For those of us who have owned homes for years, knowing the basics of home maintenance is usually a given. But when our team at the Donnelly Group works with first time buyers, we’ve noticed that some of them have no idea of the simple steps they can take to protect their investment through regular maintenance.

Just as your car needs regular oil changes and scheduled services to keep it running well, your home also requires regular maintenance. However, many homeowners tend to put off routine home maintenance, and that’s a very bad idea!

Why Proactive Home Maintenance is Important

What are simple fixes now can become more complicated (and costly) later on. Slow drains can become clogged, dirty air filters can shorten the lifespan of your A/C unit, small leaks can become major ones causing water damage & mold issues. By keeping an eye out for little things, you can prevent bigger problems down the road.

Thinking about all the tasks required to maintain your home can be intimidating, but the good news is that you can do the majority of them yourself without a lot of experience. YouTube and Google are great resources and it’s a good idea to have an experienced handyman to help with the tasks you can’t handle on your own.

It helps if you can create a home maintenance calendar or spread sheet to keep you on track so that you don’t become overwhelmed. Below is a list of basic home maintenance tasks that need to be done monthly, quarterly, & annually. 

Monthly Home Maintenance Tips

  • Change out your HVAC filters. Changing out the filter can prolong the life of your AC unit and make it work more efficiently. If your home is smaller and you don’t have pets you may only need to change the filter every 2-3 months, but you should check it every month. If the filter is dirty, change it out.
  • Clean out the kitchen sink waste disposal. Disposals are a great tool but they can become dirty and smelly so it’s best to clean them every month. There are a number of ways to do this. The Spruce has a great method using citrus, salt & baking soda, here’s the link – How to clean a garbage disposal.
  • Clean range hood filters. This is a task that doesn’t even occur to many people. As you’re cooking, those filters trap grease particles. Dirty filters don’t function efficiently so the grease particles end up floating in the air causing odors and they can also attract pests. You can find a quick and easy method for cleaning your hood filter at Housewife How-To’s, here’s the link – How to clean a stove hood filter.
  • Inspect your fire extinguisher(s). This doesn’t require much. First, ensure that it’s easily accessible and that the operating instructions are facing out.  Check the pressure gauge to make sure it’s fully charged, and make sure the unit doesn’t show signs of damage & that the pin & tamper seal are intact. Here’s a link – How to inspect your home fire extinguisher

Quarterly Home Maintenance tips

  • Test smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. Most people wait until they’re awakened in the middle of the night when the smoke detector starts beeping to signal a low battery. To avoid interrupted sleep, make it a habit to test your detectors regularly using the test button. If you really want to be proactive, you could change out the batteries even if they don’t need it yet. 
  • Test your garage door’s auto-reverse feature. This is a vital safety feature and should be tested regularly. Simply place a 2×4 piece of wood on the ground where the door would close. The door should reverse a second or so after it hits the wood. If you have photo-electric sensors, place something in front of them (not your body) as the garage door is going down. It should immediately go back up.
  • Clean out your dryer vent.  The lint filter in your dryer can’t filter out all the lint produced by your laundry so it ends up passing into the ductwork leading to the outdoor vent. A build up in your dryer vent not only decreases your dryer’s efficiency but it can also cause a fire. This is a relatively easy DIY project but you will need special brushes for the job which can be purchased at any home improvement store.
  • Vacuum your refrigerator coils.  This is another task that most people don’t think about but dirty refrigerator coils can affect your refrigerator’s efficiency causing it to use more electricity. Simply pull out the refrigerator, unplug it, and clean the coils with your vacuum cleaner.

Annual Home Maintenance Tips

  • Have your air conditioning system serviced. Be ready for summer by having your ac serviced by a licensed professional. This will save you money and headaches down the road.
  • Trim plants, shrubs & tree limbs away from your house. When plants are touching the house they can weasel their way into cracks and holes causing damage. In addition they can be a means for bugs, especially termites, to enter the home. 
  • Flush your hot water heater.  This helps remove sediment and can prolong the life of the heater. This may seem like a daunting task but All State has step by step instructions for easily getting the job done*. Here’s a link – How to maintain your water heater
  • Get your chimney cleaned. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s important to have the chimney cleaned once a year as creosote can build up and cause chimney fires.

Home maintenance can seem like an avalanche of to-dos but remember, you don’t have to do all of this at once.  The key is not waiting until there’s an issue to do something. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, couldn’t be more appropriate as a little prevention will go a long way when it comes to home maintenance.

Contact The Donnelly Group!

If you have any questions or if you are a first time buyer looking for an experienced guide to help you navigate your first home purchase, please contact the Donnelly Group at 480-792-9700 or by email.