During the spring of 2010, I realized my dream of becoming a homeowner before the age of 30. For the first six months that I lived in my new home, I furiously worked to make it my own with various DIY and decorating projects. In that time, I also addressed many of the small recommendations my home inspector had made in terms of improvements the property would benefit from.
Now that I’m happily settled, it would be easy for me to simply relax my efforts and enjoy my home. And while I do enjoy my home tremendously, I also know that it’s vital to maintain it in a way that will help avoid costly repairs down the line.
Home maintenance is extremely important, but it can also be a somewhat confusing and daunting task to understand what you’re supposed to do and when you’re supposed to do it.
In an effort to navigate the home maintenance waters successfully, I created the following checklist for how homeowners can organize their efforts and save money at the same time. For me, it made most sense to break the list of tasks into two groups: things to do throughout the entire home and things to do in each individual room (you could also arrange the various items by calendar month if that makes more sense for you).
Entire Home Maintenance
Throughout the entire house, you should pay attention to the following:
- Visually inspect all windows, walls, and door jams. Check for cracks, which could indicate structural problems. Fill any visible openings with a flexible caulking.
- Check for mold/mildew. If found, take immediate action to remedy the situation. For simple issues, a bleach and water mixture will do the trick. More extreme situations require the help of a professional.
- Deep-clean carpets and maintain wood/tile floors. With proper maintenance, you can avoid premature replacement costs.
- Insulate your outlets. Invest in outlet inserts. Basically, these are fire-proof, thin pieces of foam that reduce the air flow in/out of outlets, which in turn reduces your energy costs! Apart from these there are other environmental technologies you can take advantage of to conserve power.
- Inspect all wires, cords, and electrical junctions. Any frayed or stripped plugs/cords should be replaced immediately. Any loose wires, etc. should be fixed by a licensed electrician.
- Fill all visible holes near seams, pipes, doors, and baseboards. Do this to ensure that pests and rodents stay out of your living spaces. Spray foam filling (bought in a can at home improvement stores) is the easiest, most cost-efficient option.
- Clean the refrigerator coils. Pull the refrigerator out and vacuum the coils in the back regularly. Doing so ensures your appliance will last its intended lifespan and helps reduce fire threat.
- Check water lines. Inspect all water lines at least monthly—in the refrigerator, faucet, disposal/dishwasher connections, etc.
- Clean appliances regularly. Ensure that all of your appliances last their intended lifespan by regularly following the manufacturer’s recommendations for regular cleaning/maintenance.
- Defrost the freezer. Save space and conserve energy by periodically defrosting your freezer.
- Clean all vents. In particular, make sure to clean your range hood(s) as doing so prolongs their lifespan and reduces fire danger.
- Maintain caulk & grout. Water is your home’s #1 enemy and tiny cracks in the caulking and/or grout is one of the easiest ways for water to get behind the walls of your home. Stop it in its track with regular shower maintenance.
- Keep the loo in tip-top shape. Remove the lid from the top of the toilet to ensure the inner components are working as intended—but don’t stop there. Wipe a rag around the base of the toilet to check for any water leaks. If you find water, you may need to replace the wax ring inside the base.
- Check exhaust fans & clean vent. One easy way to do this is to remove the cover and simply vacuum out all cobwebs, dust, etc. Also make sure to visually inspect the fan’s components to ensure nothing is loose, broken, or missing.
- Clean the dryer vent. Reduce fire risk and give your dryer a break: Not only should you already be emptying the lint trap before each new load, you should also be regularly cleaning the main exhaust vent and hose.
- Change heating/air conditioning filters. Help your HVAC system work at its most efficient peak by changing filters about twice per year. While your changing the filter, vacuum out any visible cobwebs and dust.
- Check the foundation. As you did with the walls, windows, and doors upstairs, check for cracks and deteriorating foundation walls at least once per month. Regular inspections will help you be aware of any changes that may occur in an area where most homeowners often overlook basic maintenance simply because they may not utilize the area regularly.
- Insulate the pipes. Invest in cheap pipe insulation to reduce your energy costs and help protect against frozen/burst pipes in the winter.
- Keep it dry! If necessary, run a dehumidifier or install a sump pump or an interior drain system. Remember, water can lurk for years before it becomes visible damage. Do your due diligence to avoid insanely costly repairs!
What would you add to this list?
This is good advice for all homeowners. After making such an investment you should really be take care of your home. It’s good advice for landlords too.
Thanks, Danielle! Is there anything you would add to the list or any particular advice in general you’d offer?
I think that keeping things clean and organized also helps. An unorganized house with lots of clutter isn’t going to lead directly to problems, but there’s an indirect tie-in. If you start letting clutter build up, you’ll start letting other things go and will start overlooking other things. If you keep things looking sharp, your eyes will be open to spot other preventative tasks that will keep your home in tip-top shape.
This is so true! I’m always being teased by my friends and BF about how much I clean, but I do so partly because it’s a way for me to unwind (I’m crazy like that…haha) and mainly because it helps me keep my home in great shape overall.
Oof! Renting FTW… for now!
Haha…it sounds like a lot, but all of these things are relatively easy to keep on top of. Plus, most are seasonal and fit nicely into a maintenance schedule
Preventative maintenance is key! It saves so much more in the long run, and it is completely worth the time investment. You eventually get into a groove and start to spend less time on doing the same things.
These are all great tips. When I bought my townhouse my real estate agent got me a how to be a homeowner books that describes a lot of what you have done. I should probably pull it out and scan through it again to keep up on my maintenance!
If you have aluminum wiring, all the outlets should be checked periodically by an electrician. And all new installations and hard-wired connections should be done by a licensed & bonded electrician. Heh. I speak from experience…