Home Maintenance Guide
How to Keep Your House in Tip-Top Shape
Proper Maintenance Will Keep You and Your Home
Happy for Years and Years
Home maintenance can seem overwhelming, especially for first-time homeowners. However, staying on top of routine maintenance not only protects your investment but also makes your home more enjoyable as well.
Some home maintenance projects require a professional. Our Vendor Guide includes contact info for local & respected professionals.
Annual Home Maintenance
Organized By Season
They don’t call it “Spring Cleaning” for nothing. Especially focus on the exterior of your home as it’s just gone through winter and is preparing for summer heat, and in our part of the country, brutal humidity.
- Check the exterior drainage. Will rain water flow away from the house? Puddles should not stand around your home for more than 24 hours. If water stays, or moves toward your foundation, you have a few options. First, check your gutters. It could be a bad spout or a loose connection there; they may also just need cleaning. Second, you can grade the area around your home yourself with some dirt; this has worked just fine for me in the past. Third, for pavement, you can have professionals come out and raise it so it drains away from your home.
- Clean out gutters. They’ve likely accumulated leaves from the fall and grime/sediment from the winter snows and/or rains.
- Inspect the exterior of your home. Is any paint chipping? Is any siding damaged from winter? Are there any holes in your brick? Take a close look all around your house, and make any repairs as needed. Also be sure to check the foundation for any cracks.
- Get your air conditioning system ready for summer; consider having it serviced. Getting your A/C serviced by a professional should be around $150 or less, and it will save money and headaches down the road.
- Repair/replace damaged window screens. You don’t want bugs making their way in because you missed a hole in a window screen.
- Clear dead plants/shrubs from the house. This could double as a gardening tip, but if you didn’t trim trees or shrubs in the fall, do so now. Plants can weasel their way into cracks and holes on the exterior of your home, causing damage and shortened longevity. If you have decorative vines on the exterior, pay close attention.
- Check trees for interference with electric lines. Have professionally trimmed if necessary.
- Inspect roofing for damage, leaks, etc. Repair as needed; you may need a professional.
Summer is a great time to focus on the exterior of your home, as well as your lawn and garden. It’s also perfect for having that garage door open and utilizing the prolonged daylight.
- Check grout in bathrooms, kitchen, etc.; repair as needed. This will prolong the life of your tiled surfaces and just looks better.
- Inspect plumbing for leaks, clean aerators on faucets. Go around to all your faucets and toilets and check for any small leaks. If you have poor water pressure out of a faucet, the aerator is the likely culprit and it’s an extremely easy fix.
- Take care of any insect problems you may have. You probably won’t have to look too hard to notice any insect problems. Ants, spiders, moths, etc. are all common, and fairly easy to take care of. Keep cobwebs clear, have ant poison handy, make sure all doors are tightly closed, etc. Termites are common in our area, we advise you contact a professional for service.
- Clean and repair deck/patio as needed. It generally just needs a good washing. A deck may also need re-staining. Also check for any loose boards or posts and repair as needed.
- Check and clean dryer vent, other exhaust vents to exterior of home. While the dryer is running, check that the exhaust is coming out. It should smell nicely of fresh laundry. If there isn’t much exhaust, check for blockages as well as you can. You may need a professional. Also vacuum the lint from the hose at the dryer.
- Clean garage. Cleaning the garage should be a summer ritual for every home. Keeping it clean and tidy will extend its life, and it often gets neglected of regular care.
Fall is an in-between season where you’re finishing up your summer home maintenance tasks as well as getting your home ready for winter. Cold, snow, and rain can do a number to a home, so you don’t want to ignore winter preparation.
- Flush hot water heater and remove sediment. This prolongs the life of the heater and helps with efficiency as well.
- Get heating system ready for winter. Check for any leaks in windows or doors; these can cost an arm and a leg. Make sure heating vents are open and not blocked by furniture. Get furnace serviced/inspected at least every other year, preferably annually. As with the A/C, this shouldn’t be a huge expense. Don’t forget about fireplaces if you have them.
