Your house requires routine maintenance, just like a car or lawn mower, to remain in good condition. Following the maintenance schedule below can help you to keep your home in shape and can help you avoid major repair costs by alerting you to a potential problem before it grows out of control. Performing routine maintenance gives you a good idea of how your house should look at baseline so that when something deviates from that baseline, you’ll know to investigate further.
Monthly maintenance is simple and inexpensive and should require very little time. Keep up with the following tasks to prevent more serious damage from occurring.
. Inspect your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) filters and change them as needed. Most filters will need to be changed every three months, but they should be inspected monthly to assess for damage or an unusually large build-up of debris.
. Clean appliance filters. Depending on your appliances, ovens, ranges, microwaves, and even some refrigerators may have filters. Refrigerators may have a water filter for the ice maker while a range may have an air filter in its exhaust hood. In any case, check and clean filters monthly (or as recommended by the manufacturer) and replace them as needed.
. Clean the garbage disposal in the sink. Most people recommended running vinegar ice cubes (vinegar frozen in an ice tray) through the disposal once per month, but there are commercial products designed for the same use. The advantage of ice is that it can sharpen the blades of the disposal.
. Check the fire extinguishers. Make sure the date printed on the extinguisher has not passed, that the pressure gauge is in the correct range, and that there is no obvious damage.
Every Three Months (Quarterly)
Quarterly checks tend to be mechanical in nature. You’ll be looking for good mechanical performance of items that you use almost every day without thinking about them.
. Check the garage door to ensure the auto-reverse function works and that the door operates smoothly. All garage doors should automatically reverse if two things happen. First, if you interrupt the “eye” sensor by walking under the door when it is closing, it should stop and reverse. Second, if a small object is placed under the door (like 2×4), the door should reverse as soon as it touches it.
. Check smoke alarms and carbon dioxide sensors. You should have both of these devices on every level of your home (including the attic and basement). Check them every three months to ensure that their batteries are still fresh and that everything is in working order.
. Unused water fixtures needed to be tested and used for two reasons. First, you want to ensure that there are no drips or leaks. Second, you need a little water in the trap (the u-shaped part of the drain) to prevent sewer gas from flowing backward into your house. The gas not only smells bad, it can be explosive.
. Check your water softener and add salt as needed.
Twice per Year (Biannually)
These maintenance items require a bit more effort, but thankfully only need to be done every six months.
. Test the pressure relief value on your hot water heater and flush it to remove sediment. Performing this task will drain minerals that can damage the water heater and ensure that the water heater is functioning properly. Doing this twice per year can double the lifespan of your water heater in some cases.
. Deep clean you house. This means paying attention to every nook, cranny, and corner as well as appliances, windows, floors, ceilings, and even walls.
. Vacuum the back of your refrigerator where the coils and compressor sit. This allows the coils to efficiently exchange heat, which can reduce energy use by your refrigerator and extend its lifetime. According to some estimates, you can save up to $100 per year just by vacuuming your fridge coils every six months.
Once per Year (Annually)
These are items that need be done but once per year. They are divided into seasonal maintenance items to keep you as dry and comfortable as possible. Perform maintenance in season so that you don’t have to suffer a repair out of season when conditions are far less favorable.
. Check your gutters, drains, and other water removal systems. You probably need a ladder for this task.
. Check your siding for damage.
. Check bricks, cement blocks, and other stones to ensure that mortar is in good condition.
. Check your heat pump or air conditioner to ensure that it is ready from summer. It should be serviced yearly.
. Check window screens and glass for damage, particularly in basements and garages.
. Inspect your roof for damage and potential leaks. Get into the attic if you can and take a look around.
. Check trees and shrubs to ensure that they aren’t interfering with power lines, gas lines, drainage, or pavement.
. Check the grout between tiles, granite, marble, etc. in bathrooms and kitchens.
. Check your plumbing for leaks.
. Look for insect damage, particularly termite damage.
. Check your dryer vent for lint build-up.
. Clean your garage, paying attention to any flammable liquids that have accumulated.
. Check your heating system to ensure that it is ready for winter.
. Winterize your air conditioning system.
. Turn off the water supply to your outdoor faucets and be sure to drain them.
. Check your sump pump if you have one.
. Check your driveway and sidewalks for cracks that will worsen with the winter freeze.
. Check your roof for icicles and ice dams. Remove them immediately to avoid serious roof damage.
. Check the condition of door and window locks.
. Check caulking, shower heads, faucet aerators, and bathtub faucets for leaks and damage.
Most of the things above should take only a few minutes (with the exception of cleaning the house and gutters) to perform. Invest the few hours that the items above add up to each year to avoid headaches and expenses when you least expect them. Home maintenance is an ongoing task, so when you reach the end of the list above, start over at the top again.