As the beginning of the new year is a popular time for resolutions, fresh starts and clean slates, it’s also a good time to set a schedule for regular home maintenance. There’s a lot more to maintaining your house than just fixing or repairing things when they stop working. Regular upkeep also includes checking things before they need fixing. Sticking to a schedule will save you a significant amount of money over time and will increase the value of your home if/when you decide to sell. You don’t need to fix what isn’t broken, but you should check up on certain things to keep them from breaking.
- Ventilate your attic and check it for leaks. If you don’t have ridge vents, keep the gable vents open all the time for proper ventilation, which will help cut down on mold and mildew growth.
- Periodically clean all the ashes out of your fireplace.
- Also, have your chimney professionally inspected at least once a year for creosote buildup, cracks and to make sure the damper closes tightly. You can leave the damper open in the warmer months, if your air conditioning isn’t running, to increase fresh air flow.
- Inspect window and door caulking at least once a year, usually in the fall in preparation for winter’s cold ice and snow.
- If you have storm windows, make sure to put them up in the fall before it gets too cold, cleaning and repairing the screens when you take them down.
- Regularly replace, or at least wash, all air filters at least once a month. These include the filters in your furnace, air conditioner, dryer vent and stove hood – check any room fans too.
- Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers every once in a while. Detector batteries should be replaced once or twice a year, and fire extinguishers need to be checked to make sure they haven’t expired.
- See if your refrigerator door seals tight. This isn’t a big safety issue, but a poor seal will cost you. To test it, close the door on a dollar bill, if the dollar falls to the floor, or if you can pull it out easily, then the seal isn’t tight and needs to be replaced.
- If the fridge is a coil-back, the coils should be vacuumed at least twice a year
- Vacuum the clothes dryer exhaust duct. You should be cleaning the dryer vent every time you use it, but the duct also needs to be cleaned out at least once a year.
- Test your garage door opener every month or so to make sure the door reverses if it hits something or when the sensor beam is blocked.
- Check/fix leaky faucets – replacing the washers can be a really easy fix that will save you a lot of money over time.
- Another part of sink (and toilet) maintenance is not dumping things down the drains that they can’t handle. Grease, oil, coffee grounds, egg shells, paper towels and wipes are all things that can clog your drains.
- Look for moisture and dampness on your basement walls and floors, and regularly clean your humidifier if you’re using one.
- Just like your other fans and vents, outdoor air conditioning units need to be cleaned once or twice a year and covered during the winter months. Window units should be cleaned and removed or at least covered with weatherproof material when you’re not using them.
- Drain your hot water heater, usually in the fall, and clean out all the sediment from the bottom.
- Check your roof (this is both an indoor and outdoor job), especially around vents, skylights and chimneys for cracks and leaks.
- Clean the gutters. How many and what kind of trees you have around your home will decide how often you need to clean your gutters. Basically, they need to be cleaned whenever they get plugged up. You should probably clean them at least once a year, after the leaves have fallen off the trees, but you’ll need to check them more often, especially in the fall and winter when leaves and ice can cause problems.
- It’s also a good idea to walk around the entire outside of your home checking for cracks and holes in the paint or siding. You might need to replace some of the caulking around the siding. Bob Vila explains that you can use a carpet knife to slice along the caulking from both sides, and then pull out the caulk with the knife.
A lot of the maintenance tips I’ve listed are important for your safety because poorly maintained machinery can become damaged or a fire hazard. But, the more positive aspect of regular maintenance, even if it’s hiring a professional, is that it saves you money! The better you take care of things, the longer they’ll last and the better they’ll work.
While maintaining your home will save you money, there’s one final thing you need to do: maintain a savings account! It’s recommended that you save between 1–3% of your home’s initial price every year. In the short term, it’s important to save so you can afford some of the larger home maintenance costs, and in the long term, saving is important for life expenses, both expected and unexpected.
I’ve tried to list a lot of the main home maintenance tips, but as always, if you’ve got any other tips, please share them with us!