Maintaining your home is a rewarding work-in-progress

Taking care of a home is never-ending labor of love. A million little things around your house need monitoring and maintenance. Homeowners sometimes inadvertently overlook certain areas or put them off too long. And then, little things tend to become big things… with big price tags. 

Your home is your biggest investment, so treat it that way. While your homeowners insurance protects you from the things you can’t control, it doesn’t cover wear and tear, even when that wear and tear leads to an expensive major repair.

Keep track of routine upkeep and prevent costly damage with this complete home maintenance checklist. You’ll protect your investment and may even save on utility costs.

 

a couple embracing and walking to a house

Closely monitor your air conditioning system and have it serviced every two or three years, yearly in warmer climates. Clean or replace the filters at least once a month. Check indoor and outdoor air vents frequently to make sure they are not blocked by snow or debris.

Examine the attic for frost accumulation during winter. Check roof for ice buildup and icicles. If there are no ridge vents, keep gable vents open year-round to ensure proper ventilation.

 

 

Check basement pipes for condensation or leaking and if found, fix immediately. Check the basement floor drain to ensure the trap contains water. Refill with water if necessary.

 

 

Clean bathroom fan vents (cover and motor) at least twice a year. Check for loose or missing grout around bathtub and replace.

Clear all drainage ditches and culverts of debris.

Inspect wood decks, steps, and rails for loose or damaged boards and nails. Check any exterior steps or decks to make sure they are still level. Steps and decks may move due to frost or settling during the winter.

Ensure all doors to the outside can shut tightly and check other doors for ease of use. Renew door weather-stripping if required.

 

 

Check gutters and downspouts for loose joints and secure attachment to your home, clear any blockages and ensure redirected water flows away from the foundation of your home.

Inspect driveway and walkways for cracks and damages. Repair as needed.

Vacuum lint from inside the duct and the areas surrounding your clothes dryer and your dryer's exterior vent hood.

Check electrical cords, plugs and outlets for all indoor and outdoor lights to ensure fire safety. If worn or the plugs or cords feel warm to the touch, replace immediately. Inspect lines for secure attachment where they enter your house and make sure there aren’t any water leakages along the electrical conduit. Make sure electrical outlets are equipped with safety plugs.

 

 

Check the details of your fire escape route. Ensure that doors and windows lock and be sure hardware and lighting around outside of the house are working properly. Make sure your family has good security habits and conduct safety drills frequently.

Seal off any holes in the exterior cladding. This could be an entry point for small pests, such as bats, squirrels, and rodents.

Check perimeter fences for signs of weathering or structural damage. Repair as necessary.

 

 

Check gauge on all fire extinguishers. Recharge or replace if necessary.

 

 

Check the chimney for loose or missing mortar. Have the chimney professionally cleaned annually. Make sure the damper closes tightly. Check chimneys for any blockage, such as bird nests. Check the security of the chimney cap and the seal between the cap and the chimney. Leave the damper open for improved ventilation if the home is not air-conditioned.

Remove any plants, trim trees or roots that contact or penetrate the siding or brick.

Examine the foundation walls for cracks, leaks, damage or signs of moisture, and repair as required. Test the ground fault circuit interrupters monthly by pushing the test button. This should then cause the reset button to pop up.

 

 

Lubricate garage door hardware and ensure it is operating properly.

Grind ice cubes to clean garbage disposal weekly. Then flush clean with hot water and baking soda.

Clean the gutters and drain pipes to prevent leaves from building up.

In cold-climate areas, drain outside faucets before the winter season. Open valve to outside hose connection after all danger of frost has passed.

 

 

After consulting your hot water tank owner's manual, drain off a dishpan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank to control sediment and maintain efficiency. Lubricate circulating pump on hot water heating systems.

Monitor your home for excessive moisture levels. For example, condensation on the windows can cause significant damage over time and pose serious health problems. Clean dehumidifier two or three times during the winter season.

Check all faucets for signs of dripping and change washers as needed. Faucets requiring frequent replacement of washers may need to be repaired. Clean drains in dishwasher, sinks, bathtubs, and shower stalls regularly. Test plumbing shut-off valves to ensure they are working and to prevent them from seizing. If you have a plumbing fixture that is not used frequently, such as a laundry tub or spare bathroom sink or tub, run some water briefly to keep water in the trap. Check for leaky faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms. Frequently clean faucet aerators and shower heads.

Bleed air from hot water radiators as needed to prevent pressure build up.

Check and clean range hood and filters monthly.

Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a small piece of paper. lf you can pull the paper out easily, the latch may need to be adjusted or the seal may need to be replaced. If you have a coil-back refrigerator, vacuum the coils at least twice each year to maintain efficiency. Tip: A full refrigerator is more efficient than an empty one.

 

 

Check the roof and check around the vents, skylights, and chimneys for leaks. Repair as necessary. Note any sagging on the roof that could indicate structural problems requiring further investigation from inside the attic. Monitor the condition of all shingles for possible repair or replacement, and examine all roof flashings, such as at chimney and roof joints, for any signs of cracking or leakage.

Check smoke, carbon monoxide, and security alarms. Replace batteries and inspect twice a year to ensure they are working properly.

If you have a septic tank, measure the sludge to determine if the tank needs to be emptied before the spring. Tanks should be pumped out at least once every three years.

Look for cracks and holes in house siding or paint. Replace caulking if necessary.

Ensure the sump pump is operating properly before the spring thaw sets in.

Check and replace damaged caulking and weather-stripping around windows and doorways, including the doorway between the garage and the house.

Check the smooth functioning of all windows and lubricate as required. Inspect window putty on outside glass panes and replace if needed. Regularly seal drafty doors and windows to increase efficiency. If you add up the small cracks where heating and cooling are escaping a home, it would be the same as having a window open. Replace seals as needed.

 

 


 

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