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Annual House Maintenance Checklist

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by Kathy Batesel

Brand new homes and very old ones will be more comfortable and valuable if they are well-maintained.

Brand new homes and very old ones will be more comfortable and valuable if they are well-maintained.

Preventative Maintenance Matters

Whether you rent or own, when you spend thirty percent or more of your earnings on a place to live, you want it to be problem-free! By paying attention to simple home maintenance matters just twice a year, you'll be able to prevent troublesome problems for yourself (and your landlord, if you have one.)

As a Realtor, I see the effects of poor maintenance all the time! I also get to enjoy seeing what happens when owners make it a habit to perform bi-annual maintenance, and lemme tell ya...

It makes a huge difference!

Benefits of Proper Home Maintenance

I know it's easy to procrastinate unpleasant tasks. In fact, I'm pretty good at it myself. Investing a couple weekends a year on taking care of your residence pays off, though. Take a look at how your family will benefit from making this a regular part of your lifestyle:

  • Keeps your family safer
  • Catches problems when they are smaller and less costly to fix
  • Avoids preventable problems altogether
  • Improves your home's appearance
  • Maintains your home's value
  • Keeps your lifestyle from being disrupted by unexpected system failures

As a tenant, you can keep your landlord informed about the property's condition. In exchange, you'll not only earn their good will, you can avoid inconvenient problems. Nobody wants a higher electric bill because the windows aren't working well, or to wait three days for a maintenance guy to come out because the air conditioner stopped working!

I've compiled a list of the simple tasks that can be done without special expertise and put it in a simple table format you can print off and use all year. These suggestions come from a variety of sources, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Bob Vila, my experiences, and more. After the list, you'll see photos of some of the most common maintenance issues I see as a Realtor.

Outdoor Preventative Maintenance

Spring Fall 

Clean rain gutters

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Clean and inspect rain gutters

_____

Check water drainage at foundation, windows

_____

Drain outdoor faucets, hoses before freezing weather

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Trim dead tree limbs

_____

Look for signs of rodents, animal nests around shed

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Check tree roots and vines around concrete and structures (they shouldn't press against or intrude)

_____

Inspect / repair areas where animals can enter

_____

Scrape and paint peeling/chipped paint

_____

Uncover chimney caps

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Weather-proof wood decks, fences

_____

Cover or remove window air conditioners/fans

_____

Visually inspect shingles, replace chimney cap

_____

Repair or seal cracks in concrete before snow falls

_____

Scrape and repaint peeling paint

 

Check window seals and sills for water penetration

_____

Visually inspect seals around roof vents

_____

Service swimming pool

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Service swimming pool

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Test gate, fence, and shed locks

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Run water through gas lines of BBQ units (spider webs can cause fires)

_____

Ensure wood is stacked away from house

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Check well pumps for leaks

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Clean AC coils, drain condenser pan

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Indoor Prevention

Spring Fall 

Inspect basement/crawl space for signs of moisture

_____

Check attic vents

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Test sump pump and floor drains

_____

Inspect furnace

_____

Inspect hot water heater for leaks, rust

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Check garage door operation

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Inspect boiler units for signs of leaks

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Check garage door safety stop

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Visually inspect for pests (termites, carpenter ants, rodents, bats)

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Inspect electrical cords for signs of damage

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Check indoor plumbing for leaks in cabinets

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Test smoke detectors

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Repair dried or cracked caulk at sinks and basins

_____

Inspect chimney flue

_____

Ensure windows and doors operate well

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Clean interior duct work

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Test window and door locks

_____

Visually inspect ductwork for damage

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Replace batteries in smoke detectors and other safety equipment

_____

Check/replace weather stripping

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Test fire extinguishers / check dates

_____

Remove screens and install storm windows (where applicable)

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Check bath, oven, and ceiling fan operation

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Replace faulty windows

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Clean dryer vent, ensure it vents to outdoors

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Visually inspect insulation in attic

 

Check washing machine water lines for leakage

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Drain and service hot water heater

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Remove storm windows, replace screens (where applicable)

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Few Tools Needed

For most of the home maintenance tasks you'll need to do, you won't need tools. You're doing visual inspections to ensure you don't have to call in a professional for service.

If you find something that needs to be repaired, everyday tools like screwdrivers and pliers will work on many minor repairs, but there are a few jobs that can be performed easier if you have a small selection of items.

The three items I recommend having on hand both for home maintenance and for other reasons are a good flashlight, a hose, and a decent tool kit that contains basic tools - including a drill. (Fixing window locks and door handles can be done with a screwdriver, perhaps, but a drill sure can make the task easier!)

Other items may be purchased as needed, like caulk, with leftovers stored for next year's tasks. (Just push a nail into the spout when you're finished so it doesn't dry out.)

The tools shown here from Amazon are the same quality and type that we use on our home.

Tools You'll Want to Have Available

Small Visual Signs Can Signal Big Problems

Year-Round Maintenance

You may have noticed that most of the items on the lists above are nothing more than visual inspections that take just a minute or two, but as you can see in this video, visual inspections are important to detecting problems early, before they become more expensive and complicated.

Being visually alert isn't something that should only happen twice a year, though. Some things should be noticed and repaired as soon as they are discovered:

  • Burned out light bulbs
  • Toilet valves that don't stop running
  • Slow drainage from sinks
  • Damaged electrical cords
  • Improperly stored chemicals in garage
  • Damaged door knobs
  • Cracked or broken glass in windows
  • Air filters should be changed or cleaned every 1-2 months

Finally, there are some tasks that don't need to be done on an annual basis, but should be periodically maintained:

  • Septic tanks (should be pumped every 2-5 years)
  • Chimney cleaning (as needed, especially if you hear that birds are nesting in it)
  • Inspection and treatment of well water (pour bleach into well and let sit for several days before using water again... best to do while on vacation!)

Maintain Your Home's Value

Maintain your home's value - both financially and in terms of how much you will enjoy living in it - by spending a small amount of time tending to its needs. Just like a good relationship between people requires attention and a bit of effort, you'll find yourself feeling good about your home when you commit to taking care of it.

Comments

jellygator (author) from USA on February 25, 2013:

So true, Bizna. If you're a landlord, it can prove costly to not maintain a property. You won't get great tenants, can't charge as much for rent, and could even develop a bad reputation for being a "slum lord."

JUDITH OKECH from NAIROBI - KENYA on February 24, 2013:

Very good tips for home owners. Ignoring regular maintenance can lead to worse problems arising which can lead to spending much more to get them done. You could also loose a lot in the process since tenants will have moved out and you will only get new ones if you fix the problems. So why wait??????

jellygator (author) from USA on February 23, 2013:

Thank you for all for sharing and commenting!

I love when my tenants tell me that maintenance is needed, so I agree Donna!

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on February 23, 2013:

A useful list of ideas. I am lucky to live in a well-maintained apartment community, and I don't need to worry about most of the outdoor issues. Keeping things in working order inside though is important for renters. If we maintain the apartment and inform the landlord of issues, we are likely not to have to deal with losing security deposit money upon moving out.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2013:

Wonderful suggestions, ones that should be known by any homeowner. I was going over the list and spotted some suggestions that had slipped my mind. Well done and thank you!

carol stanley from Arizona on February 23, 2013:

Great suggestions here and the old saying an ounce of prevention or better yet catching problems in the beginning. Voting up and pinning.

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