Let’s be honest: 2020 has been a real bummer of a year. If you’re anxiously anticipating the dawn of 2021, you are certainly not alone! And whether you’ve given in to COVID-19 quarantine-induced cabin fever and moved into a new place, or embraced your home to turn it into your personal live/work haven, the end of the year is a great time to take a close look at your home maintenance and general ownership checklist.
It’s easy to let little (and not so little) home-related tasks slip throughout the year. You’ll get to them later, right? Well, now is later! Ready to get started? Take a look at our list below for some simple tasks to help you enter 2021 with your house in tiptop shape.
Home checklist for the new year
1. Review your home insurance coverage.
While you may be able to get away with light insurance coverage on that older car that you rarely drive, you should never skimp on the coverage you carry on your house. If anything catastrophic were to happen to your house, that home insurance policy is what will keep you from losing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars or spending every cent of your savings in repairs.
Keep in mind, too, that a good home insurance policy has provisions for a wide range of other unfortunate possibilities. Your home insurance policy should provide coverage in the following cases, for example:
- A visitor to your home gets hurt on your property
- Items are stolen from your home during a break-in
- You need to live elsewhere for a period of time while your home is repaired following a disaster covered by the policy
Your home insurance needs can — and probably will — change over the years. Have you renovated or remodeled your home? Have you purchased or inherited valuable items, such as jewelry or artwork? If you answered yes to either of those questions, your current home insurance policy might not provide sufficient coverage for your needs, especially if you haven’t given the policy a second thought since the day you closed on your house.
Give your insurance agent a call as we wrap up 2020, and make sure your policy fits your current lifestyle and circumstances.
2. Read over any warranty contracts or service agreements.
Do you have a home warranty policy? What about a service agreement with your local HVAC or plumbing company? Take the time now to review those contracts and agreements, and make sure they’re still meeting your needs.
Did you use any of the services last year? If you didn’t — and if tightening your budget is on your docket for 2021 — look into whether stepping down to a less costly plan is an option. You might also need to shop around and compare prices. The home protection plans offered by Cinch Home Services, for example, give you several choices, so you can stick to your budget without sacrificing the protection you want.
Some service agreements, particularly those for HVAC and plumbing services, are must-haves only if your systems are older and need consistent maintenance. If your home’s HVAC and plumbing systems are relatively new, you might not really need the priority service these agreements grant.
It is certainly nice to jump to the head of the line when it comes time to schedule your biannual HVAC service call, but if your furnace or air-conditioning unit was installed within the past three to five years, you might be able to put the money you’d spend on an annual service agreement to better use elsewhere in your 2021 budget.
3. Check on your home’s major systems.
Regardless of whether you choose to sign up for a service agreement for any of your home’s major systems, don’t skip the annual or biannual service calls. If everything checks out and the technician doesn’t find any issues, that’s great! The service call fee is money well spent for that peace of mind.
Consistent preventive maintenance is key to catching small issues before they become catastrophic. If the technician does find something that needs to be addressed, the likelihood that the fix will be minor is far higher if you’ve stuck to a regular maintenance schedule.
4. Test backup or infrequently used appliances.
Depending on where in the country you live, you’ve likely already experienced some pretty cold weather by the time the winter holidays roll around. If the worst of winter is still in store for you at the first of the year, however, it’s a good idea to make sure any cold-weather gear is in working order and ready for when the temperature really takes a nosedive.
If you have a generator, test it out (following the manufacturer’s instructions, of course), and make sure you have a safely stored fuel supply available for it. Inspect any supplemental heaters to ensure they are also in good shape to provide safe, reliable heat if needed.
And while you’re at it, double-check that your lawn equipment has been drained of fuel and winterized correctly. It might seem silly to be dragging out your lawn mower and other gasoline-powered landscaping equipment with snow in the forecast, but this extra step will help you avoid a trip to a small-engine repair shop come springtime.
5. Thoroughly inspect your house and yard for water damage and erosion issues.
A rainy summer and fall can equal water damage inside your house and eroded soil outside — not how you want to enter a new year!
Winter is typically a wet season, although that moisture might come in either liquid or solid form. Regardless, water that ends up where it doesn’t need to be can spell disaster for your house. As we shoo 2020 out the door, thoroughly inspect your house and property for telltale signs of water damage and erosion, which include:
- Off-color or brown stains on ceilings and around pipes
- Moldy, musty smells, or visible mold and/or mildew
- Damaged, peeling paint or wallpaper
- Gaps underneath concrete slabs (e.g., your driveway, front walkway or patio)
- Low spots in the yard that collect water and seldom fully dry out
If you notice any issues, get in touch with a contractor to arrange for a full inspection and any necessary repairs. Letting more time pass will only worsen the damage.
6. Visually scan your roof for missing or damaged shingles.
Strong autumn storms can do a number on your roof, so be sure to keep an eye out for shingle damage. Don’t compromise your safety by walking around on the roof. You can get an excellent general idea of your roof’s post-storm condition with your feet firmly on the ground. Leave the heights and the ladders to the experts.
In most cases, you’ll see obvious gaps where shingles have blown off the roof, and you will likely also be able to spot shingles that are slightly out of place, usually from being torn. Missing or ripped shingles don’t provide all the protection your house needs from the elements, so call a roofing company pronto to make the repairs.
Whether you’re excited for 2021 or a little apprehensive (and understandably so) about what the new year will bring, Cinch Home Services has your back. Home ownership is a lot of work! But we are so excited to join you on the adventure and lend our tips and expertise to help make your life at home easier. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss an update from our team.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.