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Home Maintenance Checklist
Your home is one of your largest investments. And, like any investment, it needs to be taken care of. But, a home is a big project- where do you start? And how can you make sure you’re doing the right things, year in and year out, to keep your home in tip-top shape? Here’s a home maintenance checklist to help you take care of every part of your home throughout the year.
Interior Home Maintenance
You see the inside of your home a lot more than you see the outside of your home, so this is where your checklist of maintenance tasks begins. Here are the major components of your home interior that need to be maintained, and how often you should be checking up on them.
One of the important systems to keep an eye on is your home’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. You should be inspecting your HVAC filter on a monthly to bi-monthly basis – this frequency can vary depending on the size of your home and how often you clean and vacuum up dust. Minor HVAC updates are easy, but replacements are a pain, so staying on top of maintenance for your HVAC system is crucial for the overall health of your home (and your budget). After inspecting your HVAC filter, if you find that it’s dirty, you can replace it with a relatively inexpensive one. If your filter is clean, then you’re good for another month.
Speaking of heating – if you live in an area where winters are particularly brutal, make sure you are doing seasonal home maintenance services on your heating system and preparing it for winter. These can cost an arm and a leg. You should get your furnace serviced and/or inspected at least every other year. Making sure that your furnace filter is clean and removing dust build-up, will help ensure your home is using heat as efficiently as possible. You can also take the easy step of making sure that both heating and AC vents are never blocked, which can be a safety hazard, especially in their peak seasons of use. And if your home has a chimney, you’ll want to make sure that that is seasonally inspected for safety as well, whether you are using it regularly or not.
Like your HVAC system, your water line is also an important element of your home that you need to keep an eye on. For the most part, your water line itself shouldn’t give you much trouble, but it’s in your home’s best interests to make sure that you are checking your water heater pressure relief valve, at least twice a year. This will help your heater run more efficiently (which will help you keep your energy bill at a healthy level), as well as prevent mineral and corrosion buildup, and help protect against leaks (Art of Manliness).
Overall, one of the best things you can do for your home is to keep it clean. Regularly cleaning and not letting dust, grime, and dirt build up over time will benefit the health of your home, as well as the people living in it! Aim to vacuum and sweep floors on a weekly basis to prevent the buildup of dust, and dust walls, windows and other nooks and crannies at least monthly.
There are a few high priority areas in your kitchen that you need to maintain regularly for a healthy home. For example, anything related to the sink and plumbing is important to stay on top of. The last thing you want is a leak or inefficient drainage that leads to a damaging pipe flood (even a tiny leak can cause a ton of water damage!)
Stay on top of your sink maintenance by frequently cleaning out the garbage disposal (beyond just “running it”). One of the best ways to do this, according to Art of Manliness, is with vinegar ice cubes; “put some vinegar in an ice tray and let it freeze, then run the ice cubes through the disposal.” The vinegar keeps your garbage disposal fresh and also sharpens the blades to help with future draining. Flushing with hot water and baking soda is another popular disposal-cleaning option.
One to two times a year, clean the kitchen exhaust fan, or range hood filter. Or if your kitchen exhaust fan is getting a lot of use, you may want to upgrade this timeline to quarterly. The best way to clean a greasy range hood and filter is by using a cleaner/degreaser like “Super Clean.” Simply spray the product on the filter and let it sit for about five minutes before rinsing. This video offers a great tutorial.
If you’ve had your home for a few years, or certain appliances and structures are especially dated, it may be a better use of your time and money consider upgrading and remodeling your kitchen versus doing continual maintenance on a sink, or cabinet set up that you don’t love anymore.
The bathrooms are the workhorse of your home – they are subjected to water, wear and tear, often on a daily basis. So, it’s important that you keep up regular maintenance in your bathrooms to prevent long-term water damage.
Make sure that bathrooms and commonly used areas are wiped up and disinfected often – weekly is a good goal. This includes the sink and other fixtures where water can accumulate and leave grime. Inspect grout and tile in these areas and repair it as needed to make sure that sealants are working properly, and keeping water out of unwanted areas. Take a good look at your tubs and sinks for stubborn debris and make sure drains are un-clogged on a monthly basis.
