This Checklist Is the Key to Taking Care of Your Home Each Season
Home maintenance is not the way most of us want to spend a Saturday. “I can’t wait to flush out the hot water heater today,” said no one, ever. But for most of us, our home is our biggest investment. Maintaining it is a must. Let leaves fill the gutters or paint flake off the shutters, and you could end up with big repair bills.
Home maintenance can feel overwhelming, especially for a first-time homeowner who is accustomed to the landlord doing that work. But it doesn’t have to be daunting. Plan on doing one set of small chores by the month and other chores by the season. Follow this natural pattern all year long, stay on top of the little stuff and your house will run smoothly.
Clean the furnace filter. Clean filters help your HVAC run more efficiently, lessening the wear and tear on the system. This can also help you avoid expensive repairs and cleaning costs. You may want to replace your filters monthly or every few months depending on factors like whether you have allergies or pets, and the quality of the filter.
Vacuum heat registers and vents. Dirt, dust and debris collect in registers, which obstructs airflow and makes your HVAC work harder to maintain the temperature indoors.
Test smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Your home is your biggest investment. Make sure the tools that protect it from a fire are working.
Inspect electrical cords for wear. If the rubber coating wears off or cracks, cords become a fire hazard.
Clean the garbage disposal. Grind ice cubes, then flush with hot water and baking soda to remove food buildup that can damage the device.
Clean faucet aerators and showerheads. Mineral deposits from tap water build up and lower the water flow. Remove the aerators and soak them overnight in vinegar, then scrub with an old toothbrush.
Inspect the outside of your home. Keep an eye out for loose roof shingles, damaged siding, cracked bricks, driveway or sidewalk cracks, insects and overgrown trees or shrubs. Call a pro to correct any problems you find.
Inspect the trees. If you see lots of dead branches on a tree, or a tree hasn’t sprouted spring leaves like it should, call a certified arborist who can look for illness and catch a problem before it kills the tree. You also don’t want a tree weakened by illness to fall on your house.
Clean the gutters. Gutters control the flow of rainwater and snowmelt on your house, protecting your roof, walls and foundation. Clogged gutters can cause a roof to leak or water to get into your house. Clean them at least twice a year — more often if a lot of trees hang over your roof.
Freshen the exterior paint. If you see peeling, chipping or flaking paint, you may need a touch-up or full new coat of paint. Get the painting done now before summer’s heavy rains and high temperatures damage exposed surfaces.
Wash the house. Wash the winter away from your home’s exterior with a good scrub. Wash the windows and screens, and hose off the dirt, grit and mildew from the façade. That grime can damage paint and masonry over time. Spray the house with a mild detergent that won’t harm your landscape and hose it off. You may want to resist the urge to use a power washer because it can damage siding and brick.
Check the HVAC. Call an HVAC tech to do a bi-annual checkup and service of your system. They should check ductwork for any damage and clean and service the furnace and A/C compressor.
Clean ducts and vents. Call a pro to remove the accumulated dirt, dust — and if you have indoor pets — dog or cat hair from the system. Your HVAC won’t have to work as hard if the ducts are unobstructed, extending its life.
Check the deck. The cool days of spring are a great time to refinish the deck or replace rotten boards.
Update your home’s pest control contract. Hire a pro to check for termites, rats and other home-damaging invaders every month.
Fertilize your lawn, trees and shrubs. They slept all winter. Feed them now that they’re waking up.
Water plants and foliage. Make sure your greenscape gets plenty of water. Dead landscaping costs you money.
Check your sprinkler system. Look for clogged lines, leaky valves and pools of water. Check the timers. Call a pro for repairs if you find problems.
Oil the garage-door opener. Oil the garage door’s chain and hinges, too.
Check for leaks around toilets and in the dishwasher. Call a plumber if you see problems.
Prune trees and shrubs. This removes dead or diseased branches and keeps them healthy.
Seal tile grout in bathrooms and kitchens. Keep water from getting between the tiles and damaging walls and floors.
Fertilize your garden. Give your lawn, trees and shrubs one last shot of strength before the coming of the cold.
Clean the gutters. With the autumn leaves raining down, this will be the biggest gutter clean out of the year. Remember, clogged gutters can cause a roof to leak or water to get into your house.
Check the chimney. Get ready for using your fireplace by calling a chimney sweep for an annual inspection and cleaning. They should be checking the flue, firebox and damper.
Check the HVAC. Just as you did in the spring, hire a pro to service your furnace and ductwork. Ask the technician to check out the thermostat to ensure it works and make sure ducts and vents are unobstructed and undamaged.
Clean the dryer vent. You can do this yourself or get an HVAC tech who specializes in dryer vents to remove the lint and inspect the vent. Clothes dryers cause almost 3,000 fires a year, and a blocked vent makes your dryer work too hard to dry clothes and blow its heating element.
Flush the hot water out of the water heater. This removes accumulated sediment that can destroy the appliance.
Seal air leaks. Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk and seal up any cracks between trim and siding, window and door frames, and anywhere pipes or wires enter your house. This will prevent moisture from getting inside your walls.
Drain in-ground sprinkler systems. Any water remaining in the lines can freeze and damage the system.
Wrap insulation around outdoor faucets and pipes in unheated garages. Uninsulated pipes may freeze, and when frozen pipes thaw, they flood the house.
Cover your air-conditioning unit. Protect it from the elements with covers made just for this purpose.
Clean refrigerator and freezer coils. Removing the dust buildup with a coil brush will help your fridge run better and last longer. Unplug the fridge before you do it. Empty and clean drip trays, too.
Inspect the roof, gutters and downspouts after storms. Your house takes its heaviest beating in the winter. Call a pro if you spot damage. This is also a good time to check your basement for leaks (once the ground has thawed out).
Keep an eye on the pipes. You wrapped your pipes in the fall, but there’s more you can do to keep them freezing. Let a faucet drip on cold nights to keep water moving, and be sure to keep the thermostat set to a minimum of 55 degrees if you’re not at home.