Home maintenance can feel a bit like the movie Groundhog Day. Over and over again, you need to complete the same tasks to keep your home in good-working order and avoid costly claims.
But which home maintenance projects do you need to do – weekly, monthly, seasonally, bi-annually, and annually?
The weekly home maintenance checklist:
These are the tasks you'll need to complete approximately 52 times a year.
Cut the grass
Keep your lawn looking vibrant and your curb appeal dazzling. Of course, you should play your maintenance by sight and temperature. Hold off cutting your lawn in extreme heat as short lawns tend to "burn." Also, grass typically won't grow in below 40-degree temperatures, so skip this task during cold weeks.
Vacuum the floors
This helps prevent dirt and dust from collecting and even mold from growing. It will also prevent little critters from wanting to eat what you've dropped.
Clean the stove top and vent
Regularly degrease your hood to keep it sparkling, and clean your stove top to prevent any dirt and grim from collecting. If you find yourself with dried and caked-on food, use a sponge and warm, soapy water to remove it. For hard jobs, scrap away food with a plastic knife or spatula. You can also buy specialty cleaners or try a vinegar/baking soda mix.
Take care of your appliances
Give your appliances some attention.
Wipe down your refrigerator, oven door, dishwasher, etc. Also, don't forget to clean out the dishwasher food trap. If your plates smell like "wet dog," then run a cleaning cycle with white distilled vinegar.
Clean off your window sills, TV stands, coffee tables, etc. to help reduce mild allergies and illnesses. After all, dust is made up of fungi, bacteria, pollen, dust mites, and even skin cells.
Examine the exterior of your home
Visually inspect your roof weekly.
It's a good idea to get some fresh air and visually inspect your property. By catching small damage early, you can ward off expensive repairs or extensive damages to your home from falling or sick trees, missing shingles, and cracked foundation or walkways.
The monthly home maintenance checklist:
Complete these tasks every 28 to 31 days.
Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
You can never be too careful with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check them once a month to make sure they are in good working order and upgrade to a 10-year battery for extra safety. (Some states even require these.)
Practice your escape plan
Every month, hit the smoke detector button and practice your escape plan with your family. You'll gain muscle memory in the event of a true home emergency, and your escape plan will help everyone get out safely. (Remember – get out and stay out.)
Do a deep dive into your cabinets
Inside and out. Wipe down the exteriors and interiors, so dust doesn't gather on your cutlery, dishes, favorite pot, etc.
Clean your sink drains
Lemons freshen drains and disposals.
Avoid the chemical drain cleaners as these can corrode your pipes and give off unhealthy gases. Instead run some hot water and add liquid dish soap. If you're getting a terrible smell or still seeing buildup, reach for the baking soda and vinegar. If you have a sink disposal, grind up some ice and salt, followed by some lemon peels. Ah, springtime fresh! (Check below for when to clean your tub and dishwasher drains!)
Clean your manual filter in your dishwasher (if you have one)
Don't forget the food trap!
To clean your filter, you'll need to remove the filter on the bottom of the unit and handwash it with warm, soapy water. Grab a toothbrush to clear away any food particles.
Add salt to water softener
Most water softeners need salt added every six to eight weeks, but check the salt level first. If your tank is less than half full, refill until it's over half. If the salt is wet or the water is drowning your salt, add more until you've reached the halfway point.
The seasonal home maintenance checklist
These are the tasks you'll need to complete four times a year or approximately every three months. (But who's counting?)
Replace or clean your HVAC/furnace filters
Improve your air quality.
Replacing your air filters improves your air quality by removing allergens, dust, mold, and other items from the air. It also prolongs the life of your unit and keeps your heating or cooling costs down by helping your unit run more efficiently. Before changing your filters, check your manufacturer's instructions. Some air filters need to be replaced every month or even every year, but most need to be changed every three months.
Prepare for major weather events
Get ready every season for the most common weather events or emergencies – severe storms and hurricanes, snow, high winds, and extreme heat. Each of these has a separate set of steps to follow, so read up and prepare your home for Mother Nature's wrath.
Now with weather alerts and tips!
Check your emergency kit
Replenish any items you've taken over the last three months and update any items you need, such as medicines, food, money, etc. This way, it'll be ready when you need it.
Kick over your generator
You never want to leave your generator idle for too long or it won't be ready for a blackout. Ensure you have enough gas and complete maintenance as needed – change the oil, inspect the air filter, etc.
Clean the drains of your shower, tubs, and dishwasher
Try DIY methods to clean your drains.
Do a deep cleaning of your water areas to keep them smelling clean and sparkling like new. Use vinegar and baking soda as needed, and if you need some extra springtime freshness, grab some lemon juice.
Dust your light fixtures
Be safe as you dust your light fixtures, including your ceiling fans, and don't forget to vacuum your bathroom exhaust fan grill. Change any light bulbs, and choose LED bulbs, which give off less heat and produce more light.
Polish wood furniture
Keep your wood furniture looking new!
While you may use mild soap to clean off some sticky spots, you'll want to avoid using water to clean your wood furniture. Instead, use commercial cleaning products as needed and use orange oil and wax-based conditioner to prevent drying and cracking. If you find any scratches, use a paste wax or a touch-up pen to fill. For gouges, use wood filler.
Vacuum refrigerator and freezer coils
Don't let these get dirty.
If the coils collect dust, they won't be able to keep the cold temperatures as easily in the refrigerator and freezer. This can lead to spoiled food and a shorter lifespan for your appliance. Find the condenser coils behind the toe-grill at the bottom of your refrigerator or in the back. Make sure to unplug your refrigerator to vacuum this area and use a long brush to gather dust particles.
