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Home maintenance checklist

How to keep your home running smoothly all year

by Zack Reeves ConsumerAffairs Research Team
Cleaning supplies on wooden floor

Introduction

If you live in a house, you know that small issues can quickly become big ones. Tiny leaks and clogged gutters can lead to burst pipes and damaged roofs if they go unchecked.

Luckily, you can avoid such problems with regular home maintenance. This checklist of simple maintenance tasks can keep repair costs down.

Vinegar and baking soda for cleaning

Monthly maintenance

These easy monthly home maintenance checkups can keep your house and appliances in good working order.

  • Clean and sharpen your garbage disposal: A garbage disposal can be a lifesaver in the kitchen, but it can cause problems without proper care. Once a month, freeze three or four cubes of vinegar in your ice cube tray and grind them in the disposal while running cold water. Crunching the ice keeps the blades sharp, and the vinegar kills bacteria.

  • Keep your kitchen smelling great: To get rid of bad smells in your drain, pour half a cup of baking soda down the sink to absorb the odor. After about three hours, run the faucet to wash the baking soda out of the drain.

  • Clean your tub drain: Start by removing your tub drain cover, either by unscrewing it or prying it off with a flathead screwdriver. Once you’ve done that, straighten a wire hanger with pliers and bend a small hook into the end of it. Use the hanger to fish out any hair or gunk that’s clogging the drain. You can also use special plastic drain snakes from your local hardware store. Doing this every month will keep your drain clear.

  • Change your air filters: Changing your filters regularly will keep your HVAC system from working too hard to maintain a steady temperature. To change your filter, first turn off your air conditioning. Remove the cover and the old filter. Then wipe away any dust around the filter housing. Once the area is clear of dust, place the new filter in its spot and reattach the cover. If you don’t run your heating or AC much, you can do this every few months instead of every month.

  • Clean your stovetop: To clean your stovetop, wait until the stove is completely cool. Cover the surface with a paste made up of ½ cup of baking soda and 2-3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for half an hour, then wipe it down with a wet, soapy sponge. Keeping your stovetop clean will stop food debris from collecting and creating a fire hazard.

Person with blue gloves cleaning out gutters

Quarterly maintenance

If you perform these home maintenance tasks every few months, you can avoid prematurely replacing your fixtures or appliances.

  • Clean your shower head: Mineral deposits can build up in your shower head, which decreases water pressure and poses potential health risks. To prevent these problems, unscrew the showerhead and place it in a large bowl of white vinegar for one hour to remove any mineral deposits. Rinse it off with water, then reattach it. Run water through the shower to make sure your shower head is clear.

  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: According to the National Fire Protection Association, a dead smoke detector can make even a small fire lethal. You can make sure your detector is working by holding its “test” button down for a few seconds. It should produce a shrill, annoying ring. If it doesn’t, replace the batteries and test it again. If it still doesn’t sound, it’s time to replace the detector.

  • Clean refrigerator coils: The large coils on the back of your fridge regulate temperature. To keep these working, clean them with a long bristled brush or a vacuum. Removing dust and dirt helps them run efficiently.

  • Check and clean gutters: If your gutters get clogged with leaves and dirt, they can overflow and cause water damage to your house. To clean them, use a ladder to reach your gutters and scoop out the leaves and gunk. Discard these in a bucket or trash bag. When you’re done, run water through the gutters with a hose to check for leaks and remove lingering bits of gutter trash.

Man caulking window in home

Annual maintenance

You can perform these home maintenance checkups once a year.

  • Check your window caulking: If the caulk around your windows has cracked or separated, air might seep out of your home and drive up your energy bills. Clear the old caulk with a putty knife. Use a caulk gun to apply a bead of caulk, then smooth it out with your finger or a putty knife to create a seal.

  • Clean the whole house: Devote at least one day a year to wiping down every corner of your entire house, or hire a cleaning service to deep clean your home. This will keep grime and dirt from building up, helping you avoid costly rot and mold problems.

  • Wash the exterior: If your house needs cleaning on the outside, a simple garden hose should be enough to get it shining again. If you need a power washer, consult your local hardware store to make sure you’re getting the right one.

Yellow sponges and towels on wooden floor

Conclusion

This list can get you started on your own home maintenance journey. While you might be able to handle these tasks on your own, you can always call the pros if you want to make sure they’re done properly. By checking your home’s vital systems every few months, you can avoid problems that will cost you time and money.

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by Zack Reeves ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As part of the Consumer Affairs Research Team, Zack Reeves creates content that helps consumers make important decisions. He parses through fine details to present buyers with all the information they need to improve their lives.