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An Annual Home Maintenance Plan to Help Avoid Surprises

An annual schedule to stay on top of your home maintenance tasks.

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Man standing on top of ladder holding tools in front of a house with woman standing next to ladder

The best new year’s resolution a homeowner can make is to proactively take care of their home and its respective systems. Many home maintenance tasks need to occur on a regular schedule, ranging from monthly to quarterly to annually. Taking care of these items in a timely fashion will keep your house operating smoothly over the long term and help prevent breakdowns at the least opportune times.

In fact, homeowners spend an average of $5,300 per year on maintenance and emergency repairs in addition to the $10,300 in planned improvements [source]. So, for every two dollars spent on “improvement wants,” homeowners need to set aside one dollar to address “must-fixes.” This was the number one reason that homeowners turned to DIY; unexpected maintenance and repairs added up beyond what new homeowners could afford to spend. 

By eliminating the cost of labor (by doing it yourself) and focusing on preventative maintenance to minimize catastrophic failures, homeowners can keep their homes in good condition without rearranging their finances.

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Annual Home Maintenance Plan

By breaking up recurring tasks throughout the year, you can tackle your list at the most convenient and important times.

Monthly

replacing a 1inch furnace filter

Replace 1"-2" furnace filters

Air filters are typically located behind the air return grill in your home or where the air return ducting connects to your furnace. Using a pleated air filter will help clean dust and allergens from the air and keep dust from building up in your furnace and ducting. The longer you wait between filter replacements, the harder your system has to work due to restricted air flow from contaminants clogging up the filter (more energy wasted and less cold/hot air circulated throughout your home).

Verify operation of safety devices

Test all smoke and CO detectors as well as GFCI outlets or breakers on bathroom and kitchen circuits. These safety devices save lives and they can only be effective if they operate correctly. If you live in a particularly dusty environment, this may be a good time to dust your smoke and CO detectors with a vacuum or compressed air.

water damaged baseboard and flooring

Visual inspection of interior and exterior

Perform a visual inspection of the interior and exterior of your home looking for unusual wear and tear or signs of damage: Take the time to be observant, by focusing on floors, walls, ceilings, and penetrations from the exterior, you may notice early signs of a bigger problem. Look for:

    • Moisture damage in corners and around tubs and showers; this could indicate a water leak from a fixture or moisture intrusion from the exterior.
    • Areas of excessive dust buildup such as under exterior doors and around outlets and light switches; this could indicate air leaks from the exterior that end up costing you with increased energy costs.
inspect sprinklers and ground cover

Inspect sprinklers and ground cover

Run your sprinklers and walk the property. Look for any leaks that can manifest as excessively soggy spots or waterspouts. Also, ensure your ground cover is in good condition, especially mulch around shrubbery, to help minimize evaporation.

Quarterly

replacing 3inch to 5inch furnace filter

Replace 3"-5" furnace filters

Air filters are typically located behind the air return grill in your home or where the air return ducting connects to your furnace. Using a pleated air filter will help clean dust and allergens from the air and keep dust from building up in your furnace and ducting. The longer you wait between filter replacements, the harder your system has to work due to restricted air flow from contaminants clogging up the filter (more energy wasted and less cold/hot air circulated throughout your home).

3” filters should be replaced every 3-4 months with 5” filters being replaced every 6 months (depending on how dusty your house is, if you have pets, and the efficiency of the filter).

Annually: Late fall/early winter

Service furnace

Either inspect the furnace yourself or hire an HVAC professional to perform a full inspection of the burners and fans. This is a great time to ensure you have proper insulation covering your ducts to ensure efficiency of the system.

Flush water heater

Sediment builds up in your water regardless of it being tanked or tankless. If you water heater has a tank, you can flush it yourself to decrease the amount of buildup and extend its life. This is also a good time to check the sacrificial anode rod for wear. If you have a tankless water heater, it’s recommended to hire a professional to flush your system as some special equipment may be required.

cleaning gutters of leaves

Clean gutters

Remove organic and inorganic debris from your gutters before the rain and snow comes. This will help extend the life of your roof and mitigate potential flooding and ice damming.

man instanding on ladder observing condition of roof

Inspect roofing

Check for wear of your roof covering, paying attention to any gaps between shingles, around vent openings, and flashing. You can seal smaller gaps yourself or hire a roofing professional to help mitigate larger issues.

woman applying caulk around perimeter of sink in kitchen

Recaulk bathrooms and kitchen

Minimize water damage by water-exposed areas watertight. In bathrooms check the condition of caulking around your tubs, showers, and sinks/backsplashes. In the kitchen, check the condition of caulking around the sink and between the counter and backsplash. If you notice loose caulking or any gaps in caulking, remove the old caulking and reseal it with a fresh tube.

dusty refrigerator coils being cleaned with a toothbrush

Clean refrigerator condenser coils

Maintain the efficiency of your refrigerator by dusting the coils. Depending on the design of your refrigerator, the coils may be located underneath a panel (accessible from the front) or behind a panel (accessible from the back). Roll the fridge out to give you space to work and use a vacuum with a brush to remove buildup from the coils. Be careful not to bend the fins.

This is also a great time to clean the inside of your fridge of both expired items and to wipe down the interior.

chimney with cracks on top and along sides in brick

Clean and inspect fireplace and chimney

Fireplaces and chimneys are a leading source of house fires. Visually inspect your fireplace and chimney for any cracks, shifts, or buildup if it’s easily accessed. Hire a chimney inspector every few years for a more thorough inspection to ensure you don’t have excessive soot buildup or cracks/gaps that can allow moisture to toxic gasses to enter your home.

coiled hose with snow on top

Winterize sprinklers and hoses

If you’re in an area with freezing temperatures, evacuate your sprinkler lines and bring garden hoses inside to prevent damage from ice and the elements.

Annually: Late spring/early summer

air conditioner being serviced by technician

Service AC

Either inspect the outdoor condenser yourself or hire an HVAC professional to perform a full inspection of the condenser and indoor heat exchange coils. Be sure to clear shrubbery from around the condenser to maintain good airflow and wash away caked on dirt with a hose or professional detergent.

Clean dryer vent

Lint buildup is highly flammable, ensure your dryer is properly venting to the outside with minimal obstructions. You can buy a kit to clean your dryer vent line or hire a professional to do it for you. Clean as much lint out of the line as possible and ensure the outdoor covering is clear and to code for your area.

a window with cleaning solution sprayed on it about to be wiped by a rag and wearing gloves

Clean windows and screens

Take the time to give your windows and screens a thorough cleaning to not only leave your windows looking spotless but to also improve energy efficiency in your home. Windows and screens are notorious for collecting dirt, pollen, and other common allergens, especially during the spring and summer seasons. By keeping them clean, you can improve the air quality and amount of natural light entering in your home. Determine the easiest way to access your windows (from the inside or outside) and, if your windows have removable screens, be sure to remove them so you can easily access the windows.

Maintaining a home may seem overwhelming at first but breaking down the tasks on a schedule will help you conquer all of the bases.

Have any how-to questions or unique circumstances where you want a Pro’s advice? Get in touch with us here.

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