Your Comprehensive Home Maintenance Checklist
Buying a home is a significant event in your life. It will be one of the most expensive purchases you’re likely to make and, hopefully, it will bring you happiness, security and help you and your family build a lifetime of memories. The thing to remember when buying a house is you cannot just move in and forget about it. A home takes work to keep it looking great and functioning at its peak.
With that in mind, it’s vital that you undertake maintenance checks to keep things running well and avoid any unnecessary expenses from neglect. What should you check? How do you check? Do you need a professional maintenance checker-person-guy to do all this? Relax; we’re here to answer your questions and make sure this part of your homeownership is as uneventful and straightforward as possible.
Make a Checklist
Lists are great. Few things compare to the satisfaction of crossing something off your to-do list. As a homeowner, it’s wise to have a maintenance list. Little tasks you can do each weekend to stay ahead of the game and not feel too overwhelmed when the seasons change. We’ll lay out some things in this article that should go on our list. This list is a suggestion; like all things associated with homeownership, some experts will say one thing, others will say something else. You can add or remove from this list to better suit your particular home’s needs and your lifestyle. However, you will want a maintenance list of some kind.
Admittedly this list is long but, stay calm, you don’t need to be an expert, and you don’t need to hire a special guy to handle most of the stuff on the list. And, hey, if you do get a bit stuck, remember, you can Google almost anything and find help. Also, if you’re a new homeowner, don’t be shy about asking some of the more experienced homeowners in your neighborhood. They were where you are once too.
We will give you a few checklists now, a monthly and annual list, and one broken down for the seasons. Again, yes, we know it’s long but, if you do a little at a time, you get to check the things you have done off your list, and won’t that feel good?
A Monthly List
This is a list of things you should check on once a month. Divide it up into weekends or maybe in the evening after work.
HVAC filters. You’ll want to check these and possibly replace them. Here’s where the controversy begins; Home maintenance experts often say change these filters every month; however, that may not be necessary. If you have a smaller family, no pets, and no one suffers from allergies, you can go with changing the filters every 2-3 months. If, however, the filters are dirty, change them.
Kitchen sink disposal. Once a month, clean it, get rid of odors and stuck junk. Here’s a tip, the best way to do this is with vinegar ice cubes and lemon. Yup. Slice the lemon thin, drop one slice in each compartment of an ice cube tray, add white vinegar, and freeze. Then, just run these cubes through the disposal. You’ll have a fresh scent, and, as a bonus, the ice sharpens the blades. Nice.
Range hood filters. Pull that filter off the hood and brace yourself for the view. If you’ve never even thought of doing this before, it’s going to be a bit of a shocker. Now, get yourself a simple degreaser from an automotive store, add some hot water and let the filer sit in it for about10-20 minutes, depending on the grease build-up. Then, rinse with hot water, and you’ve got a clean range hood filter. If you don’t have a range hood, feel free to take this off your list. Or, put it on and just check it off to get that feeling.
Fire extinguishers. You know how to use one of these, right? We’ll go with yes. This is simple, make sure you have easy access to the extinguisher; it’s not buried behind boxes and such in the garage. Check the gauge to see it is showing adequate pressure and check for any visible damage.
Here are things to check quarterly to keep them in top condition and your home safe from trouble.
Smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. Test them, make sure they are functioning correctly, and the batteries in them are fresh. If you hit the test button and there is no alarm, new batteries. If you replace the batteries, git the test button, and no sound, replace the unit.
Garage door auto-reverse feature. Federal law dictates that all garage doors have an auto-reverse feature. This came about due to the deaths of several children. Place a 2X4 on the ground where the door closes, and the door should reverse when it hits the wood. If you have photo-electric sensors, put something in front of them, not a person, and the door should reverse; if the feature doesn’t work when tested, contact the company immediately.
Unused space plumbing. If you have spaces in your home that you don’t use at all or not very often, run the water in them. Flush the toilet in them, if you have one. Make sure all the plumbing is up to speed, and there are no leaks or breaks. A flood starting in one of these rooms could be a financial nightmare.
Water softeners. Check them and add salt if needed. You shouldn’t need to add salt every month, but check and add if required. Also, if you find that you’re adding a lot of salt, call the company and have them send someone to inspect the unit.
These things should be checked on twice a year for safety and proper running order.
Water heater pressure relief valve. You’ll want to check for mineral build-up and corrosion. This will keep you safe from leaks and will keep the water heater running in top form.
Deep clean the house. Every six months, it’s a good idea to deep clean the entire house. Appliances, windows, floors, dusting every inch of the place. Get the whole family involved. A deep clean prevents dust and grime from building up over the years. It will feel better, look better, and everything in your house will run better.
Smoke/carbon dioxide batteries. Yes, we already said to check these in your quarterly check; however, experts in the fire fighting industry say to replace the batteries every six months. These little gizmos are vital to your family’s safety, and there should be no question about them. Corrosion can build up; batteries can just run out of juice. Don’t risk your family’s safety. Change the batteries every six months. Put the old batteries in another, less critical appliance.
