Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, this home maintenance checklist can help ensure life at home is smoother. Keeping your home well-maintained can both reduce big expenses and extend the time between replacing large-ticket items.
To be completely transparent, I already knew and practiced a good amount of these. However, putting them to paper and organizing everything here for you made me realize how much I was inconsistently missing and not doing on a regular basis.
Cold weather disclosure: I live in Sacramento. This means the winters are pretty mild. Any advice given for more extreme winters is researched and checked multiple times, but not personally tested. Take with a grain of salt, pun intended.
FTC Disclosure: This list contains links to Amazon. At no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for items you purchase which I have recommended. All specific items mentioned are ones I personally use and have had success with.
If you read this entire home maintenance checklist – first, congratulations – I know it is a very comprehensive read. Second, I’d love to hear what new things you’ve learned. Leave a quick comment for me at the bottom. I’d also be thrilled to learn something new that you utilize.
Table of Contents
Weekly Home Maintenance
Clean leaves and debris.
Keep the foundation and basement window wells free of debris. This will help with pest control management, rot, and moisture buildup.
Use a blower to keep your roof clean of leaves and debris as well. These all contribute to retaining moisture and decreasing the lifespan of your roof.
Vacuum along the walls and carpet.
This will reduce spots for spiders and other pests to find places to start multiplying. This is also a great way to spot other problems early on.
Clothes dryer lint catcher cleanup.
A common house fire starter, this will keep your home that much safer, as well as allow your dryer to dry clothes much more efficiently.
Monthly Home Maintenance
HVAC filter replacement and inspection.
For smaller families without pets or allergies, you can change the filters every 2-3 months. If the filter is dirty, change it out, otherwise, inspect it again next month. If you have pets or allergies, change them monthly.
Many HVAC techs I’ve talked to seem to think using the cheaper ones are better for the lifespan of the HVAC unit, in lieu of HEPA style filters, which put more strain on the furnace.
Kitchen sink disposal cleaning.
The best all-around solution seems to be vinegar ice cubes. Put some 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 vinegar solution in an ice tray and freeze, then run the ice cubes through the disposal. The vinegar freshens and the ice sharpens the blades. You can also include some citrus juice or peels such as lemons or oranges if you hate the smell of vinegar.
Clean faucet aerators and showerheads.
Use vinegar to get rid of mineral deposits and keep water flowing freely. Most aerators simply unscrew – don’t drop them down the drain! I usually fill a cup with 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water, put on the bottom of the sink covering the drain, and drop the aerator in it for a few hours, then rinse off and screw back on.
Vacuum the condenser coils on the bottom on the front and clean out dust and build up. This will reduce the amount of energy needed to run efficiently. If the vacuum isn’t able to get all of the grime off the coils, a coil brush may be the tool you need.
If you own a frost-free refrigerator, check your manual to see if the drain pan needs to be cleaned.
If your fridge has an ice-maker or water dispenser, check the filter to see if it needs replacing.
Inspect your dishwasher.
Look under the sink and check to see if there is a slow leak. Examine the bottom of the dishwasher and see if the filter needs to be cleaned. Consult your dishwasher manual on how to do this. You may also want to consider purchasing a home warranty with dishwasher coverage – this can save a lot with future problems.
Clean the kitchen range hood and exhaust fan filters.
Whether you are using a range hood above the stove or built into your microwave, clean the filters. They quickly build up with grease. I use a degreaser and do it in the driveway, since some degreasers can damage your piping.
Run water and flush toilets in unused spaces.
From guest bathrooms to any other water sources not used on a regular basis. Dump about a gallon of water down to flush the drain out. This will prevent sewer gases from coming up and prevent other gross buildups. You can time this with your enzyme treatment.
Leak check around toilets and sinks.
Is the ground or tiles soggy around the toilet? Is it sealed or can you move it around?
Run your fingers on the bottom of pipes to check for moisture and slow leaks. If you’re grossed out by that, a paper towel or toilet paper will suffice.
Maintain all drains.
