granted. When it works, we don’t think about it. It’s out of sight and out of mind. These are systems that can work for years without issue and we get used to it.

But when any one of these systems stops running as it should, that feeling of security goes away. Suddenly, our home isn’t the sanctuary it once was. And in some cases, it’s more than security that goes away — it’s safety. When you’re heating system, for example, isn’t working properly, it can pose a serious health risk to you and your family, especially if it’s leaking carbon monoxide.

When that feeling of safety and security goes away, that’s when we get the call. People want that feeling back and that’s understandable. It’s a good feeling to have. But when we get the call, it’s almost always in reaction to a problem, rather than prevention of a problem.

That, too, is understandable. Most homeowners don’t do routine checks of their systems. They don’t check pipes for corrosion or mineral buildup, they don’t check their furnace for leaks, and so on. When things are working, or seem to be working, we don’t worry about it.

I recently worked with a client who wanted to upgrade his water softener. I asked why, and he said the hard water was becoming a problem. When I went to turn off the water, the valve under the sink wouldn’t budge. The calcium buildup, coupled with the age of the valve, prevented it from turning, and we needed to get a pair of plyers.

This house had been built in the 1960s, and so had the valve. No one had ever gone under the sink to check the valve to ensure it was working properly. What a lot of people forget is that valves, along with pipes, furnaces, and air conditioners, all have life expectancies. At some point, they are not going to work as intended.

Because these systems are tucked away in closets, cabinets, walls, and basements, they are easy to forget about. The average heat pump will last eight to 10 years before failing. Air conditioners generally last 15 years. Furnaces and boilers can last 18–22 years. Copper pipe has a life expectancy of about 75 years, with PVC pipe just under that at about 70 years, max.

As homes age, these can quickly become major issues. This is one of the reasons that, as part of our maintenance program, we touch every system in the home. If we see something not working according to our standards or we’re concerned about the age of an appliance, we’ll bring it up with the homeowner and make a recommendation.

We want our clients, and homeowners everywhere, to go to bed at night feeling safe and secure. When you’re in your own home, that feeling should never go away. But sometimes, it’s going to; it’s a fact of life. But you can rest assured, because we’ll be there for you when it does.