Regular maintenance is essential in keeping costs down and preventing major problems. Although, it is often hard to remember what to do and when to do it in order to keep your home in tip-top shape. Having a maintenance checklist allows you to determine which tasks need to be done seasonally, monthly, bi-annually, and once a year.
Below are suggestions for seasonal, monthly, and less frequent maintenance checks to help you maintain your home for years to come.
There are a handful of checks that should be made at least once a month and could easily be relegated to a handyperson should you not have the time to take them on. These include:
- Clean the garbage disposal – You probably think that because you regularly run the disposal that it’s fine. But there are a few simple things you can do to make it last longer. Experts suggest making vinegar ice cubes and then running them through the disposal. Not only do they rid it of odors, but the ice also sharpens the blades.
- Inspect your HVAC filters – Dirty filters are the stuff that allergies and other respiratory ailments are made of! So you’ll want to inspect or have them inspected by someone else each month. They may not always need to be changed, but if they’re dirty they should be replaced. Those with pets tend to have to change filters more often, perhaps every month as opposed to every two or three.
- Clean your range hood filter – This might be one of those jobs that turn your stomach because the yuck factor can be pretty bad. Think about all that cooking residue that makes its way into your range hood and you’ll understand why it’s necessary to clean it each month. Usually, hot water and a degreaser works if you keep up with it monthly.
- Inspect your fire extinguisher – This is one that most people forget but one that is ultra-important. Simply be sure the extinguisher is in an easy-to-reach location and that the gauge shows adequate pressure for dispensing the fire retardant. And, by all means, if you don’t have a fire extinguisher, get one now!
- Check bathrooms or other water sources that are seldom used – If you have an extra bathroom that’s only used when you have guests or a sink elsewhere in the house that’s not often touched, be sure you run the water and/or flush the toilets every three months at least. This keeps grime from building up on faucets and in toilet bowls.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – Having properly working detectors can mean the difference between life and death. While you’ll likely know if the batteries are bad – we’ve all heard that annoying beep in the middle of the night – it’s still a good idea to hit the “test” button and double check. If your detectors are hard-wired, you’ll want to check those as well.
- Test the garage door opener auto-reverse – Did you know that, each year in the United States, an estimated 30,000 people are injured in garage door opener accidents and that many of those are small children? That’s why you should take time every few months to test the auto-reverse feature on your opener to be sure it’s operating properly. You can easily do it by placing a piece of wood where the door would close. The door should reverse as soon as it hits the wood.
- Clean your house thoroughly – Chances are you do at least some cleaning on a weekly basis, but it’s a wise idea to perform a “deep cleaning” at least twice a year. This means top to bottom, every little corner, appliances, windows both inside and out, and as much of the exterior as possible. Don’t have time? This is an ideal task to sub out to the professionals on an every-six-months basis.
- Vacuum refrigerator coils – If you’ve recently purchased a new, more energy efficient refrigerator, you’ve probably noticed that your electric bill has gone down, maybe substantially. Well, you can keep it that way if you pay attention to the coils, which can be vacuumed a few times a year. Savings? About $100 annually!
- Replace detector batteries – You may be checking the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every other month or so, but it’s a good idea to just go ahead and change them every six months, even if they are still operating properly. Batteries are cheap and it’s a fairly easy task and one that’s highly recommended.
Ah, spring is the time for rebirth and renewal. Flowers bloom, the temperatures warm, and everyone seems cheery again. It’s also the perfect time to give your home some attention after the harsh winter months. Here are some spring home maintenance tasks to consider, many of them outdoors.
- Clean gutters – All sorts of debris can gather in your gutters during the winter, including leaves, bits of branches, and even trash that’s blown there by wind storms. Be sure to have a professional clean them out so as to avoid drainage problems. Also be sure that they are secure and that there are no loose connections.
- Inspect other exterior elements of your home – Do you have any loose siding? Missing roof shingles? Chipped paint? Holes and cracks elsewhere? Take a walk around your property on your own or with an expert and determine where you might need to do some repairs.
- Replace damaged window screens – Mesh screens are easily damaged in bad weather but can also easily be fixed with a screen repair kit or some other method. Fixing holes keeps bugs from entering your home when it’s time to throw open the windows and let that spring breeze come in!
- Tend to landscaping – Unless you’re in a climate where it stays pleasant all year round, chances are your landscaping takes a beating during the winter. So, it’s time to bring in someone to remove dead plants and shrubs, rejuvenate the grass, check your trees for any damage issues, and – of course – to plant new greenery for the upcoming season.