Whether you use your drains or not, practice maintain them and reduce clogging and mold buildup with an enzyme treatment. I use this enzyme, which is safe for all types of pipes, including my disgusting old iron pipes. It eats away gross things, hair, and all manner of buildup – pretty much any organic material in your pipes. You’ll never experience an unwarranted slow drain again.
Clean the eaves.
Use a cobweb duster and clean all of the eaves around your home. This will greatly reduce the number of pests, spiders, and things that go bump in the night.
Protip: I spent extra money on a higher quality telescopic extension pole. Get the one marketed for painting not cleaning. Make sure it is made of aluminum or fiberglass and has a metal screw tip. Simply replace the cobweb duster itself with cheap ones. The pole uses a standard thread for securing other maintenance tools needed throughout this guide.
Quarterly Home Maintenance
Check water softener salt levels.
You shouldn’t need to add salt every month, but checking each month will help you remember to add when it is necessary.
The closer you have trees or shrubs to the gutters, the faster they accumulate buildup. You’ll also quickly learn which portions of your home have problem areas for the gutters and require frequent cleaning.
I have one corner, with absolutely nothing around it, but the crows nearby use it to drop walnut shells. I know that is a silly frequent area to check and clean it out often. You may find some areas that also require additional cleaning based on when nearby trees drop leaves.
Use a leaf blower or a drain snake to clean out your downspouts and ensure they are clear and ready for winter.
Inspect your fire extinguisher(s).
You do have the necessary fire extinguishers, don’t you? Check that the gauge shows adequate pressure and that it has no visible signs of wear and tear. Check the expiration date to see if it needs servicing or replacement.
Make sure the fire extinguisher is accessible and everyone in the household knows where it is. At a minimum, keep the correct type in the kitchen and one in the garage. I have an entire blog post about fire safety in the home kitchen if you’d like to learn more.
Biannual Home Maintenance
Deep clean your home.
Take one day or a weekend every six months and give the entire house a thorough deep clean. Appliances, windows, dusting every nook and cranny. Include the basement, garage, and sheds. Keeping things clean and not letting dirt or dust build up over the years will help keep your home in excellent shape.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detector battery check and test.
Don’t wait until you hear that annoying beep at 3am. Hit the test button and check the date on the batteries. Whenever I install a new battery, I use a sharpie to write the install month and year as mm/yy. Combined with the expiration date on batteries, I have significantly reduced the number of times I’ve actually woken up in the middle of the night from piercing sounds. If you have a smart detector that syncs to your phone, they can usually warn you of this step in advance.
Make sure you have a smoke detector in every bedroom and on every floor of your house.
Install a carbon monoxide detector wherever there is a gas appliance.
If any of the units reaches 10 years of age, replace it.
Inspect weather stripping.
Every Spring and Fall, before more extreme weather temperatures arrive, examine weather stripping around the doors and windows and replace where necessary. This will save on energy costs and eliminate air leaks.
Worn weather stripping can also provide an easy entry point for rodents.
Clean the clothes dryer vent.
Make sure the dryer vent is clear of lint and clean. This is how many dryer fires start. Run the dryer while empty and ensure there is good airflow coming out of the vent. If it doesn’t feel right, ensure the hose isn’t kinked or blocked. Do the same with any other exterior heating vents you may have.
Clean the clothes washer.
Your washer most likely has a filter that needs to be emptied and clear. Keep a lot of extra towels or rags nearby when you do this, as more water than you expect may be released. If you have a front-loader, use some rags to clean out the rubber gaskets from their built-up mold and grime.
Annual Home Maintenance
Home maintenance checklist tasks are organized by the season for when to evaluate and complete them.
Spring Home Maintenance Checklist
Check the exterior drainage.
Ensure rainwater flows away from the house. Puddles should not stand around your home for more than 24 hours. If water stays, or moves toward your foundation, you have a few options.
Check your gutters. It could be a bad spout or a loose connection there, or the gutters may also just need cleaning.
You can grade the area around your home’s foundation with dirt.
For pavement where water pools towards your home, you may want to hire professionals to raise and grade the cement so water drains away from your home.
