How to Maintain Your Home

As a homeowner, you always have plenty to do to take care of your property. But there are tasks that are better done during certain times of the year, and spring is no exception.

Some maintenance tasks should be done in spring because they help prep your home for the season and the summer to come. Others should be done because spring offers warming temperatures that make it possible to do things that you couldn’t do in winter.

Whatever the reason, tackling your spring maintenance task list will help you ensure your home is in optimal condition for months and years to come. If you are going to be selling your home, this Spring it is even more essential to complete these maintenance tasks.

Quite a few of these things would fall under getting your property ready for a buyer’s home inspection anyways. You can scratch them off your list and feel more confident you’ll get past one of the most significant milestones in a real estate transaction. Yes, more sales fall apart at a home inspection because of a homeowner not taking care of their property!

Don’t be one of them. Follow the spring home maintenance checklist, and you’ll be well on your way to a better-maintained home.

1. Clean the gutters.

Gutter cleaning. Definitely not the favorite of most homeowners, but certainly something that needs to be done periodically. Cleaning the gutters ensure that they work correctly, taking runoff from your roof and pouring it away from your home. Keeping that runoff away from your home is a necessity. It prevents pools of water from forming at the base of your house—which can pose a danger when they freeze or cause damage to your foundation as they sit.

Cleaning the gutters and downspouts is easy enough if a little messy. Throw on some gloves, grab a ladder and water hose, and haul yourself up the edge of your roof.

You can use your hands to pull out debris and throw them on the ground where you can pick them up later—or put them directly into a bucket. Then, take your water hose and flush the gutters out and ensure that the downspout is clear of debris as well.

Gutters should be kept clean year round as they can contribute to ice dams forming and creating both interior and exterior damage to your house. Here are the best methods for making sure you prevent ice dams from happening.

2. Replace your HVAC filter.

Another easy maintenance task, replacing your HVAC filter ensures that the air circulating through your system is relatively clean. It also keeps the strain on your system to a minimum because air can flow as freely as possible through the clean filter.

These filters should be changed at least once every month to month and a half. Of course, there is a possibility that your system and filter require a different changing schedule. Some filters may be rated to last longer. Read the instructions on each for more information. Fortunately, the filters only take a few minutes to swap out.

Many homeowners don’t realize that not changing a filter can cause their air conditioning system to freeze up. Without a doubt, this always happens at the most inconvenient times like the hottest days of the year. In real estate circles, we call this Murphy’s law. Here are four things you don’t want when neglecting your HVAC maintenance:

  • Your equipment won’t last as long.

  • The system will not function as intended and might freeze up.

  • Your energy bills will go up.

  • The quality of the air in your home will not be as good.

3. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors.

When thinking about how to maintain a home, you might not remember this one. One of the most vital Spring home maintenance tasks is the replacement of batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. In some states, hard-wired smoke detectors are a must. In other places battery operated detectors are acceptable.

It is usually recommended that you check your smoke detectors at least a few times a year, but if you haven’t gotten to it lately, then doing so at least every quarter is a must.

You can quickly check the battery by pushing the testing button on the smoke detector. Most will also emit a steady beep if the battery is getting low. Just verify that everything is working correctly since these detectors could save the lives of everyone in your home.

In some parts of the country, like Massachusetts, where I’m from, a seller must have their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inspected before the sale of their home. Part of the law states that if the smoke or carbon monoxide detector is older than ten years, it must be replaced. These kind of regulations are great because they save lives! Spring is a great time to perform this maintenance activity.

4. Clean the vent on your dryer.

Dirty dryer vents cause fires. Take a look at the vent on your dryer, both where it attaches to the dryer and where it leaves your home. Make sure everything is cleaned and properly connected. It will take less than a couple of minutes to make sure your dirty vent doesn’t cause a house fire.

5. Clean the refrigerator coils.

The coils for your refrigerator are on the bottom or the back. They are used to conduct the hot air from inside the unit. If they’re loaded with dust and debris, they will do the job less efficiently. Improper maintenance of the coils will cause your refrigerator to work harder.

Eventually, a lack of maintenance will result is a shorter life span of the product along with a higher electricity bill.

Use a vacuum cleaner hose to clean the coils. A once over with a damp cloth would also be useful as well.

6. Check the caulking around your windows.

Window caulking is what seals the windows into the frame of your home so that air does not get in or out. Solid caulking is a necessity to get the full benefit of your insulation and window treatments.

However, caulking can break down over time. That is why you want to check the caulking occasionally, like during your spring maintenance check. If there are gaps or it seems to be wearing out, scrape it off and replace it with new caulk.

7. Get your lawn equipment ready.

During the fall it is a good idea to winterize your lawn equipment since the grass is unlikely to be growing too much. Now that the weather is going to start warming up again, you need to get the lawn equipment ready to do its job.

Each piece of equipment will have its own preparation needs, but generally, you will want to drain out old fuel, check spark plugs, replace/sharpen blades and cables, etc. The more you can get them ready for action now, the easier it will be to pull them out of the garage and get to work on new growth.

 

8. Flush your water heater.

This is another maintenance task that needs to be done periodically, but not every season. If you have flushed the water heater in the past year, you should be fine. But if not, or if you have no idea when the last time it was flushed, then spring is an excellent time to get the task done.

