One evening, just as you are about to sit down, you hear a funny noise coming from the ceiling fan. When you look up, you notice the blades slow down until the entire unit shakes and vibrates, then stops.
Over the phone, the repairman advises, “Buying a new one may be cheaper.”.
Home maintenance is a necessary part of homeownership, and while you may not have expected the ceiling fan to break down, that it was covered in dust probably wasn’t helping it.
Think of home maintenance as kind of like a personal insurance policy. You do what it takes to keep your home in good condition, to avoid even costlier repair and/or replacement in the future.
For routine maintenance and repairs, the rule of thumb suggests you set aside roughly 1% of the purchase price of your home. The truth is, you can’t really predict how much you’ll end up spending to maintain your house.
Therefore, the best thing you can do for your home and your bank account is to schedule routine maintenance so that all home systems will run properly.
This list of tasks is intended as a guide only. How often and how much maintenance is required will depend on the age of your house and its location.
- ⬥ Wipe down the blades of all ceiling fans you own of any dust that has accumulated. This reduces dust particulates getting scattered around and can prolong the life of your fan(s).
- ⬥ Check and replace HVAC filters as needed. Depending on whether the home has pets or allergies, you could go as long as 2 to 3 months. Look at how dirty it is for an idea of what will work for you and your family.
- ⬥ Garbage disposal in the kitchen – use vinegar ice cubes with rock salt to clean it…it freshens, cleans out gunk and acts as a strong antibacterial.
- ⬥ The filters under your range hood – this is an often overlooked task but will erase any lingering odors in your kitchen. Combine an automotive degreaser with hot water to get the job done. Rinse off the filter after soaking it in the degreaser and you’re done.
- ⬥ Check your fire extinguisher – You have one in your kitchen, don’t you? Just make sure it is easy to access and that the pressure is good.
- ⬥ Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors need to be regularly tested. If you don’t hear the alarm when you test them, clean the unit, replace the batteries and try again. Still no sound? It’s time for a new one.
- ⬥ If you have one, make sure that garage door auto-reverse works by putting something in the door’s way.
- ⬥ Check your water softener system. Add salt if needed.
- ⬥ Check the pressure relief valve on your water heater to prevent corrosion from accumulating. Doing this can also help your water heater run more efficiently.
- ⬥ Do a deep clean; window trim, walls, under appliances, baseboards, etc. Don’t forget the attic and/or garage too.
- ⬥ Regardless of whether they show the need, replace the batteries in your smoke and monoxide detectors every six months.
- ⬥ Vacuum the coils on your refrigerator to help it run efficiently and last longer.
Once a year
- ⬥ Check the drainage outside – does water flow away from the house? If puddles remain around your house for more than a day, it could indicate drainage problems that could lead to foundation issues.
- ⬥ Are your gutters clogged or broken? This could be what’s causing the drainage issue. If they’re clear, add dirt to build up the earth around your home so that water flows away from your foundation. Call a professional for help if you have pavement.
- ⬥ Look closely at the exterior of your home. If your siding is missing, the paint is chipped, or your brick is damaged, repair or replace it.
- ⬥ Filling small foundation cracks with caulk will prevent water from penetrating and causing further damage.
- ⬥ Get your air conditioner serviced. You’ll be glad you did, especially if you live in an area prone to high heat and humidity.
- ⬥ Check your window screens. If necessary, repair or replace them.
- ⬥ Get rid of dead shrubs and plants around the house. Get rid of any vines that may have gotten into the cracks and crevices of your home’s exterior.
- ⬥ Are there any trees in your yard that reach for the electric pole? To prevent any issues caused by falling limbs, contact a professional tree trimmer.
- ⬥ Examine your roof, either from the ground with binoculars or up close on the roof if you’re comfortable doing the job. Inspect your chimney’s bricks and mortar to ensure it’s in good shape.
- ⬥ Check the grout in your home and repair it if necessary. It is better to catch and fix something early before it becomes a bigger …and more costly problem.
- ⬥ Inspect your plumbing for leaks; toilets, faucets, under the sinks, etc.
- ⬥ Your aerator’s filter is likely to be to blame for low water pressure. Clean gently with a toothbrush, or replace if necessary.
- ⬥ Clean the deck/patio and make necessary repairs. All it usually needs is a good wash. Stain it if necessary to keep it looking good and to protect it from the elements.
- ⬥ If you have them, clean the debris out of your window wells.
- ⬥ Ensure that lint is cleared from the dryer vent and all other exhaust vents leaving the house. Check for holes and replace any damaged vents to prevent a potential house fire. To test this, run the dryer and smell the exhaust as it comes out. It should smell like fresh laundry. If there is little exhaust, check for blocked exhaust pipes or hire a professional if necessary.
- ⬥ If there is lint buildup in the dryer, vacuum the area where the hose attaches.
- ⬥ Remove built-up sediment from your hot water heater by flushing it. Besides saving money by helping it run more efficiently, this will also help it last longer.
- ⬥ Winterize your air conditioner. Cover your window unit with a tarp or plastic sheet secured by bungee cords.
- ⬥ Prepare your heating system for winter. Check the furnace and chimney if you burn wood, and clean them if necessary.
- ⬥ Check your home’s doors and windows for missing weatherstripping and replace it.
- ⬥ Flush all of your outdoor water faucets and turn them off to prevent water from freezing in the line. Follow the instructions for winterizing your sprinkler system if you have one. Also, flush your hoses and store them.
- ⬥ Test your sump pump, if you have one, to make sure it’s working.
- ⬥ Inspect your walkway and driveway for cracks. Seal them to prevent them from getting worse over the winter so that you can repair them when the weather turns warmer.
- ⬥ Do you have all of your winter gear such as snow shovels, battery wraps, salt and/or sand, etc. ready for the cold?
- ⬥ Go throughout the house and check the hinges, doorknobs, racks, etc. to ensure that they’re secure. Tighten as necessary.
- ⬥ If necessary, replace the caulk around your shower and/or bathtub.
- ⬥ Oil squeaky hinges.
- ⬥ Improve the water pressure in your shower; clean the showerhead with vinegar and water. You’ll help your fixture to last longer, too.
- ⬥ Deep clean areas of your home that aren’t routinely cleaned, such as the basement, windows, behind heavy furniture, etc.