Leaks are a homeowner’s worst nightmare, so on a yearly basis, you should be checking toilets and faucets for any small leaks. In general, anything related to plumbing and water circulation in your home should be checked fairly regularly. For example, checking the water softener, cleaning faucet aerators and shower heads to remove mineral deposits, and unclogging any drains should be done on a monthly to bi-monthly basis, according to Better Homes & Gardens.
If you live in a home with multiple bathrooms, some of which you may not use regularly (like a guest bathroom), it’s important to make sure you’re still running water and flushing the toilets in these bathrooms every so often to prevent build-up and grime. Quarterly should work fine for most of these cases.
While windows technically appear on both the exterior and the interior of the house, they are of great importance to your interior home quality of life, as well as to increasing the resale value of your home. If you are looking to sell your home, then upgrading or updating your windows can be a great move. In addition, making sure windows are working effectively (keeping out/in air, noise, and unwanted pests) is of utmost importance to the health of your home.
Be sure to inspect your windows every six months or so, including window screens. Damaged window screens should be replaced quickly to prevent further issues. And any leaks should be sealed by caulking or weather stripping.
Exterior Home Maintenance
The exterior of your home is equally as important as the interior of your home. Not only does your home’s exterior provide curb appeal, but it also provides protection of your home’s interior from the elements! Here are some home maintenance tips for the exterior of your home.
On a yearly basis (usually in the summer is recommended), take a good look at the exterior of your house, including the paint, the siding, the roofing, and other details (like the doors and windows). Make note of cosmetic improvements that may need to be made, like paint chips, as well as more serious potential issues, like cracks in the foundation of your home. Repair these serious issues in a timely manner.
Summer is the best time of year to make improvements to your home’s exterior. If you have a deck or other outdoor area that’s gotten particularly dirty, summer is a perfect time to rent or employ a power washer to make that deck shine again. You can also power wash the exterior of your home to make it look sparkling bright again (depending on material). And if anything needs repainting or retouching, summer is the time to do it.
Another great task for the summer is cleaning out your gutters and downspouts – although depending on where you live and the weather, this may need to be a quarterly task. Winter and fall can be especially tough on gutters since snow, leaves and other debris tends to accumulate during these cold weather months. Don’t let this material settle into your gutters, and ensure regular maintenance by cleaning it out every couple months.
Speaking of water direction, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of annual rain, it’s important to stay on top of the prevalence of standing water near your home. All houses and landscapes are ideally constructed in a way in which rainwater flows away from (not towards the house). As a result of this design, puddles caused by rainwater should disappear over the course of 24 hours. If they do not, then you may have a grading issue, which can be resolved in a number of ways. The important thing is to resolve it so your home does not develop drainage problems.
Landscaping should also be assessed on a biannual-to-yearly basis. Especially if you have trees surrounding your home, make sure that roots are not growing invasively, or branches are not hanging in a potentially hazardous way. As trees grow, it’s common that they will continue to impede on surrounding territory, which may include power lines, neighboring property and more. If you have especially tall trees, trim unsafe branches often to prevent accidents from a sudden fall, which can happen often during summer rainstorms and other inclement weather.
In addition, use ideal seasons to maintain and nurture your greenery. In the spring, rake up any leftover leaves from the winter, and laying down mulch in any flowerbed and other garden areas. This is a crucial step, since “a thin layer of mulch will protect plants from drought and keep weeds at bay,” according to the New York Times. Spring is also the perfect time to do any maintenance and improvement to your lawn itself, like if it needs reseeding or some extra watering treatment.
Finally, you should make sure that your home safety measures are up to date. These can be the first line of defense in protecting your home from a major accident or hazard.
So, make sure that you first have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors installed in your home. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have at least one smoke detector installed “inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.” Carbon monoxide detectors should follow the same rules; you should at least have one on every floor of the house.
Test these detectors quarterly. Most carbon monoxide and smoke detectors have a “test” button installed that you can press to make sure they’re working properly. If you find that they’re not (although most detectors will let you know when their batteries are low), simply replace the batteries and test again.
You should also make sure your home has at least one fire extinguisher on the premises, and that it is in working condition. Most fire extinguishers last 5-15 years, and they almost always have a listed expiration date that you should check annually to ensure that your fire extinguisher is still functional and can aid you in case of emergency.
With this checklist of maintenance tasks, you should be armed with all the information you need to keep your house in good condition and safe, both on the inside and the outside. If you take care of your house, it will take care of you for years and years to come.