Remove moss, mildew, and mold.
Scrub off any large amounts of buildup and treat with a spray to prevent future buildup. There are a variety of solutions, from a hand squirt bottle to a hose attachment. I personally use the hose attachment and spray only the problem areas, then will use a smaller spray bottle solution for specific areas, like behind the fireplace chimney facing North.
Exterior home inspection.
Check for paint which is chipping or peeling off. Look for siding damage from the winter. Examine brick and masonry for holes. Inspect stucco for cracks. Check the foundation for any cracks.
Air conditioning system cleaning and servicing.
Remove your winter tarp if you have an on-ground condenser. Reinstall window air units. If you have a swamp cooler on the roof, evaluate as needed. Refer to the user guides for specific regular maintenance. Central air is obviously a more complex system.
Check to make sure fins are straight and clean of debris and dirt. Clean the foam filter.
Getting it serviced by a professional should be around $100 or less, and it will save money and headaches down the road.
Make sure you have extra fuses for your AC unit handy and stored in a place where you will remember them. This is the first step in diagnosing why it won’t turn down in the middle of summer heat.
Make sure there are no weeds or plants growing near the AC unit.
Inspect, repair, or replace screens.
Check your window screens and door screens for holes or tears. You don’t want bugs making their way in because you missed a hole in a window screen. You can use screen repair tape or use a screen repair kit to replace the whole screen.
Clear plants/shrubs from the house.
This could double as a gardening tip, but if you didn’t trim trees or shrubs in the fall, do so now. Plants can weasel their way into cracks and holes on the exterior of your home, causing damage and shortened longevity. Nip that in the bud before it’s an issue. If you have decorative vines on the exterior, pay close attention.
Check trees for proximity to above-ground lines.
Make sure trees are not growing too close or into above-ground lines, whether they be for electrical, telephone, cable, or something else. Not only is this a huge safety hazard, but this is also an entry option for pests such as squirrels or rodents.
Clean out sliding door or window tracks.
Dirt and grime will build up, causing more and more resistance on sliding doors or windows open and closed. Wipe it down, remove the dirt and grime, then use a PTFE lubricant to make opening and closing a breeze. Pun intended.
WD-40 type lubricants will attract more dirt and cause sticking. Silicone isn’t the correct lube, despite what you’ve read on a million other websites. Silicone will also cause problems when you invariable spray it on the glass. PTFE is a special dry lubricant made for this application.
Check for termites or carpenter ants.
You can double this with your removing of debris from around the house, or make this a dedicated maintenance task. Check around the exterior of the home for ant or termite damage. If you notice something suspicious, call your local pest control company immediately. If you don’t notice anything on the exterior, but have strange mud-like structures appearing inside, or sudden flying insects inside, call the pest control company and grab all your checkbooks.
Wooden Decks and Railings.
If your home has a wood deck or railings on the exterior, check screws and nails to make sure they are not wobbly or loose from the last few months of weather.
This is also a good opportunity to check for dry rot and stopping larger problems. Dry rot is a fungal disease, so not taking care of it immediately will absolutely cause it to spread.
How does the stain and sealant look? Does it need another coat or will it last another year?
Sidewalk and driveway checkup.
Look for new cracks and buckles caused by freezing temperatures from winter. Repair these as soon as you identify them to stop much more expensive repairs.
Summer Home Maintenance Checklist
Take care of any insect problems you may have.
You won’t have to look too hard to notice insect problems. Ants, spiders, moths, are all common pests and fairly easy to take care of.
Clean the garage.
Keeping your garage clean and tidy will extend its life, and it often gets neglected of regular care. Check windows for cracks, clean up the dust, remove cobwebs, and ensure any weather sealing is still in good condition. The garage is a common entry point for mice or rats to make their way into your home if left unchecked. Spiders will lay nests here too and start migrating into your home.
Trim trees or shrubs away from the house.
Now that Spring has passed and there is a ton of new growth, I trim everything at least six inches away and remove any branches hanging over the roof. This stops rodents, squirrels, and other pests from having an easy point of entry.
