If you’re serious about keeping your home in the best shape possible, you should use our home maintenance checklist. It covers things to do on a regular basis to ensure your home stays in great shape.
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Home Maintenance Checklist
Your home is the hub of your family, and you want to enjoy it for many years to come. To keep it in the best condition possible (and keep unexpected repair costs down), you need to use a home maintenance checklist.
Our simple monthly home maintenance checklist helps you notice small problems before they become expensive disasters. You’ll get to know your home a little better in the process and take pride in being a responsible homeowner.
Read on to learn how to keep your home in tip-top shape. Each of the items listed below should be inspected, cleaned, or replaced about once per month.
1. Check and Replace Filters
Your furnace and air conditioner use a filter to stop particles and debris from contacting the coils and essential components when the HVAC system runs.
Your home may have multiple air filters, and all need to be checked monthly to be sure they’re still capable of capturing debris and dust.
To change your furnace filter, follow these steps:
- Turn the A/C power off
- Find the filter behind a removable grill (look near the fan)
- Remove the grill, using a screwdriver if needed
- Pull the filter out and inspect it – you should replace it with another with the same measurements
- Replace the filter with the arrows pointing toward the fan, then replace the grill
- Turn the A/C power back on
Check your home for air filters that may be located in the ceiling, floor, walls, or behind air returns. Standard filters should be changed often.
Replacing your filter monthly helps extend your HVAC system’s lifespan and ensures the air in your home stays as clean as possible.
2. Clean Dryer Vents
You likely clean your dryer’s lint trap filter each time you dry a load of clothes, but it’s essential regularly clean the actual dryer vent, too.
This vent is located at the back of your dryer. Follow these steps to remove the duct and clean the vent from the inside and outside of your home.
- Unplug your electric dryer or turn off the gas supply to your gas dryer
- Pull the dryer out about one foot to give yourself easier access
- Disconnect the duct from the dryer by disconnecting the vent clamp (you may need a screwdriver for this step)
- Remove any lint you can see from the vent (the opening exposed by removing the duct)
- Use a vacuum hose attachment to clean inside the vent
- Disconnect the duct from the wall, where it connects to the exterior vent
- Remove any lint in the duct with your hands or the vacuum attachment, being careful not to puncture or tear it
- Remove the outer dryer vent cover on the outside of your home and vacuum from the outside if possible
- Reattach the duct to the dryer and wall inside your home, then attach the vent clamps
- Put the dryer back in its place and turn it on to test it on the air dry setting for 15-20 minutes
By cleaning out your dryer vent every month, you ensure it doesn’t have a chance to get clogged with lint and debris. Clogged dryer vents can cause house fires, a blown thermal fuse, and reduced dryer efficiency.
3. Test Smoke Detectors
The U.S. Fire Administration recommends testing your smoke detectors at least once each month to ensure they’re working properly. Smoke detectors in your home might be battery-powered or hardwired.
But both types need to be tested regularly. In the event of a fire, a non-working smoke detector will fail to alert you and your family of the danger and can have deadly consequences.
To test your smoke detectors, follow these steps:
- Tell your family members that you’ll be doing a smoke detector test
- Ask a family member to go to a distant point in the home away from the alarm to see if the sound is loud enough to hear there
- Use a sturdy step ladder to reach the smoke detector if needed
- Press and hold the test button until the loud alarm begins to sound, then check with your stationed family member to see if the alarm was loud enough to be heard
If your family member reports that the sound wasn’t loud enough, you should install another smoke detector closer to the area of the home they were stationed in.
If you didn’t hear an alarm after holding the button for a few seconds, or if the sound is weak, it’s time to replace the batteries.
You should replace smoke detector batteries every six months, even if the alarm is clear and loud. This ensures that it’s always functioning at max capacity.
4. Inspect Fire Extinguisher
If you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your home, you should get one soon. Part of responsible home maintenance is ensuring you have a line of defense should a small fire start.
Even small kitchen fires can get out of control if left to burn. Once you have a fire extinguisher, it’s essential to inspect it monthly.
