A homeowner’s guide to maintaining your home
If you’ve been a homeowner for long, you know how important consistent home maintenance is. Not only does maintenance keep your home looking good and comfortable, but it can also help maintain or even increase its value over time.
If you can catch little problems before they become big ones, you can save money on costly repairs and replacements. Of course, not everything needs to be checked every season. This guide aims to show you what you can do each quarter to protect your home and wallet.
The importance of home maintenance
There are a multitude of major appliances and built-in systems in your home, and each serves an important purpose. For example, your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system cools you down during heat waves and warms you up during cold fronts.
Neglecting routine home maintenance tasks can lead to costly and potentially risky problems. For instance, clogged drains can cause issues like flooding, water damage, corrosion and even sewage backup. However, if you catch a clog early, you can use a solution of baking soda and vinegar (followed by boiling water) to quickly unclog the drain and avoid hiring a plumber to perform expensive pipe repairs.
Ongoing home maintenance checklist
Some things need to be examined year-round. In fact, certain home improvement chores need to be done monthly or even weekly. For example, if you don’t regularly pull the weeds out of your garden, you risk your plants not getting enough nutrition.
Here’s a list of some things you should stay on top of every month:
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure the batteries are good (replace them at least twice a year). If you have multiple stories in your home, there should be a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector on every floor.
- Check for issues in grout and caulking. Remove any damaged material and replace it.
- Unclog your drains. If left unchecked, clogged drains can severely damage pipes over time.
- Clear out your furnace filter. A dirty furnace filter is bad for your health. It decreases your home’s air quality and makes it harder to control the temperature.
- Check and replace (if needed) the salt in your water softener. If the salt is depleted, you could get hard mineral deposits in your home water supply.
- Clean hard mineral deposits from your showerheads and the aerators in your faucet. They can diminish your water pressure and leave unhealthy grime in your sink or shower.
- Test your fire extinguishers. Make sure they’re easy to access (not hidden or difficult to reach) and that they have adequate pressure. Read the pressure gauge if your extinguisher has one. If not, push the pressure pin in slightly. If it pops back up, you have pressure.
- Test ground fault circuit interrupters in areas near moisture (like your kitchen or bathroom). Press the reset button, plug in an appliance (like a lamp) and then press the test button. The appliance should turn off automatically.
- Take a look at your electrical cords. Replace any with signs of damage or wear.
- Dust vents and vacuum heat registers. Also, make sure nothing is blocking the inside and outside of vents.
- Grind ice cubes in the garbage disposal. Pour baking soda and hot water into it to clean it out.
Here’s a list of things you should do weekly:
- Vacuum floors to keep hardwood and carpets looking new. You can also choose to sweep.
- Mow the lawn, trim bushes and pull weeds. Mowing not only keeps your lawn looking nice, but it also allows the grass to grow thicker by giving roots better access to nutrients.
- Clean out your dryer vents. Dryer lint can decrease the efficiency of your dryer. It’s also very flammable. If you let it build up, it can cause fires.
- Dust furniture and other surfaces in your house. Dusting makes surfaces look clean and improves your air quality by getting rid of allergens.
- Wipe down your stovetop with vinegar and baking soda. Cooking on a dirty stovetop sends old, burned food particles into the air, which can cause significant health risks over time.
Spring home maintenance checklist
In the spring, you might find yourself playing catch-up. A particularly harsh winter can keep you from completing necessary outdoor tasks. Winter can also be rough on the outside of your home. Plants are in bloom, as well. Spring is a great time to start or maintain a garden. You’ll also spend some time preparing for the hot months in the summer.
- Dust any outdoor light fixtures that may have been neglected during the winter. Replace any bulbs that have stopped working.
- Change air filters in your air conditioner. You’ll need more air conditioning in the spring than in the winter. You’ll also want to be ready for hot summer days.
- Clean your windows and siding. You can use a power washer if needed. You should also inspect your windows, caulk and check siding for any damage from winter weather and make repairs as necessary.
- Polish or refinish outdoor wooden surfaces that may have been harmed during winter. When treating outdoor surfaces made from wood, make sure to choose the right finish for your needs and seal the wood completely.
- Take a look at your roof to make sure there are no damaged shingles or leaks. When snow thaws, it can leak through any holes in your roof. Spring can also bring heavy rain in certain areas.
- Get rid of any dead leaves from the winter. Excess foliage can restrict your grass (or plants) from getting access to sunlight or water.
- Pump your septic tank (if you have one) to avoid sludge from backing up the outlet pipe. You might have to hire a professional to do this. Many cities have laws that only allow licensed companies to deal with wastewater.
- Examine your chimney to make sure it hasn’t been damaged during the winter. Hire a chimney sweep to clean it out.
- Tend your garden. Fertilize your lawn and garden and plant new greenery. Spring is a great time to exercise your green thumb.
- Have a professional take a look at your air conditioner to make sure it’s ready for the summer. The technician can check the ductwork and provide any cleaning services needed.
- Touch up siding, trim and exterior walls with paint. You may need a simple retouch or have to hire a professional for a complete job.
Summer home maintenance checklist
Depending on where you’re located, summer can bring sweltering heat. Scorching temperatures provide challenges for certain systems in your home, like your air conditioning unit. Make sure you’re ready to keep your family cool.
While warm weather can be great for outdoor chores, there’s plenty of indoor maintenance you can complete in the summer, as well.