Check water pressure.
The easiest way to check your water pressure is with a water pressure gauge.
High water pressure is a huge issue, and can also void warranties. For residential homes, the maximum water pressure is 80 psi. The minimum most codes allow is 20 psi. Anything under 40 is considered low. So, you’ll want to aim for somewhere between 40-80 psi as a safe zone.
A common culprit is the water pressure regulator coming off the main. Any house built after 2002 will have one installed, and it will need to be replaced every 7 to 12 years.
If there is a blockage, the gauge will help you determine where.
Garage door maintenance.
Before you start spraying lube everywhere, grab a ratchet and screwdriver and make sure all the nuts and bolts are tight. Check the rollers for wear and tear. If your door has nylon rollers, look for cracks or chips. Don’t touch the bottom roller. This has extreme tension and you just call your local garage door company.
Use white lithium grease only.
Lubricate the chains. Spray steel hinges at pivot points and rollers at the bearings. If there is anything nylon or plastic, don’t spray it with lubricant.
Place a piece of cardboard behind where you are spraying to keep the mess to a minimum.
Check the weather seal on the bottom. If it has tears or breaks, replace it.
Don’t use WD-40 for any of this, as it will just attract dirt and not provide the proper care your garage door needs.
Test the garage door auto-reverse feature. In 1993, federal law required all garage doors to have this feature after multiple child deaths. Test by placing a 2×4 on the ground where the door would close. It should reverse after a second or so when the door hits the wood.
Test the photo-electric sensors if you have them by placing something in front of them which is not your body. If the door doesn’t immediately go back up, you have a problem and should call your local garage door company for assistance.
Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
Inspect storm windows and replace as necessary.
To inspect existing storm windows, check the mounting points, caulking, and that the seal is still there. Joints will become loose over time with temperature changes. You can sometimes tighten these, or apply an aluminum repair compound. After several seasons, you may have to replace with new storm windows to keep their effectiveness up.
Storm windows are one of the most cost-effective solutions for upgrading energy inefficient existing windows. They’re easy to install and cost a fraction of replacement windows. In fact, low-emissivity (low-e) storm windows can lower your utility bill just as much as replacing an entire window.
Low-e exterior or interior storm windows can save you 12%–33% on heating and cooling costs, depending on the type of window already installed in the home.
Coated with an ultra-thin, virtually invisible layer of metal, low-e windows reflect infrared heat back into the home. This coating improves the window’s insulation ability, in turn lowering your heating and cooling costs.
Flush the hot water heater and check anode rod.
Check the process for your heater on properly flushing and relighting. Removing sediment will improve the energy efficiency of the heater and decrease the risk of premature failure.
You can also check your anode rod and replace it. This will stop corrosion and the bottom of your heater from rusting out.
Winterize air conditioning systems.
Remove and store any window units. If you have a central air conditioning unit, cover the outside unit with a tarp or plastic sheeting and secure with bungee cords. This will reduce the amount of maintenance you have to do when the weather warms back up, and keep the coils cleaner.
If you don’t have a big enough extra tarp lying around, the ones made to cover your AC unit are a lot easier to deal with then wrapping bungees around the big blue squares, and surprisingly not more expensive.
If you live in much colder areas, cut the power to your unit. If it accidentally turns on in low temperatures, it can damage the unit. The AC may also have a crankcase to keep warm, which attracts rodents. Plug back in at least 24 hours before running.
Ready the heating system for winter.
Check for any leaks in windows or doors. Make sure heating vents are open and not blocked by furniture. Have your furnace serviced and inspected at least every other year.
Chimney sweep and inspect.
Inspect and clean your chimney. Every year, carbon builds up inside the chimney. Not removing the buildup is how chimney fires start.
Measure the inside of the chimney from the bottom, right where the flu is. Buy the correctly sized chimney brush. Connect the brush to a fiberglass rod. You can either buy a kit or purchase separately. I’ve found it is easier to just get the kit. You can buy extra rods if you need a bit more distance.
