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Prepared and Maintained: Home Maintenance Checklist

In the words of Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch philosopher, “prevention is better than cure.” A home that is not maintained properly can lose around 10% of its appraised value. Whether you’ll sell your home soon or plan to stay in it for a while, prevention and maintenance can be make or break habits.

Weekly/As Needed:

  • Vacuum your carpet thoroughly weekly to help elongate its life and keep it looking good.
  • Clean debris (branches, snow, leaves, etc.) away from the foundation of all structures on your property, especially during winter, so that you don’t miss any damage that occurs to your foundation.
  • Clean out any window wells you may have.

Monthly:

  • Clean your furnace filter, removing dust build-ups. This makes it easier for your furnace to regulate your home’s temperature, and will help save you money on utility bills.
  • Clean your kitchen exhaust fan filter and blades.
  • Clean faucet aerators and shower head filters to remove mineral deposits and maintain water pressure and purity. Vinegar is particularly good for this.
  • Inspect drains in your home – both tub and sink – for clogs and clean as needed. To get rid of clogs, pour a cup of baking soda into the drain and follow up with three cups of hot water. If the clog is particularly stubborn, you can try half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of plain vinegar down the drain.
  • Pour water down any unused drains to keep them from clogging.
  • Inspect dishwasher for leaks that may be hidden from immediate site.
  • Clean the drain pan on your refrigerator to keep it from developing a smell.
  • Vacuum your heat registers, vents, and refrigerator coils to keep them from building up dust, which may be a fire risk.
  • Test ground fault circuit interrupters (GFI).

Fall:

  • Check your heating system air filters and replace as needed monthly.
  • Inspect storm windows, cleaning them and rectifying any damage.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have it inspected, cleaned, and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Schedule a chimney cleaning.
  • Have someone inspect and service your gas heater/furnace to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning – contact your utility company, as this may be a service they will provide for free.
  • Change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Spring:

  • Inspect your foundations after winter to ensure that no ice and water damage has occurred.
  • Inspect weather-stripping around doors and windows. Keeping weather-stripping in good condition helps to save energy and keep down the costs of air conditioning.
  • Hose off the outside of your house.
  • Inspect all window and door screens and mend any holes to make sure insects cannot get in through them.
  • Treat deck for mold and mildew that can be brought about by winter snow and summer showers.
  • Scrub off any mildew on the exterior of your home, or pressure wash it.
  • Change the filter in your air conditioner.
  • Trim any overgrown shrubs and trees near your house. Inspect trees to ensure they are still alive. If any tree appears dead, contact a professional to remove the tree, as storm season may cause it to fall on your home.
  • Have your air conditioner serviced by a licensed coolant contractor.
  • Change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Annually:

  • If you have stucco, seal any exterior cracks.
  • Inspect and touch up exterior paint.
  • Drain your water heater and check the pressure valve to ensure it’s all working properly. Inspect the whole hot water system, including radiators and convectors where applicable.
  • Re-caulk baths – showers, tubs, and sinks.
  • Wax marble surfaces.
  • Have a pest control company come treat for insects that can tear apart your home like termites and carpenter ants.
  • If you have a septic tank, it should be checked and cleaned once a year.
  • Inspect all fire extinguishers and ensure they are within their expiration dates and are at proper pressure.
  • Clean any lint build up out of your dryer vent and house. This is a major fire risk, and should be kept on top of.
  • Have someone come inspect your roof for any leaks or shingle/tile damage that may have occurred.
  • Get carpet and furniture professionally cleaned.

Emergencies:

In the event of an emergency, natural or otherwise, make sure you have plans and a kit in place.

  • Sit down and create a preparedness plan with your family.
  • As part of this plan, agree on a meeting place outside of the home in case of fire, mudslide, earthquake, etc. Come up with a way for everyone to contact each other in case of separation.
  • Assemble a disaster survival kit and put together emergency supplies.

Preparing for emergencies means more than formulating tornado plans, keeping fire extinguishers in your kitchen and garage, and putting together disaster survival kits. All of the adults in your home should be familiar with the main controls in your home, both where they are and how to turn them off:

  • Heating fuel or electric shut off
  • Breaker box or main electrical fuse
  • Main water shutoff
  • Water shutoff valves in appliances: toilet, sinks, washing machine

As further preparation, keep wrenches near each of the vital shutoff valves so that they can be shut whenever needed as quickly as possible.