For any job you don't feel comfortable completing, make sure to hire a home service professional.
The bi-annual home maintenance checklist:
Twice a year, these are your weekend projects.
Clear your gutters and downspouts
Get up on that ladder in late spring (after all the seeds have fallen) and in the late fall (after all the leaves have fallen). By keeping your gutters clear, you'll help to prevent ice dams and roof damage. You'll also stop water from running along your foundation and seeping into your basement. If you're not comfortable on a ladder, call in a roofing professional to handle this crucial task.
Stay cool when you need to.
Switch your ceiling fan direction
Is your ceiling fan spinning in the right direction?
Ceiling fans help to bring down the hot air during the winter and to circulate cool air in the summer. With your fan off, flip the switch on the body of your unit, so your ceiling fan rotates counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter.
The annual home maintenance checklist:
Inspections galore – here are the major inspections you need to have yearly.
While some of these tasks can be DIY, we recommend having a licensed plumber inspect all your plumbing system, including your hot water heater, sump pump, braided metal pipes, toilets, faucets, and more. Your plumber can help you identify any leaks as well as any large repairs you may need to make, which can prevent even more costly issues.
Keep your power on with an electrical inspection!
Have a licensed electrician run through your electrical system – from your outlets to your breaker box to your appliances. A home service pro can make sure your home is "up to code" and identify any major problems that may be fire hazards, such as knob and tube wiring and oversized fuses.
Fireplace and chimneys need to be inspected annually.
A chimney fire can burn upwards of 2,000 degrees and consume your whole home. Avoid one with an annual inspection. The inspector will check for any damage, creosote buildup, soot, and any other dangerous materials and conditions that can cause issues. If the inspector notices dangerous amounts of creosote and soot, you may need to hire a professional chimney sweep to clear it.
Leave your garage door to the professionals.
We absolutely do not recommend you inspect your garage door by yourself as any issues can be dangerous. Call a home service professional to inspect the parts annually, including but not limited to – hinges, spring, rail assembly, oil, sensor stability and alignment, lose hardware, cables, drums, and rollers.
Separate maintenance tasks you must complete annually
In addition to the inspections, here are the maintenance challenges you need to complete every 365 days (or 366 days in a leap year).
Drain your water heater
Enjoy your showers by keeping hot water heater working.
Sediments and minerals gather at the bottom of your water tank, so flushing it at least once a year will help to keep your heater running efficiently and prolong its lifespan.
Vacuum your dryer vent
More than 2,900 home fires each year stem from dirty or clogged dryer vents, yet they can be avoided by an annual vacuum. It's a quick and easy DIY project that can also help to eliminate any mold or mildew problems in your system. If you feel uncomfortable, a handyman or dryer vent specialist can take care of this task.
Touch up the exterior
Get your home's exterior in order. Touch up any exterior siding and replace any panels that warped throughout the year. Rent a power washer and give your home a quick shower. If you need to paint it – as it's been a number of years – we suggest you do it in the fall, as that's the best time for a smooth coat and quick drying.
Fix the "ways"
Fill your cracks in your driveways, walkways, and patios, as well as any railings that may not be up to par. This will not only keep you and your family members safe but also help to prevent liability claims. You don't want someone tripping on your property and getting injured. Hire a professional for big projects, like repaving your driveway.
Inspect the foundation
Do a quick visible inspection of your foundation to decide if you need to call a professional. Any large cracks in your walls (interior or exterior), non-functioning doors, or if there is a large space between the ground and the home – these can signal a major problem you'll need to get fixed.
Check your sprinkler system
A well-maintained sprinkler system can last up to 20 years.
Search for any leaks in your pipes, head, connection points, or valves. A well-maintained sprinkler system can last up to 20 years, so you'll want to take good care of yours. Plus, a broken pipe or valve can lead to water waste and a larger-than-expected water bill.
Winterize your pipes
Beware of cold temperatures.
Apply or replace weather stripping
Keep the heat in and the cold out.
Check for drafts to prevent the loss of cold air in the summer and the loss of heat in the winter. Close windows and doors on a dollar bill, and if you can pull it through without drag, you'll need to add or replace your weather stripping.
Deep clean your carpets
Even if you keep your carpets relatively clean, dust and other allergens can get stuck. The best way to kill germs in your carpet is to steam clean them at least once a year. If you're DIY cleaning your carpets, try a mixture of water and white vinegar with the help of a microfiber towel to dab.
Service your major appliances
Do you have a home warranty?
Clean and seal tile grout
Dirty, discolored, and crumbling grout is not a good first bathroom impression. To keep your grout looking new, scrub and re-seal annually, though you might need to re-seal every six months for those high-traffic areas.
Check your exterior doors
Reinforce your front door.
Your first line of defense is your exterior doors, so you want to make sure they're steady and can handle any attacks that come its way. Plus, they're imperative to that ever-important curb appeal, so it's a good idea to clean and touch up them as needed.
Update your home inventory and homeowners insurance policy
Capture your new items in a home inventory.
Give your homeowners insurance agent or carrier a call once a year to run through all the changes to your home. These can include new appliances, new furniture or jewelry, or updates and renovations you've made. Your agent will be able to adjust your policy and make sure you have the coverage you need. Don't forget to add any new items to your home inventory!
Stay on top of home maintenance. It is one of your largest assets with the potential to grow equity $$$.
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