Use plastic sheeting and seal off and tape the bottom of the fireplace. Close the doors if your fireplace has them. If you are using gas, you may also want to cover the fake wood and gas piping so debris doesn’t dirty them up.
Grab some safety glasses, gloves, your chimney sweeping kit, and get on your roof.
Remove the chimney cap. It is usually just a few screws. The brush should have a snug fit. Push it all the way down, scrubbing up and down and you continue to push farther down. As you reach the end of the first rod, screw on the second. When you get to the bottom, reverse the action, brushing up and down, slowly pulling the rods back up and out, unscrewing as you go.
When the brush reaches the top, don’t look at it. Turn your head away as it pulls out. If you don’t and have your mouth open, you’re going to eat some carbon. The safety glasses will keep it out of your eyes.
Repeat this process several times.
Head back down to the bottom and shop vac or remove the plastic sheeting and discard all the carbon you’ve just cleaned out. You may want to wait thirty minutes or so for all the dust to settle and make cleanup easier.
Use a flashlight to examine the inside of the chimney and make sure it is clean.
The hardest part of this entire process is the prep with the plastic sheeting beforehand t ensure you don’t create a huge mess down below.
If you notice new cracks or damage to the chimney during this process and aren’t an expert as masonry, you may want to consult your local chimney sweep.
Look for loose shingles, broken tiles, or soggy spots when you step on them. If you have any doubts about your roof, it will be much cheaper to hire a professional roofer during off-peak season to ensure you aren’t fixing a leak while there is a downpour. You may also want to inspect the caulking around roofing vents.
Climb into the attic to check for roof leaks from the inside to prevent water damage to ceilings and walls from rain. It is a good idea to do this during or right after the first rain after summer.
Check the condition of roof jacks and seals. The rubber will deteriorate over time. Replace or reseal as necessary.
Test sump pump.
Test your sump pump by filling the sump pit with water and make sure it actually pumps out the water. If the pump doesn’t turn on, first check to see it is plugged in, then check the circuit breaker. If it still won’t turn on, check the discharge line to see if there is something blocking it.
When the pump successfully discharges water, ensure it runs away from the house.
If you don’t have a battery backup, you may want to consider getting one, since you will most likely need it during heavy rainstorms. Test your battery backup as well.
Check the driveway and pavement for cracks.
This is especially relevant for homes in longer freezing areas. Make sure to have pavement re-sealed before winter. Water can freeze and expand in the cracks, causing more damage.
Inspect winter equipment.
Make sure any equipment or supplies you need are ready for winter. Replace and acquire before you need them in a pinch. Sidewalk salt, good shovels, etc.
Seal cracks in stucco.
Hairline cracks will occur naturally in stucco over time. It is important to seal these tiny cracks so water and moisture does not penetrate the stucco and create a bigger problem.
Use a chisel and hammer to gently and carefully widen the crack to a quarter inch. The edges should be perpendicular to the wall, with the base slightly wider than the top. Use a wire brush to clean out loose debris.
Use a call gun to apply the stucco repair compound. Use a trowel on the patch to match the surrounding finish. Let it cure for 24 hours, then use some of your extra touch up paint. It is normal for the compound to have some flex to it after this process is complete.
Septic tank inspection and cleaning.
If you are inspecting your septic tank yourself, you might as well make it an annual practice. If you are hiring someone to do the inspection, you can get away with inspecting every three years if there are no visible or smellable issues.
A DIY inspection is a visual inspection of flushing all toilets, running all water, and ensuring water pressure is where it should be and everything is draining appropriately.
A step further is to remove the cover and check the water level. Check while water is running and draining, and while water is not introducing the additional volume. You can use a dye to see how much and how fast water enters the septic system and if there are any blockages.
You will also want to evaluate puddles and the health of grass where the septic lines are run.
Get the entire system pumped and serviced by a professional every 2-3 years if you have a family of eight, and you can go as long as 5-7 years with a family of one.
Check window wells and weep holes.
Check the window wells to make sure they are not clogged with leaves, debris, or built-up dirt. It may be more obvious on wooden window frames.
