Regular home maintenance takes little effort but goes a long way when it comes to preventing surprise damages. Maintaining your home not only keeps your costs down but also maintains your home’s value, should you ever want to sell. We’ve compiled the most important things to routinely maintain in your home.
Why Home Maintenance is Important
Keeping up with smaller maintenance tasks around your home has a lot of advantages, other than just peace of mind. Other than just enjoying the fact that you’re taking care of your own house, it has some significant long-term benefits.
So, while you’re checking off items on your list today, you can also feel more confident about the future. Regular to-do items don’t just ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success as the seasons change. They can also help protect your bank account. So, how does that work, exactly?
Each of these routine maintenance tips is designed to help keep things working smoothly around your home and to assist you in spotting early problems. A little time and effort here and there can prevent big issues down the road, like plumbing problems, roof damage, or fires. In home ownership, “Big” always seems to equal “Expensive and Time-Consuming”. And, just like your automobile, regular service and maintenance keep your resale value high. So, get your clipboard out, find your flashlight, and let’s get to work!
Monthly Home Maintenance
There are many easy – really easy! – monthly items you can get through in one afternoon. These tasks mainly require some visual checks and possibly a quick remedy to a problem. However, they can significantly cut down on your day-to-day frustration!
Test Your Outlets
If you haven’t located all the GFCI outlets in your new home, this is a good time to do so. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Outlets can be found in your bathrooms, kitchen, or anywhere damp or wet conditions could occur.
Pick up a GFCI tester at your hardware store for accurate results. It’s just quick click and reset for each outlet.
Inspect HVAC filters
A great habit to get into is checking your home’s HVAC filters monthly. Pets, open windows, or even your family’s allergies can affect the frequency of how often you’ll need to change yours – even the time of year. (Some of us simply like more air conditioning in our lives!)
By checking yours regularly, you’ll be aware of the best schedule for your home. Clean air filters help your central air system run more efficiently and keep your home cleaner – and it’s easy to change them out. Keep spares on hand.
Clean Range Hood Filters
Stay on top of this little task, and you’ll thank us! Some people never realize that this is necessary. Pop it out, and give it a soak in your sink with some hot water and dish detergent. After a good brushing and rinsing, it’s ready for another month of cooking! Before you reinstall it, wipe the surrounding area down to remove grease. This little task will help your kitchen smell better, and reduce the risk of fire.
Check for Leaks in the Bathroom
Even small leaks in bathrooms can run up water bills, stain fixtures, and create mildew, mineral build-up, or even water damage to wood. Use your flashlight to check under the sink for drips or water damage. Check and clean your aerators in your tub, shower, and sink faucets, and look for rusty spots in sinks and tubs that can indicate a slow drip.
Check Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors
While you’re on the job, this is a great time to check your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Don’t wait for the shriek to let you know that the battery’s dying, or if a stray cobweb is about to set off the smoke alarm! Just pop off the cover, make sure everything is dry and clean, and push the button. Done for another month!
Semi-Annual Home Maintenance
Some home maintenance checklist items are important, no matter what the season. These particular chores are a little more time-intensive, but also let you use your toolbox – while gaining you major credibility around the house. Schedule these twice a year, and you’ll avoid costly plumbing repairs, help keep your utility bills down, and even prevent wood and structure damage.
Inspect Grout and Tiles
With the increasing popularity of tile in homes, it’s more important than ever to schedule some time to check any tiled areas for cracks, loose caulk or grout, or other damage. This is especially important around sinks, tubs, or any other areas that are exposed to water.
If you spot any issues, it’s much easier to replace a single tile, or to simply recaulk any problem areas yourself. While you’re inspecting, make a note of any spots that could use a little extra cleaning with white vinegar, water, and a brush. As bathrooms and kitchens are big selling points for homes, you’re definitely boosting your resale power with this task.
Vacuum Fridge Coils
Pulling out your fridge not only can help you find all those lost cat toys, change, and keys – it’s also the first step in cleaning your fridge coils! This satisfying project helps lower your electric bills and extends the life of your refrigerator.
After unplugging the appliance, use a brush to loosen any dirt or dust from the coils at the back of your fridge, then vacuum up the excess.
Not the most fun of our semi-annual tasks, but break out your rubber gloves and bundle this one with the next item on the checklist. If drains are clogged up, you can end up with some foul smells, clogged pipes, and more. Make it a complete job by ensuring that your sink, tub, and dishwasher drains are working well and free of debris.
Sink Leak Inspection
Check under around sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets for signs of any wetness or water damage. Common signs of slow leaks are stains, mold, rust spots, or mineral buildup in hard water areas. This type of insidious water flow can cause some big damage.
Annual Home Maintenance
Setting up a checklist of annual maintenance items for your home should include items that are specific to your lifestyle and area. These items are a great place to start!
