First Time Homeowner’s Guide to Home Maintenance

First Time Homeowner's Guide to Home MaintenanceYou walk into the door, hang up your coat and/or purse, then plop down on the sofa to rest for a few minutes before getting dinner on the table.

But no sooner do you sit down when you hear a funny noise coming from the ceiling fan above your head. Looking up, you see the fan blades begin to slow down until the whole unit shakes and vibrates, before freezing in place.

“It’s probably cheaper to just buy a new one,” the repairman advises over the phone.

Home maintenance

Chances are, in your visions of owning a home you never imagined the “thrill” of home maintenance tasks like replacing a ceiling fan.

All jesting aside, home maintenance is simply part of owning a home, and while you may not have known the ceiling fan was going to fail, the fact that it was loaded down with dust probably wasn’t doing it any favors.

A general rule of thumb stipulates you set aside about 1% of the purchase price of your home for maintenance and repairs. But in reality, there’s no real way of knowing how much you’ll end up spending to maintain your home.

So the best thing you can do for your home, and your pocketbook, is to schedule regular maintenance tasks to ensure that all home systems work as they should.

The following tasks are meant as a guideline only. The age of your home and its location will impact the frequency and necessity of maintenance tasks required.

Monthly tasks

  • ⬥ HVAC filters – inspect and change as needed. For homes without pets or allergies, you could go as much as 2 to 3 months. Just notice how dirty it is to gauge what works for your home and family.
  • ⬥ Kitchen sink disposal –  clean by using vinegar ice cubes with some rock salt…it freshens, cleans the gunk out from the blades (helping them work better) and works as a strong antibacterial.
  • ⬥ Range hood filters – this is an often forgotten task but will do wonders for any lingering smells in your kitchen. An automotive degreaser combined with hot water will do the trick. Just soak the filter, rinse it off and you’re done.
  • ⬥ Fire extinguisher inspection – You do have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen right? Just confirm that it’s easy to access and that the pressure is good.

Every quarter

  • Test your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors – If you don’t hear a sound clean the unit, replace the batteries, and try again. If you still don’t get a beep, it’s time for a new detector.
  • ⬥ Test your garage door auto-reverse –  put something in the way of the garage door to ensure that the auto-reverse is working.
  • ⬥ Flush toilets and water in little-used bathrooms or sinks – this will prevent any build-up of grime or hard water deposits.
  • ⬥ Water softener system – check it and add salt if needed

Twice a year

  • ⬥ Water heater – test the pressure relief valve to prevent corrosion build-up. It can help your hot water heater run better too.
  • ⬥ Deep clean everything – hit the baseboards, trim above the windows, walls, behind appliances, underneath furniture, the windows, etc. – even the basement, garage, and attic.
  • ⬥ Smoke/Monoxide detectors – replace batteries every six months, regardless.
  • ⬥ Refrigerator coils – vacuum the coils to save money and keep your appliance from working harder than it needs to.

Once a year


  • ⬥ Check drainage outside – is water flowing away from the house? Puddles around your house shouldn’t last more than a day – if they linger, you may have drainage issues that could cause a problem with the foundation of your home.
  • ⬥ Check the gutters – your drainage issues could be as simple as clogged or broken gutters.
  • ⬥ If you still have drainage issues, add some dirt to help build up the earth so that water flows away from your house or if you have pavement, contact a professional for help.
  • ⬥ Take a good look at your home’s exterior. Repair or replace any missing siding, paint that’s chipped or holes in your brick.
  • ⬥ Small foundation cracks can be filled with a good caulk to keep water from penetrating and doing more damage.
  • ⬥ Have your air conditioner serviced. It’s worth it, especially if you live in an area prone to high heat and humidity.
  • ⬥ Check the screens in your windows. Repair or replace as needed.
  • ⬥ Clear out dead shrubs and plants from the house. Pull out any vines that may be worming their way into any nooks and crannies of your home’s exterior.
  • ⬥ Do you have trees making a beeline for the electric pole in your yard? Contact a professional tree trimmer to prevent any issues from falling limbs.
  • ⬥ Inspect your roof, either from the ground using binoculars or close up, on the roof.  If you have a chimney, inspect the bricks and the mortar to ensure it’s in good repair.


  • ⬥ Check the grout inside your home and repair as needed. It’s better to catch and repair something early before it becomes a bigger…and pricier, problem.
  • ⬥ Look for leaks in your plumbing; the toilets, the faucets, under the sinks, etc.
  • ⬥ If water pressure is a problem, chances are it’s the filter in your aerator. Remove it and clean it gently with a toothbrush, or replace if needed.
  • ⬥ Clean the deck/patio and repair as needed. Typically all it will need is a thorough wash. Re-stain if necessary to keep it looking great and to protect it from the elements.
  • ⬥ Clean the debris out of any window wells you may have.
  • ⬥ Clean the lint out of the dryer vent and any other exhaust vents that exit the house. Check for holes and replace as needed. A good way to do this is to run the dryer and inspect the exhaust as it comes out…it should smell like fresh laundry. If there’s not a lot of exhaust check for blockages or hire a professional if needed.
  • ⬥ Use a vacuum where the hose attaches to the dryer to clear out any lint that’s built up.


  • ⬥ Flush the hot water heater to remove built-up sediment. This not only saves money by helping it run more efficiently, but it will also prolong the life of the heater.
  • ⬥ Winterize your air conditioning unit. If you have a window unit, cover it with a tarp or plastic sheeting secured with bungee cords.
  • ⬥ Prepare the heating system for the winter. If you burn wood, inspect the furnace and chimney and clean them out if needed.
  • ⬥ Check and replace any missing weatherstripping around the doors and windows of your home to save on energy costs.
  • ⬥ Flush outdoor water faucets and turn them off. Flush hoses and store them and if you have a sprinkler system, follow the directions for winterizing it as well.
  • ⬥ If you have a sump pump, test it to make sure it’s working.
  • ⬥ Check your driveway and/or walkway for cracks. Have them re-sealed to keep them from getting worse over the winter, potentially costing you more in the long run.
  • ⬥ Check your winter gear – salt and/or sand, snow shovels, battery wraps, etc. to make sure you’re ready for the cold.


  • ⬥ Inspect all doorknobs, hinges, racks, handles, etc. throughout the house and tighten if needed.
  • ⬥ Check the deadbolts and locks to make sure they’re working.
  • ⬥ Check the caulk around your shower and/or bathtubs, replace if necessary.
  • ⬥ Oil any squeaky hinges.
  • ⬥ Clean the showerheads to help with water pressure and make it last longer.
  • ⬥ Do a deep clean on the basement, vacuuming cobwebs, windows, behind boxes, etc.


To track all these tasks, remember HomeZada’s home maintenance calendar to make life easier.