Home Owners Maintenance Schedule

Owning a home is likely the most expensive purchase you will make and one that should be properly cared for.  Similar to changing the oil to keep your car’s engine running smoothly, regular maintenance of your home will prolong the life of your homes systems and minimize repair costs.

While this may seem a daunting task much of this maintenance can be performed by the homeowner with simple tools and minimal time or expertise.  Following is a list of suggested regular maintenance. However, manufacturers recommendations always supersede our suggestions.

If you get stuck on any maintenance area, the internet is your best resource for looking up how to service a specific piece of equipment.

  • Clean kitchen sink disposal. There are a many ways to do this, but the handiest and best all-around solution seems to be vinegar ice cubes. Put vinegar in an ice tray and let it freeze. Then run the ice cubes through the disposal. It freshens it, but as a bonus, ice sharpens the blades.

  • Inspect fire extinguisher(s). Make sure they are not blocked and that the gauge indicates correct pressure.

  • Test smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. Detectors have a “test” button. If the alarm sounds, you’re good. If not, replace batteries immediately and test again. If it still doesn’t sound, it’s possible there’s simply corrosion on the battery terminal and it won’t detect new batteries.  Clean it and try again. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll likely need a new detector.

  • Change out HVAC filters. (if you have a larger family and pets you may need to change these more often).

  • Run water in unused spaces.  Plumbing fixtures are designed to have a water trap to prevent gases from entering your home. Over time, this water can evaporate.  Run water in showers, sinks and toilets to prevent this.

  • Clean range hood filters. An oven degreaser and hot water are all that is needed.

  • Check water softener.  Add salt as needed.

  • Test your water heaters pressure relief valve. This will prevent mineral and corrosion buildup, which safeguards against leaks. It will also help your heater run more efficiently.

  • Test garage door auto-reverse feature. In 1993, federal law required all garage doors to have this feature after multiple child deaths. Test by placing a 2×4 on the ground where the door would close. It should reverse after a second or so when the door hits the wood. Also, test the photo-electric sensors, if you have them, by placing something in front of them (not your body). If the door doesn’t immediately go back up, you have a problem.

  • Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide sensors.  U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) states that smoke detectors should have batteries replaced at least twice a year. A good way to help remember to do this is to change your batteries when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time.

  • Vacuum your refrigerator coils. Dirty coils cause your refrigerator to work harder which uses more electricity and shorten the equipment life.

  • Deep clean your home. While a clean home is nice, it is important to prevent build up of dirt and grime. This keeps everything in better shape.  Also, while cleaning you have an opportunity to thoroughly inspect areas for defects that you may not have seen otherwise.  This is especially important when cleaning around and under water fixtures so you can inspect for leaks.  Pay close attention to caulking failure in showers and loose toilets.  Both areas can have hidden leaks which cost hundreds of dollars to repair if not found.

  • Clean out the dryer vent.  Build up of lint causes your dryer to works harder as well as creating a fire hazard.

  • Check caulking around showers and bathtubs.  Repair as needed.

  • Check all locks and deadbolts on doors and windows.  Repair or replace as needed.

  • Test GFCI outlets.  Simply depress the test and rest buttons to make sure they are working.

  • Tighten any handles, knobs, racks, etc. Go through the house and inspect anything that could have a loose screw.

  • Deep clean and inspect the basement. Basements are notoriously overlooked, especially if they’re primarily just storage areas. Dust ‘em up! Clean all windows. Make sure there isn’t mold anywhere.

  • Clean out gutters. Over winter they will accumulate leaves and sediment.

  • Check the exterior drainage. Water should drain away from your home and be greater than 6” from the bottom edge of the home siding.  Poor drainage can cause foundation problems and create conditions promoting rot.

  • Trim vegetation. Throughout the year, plants continue to grow and may abut the home.  When vegetation is too close it blocks air flow around your home and traps moisture which promote conditions conducive for rot and pests.  The recommendation is that vegetation should be spaced 3 ft. from the home which allows for a ladder to be placed for cleaning gutters and washing windows.  Note, this includes ivy and other vines, which while it may appear to be a nice aesthetic detail, cling and work into small cracks, over time cause damage to siding, brick and especially mortar.

  • Power wash sidewalks and driveways.  The Pacific Northwest is an ideal climate for moss. Aside from discoloring surfaces green or black, it creates a dangerous slippery surface to walk on. After the rainy season in the spring subsides, power wash any surface where you, your family, or guests may walk and could slip.

  • Inspect siding & brick on the homes exterior. Harsh winters may have damaged the surfaces protecting your home.  Inspect for chipped paint, gaps in caulking around windows and siding, and holes in brick and mortar.  Repair as needed. For much of the repairs exterior grade caulk will fix most problems.  If you find problems with the brick and mortar it would likely be best to hire a licensed professional to assess.

  • Service your air conditioning.  It is best to hire a licensed professional for this to ensure proper operation before heavy use when the temperature heats up.

  • Repair/replace damaged window screens. You don’t want bugs making their way in because you missed a hole in a window screen. And no, duct tape doesn’t count. It can be a quick fix, but don’t leave it for long. It just looks bad.

  • Inspect roofing for damage and missing shingles or tiles.  These issues lead to leaks and interior damage.  Likely a licensed professional will be required.

  • Check for dangerous tree limbs.  Limbs should not interfere with electric lines. Additionally, limbs overhanging a home may shorten the life of the roofing materials by promoting moss buildup due to excess shade.

  • Clean and repair deck. Generally a good power washing will do. However, it may be time for a fresh coat of paint or stain/sealant.  Check for any loose boards, posts, and fittings. Repair as needed.

  • Clean out & check basement window wells.  Remove accumulated leaves and trash as well as inspect for operation of the window and safety locks.

  • Pest Control. Inspect for signs of pests which may be entering the home through such means as mud tubes between the foundation and siding or from vegetation adjacent and overhanging the home.  For minor pests, many solutions can be obtained at local home improvement store. Larger infestations may require professional inspection and treatment.

  • Flush hot water heater. This removes sediment, prolongs the life of the heater, and helps with efficiency. This can be done by turning off the power source and hooking up a hose to the drain.

  • Winterize air conditioning systems. Remove and store window units.

  • Get heating system ready for winter. Check for any air leaks in windows or doors seals. Check that heating vents are open and not blocked by furniture. Get furnace serviced/inspected at least every other year, preferably annually.

  • Clean the wood/pellet fireplaces and chimneys.  This is an annual must before using again in the fall.  For this you will need to hire a professional chimney sweep.

  • Turn off and flush outdoor water faucets and sprinkler systems.  Freezing water expands and cracks pipes. Be sure to do this before it gets to cold and causes expensive repairs.

  • Test the sump pump. This may not be a fun task to enter your basement or crawl space, but it is important to make sure it is working properly to avoid foundation damage caused by heavy rains and flooding.

  • Check driveway/pavement for cracks. Make sure to have it resealed before winter. Water can freeze and expand in the cracks, causing more damage.

  • Buy winter gear. Have sidewalk salt, good shovels, etc. ready for winter. You never know when that first snow will come!

  • Prepare for winter storm power outages.  Stock up on batteries and food that can easily be prepared when power goes out.

  • Clean gutters.  After the leaves have fallen and before the snow starts, clean debris from gutters and down spouts.  This will prevent them from overflowing and causing foundation flooding.

  • Regularly check for ice dams and icicles. As pretty as they may be, don’t let icicles grow. They are both a danger to people standing beneath them, as well as being incredibly heavy, causing damage to your home.
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