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Wouldn't it be nice to get a friendly reminder in your e-mail when it is time to perform those not-so-fun home maintenance chores? Unless you've got nothing better to do, it's hard to put tasks like changing smoke alarm batteries, cleaning dryer vents, or flushing water heaters on your calendar without a little prompting.

American Home Shield has just launched an online program that provides homeowners with important maintenance information that will help homeowners remember those little things that keep a home and its fixtures and appliances running in good working order.

The program is called "RealMinder," and it will send you twice-monthly e-mail notifications to prompt you to complete necessary maintenance on your home. So if you've never exercised your electrical panel, the e-mail will not only remind you to do it but tell you how.

An automatic link is included in the e-mail, which connects the e-mail recipient to his or her personalized RealMinder home maintenance Web pages. On the site, detailed, illustrated instructions guide each homeowner through each scheduled maintenance activity.

As any real estate professional will tell you, good maintenance is the key to retaining and growing home values. Get in the habit early of protecting your home investment by keeping the parts running that could cost you big money in repairs if they aren't well-maintained.

American Home Shield is a national leader in home warranty plans, so they know all about preventive maintenance. A home warranty is great protection for most homeowners, but it can't be expected to cover every problem. Just as in the insurance business, warranty providers are asking homeowners to share the cost of protection by doing more to prevent breakdowns of fixtures and appliances that should run smoothly with a little TLC.

So don't buy into higher costs when warrantying your home. Keep your costs lower by doing your part in home maintenance.

That's a nice extension of any warranty.

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