Refrigerator coils. These are probably not something you’ve given much thought to, and we don’t blame you. But, give them some thought now. According to refrigerator experts, your fridge uses about 15% of your home’s total power. Over time, the coils gather dust and grime and require more energy. Vacuum them every six months, and you could save up to $100 bucks on your energy bill. And, it’s not that difficult.
Now for the Seasons
Each season gives you a chance to pay attention to a different set of maintenance needs on your list. You cannot do everything in one season due to weather considerations, etc. So, here is a short seasonal maintenance list breakdown.
Think of it as spring cleaning for your entire home. During this season, we suggest you focus on your home’s exterior. It has just survived the winter and is now bracing for the heat, and in some places, the brutal humidity of the summer. Give your home’s exterior some attention in spring.
Exterior drainage systems. All water should be draining away from your house and especially the foundation. Puddles shouldn’t be hanging about for more than 24 hours. Check your gutters for bad spouts or loose connections. If water is flowing toward your foundation, grade the area around your house with dirt. Easy to do yourself. If you have a pavement problem causing drainage toward your home, call a professional to come out and raise the pavement. Water in the foundation is a nightmare that you want to avoid at all costs. Make sure your drainage is on point in the spring.
Gutters. Simple; clean them and repair them. Enough said there.
Air conditioning system. Get it ready for the summer. Window units, swamp coolers, Google what you need to look for and how to make easy repairs or checkups. Central air is more complex, and you’ll want the company that installed it to come out and give it a once over. It costs about %100 bucks. Do this in the cooler temps of spring so that you’re not dealing with terrible heat issues in the summer months.
Windows & Screens. Check them all for rips, cracks, or faulty casements. A ripped screen can mean your house becomes a bug house. Screen fixes are straightforward, do not resort to duct tape. Windows want to move freely up and down.
The roof. How has it survived the winter months? Does it need repairs? Are there leaks? Take care of it in the spring, so you’re not sitting on a hot roof in the summer heart.
More exterior work, and now you can also focus on your lawn and garden situations as well. But, don’t neglect some interior tasks; the winter can play havoc with interior items.
Grout. Kitchen, bathrooms, workrooms, floors, et al. Check the grout repair and replace where needed. This will prolong the life of your tiled surfaces.
Insects. They, too, are awakening from a long winter’s nap. Clear cobwebs, have any poison at the ready. Keep an eye out for termite hills and tell-tail wood bits. This is also where screen repairs pay off.
Patio/deck. Clean them, repair them, reseal them if needed. Mostly they will need a good washing to clean off the winter debris. Check for loose boards too.
Window wells. If you have a basement, you know what these are, and you also see the kind of junk that can appear in them over time. Clean them out. This will keep bugs away, water damage less likely, and if there is heavy rain, clean wells won’t allow for flooding.
The garage. This is pretty much a rite of passage for a homeowner. Throw open the garage door, put on some music, and clean that baby out. Do a thorough keep or toss evaluation and get your garage ready for use during the summer.
Fall is a strange in-between time. You can still do some of your summer maintenance, but you’re also transitioning into the winter work too. A good deal of your fall work will be done with an eye toward the winter months.
Water heater. Flush it and get rid of sediment. Hot showers in the winter, hot water is used more. Have your heater clean and running at its best.
Air conditioning systems. Winterize them. Remove window units. For central air, cover the outside unit with a tarp, and secure it with bungee cords.
Heating systems. Check for leaks in windows and doors; you’re not heating the outside, right? Make sure vents are clear and not covered by furniture. Check on your fireplaces if you have them. Are they clean and ready for use? And your furnace, you should have it serviced every other year so that it runs well and lasts a long time.
Outdoor faucets. Turn them off, flush your hoses and store them and winterize your sprinkler systems as well.
Pavement/ driveway. Reseal it before winter. Water will get into cracks, expand, and when the winter leaves, you’ve got huge holes and divots in your pavement. Do this before the winter arrives.
Gear up. Get your shovels, rock salts, mats, and all winter gear in order now; you have no idea when that first snow will arrive, and you want to be out in front of it.
Most of your exterior work in the winter will center around snow removal, depending on where you live. If you’re in a snowy climate, regular check for icicles and water dams. Winter is an excellent time to get all those interior jobs done.
General house maintenance. This can include checking doorknobs and handles, tightening or replacing them—any painting that needs doing. Remove showerheads and clean out the sediment, and check caulking around the shower heads and the tub and sinks. Small jobs you can do in a day, or you can keep a running tab during the winter.
The basement. Check it for mold, dust, water damage anything else that may impede your use of it for storage or life in the later months. Face it; your basement is ofter overlooked; give it some love in the winter.
There you go; that’s a good list to get you started in your home maintenance adventure. If you can think of other things, one pet project you love to do during the year, add it in the comments, help other homeowners out a little.
If you have questions, why not ask the experts? Talk to the folks at Revere Homes, they have been through this for decades, and they can probably give you some helpful tips and hints. No matter what, make that list and keep it updated, add chores and ideas and keep on top of it. Don’t ket any job slide for too long. You’ll want to maintain your home in peak condition, so it lasts you and your family a lifetime of good times