Vinyl window frames and sliding windows or doors have small vents called weep holes that need to be flushed out. This is something you may not think of doing if you have good-sized eaves on your home, However, this simple task will make a big difference during other points of failure. You can use a wire or compressed air to clean these out. Dump a glass of water from above to ensure they drain.
Bleed the hot water radiator.
If some fins of your hot water radiator stay cold while others get hot, it usually means your radiator has some trapped air.
At the top of your radiator, look for a small valve. Use a radiator key, 1/4-in. 12-point socket, or a flat screwdriver, depending on your valve type. You can also get a radiator key set.
Slowly turn the valve counterclockwise until water starts dripping out. This will release trapped air and let hot water into the cold fins.
Bleeding the radiators will lower the pressure in your system, so you might have to slowly add water to increase the pressure. Do this by opening, then closing, the valve on the water pipe above the boiler. You may need to add water while bleeding the radiator in order to purge the air from the system.
How much pressure you need depends on how high the water has to rise. The basic rule is 1 lb. of pressure for every 2 ft. of rise. Your gauge may read in pounds, feet or both. A basic two-story house, with the boiler and expansion tank in the basement, needs 12 to 15 lbs., or 25 to 30 ft., of pressure.
Clear steam radiator vents.
Steam radiators have an air vent halfway down the side. Many of these air vents can be unknowingly painted over, plugging the air hole. Clear the air hole in the top of the vent with a small wire or sewing needle.
Exercise shutoff valves.
Different appliances and water pipes have water pipes running to them with shutoff valves. These can be your washer, dishwasher, toilet, etc. Anything with a valve. Turn it all the way off, then turn it back on. This will keep the valve from getting stuck shut when you really need the line shut off.
Winter Home Maintenance Checklist
Regularly check for ice dams and icicles.
De-icing cables that sit at the front of the roof work well to prevent ice dams. If the ridge of ice builds up, water can quickly get under the roof on cause a lot of damage.
Don’t let icicles grow, as much as the kids may want you to. They’re not only a danger to people standing beneath them, but they’re incredibly heavy and can cause damage to your home. They also can cause water damage to your foundation when they melt.
Test electrical outlets.
Check that all outlets work; if they don’t, you can re-wire them on your own. Test your GFCI outlets. If plugs are loose, you need to replace the receptacle. I use a 3-prong receptacle tester for most of my outlets. My older home has quite a few 2-prongs still, so I just make sure they aren’t loose.
This non-contact tester is one of my all-time favorite tools. You can quickly identify wires or specific points along the electrical wires where there is or isn’t power, all very safely and without killing yourself.
For anything involving 220v of power or your breaker box, or really anything with power, know your limits and contact a local licensed electrician. Saving a hundred dollars isn’t worth losing a hand or dying over.
Tighten any handles, knobs, or racks.
Including but not limited to. Go through the house with a flathead and philips screwdriver. Inspect anything that could have a loose screw. No matter what your wife might suggest, don’t insert the screwdriver into your ear or nose. Trust me on this one. Don’t ask.
Check locks and deadbolts on your doors and windows.
If anything doesn’t work right, call your local locksmith to service. It is often cheaper than replacing. For windows, make sure to check warranty status, as they may have a lifetime warranty available. Door locks are usually just 1 year.
Check caulking and grout around showers and bathtubs.
This is one of those tasks where you’re going to hope an inspection yields nothing more, or you’re in for a lot of elbow grease and annoying work. If caulking is no longer intact or deteriorating, you will need to remove ALL of the old stuff before reapplying new. Make sure to use some sort of silicone mildew resistant caulking.
Clean showerheads of sediment.
This prolongs life and helps with water pressure as well.
Close Foundation Vents.
Normally you would want the airflow under your foundation. If you live in a cold-weather location with lots of snow, closing off the foundation vents will help insulate your house and keep it warmer.
Whether you have granite, marble, concrete, wood, or some other countertop, look into the appropriate practice to reseal them and perform proper maintenance.