- Turn off and flush outdoor water faucets. Also flush hoses and store them. Winterize sprinkler systems as well, if you have one.
- Get chimney cleaned, if you have one. Some folks say to do this in the spring, some say fall. Either way, just make sure it’s done once per year.
- Test sump pump. You don’t want to wait until you need your sump pump to find out it’s not working.
- Check driveway/pavement for cracks. Make sure to have re-sealed before winter; water can freeze and expand in the cracks, causing more damage.
Winter is the time to go around the interior of your home and check for any little things you may have overlooked, or perhaps noticed and said, “I’ll get to that later.” Winter is your later. If you have any interior honey-do projects, whether it be painting, building shelves, etc., now is a great time to tackle those as well.
- Test your electricity to the extent that you can. Always, always be extra careful when working with electricity. You can do a couple things on your own, though. Check that all outlets work. Also, test your GFCI outlets. There are wildly varying opinions on how often to test this.
- Tighten any handles, knobs, racks, etc. Go through the house and inspect anything that could have a loose screw.
- Check all locks and deadbolts on your doors and windows. If anything doesn’t work right, replace.
- Check caulking around showers and bathtubs; repair as needed.
- Remove showerheads and clean sediment. This prolongs its life and helps with water pressure as well.
- Deep clean and inspect the basement. Basements are notoriously overlooked, especially if they’re primarily just storage areas. Dust ‘em up, clean any windows, make sure there isn’t mold anywhere, etc. Give your basement a good inspection at least once a year.
In order to maximize your efficiency and actually get all of these tasks done, you might want to create a home maintenance calendar.
Inspect/Change HVAC Filters
If the filter is dirty, change it out, otherwise inspect it again next month. Some people opt to go with cheaper filters and replace them more often versus going with the expensive filters and changing every 2-3 months.
Clean Garbage Disposal
Vinegar ice cubes, yes you read that right. Put some vinegar in an ice tray and let it freeze, then run the ice cubes through the disposal. It freshens it, but as a bonus, ice sharpens the blades.
Clean Range Hood Filters
The simplest way to do this is to use a degreaser from an auto parts store mixed with hot water. Let the filter sit for a few minutes, rinse it off, and you’re good to go.
Inspect Fire Extinguisher
Simply ensure it has easy access, that the gauge shows adequate pressure, and that it has no visible signs of wear and tear.
Test Smoke/Carbon Dioxide Detectors
Detectors should have a “test” button. If the alarm sounds, you’re good to go. If not, replace batteries immediately and test again. If that doesn’t work, clean it and try again. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll likely need a new detector.
Test Garage Door Auto-Reverse
Place a 2×4 on the ground where the door would close. It should reverse after a second or so when the door hits the wood. Also test the photo-electric sensors if you have them by placing the 2×4 in front of them. If the door doesn’t immediately go back up, you have a problem.
Run Water & Flush Toilets in Unused Rooms
This mostly applies to guest bathrooms, or any other sinks/water sources you don’t use on a regular basis. The idea is to prevent grime or any other kind of build up. Regularly running a little bit of water through will prevent this.
Test Water Heater Pressure Release Valve (PRV)
Prevent mineral and corrosion buildup, which safeguards against leaks. It will also help your heater run more efficiently.
Take one Saturday every six months and give the whole house a proper deep clean. Appliances, windows, dusting every nook and cranny (including the basement), etc.
Change Batteries in Smoke/Carbon Dioxide Detectors
With something as important as this, you can’t be too careful, and batteries won’t break your bank. Change ‘em out every six months.
Vacuum Refrigerator Coils
The fridge can use up to 15 percent of your home’s total power, so you want it running as efficiently as possible. Over time, the coils get dirty and your fridge requires more power. You can save up to $100 a year by doing this, and it’s not at all a difficult task.