Home Maintenance Tips for New Homeowners

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Home maintenance is an important part of being a homeowner. It may be a unique experience for new homeowners, but learning to maintain a home is easy.

There are many small maintenance things a person can learn to do to prevent them from becoming serious financial drains later on. We encourage homeowners, especially new home buyers, to create a home maintenance checklist.

This maintenance checklist will help you learn and perform the most important maintenance tasks that come with owning and keeping a house.

The Ultimate Home Maintenance Checklist

Home maintenance involves routine tasks and chores that keep it running smoothly. A few problems are unforeseen and need to be dealt with accordingly. But most problems steadily build up and can be prevented by taking timely preventative measures.

There are three important factors to home maintenance: what to do, when to do it, and – perhaps the most difficult in the beginning – how to do it.

Some items on a home maintenance checklist should be taken care of immediately after moving in. Others are ongoing, requiring a routine. We have divided them into three categories: safety, cost prevention, and general maintenance.

Safety Maintenance Checklist

Some safety measures should be taken immediately after moving in and then according to a routine.

What to Do: Change the Locks

When to Do It: Change the locks immediately after moving into a new home. It is a good idea to have purchased new locks or schedule an appointment with a locksmith prior to moving in. Keep the keys with you and provide spares to family members and relevant people like housekeepers and babysitters. Once changed, the locks will only need replacing when they are faulty.

How to Do It: Changing locks is a straightforward process. Look for screws on the doorknob and unscrew them. The faceplate will come off, revealing the locking mechanism. Add your new lock according to the instructions on the package. If you prefer to keep the current door handle, a locksmith can easily rekey the lock.

What to Do: Check Security Alarms and Smoke Detectors

When to Do It: The safest approach to ensuring security alarms and smoke detectors are in working order is to replace batteries in each device once you move in. Then once every six months afterward.

How to Do It: To check if the security alarm is working, press the test button. If the alarm does not sound, contact the security company that installed it. For a smoke alarm, open up the unit and remove the battery. Press the test button to test if the alarm still goes off. If it doesn’t, replace the battery.

In addition, put fire extinguishers throughout the house.

What to Do: Check for Electrical Safety Issues

When to Do It: Typically, any significant electrical issues will be uncovered during the home inspection prior to closing your home purchase. But, it’s always a good idea to check again after moving in. Your AFCI and GFCI (special circuit breakers for safety measures) should be functional and need to be checked at least once a month.

How to Do It: Check and see if there are any electrical issues like faulty grounding or fluctuation using a power quality analyzer or energy logger. If you have kids, make sure all the electrical outlets are childproof.

What to Do: Check Appliances for Gas Leaks

When to Do It: Before using any new or old gas appliance in your home for the first time check for gas leaks.

How to Do It: To check if there are any gas leaks, open all doors and windows for ventilation. Turn on the gas at the appliance control valve. Use a soap and water solution to check for bubbles around the gas connection. If there are bubbles, contact the gas company immediately. It’s also important to check the valve to the water heater. Ensure there are no gas or liquid leaks coming from the water heater.

Cost-Prevention Maintenance Checklist

Some maintenance tasks can help you save a lot of money in the long run.

What to Do: HVAC Filters Inspection and Replacement

When to Do It: Check the HVAC filters right when you move in. Replace them if they are damaged or too worn. A monthly inspection is recommended. Removing and inspecting an HVAC filter unit is quite easy.

How to Do It: Instructions may vary by model, by the steps are pretty simple for most. Turn off the power to the unit. Remove the front cover of the unit. Take out the air filter and replace it with a new one.

Be mindful of the airflow direction in your air conditioning system and furnace. Most air filters have a proper airflow direction. Look for the arrow on the side of the filter and make sure the air is flowing in that direction when the filter is installed in the unit.

What to Do: Central Heating and Air Conditioning System Serviced

When to Do It: Check your HVAC system when you move in. We recommend an initial maintenance inspection by service technician that specializes in HVAC systems.

It’s also a good idea to have a basic understanding of your system. The heating system could be a furnace, boiler, or electrical heating. Discuss with the HVAC technician the care needed for these units. The central air conditioning unit needs a spring cleaning to ensure that it’s in working order each season.

Adding a programmable thermostat is also a good idea and can save you money.

How to Do It: Contact a professional HVAC technician to have your system serviced. They will clean the unit, check for any gas or oil leaks, and repair any issues they find.

What to Do: Inspect Gutters and Downspouts

When to Do It: Clean and inspect the gutters at least twice a year, in spring and fall. You may need to do it more often if there are trees near your home.

How to Do It: Use a ladder to reach the gutters. Remove any leaves, dirt, or debris using a gloved hand or a small trowel. Flush the gutters with water from a hose to clean them completely. Check the downspouts and clear them of any blockages.

What to Do: Roof and Chimney Inspections

When to Do It: Ideally, you should inspect your roof and chimney at the start of every season. If you spot any damage, have it repaired as soon as possible.

How to Do It: You can inspect roofing from the ground using binoculars. Look for any missing, damaged, or loose shingles. If you have a tile roof, look for cracked or broken tiles. Inspect the chimney for cracks or damage. Contact a professional if you spot any significant issues.

What to Do: Pest Control

When to Do It: During the home inspection, examine the house for any noticeable pest issues. If you have any concerns, have a professional inspect the home before moving in. Then every few months when doing a thorough cleaning of the house, look for any evidence of pests.

