Take the intimidation out of home maintenance, say goodbye to the hassle of unexpected home repairs, and keep your home running smoothly year-round with our simple home upkeep checklist. Whether you are a new homeowner or a seasoned veteran, our handy home upkeep checklist will help you preserve your home’s charm and value.
The value of regular home maintenance cannot be overstated. It helps ensure safety, improves functionality, and enhances the aesthetic appeal of your property. Additionally, it prevents minor issues from escalating into significant, expensive problems.
Each season brings unique maintenance needs for your home.
Monthly maintenance checklist
GFCI/AFCI outlet check: First, test those GFCI and AFCI outlets. You know, the ones in the kitchen and bathroom with buttons? Quickly press the “test” and “reset” buttons to ensure you won’t get any shocks if water touches them or the appliance is connected to them. And remember, any electronics near water need to be plugged into these.
HVAC filters: Next, it’s time to deal with your HVAC intake filters. You might think a high MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) filter is best, especially if you’re battling seasonal allergies. Super-high MERV filters can damage your system by causing too much suction (have you ever noticed your HVAC system whistling? That’s why). Stick with a lower or medium-level filter for smooth airflow, and grab a portable air purifier to tackle allergens. Bonus tip: washable intake filters can be cleaned off in the shower instead of buying new ones and throwing them away.
Water leaks: Now, look for leaks around toilets, sinks, water heaters, and other water fixtures. Check carefully around cabinets or floors near toilets, showers, and sinks. That hard Nevada water can cause build-up that slowly wrecks your pipes and fixtures. Even small stuff, like bad caulking or sealants, can cause big headaches.
Doors, sills, and hinges: Lastly, check your doors for scratches, creaks, and loose hinge pins. A quick tap with a hammer and some lubricant will have those doors swinging smoothly (and quietly) again.
While none of these tasks alone are likely to spell disaster, letting them slide can lead to more significant problems. The good news is most of these fixes are easy and can be done with stuff you’ve got lying around or can pick up at your local hardware store. If you run into something more serious, like a major leak or electrical issue, don’t sweat it – just call a pro to take a look.
Spring Home Maintenance Checklist
Spring is the time for outdoor cleanup and window washing after the harsh winter.
Local companies do great with these tasks if you have a taller home with hard-to-reach windows and gutters. These two items can be easy to tackle for single-story houses and people who feel comfortable on ladders.
Gutter cleaning: Gutters full of ice from the winter can cause overflow during the rainy spring months or even add excess weight to the gutter that will eventually crack or break them. Gutter cleaning is something you’ll want to do before the winter, as well as when fall leaves have accumulated, or animals have built nests inside.
Window cleaning: Keeping windows clean and clear can be straightforward if you have access to a simple squeegee (like the one at gas stations) and soapy water or glass cleaner. Most screens are removed easily with a pull tab at the bottom and can be hosed off.
If either of these tasks feels daunting, hire a professional and look for coupons online to help take care of these basic needs.
Summer Home Maintenance Checklist
In summer, the focus should be on HVAC maintenance and repairing anything caused by prior snowfall. A proper checklist for AC maintenance can save you from sweltering summer days. Right before the summer starts, you want to get a professional service to look at your system to avoid the rush caused by people who don’t do this maintenance.
HVAC maintenance: Calling a reputable HVAC company to inspect and clean your entire heating and air conditioning system at least once a year will cost $150 to $300, according to Cavallero Heating & AC. Still, it will save thousands on replacing the entire system if it burns out from overuse due to dirty coils and clogged intake fans.
HVAC maintenance usually includes cleaning out the exterior unit’s panels and fans and checking all the coolant lines and drainpipes in your attic or crawl space. Keeping debris off the system and checking for leaks should ensure it works well until the next inspection. We don’t recommend this for the DIYer.