Reseal bathroom grout.
I like to use a grout roller applicator. It makes the process a lot less painful than it already is – I have a lot of small tiles, which I’ll never do again after maintaining them. Ugh. Ensuring the grout stays sealed will help avoid stains, discoloration, and mildew growth.
Inspect foundation and crawlspace.
Look for cracks. Check the crawlspace after heavy rains to ensure it is staying bone-dry.
Winterize the sprinkler system and drain hoses.
You’re going to need an air compressor that can regulate itself to 80 psi for PVC pipe and 50 psi for flexible black polyethylene pipe and hoses.
Turn off the water supply and set the system timer to open just one zone. Open the manual drain valve at the end of that zone – if equipped.
Close off both valves on the backflow preventer. Remove the plug on the blow-out port and screw in a quick-connect hose adapter. Connect the air hose and connect the other end to the compressor. Blow out the line. The heads should pop up and spit out water. Stop and disconnect the hose as soon as they run dry.
Don’t overdo the blow-out—without water cooling the plastic gears, they can melt in less than a minute.
Move on to the next zone and allow the plastic heads to cool. After you’ve finished blowing out the entire system, go back and blow out each zone a second time very quickly.
Shut off hose bibs or any other exterior water source which can be impacted by the freeze. Roll up hoses and use your air compressor to clear them.
Preventative Home Maintenance
These are all things you should be taking care of at any given time around your home to reduce the risk of expensive problems later on.
A common rule of thumb I’ve read is to plan on budgeting between one and three percent of your home’s value for home maintenance tasks. For a $400,000 home, that is $4,000 to 12000. Based on my experiences of homeownership, I rarely spend more than $2,000 a year unless something really expensive happens. I think this rule of thumb has been repeated for far too long. Keeping up on maintenance really keeps this cost down over time.
It is important to have money ready for larger ticket items to break. Large appliances and roofs are expensive, so make sure to have money ready for those to happen.
General Preventative Maintenance
HVAC replacement fuses.
Lookup the fuse your HVAC furnace uses. Go to the hardware store and buy a replacement. Tape it onto or store it near the unit.
I have mine, sealed in its package, hanging from a nail right next to the furnace. This is one of the first things to check when your unit won’t turn on, and having the replacement already handy will be a great moment for you.
One of the most important things in preventative home maintenance is to keep moisture away from your house:Install rain gutters if you don’t already have them. This will direct water away from the foundation and can help prevent a cracked slab.
Clear leaves from your rain gutters at least twice a year to avoid water backup that can rot wood gutters and rust those made of sheet metal.
Adjust your lawn sprinklers to ensure that you don’t water your house along with your grass and garden. Wet wood will rot and attract termites.
Inspect the rubber washers on your hose and outdoor faucet periodically and replace them if needed to prevent dripping water from soaking the foundation of your home.
Use a bathroom fan or open a window when you take a shower to prevent condensation that encourages mold and mildew growth.
In case of an emergency, all the adults in the household should know where the following controls are located and how to turn them off.
- Heating fuel main shutoff.
- Main electrical fuse/breaker box.
- Main water shutoff. Sometimes a larger wrench is required to shut this off. Make sure one is handy and stored nearby.
- Water shutoff valve for toilets, sink faucets, and your washing machine. Keep a wrench near each of the vital shutoff valves.
- Every home should also have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and in the garage.
Electrical overload prevention.
Make sure you aren’t overloading extension cords, surge protectors, or electrical outlets. Many of these will have joules or wattage ratings on them.
Do not store flammable liquids, including paint, near heating units.
Do not discard rags soaked with flammable liquids, such as furniture polish, without ensuring they are fully dry. Don’t dry them somewhere flammable.
Figure out several safety exits from your house and make sure you have actually practiced using them. If you have a multi-story house, don’t feel shy about asking your local firehouse for ideas. They will enjoy this, especially if you offer baked goods in return. Practice using the safety exits at least once per year. It may feel stupid and ridiculous at the time, but when an emergency hits, you’ll have a lot less to think about.