Annual home maintenance that saves you money and headaches

Too many of us wait until things around the house either break down or die altogether before we fix them. The latest Angie's List Report tells you why changing this habit should be among your New Year's resolutions, and which three chores to tackle first.

"Now's a great time to make a resolution to take care of the little things around your house... Even the most experienced homeowner often leaves these things go and they can cost you big in the long run" says Angie Hicks, Angie's List founder.

The first is flushing your water heater. Calcium and lime build-up are the leading cause of cracks in water heaters. Flushing of the sediment each year is a money saver and will keep it running well for the 12 years it’s meant to.

Another annual chore some of us have never done: clearing your outside dryer vent. Fifteen thousand homes catch fire when backed up lint and debris get too hot. A clogged vent will also have an effect on how well your dryer performs.

Deep cleaning your carpet is another chore many of us attempt. Pros say most carpet will look good for a decade if you take care of it well, and that means an annual deep cleaning for high-traffic areas on top of weekly vacuuming.

Basic maintenance does take time but Angie says it pays off because emergency repair fees can add hundreds to your replacement costs. Also, appliances and your water heater account for nearly a third of your energy bill.