Also, remember that most systems are not meant to cool below 67 degrees, or you could cause more issues. So, if you’re too hot or cold in some rooms, consider ceiling or floor fans or ask the service tech to adjust the dampers in your home to equalize the temperature throughout the house. Often, the default setting for dampers results in the rooms closest to the unit receiving the most air and the rooms furthest away receiving almost none.
Roof maintenance: It’s best to inspect the roof before the wet season arrives again and get any roof repair on the schedule ahead of time to avoid fall or winter damage. Roof maintenance is a job for professional inspectors and contractors who can quickly repair seals, shingles, and flashings before leaks force emergency repairs in the fall or winter.
Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
Fall calls for leaf and gutter cleaning to prepare your home for winter.
More gutter maintenance: Like spring, cleaning fallen leaves out of gutters before the first snowfall will drastically improve drainage and prevent damage to gutters or the build-up of potentially dangerous icicles or spillage onto a concrete surface.
HVAC maintenance: Ideally, the summer maintenance on your system should have covered this, but if you put it off, now is the time to ensure the heating system is properly cleaned and prepped for the winter months before it’s too late. HVAC maintenance is essential for any house still on oil heating.
Fireplace and chimney check: If you use a fireplace, check for old ashes missed last year, make sure the flu/damper opens and closes correctly, and even consider checking the brick or stone exterior and interior for damage or leaks. Professional maintenance may be necessary to ensure the stonework is in good condition.
Winterize: Winterizing might include checking caulk and seals around doors and windows to ensure it doesn’t need to be replaced or resealed. Store or cover outdoor furniture. Finish up any last-minute gardening before piles of leaves freeze and turn to mush, then clean up and dry those tools for long-term storage to avoid rust.
Winter Home Maintenance Checklist
Winter home maintenance should prioritize heating systems and insulation to keep your home warm and cozy. It’s also an excellent time to look at indoor appliances or touch-ups that don’t require you to suit up and get on an icy ladder.
Kitchen appliances and plumbing: Other than replacing your water dispenser filter every four months (if yours has one), you can do a few other things to keep your refrigerator running smoothly. Two areas to consider:
Water dispenser: Tubes that connect the fridge to the wall should be inspected for leaks. Most refrigerators come with cheap plastic water tubes that can crack in a high desert climate. Replace it with a braided stainless steel water line, like what is attached to a toilet, which is more flexible, lasts longer, and is less prone to leaking.
Coil cleaning: Remove the front panel of your fridge (or back panel) to find and vacuum up the nasty fuzzy bits that stick to the condenser tubes. That fuzz can prevent the condenser from bleeding off heat, forcing the fridge to work harder.
Bathroom fans: Speaking of fuzz. Have you ever looked up at the exhaust fan in your bathroom? These are often easy to remove, revealing caked-on fuzz (don’t ask what the fuzz is made of) that needs to be removed for the motor to work at peak efficiency (and quietly).
Dryer vent cleaning: More fuzz! Dryer vent filters only collect so much, while a lot of it can escape into the dryer exhaust and into the vent ducts, lowering the efficiency of your dryer and causing fire danger over time. Sometimes, this task can be done with home improvement store kits and vacuums, but every few years, a professional should come out to fully clean the tubes, usually accessed from the attic or side of the house (and sometimes the roof).
Smoke and CO2 detectors: Finally, check those batteries and replace them before the cursed midnight chirp wakes everyone up. But did you know First Alert makes 10-year lifespan smoke detectors with sealed batteries? If you have the cash to invest in replacing your smoke detectors, consider replacing them so you never have to worry about it again.
Special Home Maintenance Checklists
There are also special checklists for different types of homes and tasks. For instance, an exterior home maintenance checklist covers all the tasks necessary to keep your home’s exterior in top shape, but the list will depend on what your exterior is made of. Similarly, an apartment maintenance checklist can guide apartment dwellers on maintaining their living space to avoid calls to the owner. A routine home maintenance checklist can help you stay on top of tasks that must be done regularly. Those might include the above items or may consist of items specific to your home or investment property and its age-related special needs.