How to Maintain a House

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Your home represents one of your biggest expenditures. That is why it’s important to maintain your home. Keeping up the appearance of your house and making necessary repairs as soon as possible helps to protect its value.
Depreciation can drive down the value of your house over time, which can present a major roadblock if you decide to sell. But what maintenance do you need to perform, and when? Read on to find out.

Checklist for Monthly Home Maintenance

As a homeowner, you can perform some easy monthly maintenance tasks to keep your home in proper working order:
  • Clean the garbage disposal: Clean the garbage disposal in your sink if your house has one. An easy way to do this is to use frozen vinegar. You can also buy products at a local retailer or online, such as Glisten cleaner.
  • Clean the range hood filter: The filter of the range hood over your oven accumulates grease and contaminants over time. Soaking the filter in water mixed with a degreaser is the easiest way to clean it.
  • Check the fire extinguishers: Each month, you should check any fire extinguishers in your home to make sure they are fully charged. In addition, make sure the extinguishers do not have anything blocking them so that household members have easy access to them.
  • Check the HVAC filters: Check the filters of your HVAC system. While many experts recommend that you change the filters monthly, this is not always the case. Smaller families and families without pets can wait as long as two to three months before changing the filters. Make sure you change all of the filters, because some houses have more than one, especially multi-level structures.

Checklist for Quarterly Home Maintenance

The following is a list of all the maintenance you should perform on your home each quarter:
  • Flush unused toilets: Flush any toilets you don’t use, and run any water sources such as sinks, tubs, and showers. The intent is to run water through the system to prevent grime build-up and to check for any water leaks.
  • Test smoke detectors: Test smoke detectors to make sure the batteries are still good. All you need to do is push the test button to see if the alarm goes off. If it doesn’t, simply replace the battery. While you are checking your smoke detectors, also check any carbon monoxide detectors you have installed.
  • Test the garage door: When checking the garage door, make sure to examine the auto reverse feature. A safety feature required on garage doors manufactured in 1993 or later, auto reverse should automatically open the door if it closes on an obstruction.

Checklist for Semiannual Home Maintenance

In addition to monthly and quarterly maintenance, you need to perform some maintenance tasks about once every six months:
  • Change smoke detector batteries: Change out the batteries in your smoke detectors. This keeps your batteries fresh and your smoke detectors working properly.
  • Clean the house thoroughly: Twice a year, clean the house from top to bottom. Items to clean include all appliances, windows, hard-to-reach areas, and any area that doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic, such as the basement. By cleaning like this once every six months, you keep dirt from building up.
  • Test the water heater: To keep your water heater running more efficiently, test the pressure release valve. Performing a test can also help minimize the buildup of corrosion and minerals.
  • Vacuum the refrigerator coils: Cleaning your refrigerator coils helps to keep your refrigerator running more efficiently. You can do so by vacuuming the coils every six months.