- Check your AC – If you’ve got central air, it’s time to do a regular maintenance check-up so that it’s functioning properly throughout the summer. If you’ve got window units or perhaps a swamp cooler, check them to see if they’re working as they should and make any necessary repairs or replace them if needed.
Summer is a smart time to continue with outdoor maintenance including the things you may not have had time for in the spring.
- Clean and repair your deck or patio – If you’ll soon be having guests, you’ll want your deck or patio to look it’s best. So check for loose boards or stones, power wash decks, and paint or re-stain them if necessary.
- Address insect issues – Bees, aunts, spiders, moths. They’re summer pests we’d rather not have around. So call an exterminator who can help you rid your property of insects that can really throw a kink in your summer plans.
- Remove debris from window wells – Lots of summertime debris as well as items left over from the fall and winter can collect in your window wells, especially those that are low-lying, like basement windows.
- Clean out your garage – Yes, late spring and summer are the best time for yard sales. So, clean all the “stuff” out of your garage, throw away the trash, and sell the items that you don’t need anymore but might be valuable to someone else. Need help? There are professionals that will tackle this job for you and help you become free of garage clutter!
- Clean and check dryer vents – While you’re running your dryer, check to make sure the exhaust is coming out as it should. If it’s working, you should be able to feel it and to smell fresh laundry. You might also want to vacuum the lint from the hose at the dryer. A vent that works poorly or isn’t working at all could be a fire hazard. Dryer vent fires cause about $250 million in property damage each year in the U.S., says the American Fire Association.
- Check bathroom grout – If you have a lot of company during the summer, you want to make sure your bathrooms look super clean and in good repair. It’s also a great time to check your grout and make repairs if necessary and to clean it thoroughly. Professional grout and tile technicians can help.
When the temperatures are getting chilly and the leaves begin to fall, it’s time to start prepping for winter. Ensure your family stays comfy by doing the following:
- Flush outdoor faucets – Remember those faucets you used for your garden hose all summer long? Make sure you drain them before the freezing temperatures hit. Also do the same with hoses and be sure to winterize your sprinkler system, too.
- Test your sump pump – You may have done this before the spring rains but do it again as you’ll no doubt experience plenty of precipitation in both the fall and winter.
- Winterize your AC – It’s time to remove any window units and to cover any outside units with a tarp and secure that tarp with a rope or bungee cord.
- Check your heating systems – Have your furnace serviced or inspected at least every 2 years for maximum efficiency. Also check all heater vents and make sure they are open and not blocked by furniture or any other items. If you use oil for heat, make sure your tank is full. Use a fireplace or wood stove for residual heat? Have them serviced as well to be sure they aren’t a hazard and that they are working efficiently.
- Flush your hot water heater – This removes sediment and helps your heater last longer.
- Purchase winter gear for your house – Be sure that you have shovels, a snow blower (if needed), and plenty of salt or other ice-melting treatment on hand for that first snow, which often comes sooner than we might expect.
Since many of us stay cooped up in the winter more so than in the warmer months, it’s a good time to pay attention to some interior issues. Here are a few ideas.
- Do a bathroom check – Give some attention to the caulking around your tub and/or shower and have it repaired as needed. Also remove your shower heads and clean the sediment from them, which will help them last longer.
- Check locks and deadbolts – Security is always of the utmost importance! Check the locks and deadbolts on all your doors and make sure they are in good working condition. Check the doors as well to be sure there isn’t any damage that might compromise them.
- Do a basement check – We don’t often give first priority to our basement areas, but a long snowy weekend during the winter is a good time to pay some attention to what’s down there. Get rid of items you’re no longer using, wash any windows you might have down there, and check for mold. If your basement needs more attention than that, get in touch with a basement expert for assistance.
- Do a “screwdriver” inspection – Lots of things get loose during the course of a year. Make your rounds with a flathead and Phillips screwdriver and tighten knobs, handles, racks, shelves, and anything else that’s not holding tight.
- Look for ice dams and icicles – Finally, if you’re in a cold climate, go outside now and then and make sure icicles and dams haven’t formed in places where they could present problems. Icicles can be especially dangerous because they’re heavy and can cause damage to property…and people!
Owning a home and caring for it can certainly be time-consuming. While many of the items on this checklist are simple and require just a little extra effort, many are much more complex. Whenever a household maintenance task is beyond your area of expertise or if you simply don’t have time to do it, consider calling an expert to help. Usually, the time saved is well worth the money spent to get it done right the first time!