You can watch videos online to see how it is done. Don’t worry; it’s not complicated. It just takes knowledge of your particular water heater and a little time. A flush will remove a lot of the debris that may accumulate due to impurities in your water supply. It will help your water heater run better and run longer than if you never flushed the system.

9. Have your HVAC unit serviced.

We already talked about replacing the filter on your HVAC unit – just as important will be doing an annual service call. Depending on where you live, you may be gearing up for a long season of regular A/C use.

Your HVAC unit is like any other piece of machinery, it gets dirty and worn, and it requires periodic maintenance to ensure long-term operation. You might also need your Freon to be recharged as well.

Now is a great time to have the system serviced by your favorite local HVAC team. They can come in, clean things up, determine if any issues are present, and make repairs as needed. That way, when the heat hits, you can rely on your system to keep you and your family cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Regular maintenance will also extend the overall life of your system as well.

10. Change the well filters.

If you don’t have public water and your home is serviced by an artisan well, the Spring is a great time to do routine maintenance. You can start by changing any filters you may have. If you live in an area with high sediment content changing filters regularly is a must.

If you notice that your well pressure has decreased and water is coming out slowly from your taps, a likely cause is sediment buildup. Clean your faucet heads and get a new filter. You will probably see a dramatic change for the better with the flow of water.

If you’re going to be selling your property shortly it’s likely the buyer will check both the quality and quantity of your well. It makes sense to get it ready for the inspections take place.

11. Clean your home’s siding.

Winter is hard on the exterior of a home. The rain and snow that may have fallen during the year, along with algae, dust, and dirt, can make the siding of your home look dirty and undesirable. It can also cause increased wear on the siding when it is not cleaned for months or years.

It may only take a brush and a water hose to remove the dirt and grime. Or, you might need to get a detergent made for cleaning the siding of your home. Either way, when you finish the cleaning project, your home will look a lot better than when you started.

Sometimes if you have a bad case of mildew, you might need a little more muscle behind the cleanup. A good power wash may be necessary. Just be careful not to damage the siding.

12. Clean and inspect the roof.

Cleaning your roof is also a good idea and Spring is the perfect time to do it. Do you have moss of liken growing on your roof? If so, it will be an excellent idea to get rid of it. There are specific solutions you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes that can be applied onto the roof. These products do a great job of killing these growths.

Some people make the mistake of using a power washer on their roof. Do not do this! Doing so can easily damage your roof. When power washing you’ll notice it not only takes off the moss but also a number of the granules that are part of the shingles.

If you do this, you’ll be replacing your roof sooner than you wanted to. While you are cleaning the roof, it will also be a terrific time to inspect for any loose or damaged shingles. Make sure you address any problems right away.

Looking over your roof a few times a year for problems is smart home maintenance.

13. Fix chipped or damaged paint.

Paint is not only there to make your home look beautiful. It is applied to protect the wood that your home is constructed of. When the paint fails, which becomes pretty evident as it flakes and chips away, it leaves the wood underneath exposed to the elements.

Fortunately, touching up small areas with paint is not too difficult. You may notice the most damage around your windows and doors. Take the time to prep the area properly by removing the old paint, and then apply a fresh coat. Like with flushing your water heater, it may be helpful to watch some videos online about touching up paint on your house to ensure you take all the right steps and get the best results.

14. Look over the deck and give it a coat of stain or water repellent.

Part of knowing how to maintain a house is routine projects that should be done on an annual basis.

One of the essential Spring maintenance tasks is to give your deck a sprucing up. Smart homeowners provide their deck regular maintenance even if the wood is pressure treated.

You want to keep a fresh coat of stain or wood preservative yearly. Doing so will extend the life of your deck.

There are so many different choices now in types and colors of deck stain or preservatives.

15. Clean your screens and windows

One of the best exterior curb appeal tips is to make sure your windows and screens are not filled with grime. The spring is the perfect time to make sure your exterior is looking it’s best, and part of that maintenance is having spotless windows and doors.

16. Get your driveway seal coated.

Depending on who you talk to some say seal coating is an excellent idea, others say it is a waste of money. When you seal coat your driveway, it is usually best to hire a professional unless you have experience with this maintenance task.

One thing for sure – if you are going to be selling your house getting the driveway seal coated looks excellent. It does wonders for the appearance of a driveway. If your driveway looks old and tattered with numerous cracks, a seal coat can change the look and feel.

17. Trim vegetation around your home.

Your home needs to breathe. One of the first things any great home inspector will say when inspecting the exterior of a home is to keep a respectable distance of plants and shrubs from the foundation.

You should be able to walk around your house with being impaired by bushes. There should also not be earth to wood contact with mulch. Be especially careful to keep any shrubs trimmed around the AC condensers as well. To function correctly, they need appropriate air intake.

18. Walk around your attic and basement.

For many folks, our basements and attics are not visited that often unless they are finished heated spaces. Given the lack of use during the year it makes sense to give them a thorough inspection a couple of times a year. The spring offers the perfect opportunity to walk around and make sure there are no issues.

One of the most significant things to look for is water penetration. Most people realize water leaks can wreak havoc on our homes. Looks around and check for any water staining. Be particularly cognizant of any mold. If you see some make sure you deal with it immediately.

If you’re going to be selling mold can stop your house sale in its tracks.

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Kevin Moore

Certified Master Home Inspector

Homechexinc@gmail.com

NYS Licensed Home Inspector #16000067886