If you're a homeowner - new or veteran - you know that there is always something to repair, replace, or maintain. It's just part of the deal when you own a home. But why is it that the timing is just never right?? You had great plans to beautifully renovate your kitchen when all of a sudden you need a new HVAC unit, or your basement floods. So much for the new kitchen!
Trust me, I've been there and I'm telling you there's a better way. I've owned five homes in my adult life, and over the years I've learned how to best maintain a home, and even more importantly, how to NOT maintain a home. I've seen sellers absolutely shocked after a home inspection when they learn that there are major defects and safety issues in the home they've been living in, and that they are responsible for addressing those issues before closing.
So what's the solution?
I've created a home maintenance checklist - month by month - that I encourage you to begin using immediately so that you aren't caught off guard by any big surprises in your home. And it doesn't matter if you are planning to sell or staying put; this guide is intended to help you no matter your situation.
PRO TIP: Compile a home maintenance binder with all your service receipts and records. You can also print the monthly checklists and keep those in the binder as well. That way, when it is time to sell, you'll have great records to provide to the new buyer.
1. PRUNE YOUR PLANTS
Pruning is an essential task for the health and appearance of outdoor plants. Whether you're dealing with a tree or a shrub, pruning can help to shape the plant, control its size, and promote healthy growth. Here are some general tips for pruning your outdoor plants:
Use the right tools: Make sure you have the proper tools for the job. For smaller branches, hand pruners or loppers will work, while for larger limbs, a pruning saw may be necessary.
Cut at the right spot: When pruning, it's important to cut at the right spot to avoid damaging the plant. Look for a node or bud facing the direction you want the plant to grow, and make your cut just above it. Avoid cutting too close to the trunk or leaving a stub, as this can lead to disease or pest problems.
Don't overdo it: It's important not to remove too much of the plant at one time, as this can weaken it and make it more susceptible to disease or pests. Aim to remove no more than one-third of the plant at a time.
2. HAVE YOUR ROOF INSPECTED
Regular roof inspections are essential for maintaining the integrity and safety of your home. A roof inspection can help identify potential problems before they become major issues, which can save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.
During a roof inspection, a professional inspector will examine your roof for signs of damage, such as cracks, leaks, and missing shingles. They will also check your gutters, ventilation, and insulation to make sure they are functioning properly. This can help prevent issues such as mold growth, water damage, and energy loss. An added bonus of having regular roof inspections is that it can help extend the life of your roof. By identifying and fixing small problems early on, you can avoid having to replace your entire roof prematurely.
3. CLEAN & ORGANIZE YOUR MUDROOM/ENTRYWAY
Your mudroom or entryway is one of the highest traffic areas of your home, so it has the potential to get beat up if you don't regularly clean and maintain it.
Start by removing everything from the mudroom. Place all items on a flat surface, such as a table or bench, and sort them into
piles: keep, donate, and discard. Be honest with yourself about what you need and what you don't.
Once you have sorted through everything, start by cleaning the floors and walls. Sweep or vacuum the floors, and wipe down the walls with a damp cloth. If you have tile or wood floors, consider using a cleaning solution specific to the type of flooring.
Next, clean any storage units you have in the mudroom, such as shelves, cabinets, or cubbies. Wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth and consider adding drawer organizers or baskets to keep smaller items in place.
Finally, assess your storage needs. Consider adding hooks for coats and bags, a shoe rack or tray for shoes, and a bench or seating area. This will make it easier to keep your mudroom organized and functional.
4. SERVICE YOUR HVAC AND CHANGE FILTER
Having your HVAC unit serviced is essential for maintaining its optimal functioning and prolonging its lifespan. Regular maintenance of your HVAC system ensures that it operates efficiently, which can save you money on energy bills. A well-maintained HVAC system also provides better indoor air quality, which is important for the health and well-being of you and your family.
During a routine maintenance service, an HVAC technician will inspect and clean your system, including cleaning or replacing air filters, checking and tightening electrical connections, lubricating moving parts, and checking the refrigerant levels. This helps prevent unexpected breakdowns and minimizes the need for costly repairs.