Clean Sediment from Hot Water Heaters
If you’re new to taking care of your hot water heater, you may be surprised that there’s any maintenance involved. However, sediment can build up, especially in areas with hard water. If you’re noticing mineral deposits on faucets, you should likely perform a tank flush annually.
Dryer Exhaust Cleanup
Dryer exhaust in your laundry area is another one of those slightly-invisible home features that should be checked every year for safety and performance. Lint builds up and can clog the tube that snakes from behind your dryer and into the wall. After pulling out your dryer, you’ll need to disconnect this tube from the wall so that you can vacuum out all the fuzz and lint. This helps prevent fires and will help your dryer work better.
Septic Tank Check
If you have a septic tank, schedule an annual visit from a professional to inspect and pump out your tank, if needed. This is another part of home maintenance where it’s far better to be proactive than reactive!
Preparing for Fall and Winter is best done before Autumn arrives. It may seem strange to start some of these home maintenance tasks before it gets cold – but if you need a service person, you’ll be ahead of the crowd!
Check for Drafts Around Windows
Don’t let sneaky window drafts ruin your cozy winter nights. Make sure any weather stripping is tight, that caulk is intact, and that storm windows are not loose in their frames. Adding appropriate weather-proofing and sealing around all your home’s doors and windows is also an easy way to lower your energy bills.
Clean Gutters and Check the Roof
If gutters are clogged or not working properly, they’ll allow water to pool up and flow into the wrong areas – like onto the sides of your home, or into your foundation or basement, where even a sump pump can’t deal with the overflow. Leaves and debris can create a blockage quickly! Make sure all gutters are directing water to your downspouts. While you’re on the ladder cleaning, look for anything that could indicate roof leaks about to happen: Loose shingles, damage to flashing, and spots where water has backed up above the gutters. These can also cause damaging ice dams in the winter.
Check Your Fireplace
Well before you use it, have your fireplace’s chimney cleaned by a professional. They’ll remove any dangerous buildup that could cause fires, check for proper ventilation and flue operation, and inspect the chimney from the roof.
Replace Your Heating System Air Filter
Before you begin using your furnace, be sure to put in a new air filter. If you haven’t been using your HVAC system much in the fall, this simple task can sneak by you. You’ll be assured of efficient heating system operation the first time you need some extra warmth in your home.
Spring maintenance tasks are a great way to work past the cabin fever you and your family have been dealing with! These spring cleaning chores will ensure that you’re all ready to enjoy open windows, time outside, and a smooth transition into warmer weather and outdoor activities.
Trim Shrubs and Keep Up With Landscaping
Trim and shape your shrubs before the big growing season arrives, and you won’t have to worry about gangly shoots that you’ll need a ladder to reach. Spring is a great time to go ahead and add mulch to flower beds, check your sprinkler system, and do a general clean up of your yard. While you wait for Spring, your garden areas will look clean and tidy, and you’ll be ready for the growing season.
Check Outside Your House for Cracks in the Foundation and Chipped Paint
While it’s still clear of any landscape plants, do a walk around the perimeter of your home to carefully examine it for foundation cracks or signs of settling. At the same time, look for any chipped or peeling paint that will need work when the weather warms up.
Check Window Screens
Open windows are on the horizon! Make sure that all your window screens still fit tightly in their frames, with no gaps or warping. If there are tears or rips, now is the time to have them repaired – you won’t miss them.
Scrub Mildew Around the House
Cold, wet, winter months can brew up a big crop of mildew in your home. Banish it with the right cleaners, sanding, and clean-up. Remember: Some mold may be harmful to your health, so use care and a ventilator mask if you’ll be removing a lot of it. Consider the use of a dehumidifier if it seems to be stalking certain rooms or areas.
Tips for Home Safety
Safety is seasonless! Here are some general safety tips to always follow around your home, no matter what the time of year.
Minimize the Use of Extension Cords
We’re all in love with our electronics, gadgets, and other small appliances. However, be smart about your use of extension cords and outlets. Try to minimize the use of cords that could create trip hazards or start fires. And never “daisy chain” or plug extension cords into another extension cord.
Buy and Install Fire Extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers are an extra layer of protection for your home and family. Consider purchasing one for any area where there might be a risk. Extinguishers are labeled for use on combustibles, electrical fires, and more. Select a size and type that will be appropriate for each space, and make sure you maintain it properly.
Think Through Emergencies in Advance
It’s not something we like to dwell on, but have a plan for emergencies. If a fire alarm goes off, are exits blocked? Can windows open for ventilation? Do you have your pet carriers in a spot where they’re easy to reach? Are you prepared for a power outage? The time to find any problem areas that could affect your family is before anything happens.