- Test your garage door. Check to see that it’s opening and shutting properly and that there’s no extra tension on any part of the door. Listen for squealing or screeching sounds that could mean the door requires lubrication.
- Renovate your deck. Summer is a time for barbecues and outdoor get-togethers. Add sealant or maybe even a coat of stain to your wooden deck. Make sure there are no nails sticking out, rust or signs of infestations (like termites).
- Make sure there are no leaks in your lawn irrigation system. Check for signs of leakage, like pooling water, and replace broken sprinkler heads (or hire someone to do it). These leaks can severely raise your water bill.
- Clean and check siding, windows and other parts of your house for cracks or any damage. You may need to repair or replace them.
- Water your lawn and garden. You don’t need to do this every day (in some areas, you may be restricted from doing it). Drenching your plants a few times a week is better for them than watering them every day.
- Pull weeds anywhere they shouldn’t be growing. They can harm wood or other surfaces and steal nutrients from plants.
- When you're mowing your lawn, be sure to trim around outdoor HVAC units. Excess greenery can damage the unit or cause it to work less efficiently.
- Check the foundation and crawlspace of your house for cracks, infestations or damage that needs to be repaired. Damage to your home’s foundation can cause the home to sink over time, which leads to issues like uneven floors.
- Wipe down the refrigerator, freezer coils (vacuum out the sludge) and drip trays. This should be done at least twice a year (more often if you have furry pets), but it’s especially important in the summer. You don’t want all your cool summer treats to get ruined.
- Cut off dying or damaged parts of trees and prune shrubs. If not removed, dead plant parts can infect healthy ones.
- Check your windows to make sure they’re retaining cold air. Repair any cracks or damage where cool air might be escaping.
- Turn on your ceiling fan to make sure it’s working. Listen for any strange sounds that could be signs of damage.
- Summer is pool season. If you have one, balance the chemicals, clean it up and get it ready for use.
Fall home maintenance checklist
Use fall to prepare for the cold winter months to come. If you live in a place that gets really cold, a frigid winter can keep you confined inside your home. Finish anything you might not be able to get done during the winter.
- Rake leaves to aerate your lawn. They call it “fall” for a reason. Try to stay on top of the leaves as they fall from the trees. This allows water and sunlight to get to the roots of your grass.
- Examine your fireplace, chimney and flue for damage. If your chimney system isn’t working properly, it can cause dangerous issues like fires and even carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Prepare windows, siding, doors and walls to retain heat during the winter months. Seal off any leaks that could let cold air in. Secondary glazing on windows can block cold air while also preventing moisture from building up and causing mold and mildew to form (which can happen when windows are sealed). Heavy curtains can also add insulation to the windows.
- Call an expert to take a look at your heating system. Make sure your system can withstand the extra strain you’ll be putting on it during the winter.
- Flush out the hot water from the water heater to dislodge mineral deposits. Remember to turn off the heat and cold water supply first. Built-up sediment can cause corrosion in your heater. It can also block the relief valve, which makes the appliance more likely to explode.
- Winterize outside plumbing and drain it to prevent freezing. Disconnect hoses if you expect a harsh winter. You can also use outdoor faucet covers for insulation.
- Take out debris and leaves from gutters and downspouts. They can trap snow on your roof.
- Fix holes in the driveway or sidewalks so that no one gets injured on them. Stormy weather can bring low visibility and ice, which makes damaged sidewalks particularly dangerous.
- Fix or maintain outdoor door handles and locks (you may want to hire a professional to do this). You don’t want a faulty lock to keep you outside when the temperature is freezing.
- Winterize your pool. Start the process about a week before it’s time to close your pool. You’ll have to clean, shock and add pool antifreeze (if you expect freezing temperatures).
Winter home maintenance checklist
In winter, it’s vital that you keep up with maintenance. Severe weather can cause damage to your home and safety issues for your family. You don’t want to go without heat during the cold winter months. This is the time to maintain heating units and repair any areas in your house that can let cold air in.
- Stop windows from letting cold air in. If you missed any window leaks in the fall, you can use window insulation film as a temporary, yet effective, solution to seal any holes. Add it to the surface of your window and heat it up so that it bonds to the glass.
- Close the vents in your foundation to lower heating costs. Ventilation in your crawl space is great for summer, but it can let in cold air during the winter.
- Watch for ice blockages on your roofing. These ice dams keep snow from sliding off your roof and can cause water to leak into your home.
- Shield outdoor air conditioning units from the elements. Cover them in a canvas tarp.
- Pour water into the crack of your sump pump to make sure it’s pushing water out. You don’t want your basement flooding as the snow thaws in the spring.
- Clean all the drains in the house to avoid frozen or busted pipes. During freezing temperatures, you may have to leave faucets dripping to prevent water from pooling inside and freezing.
- Make sure battery-powered generators are working properly. Extreme cold can sometimes cause power outages.
Protect your home year-round from unexpected repair bills with Cinch
Homeownership can be hard work, but it’s a labor of love. If you want your home to run optimally and maintain its value as long as possible, you’ll need to have a plan for taking care of it. By performing the right maintenance, at the right time, you’ll enjoy a comfortable, safe and efficient home for many years to come.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from expensive repairs or replacements is by purchasing a home warranty plan from Cinch Home Services. Not every problem has a DIY solution. We’ll help you find the perfect plan for your service needs. Whenever one of your covered appliances or built-in systems breaks down, we’ll get a qualified technician to fix the problem as soon as possible so that you can rest easy. Request a free quote today.