Regular maintenance of your HVAC system can help identify potential problems and address them before they become major issues. This can save you time, money, and inconvenience in the long run.
5. CLEAN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL
Turn off the power: You can do this by unplugging it from the outlet or turning off the circuit breaker that powers it.
Remove any large debris: Using tongs, remove any large debris that may be stuck in the disposal. [Do NOT put your hand inside the disposal!]
Scrub the inside: Mix a solution of equal parts water and vinegar and pour it down the disposal. Let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub the inside of the disposal with a long-handled brush.
Deodorize: To deodorize your disposal, you can use lemon or lime wedges. Cut the fruit into small pieces and put them down the disposal while running cold water. You can also use baking soda and vinegar to deodorize your disposal.
Rinse with cold water: After cleaning and deodorizing your disposal, run cold water down it for a few seconds to flush out any remaining debris.
6. CHECK YOUR GFCI OUTLETS
First, locate all the GFCI outlets in your home. They are typically found in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoor areas.
Press the "test" button on each GFCI outlet. This should cause the outlet to shut off the power supply.
Plug in a lamp or other electrical device into the outlet. The device should not turn on.
Press the "reset" button on the outlet. The device should now turn on.
If the device does not turn off when you press the "test" button, or it turns on when you press the "reset" button, the outlet may be faulty and should be replaced.
7. CLEAN YOUR DRYER VENT
The dryer vent is responsible for removing moisture and lint from your clothes during the drying process, but over time, lint can accumulate in the vent, reducing the efficiency of the dryer and increasing the risk of a fire. Here's a simple DIY for cleaning your dryer vent:
Unplug your dryer from the electrical outlet and pull it away from the wall.
Locate the dryer vent on the back of the dryer and disconnect it from the wall.
Use a vacuum cleaner or a lint brush to remove any lint or debris from the vent. Be sure to clean the inside of the vent as well as the outside.
Check the vent for any damage or cracks. If you find any, replace the vent immediately.
Reconnect the dryer vent to the wall and plug in your dryer.
Run your dryer for a few minutes to ensure that the vent is functioning properly.
* If your dryer vent is long or difficult to access, it's best to call a professional for the job.
8. EXAMINE ANY WOOD ON THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOME
Checking for rotted wood on the outside of your home is an important part of regular home maintenance and definitely something you should check at least once per year. Rotted wood can cause significant damage to your home, leading to costly repairs and potentially dangerous situations. And on top of those reasons, rotted wood is unsightly and can make your home look worn.
Still need more reasons? Here they are:
Rotted wood can compromise the structural integrity of your home. When wood rots, it becomes weak and can no longer support the weight it was intended to. This can lead to sagging roofs, leaning walls, and other serious structural issues.
It can also can attract pests, such as termites, ants, and other insects. These pests can cause further damage to your home and can be difficult and expensive to get rid of.
If left unchecked, rotted wood can spread and cause even more damage to your home, including water leaks. It's important to catch and repair rotted wood as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Pay close attention to window ledges, trim around exterior doors, wood siding, and roof trim.
9. CLEAN ALL LIGHT FIXTURES
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but something that's often forgotten when it comes to the maintenance of your home. Here are a few quick tips:
Turn off the power: Before you start cleaning, make sure to turn off the power to the light fixture you want to clean. You can do this by switching off the circuit breaker or removing the bulb from the socket.
Remove the fixture: If possible, remove the fixture from the ceiling or wall to make cleaning easier. If you can't remove the fixture, use a ladder to get close enough to clean it.
Clean the fixture: Use a soft cloth or sponge dipped in warm soapy water to gently clean the fixture. Avoid using abrasive or harsh chemicals as they can damage the fixture. If the fixture has intricate details or hard-to-reach areas, use a soft-bristled brush to clean them.
Dry the fixture: Use a clean, dry cloth to dry the fixture thoroughly. Make sure there is no moisture left on the fixture before you reattach it or turn the power back on.
Replace the bulb: If you removed the bulb, make sure to replace it before turning the power back on.
Stay tuned for next month's home maintenance checklist!