A Year-Round Guide for Home Maintenance

Homeowners know the satisfying, deep pleasure of a house that’s in good order—a house where appliances are working, the paint is not chipped, and that dust under the refrigerator is gone (at least temporarily).

A regular home maintenance program will keep your house fresh and clean, help prevent expensive repairs and ensure your house is as safe as possible, For a newbie, it can be a steep learning curve figuring out when to clean which filter, how often you’re supposed to clean out a chimney and what, exactly, a sump pump is. Sticking to a year-round home maintenance schedule will break the tasks up and will keep you on track with repairs and upkeep. Since most of the big jobs have to be tackled one, two or four times a year, grouping tasks by season is a good way to create a maintenance routine.

home repair toolsWith every season change
Change or clean filters on the air conditioner or heater unit. Vacuum or dust indoor vents.

Clean and freshen the kitchen garbage disposal using ice cubes or small bits of lemon peel. Running a few small ice cubes through the disposal will knock debris from blades and a few small pieces of citrus peel will keep it smelling fresh. For maximum results, make ice cubes with pure lemon juice and run them though the machine.

Test fire extinguishers to check their pressure and inspect to make sure they’re accessible and not broken or missing parts.

Wipe down the washing machine and clean the interior by running an empty load with a cup of bleach, a cup of white vinegar OR laundry detergent. Use the machine’s hottest setting.

Test all ground-fault circuit interrupters.

Every spring and fall
Clean and repair roof gutters. Make sure downspouts are in good repair and aiming at least 2 feet away from your home’s foundation.

Change smoke detector batteries.

Flush out the water heater. Remove sediment that has collected by opening the drain valve and letting water run until clear.

Wipe down refrigerator inside and out. Clean drawers and shelves with hot soapy water and dry thoroughly. Toss mystery freezer items and expired condiments. Sweep underneath and vacuum condenser coils.

Wash windows and screens.

Check drains and clear of debris. To clean a drain, pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with a pot of boiling water.
Clean faucet aerators and shower heads. To remove mineral deposits from shower heads, detach and submerge them in white vinegar for a few hours.

Clean the inside of the dishwasher with hot soapy water and a scrub brush. Clear the drain bin of debris and rinse it off. Run the machine empty on the hottest setting with a cup of white vinegar on the top rack. (You can also put a pack of unsweetened lemonade mix in the soap cup or sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the over the bottom of the tub and run empty.)

Clean the grills and coils on air conditioning units and clear the surroundings of debris and overgrown plants.

Give your grill a thorough cleaning. Soak the grates in soapy water and scrub with steel wool. Check hoses, hinges, and knobs, and remove rust with a wire brush.

Fall
Take a walk around the exterior of the house and give it a thorough visual inspection. Look for leaks, termite damage, rodent nests, cracks in the foundation and rot. Seal cracks and gaps in siding and around windows. Repair siding where necessary. Touch up paint on exterior and trim.

Power-wash the exterior of the house.

Clear lint from dryer hose. Use a vacuum or long flexible brush.

Clean carpets and have floors re-polished or sealed.

Check electrical cords and make sure they’re in good repair.

Check door and window locks, door knobs and handles and cabinet hardware. Tighten, replace or repair as needed.

Check indoor and outdoor air vents and make sure they are not blocked by debris.

Trim back trees and shrubs and make sure they aren’t touching the house, roof or gutters.

Spring
Dust blinds and vacuum or wash curtains.

Replace storm windows with screens. Repair damaged screens.

Clean kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans.

Clean light fixtures and ceiling fans.

Inspect your chimney and fireplace, looking for obvious cracks or leaks. Check the chimney cap or spark arrester to make sure it’s intact and free of nests or other blockage. Spring is a good time for a professional chimney cleaning because it’s off-season. You’ll need a cleaning every 2-3 years or after a burning a cord of wood.

Go through kitchen and bathroom cabinets and clear out expired foods, cosmetics and medications.

Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles and worn or exposed areas. Make repairs immediately to avoid messy and expensive damage.

Reseal wooden decking and outdoor furniture with UV-resistant sealer.

Test pressure relief valve on water heater.

Examine your bath and shower areas and re-caulk as needed.

Lubricate garage door springs

If your house has a sump pump, make sure there aren’t any leaks and remove any debris. To test to see if it’s functioning property, pour about five gallons of water into it and make sure it turns on.

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