How to Do It: Inspect your home for any signs of pests like rodents, insects, or termites. Look for droppings, chew marks, or damage to wood. If you spot any pests, contact a professional for pest control.

What to Do: Clean Dryer Vents

When to Do It: At least once a year clean the dryer vents. If you use your dryer frequently or if the vent is angled, a more frequent cleaning may be needed to ensure the dryer is working properly. If you notice that your clothes are still damp after a normal drying cycle, clean the drying immediately.

How to Do It: Unplug the dryer and disconnect the vent from the back of the dryer. Use a vacuum with a long hose attachment to clean the lint from the exterior vent. Clean the lint screen and vacuum any lint around the opening of the dryer. Reconnect the dryer vent and plug in the dryer.

What to Do: Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances

When to Do It: If you need to replace an existing appliance, or purchase new ones, make sure to choose energy-efficient appliances. They might be costly, but investing more at the time of purchase will be very cost-effective in the long run.

How to Do It: Look for the Energy Star label when purchasing new appliances. These are the most energy-efficient models available. Make sure to compare the upfront cost, as well as the estimated operating costs, before making your decision.

What to Do: Check Foundations & Walls for Cracks

When to Do It: Once a year as part of your annual maintenance, or more often if you live in an earthquake-prone area, check for cracks in the foundation and walls.

How to Do It: Inspect the foundation of your home for any cracks or damage. Use a level to check for any settlement. If you spot any problems, have them repaired as soon as possible. Check the walls of your home for cracks. If you find any, repair them with caulk or mortar.

General Maintenance Checklist

Some general maintenance tasks are:

What to Do: Kitchen Cleaning

When to Do It: Two important items to clean every month are the kitchen sink disposal and hood filters.

How to Do It: The garbage disposal can be easily cleaned. Pour 1/2 a cup of baking soda and 1 cup of white vinegar into the garbage disposal. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Turn on the garbage disposal and flush it out with hot water. Alternatively, it can be cleaned by putting chopped citrus peel in the disposal.

The hood filters above can be placed into a solution of hot water, baking soda and dish soap. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes and scrub with a non-abrasive brush. Let the filters air dry before replacing them.

What to Do: Wooden Decks

When to Do It: Inspect your deck every year for any damage. Clean it as needed, and seal or stain it every two years.

How to Do It: Use a garden hose or power washer to remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the wood. Look for any cracked, split, or damaged boards. Repair or replace them as necessary. Once the deck is cleaned, repaired, and dry, seal or stain it.

What to Do: Deep Clean the House

When to Do It: Properly cleaning the house twice a year is highly recommended. Deep cleaning areas of the house that usually get neglected will help to keep your house in tip-top shape. Grime and buildup can be removed to prevent eventual damage.

How to Do It: While it can feel extensive and there are entire articles dedicated to a deep clean of the house, here is a short summary. Move all the furniture and appliances out of their normal positions. Dust all surfaces including difficult-to-reach places as well as the baseboards. Clean the windows, including the window screens. Vacuum the furniture and also vacuum and mop the floors. Scrub the bathrooms. To make spring cleaning easier, you may want to hire a professional for this task.

What to Do: Bathroom Re-Caulking and Plumbing Checks

When to Do It: Inspect the caulking in your bathroom every few months. Add or replace it as needed to prevent water damage. You should also have a professional check your plumbing for any leaks or damage every few years.

How to Do It: Remove the old caulk using a utility knife. Apply new caulk around the edges of the shower, tub, or sink. Make sure to smooth it out with your finger so that it forms a seal. Have a plumber inspect your pipes and fixtures for any leaks or damage.

Seasonal Home Maintenance Checklist

Apart from routine maintenance, every season brings its own maintenance requirements.

Spring and Summer maintenance checklist

After winter’s chill come spring and eventually summer. These are the seasons when you’ll be spending more time outdoors. Here are a few things to take care of during these seasons:

  • Windows and doors should be checked for damage and air proofing issues.
  • Paint the outside of the house if needed.
  • If you have flower beds and trees, it’s time to properly inspect them and prepare for new growth. Plan for the landscaping needs of the home.
  • Check the sprinkler system and ensure that it is working properly.
  • Summer heat comes with insects. Make sure your home has relevant countermeasures against them.
  • Summer is the time to get your HVAC unit serviced to ensure proper cooling of the house during the warm air weather.
  • Check the sump pump and verify that it is keeping the basement dry.

Fall and Winter maintenance checklist

The weather starts turning cold and damp. Prepare your home for that.

  • Revamp your central heating system. See if it needs any service or improvement.
  • Ensure that the water heater is not leaking and has no rust spots
  • Clean the dryer vent properly.
  • Keep your gutters clean of falling leaves.
  • Seal the house as much as you can to prevent the chilly winds of winter from coming in. Install storm windows and ensure that storm windows are properly sealing.
  • Check all the windows and doors. They should be closing all the way. Tighten all the loose screws.
  • Check and re-insulate the water pipes wherever needed to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Check for ice dams throughout the winter. Buy a roof rake, just to be safe.

Conclusion

If you place all these tasks on one long list, they may make home maintenance feel like a real pain. But by creating a monthly home maintenance checklist to be completed over the year, according to your convenience and routine, the tasks can be accomplished.

For a few home maintenance tasks, you might need professional help or a handyman. But most of these, you can perform yourself. Learning to perform and organize these home maintenance tasks is necessary for all first-time home buyers.

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