To inspect your fire extinguisher:
- Locate the extinguisher and ensure it’s in an easily accessible place that all family members are aware of
- Make sure the locking pin is in place and that the tamper seal is not broken
- Look for any damage to the fire extinguisher, including leaks, corrosion, dents, or a clogged nozzle
- Check the pressure gauge to make sure it’s in the operable range
- Pick up the extinguisher to check its weight; it should feel full
- Replace the fire extinguisher in its place with the instructions facing outward
A fire extinguisher can last anywhere from 5 years to 15 years, but it’s not something you want to take a chance on. If you’re not sure how long you’ve had the fire extinguisher, your best bet is to get another and save the old fire extinguisher for backup.
5. Clean Garbage Disposal
Your kitchen sink may have a garbage disposal, and if it does, you can increase its longevity with monthly cleanings and inspections. Clogs in the disposal don’t just cause bad odor.
They can also block the flow of water, causing it to back up into your sink. Keeping your garbage disposal maintained is simple. Just clean it once per month!
If you’ve been grinding lemon or lime peels in your disposal for a fresh scent, you could be contributing to future clogs. Here’s how to properly clean a garbage disposal:
- Stop the sink drain on the side with a garbage disposal
- Fill your sink halfway with a little dish detergent in the water
- Unplug the drain and turn on the disposal to allow the soapy water through the disposal
- Scrub the outside of the disposal where it meets the sink to dislodge any particles or debris that may be trapped there
To keep your garbage disposal in tip-top shape and avoid clogs, never put any of the following items through it:
- Grease or oil
- Vegetable and fruit peels – including citrus
- Meat or any type of fat, bones, etc.
- Pasta, rice, oatmeal, or any type of grain
Make sure your family members know not to put these items in your garbage disposal as well. Effective household maintenance starts with prevention.
6. Maintain Unused Bathrooms
If you have a seldom-used guest bathroom, you should take care to ensure it’s maintained properly and not cause plumbing problems. Unused bathrooms benefit from a little attention each week.
So try to take these steps more than once per month. Once a week, run water in the sink and flush the toilet to keep the traps full and prevent sewer gas from coming up through the pipes.
Then, run the shower or bathtub water for a minute or two, making sure to turn on the hot water. This keeps the plumbing in your unused bathroom in good condition.
7. Check for Leaks
Check any water-using appliances in your home for leaks, dripping water, or signs of water damage. If you regularly check for leaks, you can catch any growing problems before they cause extensive damage.
Your water heater, sinks, shower, bathtub, dishwasher, washing machine, HVAC system, and refrigerator are possible sources of pooling water and leaks.
Do a walkthrough of your home and make sure you don’t see standing or dripping water near any of these appliances. If you do, call a plumber right away to avoid expensive water damage.
8. Check Grout and Caulking
Most home issues start small and slowly become bigger issues that are expensive or difficult to fix. Grout and caulk won’t stay in perfect condition forever.
So take a little time each month to check the grout and caulk in your home for any signs of damage or wear. If you see cracks in the grout, take action right away by touching it up with new grout in the cracks.
If there are signs of caulk damage around your sink, shower, or tub, touch it up before leaks can begin and cause water damage.
9. Inspect Gutters
Gutters fill up with leaves, dirt, and water over time if they aren’t regularly inspected and cleaned. They can also sag under the weight of anything that’s clogging them or snow and ice.
Talk a walk around your home and look for any signs of gutter weakness, detachment, or sagging. Bring a ladder, take a peek once a month at your gutters, and remove any debris that may be building up.
By maintaining your gutters, you can keep them functioning correctly and prevent water from flowing out of the gutters, damaging your home’s foundation.
Why Home Maintenance Is Important
Keeping your home in its best condition will not only give you a new sense of pride in your homeownership, but it will also help you avoid unnecessary expenses, repairs, and replacements over time.
Every system and appliance in your home can benefit from regular attention. Do this by taking a little time each month to cross items off this home maintenance checklist.
A few minutes each week helps increase the longevity and boost the efficiency of costly appliances and systems in your home. Talk about being a responsible homeowner!