10 Annual Checkups First-Time Homeowners Need to Keep in Mind

published Oct 12, 2022
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“AC isn’t working? Better call my landlord.”

Oh, wait. You bought a house. You are the landlord. And now, you not only have to address issues like a broken dishwasher or an ant infestation on your own, you also have to schedule (or learn to DIY!) all of the preventative maintenance that comes with owning a home. 

Luckily, you don’t have to navigate first-time homeownership all by yourself. Here are 10 of the annual (and a few biannual!) checkups that you should get on your calendar for preventative maintenance, based on my personal experience. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

1. Tune up the HVAC and furnace.

Have a professional HVAC technician come out to tune up your central heat and air before you run into issues on a 95-degree day. They’ll inspect and clean your unit, ductwork, and vents to make sure everything is in working order. Bonus: Some HVAC companies offer plans that bump you to the front of the line when you do have immediate problems.

2. Clean your gutters and downspouts.

Whether you want to brave the ladder or leave it to the professionals, cleaning out your gutters and downspouts is critical to preventing damage to your roof. Fall leaves, pollen, and debris from storms all add up, and should ideally be cleared out twice a year (yup, this one is a biannual checkup!).

Credit: Jason Finn/Shutterstock.com
Hip roof

3. Have your roof inspected.

Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of homeowners like roof issues. From leaks to insulation problems, roof issues can be expensive — and you want to do anything you can to prolong the investment that a new roof brings. If you can pair this inspection with your gutters and downspouts, even better.

4. Service the gas fireplace.

Staying on top of routine maintenance is a must anytime there are flammable materials involved. And, while your gas fireplace may seem like it’s in working order, it’s still a good idea to have it serviced annually. A professional will check for any possible leaks, as well as clean the fireplace, and make sure you’re ready for a cozy winter season.

5. Drain your hot water heater.

Once a year, drain your hot water heater completely. This will help flush any sediment from the heater, prevent corrosion, and extend its life. If you don’t, you could be facing clogs, leaks, inefficient heating, and a reduced lifespan. This is not an appliance you want to replace before you have to! 

6. Inspect the chimney.

Chimney sweeps aren’t just in “Mary Poppins.” Once a year, you should have a professional come out to sweep your chimney and perform a routine checkup. Skipping this maintenance could lead to carbon monoxide issues, chimney fires, and other dangerous consequences.

7. Check your sump pump.

As someone who lived through a sump pump going out in the midst of a hot, humid, and rainy July, I can confidently tell you that you’ll want to do anything you can to avoid that disaster. Have your sump pump checked and tested once a year to ensure it’s ready to handle summer’s biggest rainstorms.

8. Bring in pest control.

The best time to deal with pests is before they take over. Have a pest control specialist do a check once a year — or more, if needed — to remediate any issues with bugs or not-so-cute furry friends. Not only will this deal with everyday annoyances like ants or centipedes, it can prevent bigger enemies like mice and termites.

9. Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Another biannual checkup for you: Test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms every six months. For obvious reasons, this is one you shouldn’t skip. It’s low stakes, you can do it yourself, and it could end up saving your life or someone else’s. 

10. Keep an eye on your home’s exterior condition.

Cultivating curb appeal isn’t always at the top of a renter’s to-do list (or maybe I’m just speaking for my previous self), but once you’re a homeowner, there’s a more important reason to care about what your house looks like from the exterior. You want to catch issues with siding and peeling paint before they get beyond your control. It all comes back to preventative maintenance — it’s tedious in the short term, but will save you long-term dollars.