Checklist for Annual Home Maintenance, by Season

Spring Maintenance
Spring represents a good time to perform some maintenance outside the home after a long winter:
  • Check out the house’s exterior: Check around the perimeter of your home, paying particular attention to the paint or siding. If you find any damage, get it repaired. The foundation represents another area that you need to maintain; inspect it for cracks and conduct repairs as necessary.
  • Check tree clearances: Check the trees on your property to make sure they do not interfere with any electrical lines. If you need to trim them, hire professional trimmers for safety.
  • Clean the gutters and check outside drainage: Clean your gutter and downspouts to remove any dead leaves or dirt buildup. If not properly cleaned, the gutters can overflow, causing problems with your roof. In addition to the gutters, check any drainage that moves water away from the house to make sure it is still functioning properly.
  • Clear away any dead plants and shrubs: Clean out any old plants or shrubs that might have overgrown since the last spring. This keeps the roots of those plants from causing damage to your foundation and the exterior of your home.
  • Have the air conditioner inspected: Before the summer heat kicks in, have your air conditioner inspected and serviced, if necessary.
  • Inspect the roof: Check the roof out for any missing or loose tiles. You should also look for any leaks, which you can do by going up into the attic and checking around for water spots.
  • Replace or repair window screens: Inspect and repair — or replace — any damaged window screens. This helps to keep pests out of your house, especially in the spring when they are most active.
Summer Maintenance
Here is the maintenance you need to perform on a house during the summer:
  • Check the plumbing: Check the plumbing around the house for any leaks, including around faucets, toilets, and drains. You should also clean the aerators of your faucets to improve performance.
  • Clean any window wells: If your home has window wells around your basement, make sure to clean out any debris. Be mindful of animals who might have gotten trapped or made a nest in the window wells while cleaning.
  • Clean the exhaust vents: Clean the dryer and other exhaust vents of your home. Vacuuming any lint from the hose at the dryer represents one fix you can perform yourself; otherwise, call a professional.
  • Clean the garage: Clean the garage during the warmer summer months. Be sure to clear out any dirt or debris in corners that don’t see much use.
  • Deal with any insect problems: Check for and deal with any insect problems that pop up during the summer. Dealing with a problem quickly can keep it from growing out of hand and causing unnecessary damage. This is especially true of termites, which can destroy a home.
  • Perform maintenance on the deck: Perform any maintenance on your deck, including cleaning and re-staining. You also need to repair or replace any loose boards and posts.
  • Perform maintenance on tiled surfaces: Perform an inspection of any tiled surfaces within your home to keep them in good shape. Repair such surfaces as needed.
Fall Maintenance
Maintenance in the fall consists of getting your house prepared for the winter:
  • Clean the chimney: If you do not know how to clean the chimney yourself, hire a professional. Chimneys build up soot over time, which is a fire hazard if left unchecked.
  • Flush and winterize outdoor faucets and water systems: For faucets, this means turning them off. For items such as hoses, this is just a matter of draining all the water and storing them inside a shed or basement. Sprinkler systems require the most work, requiring you to winterize them to protect them from freezing.
  • Get your air conditioner ready for winter: Cover any outdoor units with a tarp or plastic sheet. In addition, remove any window units and put them in storage until the spring.
  • Prepare your heating system: As the fall starts, have your heating system checked. Make sure to check the ductwork for any leaks, and make sure the vents are open and unblocked by furniture.
  • Service the hot water heater: In the fall, you need to flush the hot water heater to remove any of the sediment that has built up over the year.
  • Take care of any driveway cracks: Treat any cracks in your driveway before the weather gets too cold. Water can freeze, causing the cracks to expand. Reseal them before winter hits.
  • Test the sump pump: The sump pump can help keep your basement dry if you have a busted pipe during the winter. Checking it in the fall before it gets too cold can save you a headache later on.
Winter Maintenance
Winter has its own list of maintenance items, including those you put off earlier in the year:
  • Clean the basement thoroughly: Before springtime rolls back around, make sure to give the basement a good cleaning. This includes any windows or seldom-used corners. Also, check the basement for mold, a good indicator of water damage, and have the problem fixed as soon as possible.
  • Clean the shower heads: Remove shower heads and clean out any sediment. If needed, replace old and malfunctioning shower heads.
  • Clean up any ice dams or icicles: Check the gutters of the home regularly for ice buildup. Ice dams can lead to water buildup and leaks on your roof. Icicles can fall from your gutters and injure anyone standing underneath them.
  • Check the locks within the house: While checking for loose screws, also check the locks in your home. Deadbolts and other locking mechanisms can wear out or malfunction over time. Repair or replace any faulty locks or deadbolts.
  • Repair the caulking: Check the caulking around the bathtubs and showers in your home and replace it, if necessary. This prevents leaking under the tub or shower, which can lead to even worse problems in the future.
  • Test the electrical systems: Make sure that all of your outlets work properly, using a volt meter to do so. If you find any problems, call a professional for help.
  • Tighten any loose screws: Go around your home and tighten any loose screws. This includes screws in any doorknobs, handles, or racks, among other items.
As you can see, home maintenance is a year-round job. But by breaking it up into more manageable chunks, you can ensure that you take care of your home, keep it in good condition, and maximize its value over time.

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