This Home Maintenance Checklist Could Save You Tons of Money in the Long Run
Home maintenance is, by definition, an ongoing process. It’s also admittedly a lot of work! To keep your own home looking and functioning its best, it helps to have a plan, a process, and, yes, a checklist.
From weekly chores that will keep your home feeling as good as new to monthly jobs you should tackle on a slow Sunday to quarterly, biannual, and annual projects that deserve a recurring reminder in your iPhone calendar, many required home maintenance tasks take only a few minutes and can make a big difference over time. When you tackle issues before they become issues, you’ll hopefully avoid entering too-far-gone territory. And, when you handle maintenance items regularly, you can do almost all of them yourself, no advanced DIY skills required.
Vacuum and Clean Your Floors
Whether you have hardwood or carpet, it’s necessary to vacuum or clean on a weekly basis. Even if it doesn’t look dirty, dirt and dander can mat carpets and become trapped in between floorboards. “This weekly cleaning task can help to maintain the integrity of your hard floors and carpets in the long run by removing risks of scratches, stains, and bacteria buildup,” explains Rola Darwich, operations manager at Miraculous Maids.
Remove the Lint from Your Dryer (Every Time!)
You need to do this literally every time you dry a load. It’s an easy task, but the potential repercussions for ignoring this regular maintenance are great: Electrician Tim Estes of All Estes Electric says lint buildup could cause your dryer to work harder and heat hotter — which could eventually lead to a fire risk.
Clean Your Disposal
It’s surprisingly easy to clean your disposal every week to keep it from becoming clogged or developing a smell. “First, pour a 1/4 cup of baking soda into the disposal and run it for a few seconds,” suggests Jordan Fulmer of property investment company Momentum Property Solutions. After a few minutes, add a cup of vinegar. “Allow the mixture to fizz for a few minutes, and then rinse with hot water while running the disposal,” Fulmer says. Next, fill the drain with two cups of ice and a 1/2 cup of salt, and run both the disposal and cold water until the ice is gone. Think of it as exfoliating your disposal!
Check Out Your HVAC System’s Filters
Raj Midha, SVP and general manager of home warranty company American Home Shield, recommends doing a monthly assessment of whether you need to swap out your HVAC filters. “If you have pets, open your windows often, or live in a city, you may need to change them monthly,” Midha says. In other circumstances, you could go up to three months, but “even the best HVAC units experience wear and tear with regular use,” he adds, so, “routine tune-ups are the best way to keep your system running efficiently and avoid larger issues down the road.”
Clean Your Drains
Similar to how you cleaned the disposal, you should also flush your drains, and do so monthly. You can make it happen with boiling water and vinegar, or even boiling water, baking soda, and lemon juice. If there is a clog issue, it may be time to snake the drain.
Freshen Up Your Dishwasher
Clean Your Range Filter
“Are you a big cook? Are you regularly frying with oil? If so, you should clean your range filter monthly. If you’re a more casual cook, you can likely get away with quarterly,” Midha says. Basically: “If your vent hood isn’t clearing smoke and fumes from your kitchen as fast as it once did, it’s time to give the range hood filter a good cleaning,” Midha says. “You can simply remove it and scrub the filter in hot water with a good grease-cutting soap.” Additionally, check the fan motor and blades for grease buildup, he says, because that grease can damage the blades, leading to you needing an earlier-than-anticipated replacement.
Attend to Your Washer and Dryer
Run Water in Every Space
You know that bathroom you never use? You’ll still want to run the water in it every so often to make sure the water barrier doesn’t evaporate, and to avoid allowing pests or sewer gas into your home.
Make Sure Your Fire Extinguisher Is Working
First of all, you should have a fire extinguisher in your home, and in a place where everyone knows where it is. Second, the National Fire Protection Association recommends checking at least once a month to make sure it is full and working properly.
Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Look Out for Insect Issues
Descale Your Showerheads
Keep your shower head free of residue by descaling it with a plastic bag full of vinegar. Let it sit, then rinse.
Eye Your Home’s Exterior
Dean Mergel, general manager of Colour Envy Painting, recommends checking for any areas that need a touchup. Is there chipping paint? Are there issues with the roof? Is there brick that needs to be reinforced? Staying ahead of these prevents your home from looking run-down.
How often should you check? “A good rule of thumb for exterior inspections is twice a year,” says Jordan Fulmer of property investment company Momentum Property Solutions, adding, “Brick homes generally withstand the elements better than other houses, so owners of these homes can get away with just an annual exterior inspection.”
Vacuum Your Refrigerator Coils
Your fridge won’t last as long or run as efficiently if you let the refrigerator coils build up with dust and dirt. So every six months, roll out the fridge and vacuum the coils.
Clean Out Your Gutters
Chris Gehan of Shine Above Window and Gutter Cleaning recommends cleaning these once in the spring and once in the fall. “A regular cleaning schedule will greatly reduce, if not eradicate, the chances of mold and mildew buildup, bug or critter infestation, roof damage, and your gutters warping or pulling away from your roofline,” he says. This is something you can potentially DIY — but don’t be afraid to call in a pro if you’re uneasy about heights.
Get Your HVAC System Tuned Up
The best time to get your HVAC system tuned up is before it’s time to crank up the AC. Call in a professional to take a look at your system — both cooling and heating — each spring.
Do the “Water Test” on Your Stone Surfaces
Survey Your Electrical Cords
This doesn’t need to be a regular check-up, but once a year or so, when you’re in a room, do an inspection over all the electrical cords and outlets. Estes says, “It is easy for your wire cords to get nicked or frayed from moving furniture, pets, rodents or just general wear and tear, and it’s imperative that you make sure they are in all good working condition to avoid electrical shock, fire, or damage to your electrical circuit.”
Get Your Chimney Inspected
The National Fire Protection Association says to call in a qualified pro once a year to clean and inspect your chimneys and other heating equipment.
Review Your Tilework
Repairs are always easiest when they’re small, so make it a habit to check tile in your bathroom annually and address any issues with grout or cracking as soon as they come up. Heath Belcher, bath remodel production manager for American Standard, says tiles in the bathroom must be replaced when they are loose or have chipped edges, or when grout is no longer able to be cleaned. “While I recommend a yearly check for this issue,” he says, “you may notice problems sooner and should address them as needed.”
Look Closely at Your Caulking
Belcher says that toilets, sinks, and tubs should only need their caulking replaced once every five years, but it’s best to stay on top of it. Check annually to see if there are any sections with cracking or peeling that need attention. Expect there to be settling in the first year if you have a new home. “I recommend using a 50/50 solution of bleach and water to clean caulk,” Belcher adds, “but if that is not getting the job done, you’ll need to dig it out and recaulk.”
Flush Out the Hot Water Heater to Remove Sediment
“Buildup eventually breaks off and collects in the bottom of the tank,” explains Ian Charters, owner of Handyman Connection of Grapevine, Texas. “Draining the tank once a year will help prolong its life.” Additionally, this will prevent problems like smells, water that isn’t hot, and rust in your water.
Assess the Integrity of Door Sweeps and Seals
“Door sweeps (the part between the bottom of the door and the threshold) tend to break off after a lot of use, and weatherstripping around the edge of a door can compress over time,” says Charters. This can result in drafts and energy waste, but replacing the weatherstripping can be a simple DIY project.
Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly cited Midha, rather than Belcher, for caulking recommendations. We’ve updated it to be more accurate.