With the economy in a seemingly endless state of turmoil and uncertainty, it only makes sense to save money wherever it is possible. If you are like most people, the source of your greatest expense is your most expensive possession: your home.
A home takes thousands of dollars to maintain on an annual basis and, sometimes, several thousand in a single month. However, when you make time for routine household maintenance, you will save money by increasing the longevity of your home and the various appliances that are an indispensable part of your home.
When deciding to perform your own routine home maintenance, the best place to start is in developing a game plan. You will want to purchase a folder where you can keep a maintenance checklist. Several good checklists are available from reliable sources online, including government and university websites.
Most home maintenance experts agree that routine maintenance should be performed on a seasonal basis. Some tasks will need to be performed quarterly, while others only need to be done biannually or annually. In addition, the amount or frequency of maintenance will depend on the number of people who are in your household and how much that particular part of the house or appliance is used.
When it comes to scheduling, many checklists leave it up to you, but some checklists are organized by season. Generally, maintenance will be performed in the season preceding the time when that part of your home will be used the most. For instance, furnace maintenance is usually performed in the fall.
Spring is the time when you need to prepare your home for the summer and perform the tasks that are difficult to accomplish during the winter. Following are the most common routine maintenance tasks for spring:
- Clean your fireplace or wood-burning stove. Clean the chimneys. Make sure all moving parts in the flues and chimneys are in proper working order.
- Shut down your furnace if it is only used for heat. Clean and check attached humidifiers and dampers.
- Clean all vents and ductwork.
- Switch on your air conditioner. It is recommended that air conditioners be professionally serviced every three years.
- Check that all alarms are working properly, including smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and security systems. Replace all batteries.
- Springtime outdoor maintenance includes clearing gutters, downspouts and drainage ditches. Additionally, it is time to clean up landscaping and fertilize perennial plants and trees.
During the summer, very little preparatory maintenance is required. Summer is the time for outdoor work and miscellaneous tasks, including all of the following:
- Reduce indoor humidity to 60 percent or lower with dehumidifiers.
- Replace the air conditioner filter monthly or as directed.
- Run or pour water into drains that are used infrequently.
- Steam clean rugs and carpets.
- Clean bathroom exhaust fans and range hood fans.
- Check that windows open and close smoothly. Lubricate as necessary.
- Tighten screws and lubricate hinges on all doors.
- Perform garage door maintenance.
- Trim branches that are approaching electrical lines.
- Pressure wash your home’s siding or exterior walls.
- Inspect roof for sagging and for damaged shingles.
Fall is usually the busiest time of the year when it comes to home maintenance and repair. Following are the most important tasks for this season:
- Check the air-conditioning drain for clogs.
- For convection heating systems, check that the fan is working properly and is lubricated.
- Make sure the furnace is in proper operating condition. It should be professionally serviced every three years.
- Check heating ducts for leaks.
- Clean humidifiers for winter use.
- Replace or cover screened windows with storm windows.
- Ensure all windows and doors close tightly. Install weather stripping as needed.
- Clear leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts.
- Drain garden hoses. Store or winterize outdoor furniture. • Check to see if the septic tank needs to be emptied.
The winter provides a break from most routine home maintenance tasks. Some people use this season to perform miscellaneous indoor maintenance. Common winter tasks are as follows:
- Clean or replace furnace filters every month or as directed.
- Drain a pan of water from the valve on your water heater to reduce sediment.
- lean humidifiers at least once per month.
- Recharge or replace fire extinguishers.
- Check faucets for dripping. Replace washers as needed.
- Inspect all water valves to make sure they open and close completely.