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Handy Home Maintenance Checklist

Financial Advice

BUYING A HOME

Articles and research about home buying

Handy Home Maintenance Checklist

Financial Advice

BUYING A HOME

Articles and research about home buying

Keep Your House in Tip-Top Shape: A Handy Home Maintenance Checklist

Published August 30, 2017

Monthly

  • Inspect, and possibly change out HVAC filters. Many experts will say to change the filters monthly, but that’s not always necessary. For smaller families without pets or allergies, you’ll likely be okay changing the filters every 2-3 months. If the filter is dirty, change it out, otherwise inspect it again next month. Go with cheaper filters and replace them more often versus going with the expensive filters.
  • Clean kitchen sink disposal. There are a bunch of ways to do this, but the handiest and best all-around solution seems to be vinegar ice cubes. 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. You’re welcome.
  • Clean range hood filters. If you’ve never thought of doing this, you’re in for a real “treat” when you get that filter off the hood to clean it for the first time. Simply using 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 your fire extinguisher(s). We’ll assume you have and know how to use an extinguisher. This inspection doesn’t require much: ensure it has easy access (not being blocked by a garbage can or anything else), that the gauge shows adequate pressure, and that it has no visible signs of wear and tear.

Quarterly

  • Test smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. Another simple task; your detectors should have a “test” button. If the alarm sounds, you’re good to go. If not, replace batteries immediately and test again. If it still doesn’t sound, it’s possible there’s simply corrosion on the battery terminal, and it won’t detect new batteries. Clean it and try again. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll likely need a new detector.
  • Test garage door auto-reverse feature. In 1993, federal law required all garage doors to have this feature after multiple child deaths. Test every month by placing 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 something in front of them (not your body). If the door doesn’t immediately go back up, you have a problem.
  • Run water and flush toilets in unused spaces. 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.
  • Check your water softener, if you have one, and add salt if needed. You shouldn’t need to add salt every month, but better to check anyway, as it only takes about 5 seconds.

Biannually

  • Test your water heater’s pressure relief valve. This will prevent mineral and corrosion buildup, which safeguards against leaks. It will also help your heater run more efficiently.
  • Give your house a deep clean. Take one Saturday every six months with your whole family, and give the whole house a proper deep clean. Appliances, windows, dusting every nook and cranny (including the basement), etc. Keeping things clean and not letting dirt/grime/dust build up over years and years will help keep your home in tip-top shape.
  • Replace batteries in smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. We had never heard this before, actually. We just assumed you changed it out when it started giving you the low battery beeping noise. 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 your 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 juice. You can save up to $100 a year by doing this, and it’s not at all a difficult task.

Annually | Organized by Seasons

Spring

  • Check the exterior drainage
  • Clean out gutters
  • Get your air conditioning system ready for summer
  • Repair/replace damaged window screens
  • Clear dead plants/shrubs from the house
  • Check trees for interference with electric lines

Summer

  • Summer is a great time to focus on the exterior of your home
  • Don't forget your lawn and garden
  • Check grout in bathrooms, kitchen, etc.; repair as needed
  • Inspect plumbing for leaks; clean aerators on faucets
  • Take care of any insect problems you may have
  • Clean and repair deck/patio as needed
  • Clean out window wells of debris
  • Check and clean dryer vent, other exhaust vents to exterior of home
  • Clean your garage

Fall

  • Flush hot water heater and remove sediment
  • Winterize air conditioning systems
  • Get heating system ready for winter
  • Turn off and flush outdoor water faucets
  • Get chimney cleaned, if you have one
  • Check driveway/pavement for cracks

Winter

  • Test your electricity to the extent that you can
  • Tighten any handles, knobs, racks, etc.
  • Check all locks and deadbolts on your doors and windows
  • Check caulking around showers and bathtubs
  • Remove showerheads and clean sediment

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