Taking care of your home is a lot of work. Between daily tasks and weekly chores piling up, no one wants to create more work for themselves with even more home upkeep. Unfortunately, this attitude sometimes allows us to neglect important home maintenance tasks that deserve regular attention.
Whether you're a homeowner or a responsible renter, if you're trying to get your house in order, you can keep home maintenance manageable and up-to-date with a consistent routine and a few expert tips.
Moving into a new space is a chance for a fresh start. Aside from deep cleaning, you should also perform initial maintenance tasks to ensure safety and start the clock on your maintenance schedule.
Change out any air filters for a fresh set, and install brand-new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, which you should test once a month. Inspect the shut-off valves for the water and gas lines, and check out the electrical fuse box and wiring for signs of wear and tear.
No matter how often you swipe a washcloth over your kitchen counters, the space won't feel clean with lingering odors and grime. Unpleasant smells might come from old food and grease trapped in the garbage disposal. Once a month, use a solution of baking soda, white vinegar, and boiling water to eliminate oils and send any clogs down the pipes.
Remove the guard for a thorough cleaning, and toss in some lemon wedges, ice cubes, and salt to remove stubborn gunk and deodorize the disposal.
Another monthly task worth fitting into your calendar is the cleaning of your home's air filters and vents. Take a vacuum to the ceiling vents in your bathrooms and bedrooms to get rid of dust and debris, and clean out the floor registers while you're at it to improve efficiency.
Remember to include humidifiers, air purifiers, and fans with HEPA filters, or else you'll have dust and dander circulating in the air.
While they are low-maintenance appliances, water heaters and softeners still require a monthly check-up to identify common problems. Inspect your water heater for cracks and leaks, and inspect the pressure relief valve and temperature.
Next, check inside your water softener's brine tank to eliminate salt bridges and inspect for mush—a thick sludge that creates blockages and reduces the system's effectiveness. If you don't have a water softener, remove mineral deposits on your faucets and shower heads with vinegar.
Rain or shine, there's a good chance you've used your HVAC system recently to maintain your home comfortably. Keep your system running by scheduling seasonal maintenance with your local HVAC company.
While you do your part by vacuuming vents and changing out the air filters each month, a professional will have the tools and skills to clean the air ducts, wash the fan and condenser coils, or service the boiler. Schedule your AC service twice a year, before the summer and winter seasons.
Dried foliage in the gutters and downspouts around your eaves is more than an eyesore. Clogged gutters can cause rainwater and melted snow to pool on your roof and around the drains. The extra weight puts the roof, gutter supports, and siding under stress, any of which can cause leaks.
Excess water can also encourage mold growth and rot in wood structures, resulting in costly repairs. Avoid the mess by removing debris from gutters and running water through the downspouts twice a year, in the spring and fall.
Walk the grounds surrounding your home at least twice a year to keep your property safe and beautiful. Before the rainy season, fill in any depressions near the foundation to avoid pooling water, and make sure your home's roof and exterior aren't showing signs of cracked, sagging, or peeling material.
Clean up your garden after the winter, lay down mulch to keep weeds at bay, and inspect trees for signs of disease. Finally, check the driveway and walkways for cracks and loose bricks, and test the sprinkler system to ensure it works before the summer.
The caulking and weather stripping around your doors and windows keep your home climate-controlled and help prevent water damage. Once a year, check the seals around doorjambs and windowsills for drafts—a stick of incense works great—and seal any openings with a bead of caulk.
While you're at it, inspect the sills for rot or insect damage, especially if you find a crack in the weather stripping.
Once a year, remember to unplug your fridge and pull it away from the wall to expose the rear coils for cleaning. A coil brush is inexpensive and easily fits between the coils to dislodge dust and debris. Vacuum any leftovers on the ground and empty and clean the drip trays before plugging the fridge back in.
Next, remove the exhaust fan filter above the stove and boil it with dish soap to remove grease buildup. Then, vacuum the lint buildup in your dryer's exhaust vent to improve efficiency and prevent fires.
If your region sees snow and freezing overnight temperatures in the winter, shut off your water supply in late fall and drain the exterior lines to prevent freezing.
Add winterizing chemicals to the pool, and drain the pump and hoses before covering the water with a lid. You should also cover your outdoor AC unit to keep water and debris from getting inside and causing damage.
Once the winter frost starts to break, it's time to start thinking about a bath—for your home. Remove the storm windows and screens from your windows and spray your home's entire exterior with the garden hose.
If some of the dirt and grime won't come off, check online for cleaning solutions that won't harm your exterior finish. Polish glass and metal fixtures, like your porch light or hand railings, and pressure wash the walkways and driveway to brighten the look of your property.
With the arrival of summertime comes outdoor dining and weekend barbecues. Prepare for the season by washing your patio or deck with water and mild detergent, and be on the lookout for loose nails or cracked bricks.
Reopen the pool for summer by treating the water and inspecting the valves and filters before the initial heat wave of the season arrives. Lastly, make it a point to trim the foliage around your outdoor HVAC to avoid airflow problems.
It's easy to categorize your septic tank as "out of sight, out of mind," but this is one system you don't want to neglect. In addition to monthly septic treatments and pumping every three to five years, you should inspect your system once yearly for signs of wear.
Check that the tank and vent lids are intact, and keep an eye out for soggy ground or overly lush vegetation; these are signs that your tank is full.