These days, a lot of people think that homeownership is about picking out paint colors, kitchen appliances and light fixtures. Thanks to the popularity of home improvement and renovation shows, it’s easy to focus on the aesthetics of your home, rather than the structure itself. While there is certainly nothing wrong with painting walls or improving the look of a living room, it’s easy to get so focused on these things that you ignore the more serious responsibility of home maintenance.
We get it. For most people, the thought of home maintenance can be overwhelming. Whether you’re busy and don’t have much free time or you aren’t exactly handy with a hammer, it’s easy to procrastinate on caring for your home. The problem is that when you push aside home maintenance in favor of painting or installing a fire pit, you run the risk of developing big problems. As you let things sit over time, they can get dirty or wear out, which can result in them not working as they should or stop working altogether. And, often, by the time things get that far, homeowners end up shelling out serious cash for repairs or replacements.
What most homeowners don’t realize is that they are more than capable of performing routine home maintenance on their own. And, while there are a few tasks that can become time-consuming, most common household repairs only need to be done at certain times of the year.
We’re going to lay out our home maintenance plan — season-by-season — and you’ll want to take notes.
Top 10 Tips for Spring Home Maintenance
Winter is done and you’re finally thawing out. Summer is just around the corner, so during the spring months, you’ll want to spend a lot of time focusing on the exterior of your home — both to repair any damage done by the cold temperatures and to prepare for the looming searing hot summer temperatures.
- Inspect your roof for damage, leaks or potential problems.
- Inspect any trees on your property to make sure they aren’t obstructing utility lines, especially electric lines. If you find a problem, you’ll likely need to call a professional in to trim the branches causing concern.
- Repair or replace any window screens that have developed tears or holes in them. Not only does this help keep your home looking nice, but it will also prevent bugs from getting into the house if you opt to open your windows to enjoy the warm spring breezes. While you’re at it, wash the windows inside and out.
- Clean debris out of gutters. We’ve talking leaves, sediment and anything that’s lodged itself into those tubes. While you’re up there, check out the gutters themselves to make sure they’re on correctly and draining properly.
- Going along with checking on your gutters, inspect your exterior drainage. Check for standing water in your yard and make sure water flows away from your house.
- Have your air conditioner serviced by a professional. Yes, this isn’t technically something you can fix yourself, but you can get it scheduled. You’ll likely have to pay a small service charge but that is minimal compared to what you’d pay if your AC broke because you didn’t have it cleaned and maintained properly.
- Inspect the exterior of your home, including siding and stucco or brick, shutters, roof and yard. This is also the time to check your foundation for cracks and address any areas you’re concerned about.
- Head inside and change all of your air filters. It’s important to note that this should actually be done quarterly — more if you or a family member has allergies — but spring is a good time to get into the routine for the rest of your year.
- Hunt for mice and other furry house guests. During the winter, mice gravitate toward warm spaces. It’s not uncommon for them to seek out an attic or an uncovered window AC unit. They may also make themselves at home in a vehicle or piece of outdoor equipment that’s been stationary for a long time, so check anywhere you think might be a good hiding spot.
- Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and change batteries if necessary. This should actually be done more than once a year, so a good rule of thumb is to do it in the spring when you set your clocks forward and then again in the fall when you change them back.
Top 10 Tips for Summer Home Maintenance
Those longer days mean you can spend more time outdoors working on your exterior and your yard. And when it gets too hot for outdoor projects, the time inside gives you the perfect opportunity to tackle a different set of projects.
- Clean the garage. In reality, this should happen more than once a year, especially if your garage doubles as a workshop. However, once a year it’s important to do a deep garage clean to get rid of the dust that’s built up.
- Clean debris out of window wells.
- Check and clean your dryer vent. Make sure that there are no blockages. You can tell if it’s filtering properly by whether or not the exhaust coming out of the vent has that “fresh laundry” smell. If you suspect that the vent is blocked, you should try to clear out the hose connecting the dryer to the vent.
- Keep your home insect free. For some people, battling ants, spiders and other unwanted house guests is an ongoing problem, but one that especially comes to light in the summer months. To minimize your pest problems, keep bug sprays and traps on hand and work to keep cobwebs away from both the interior and exterior of your home.
- Revive your patio. At the very least, your patio will likely need a good cleaning. But, it may also be a good time to restain or repaint it as well. As you do this, check for loose nails or boards as well as deterioration or breaks.
- Check toilets and faucets for leaks or low water pressure.
- Inspect grout around any kitchen or bathroom tile you may have. Keeping your grout in good condition keeps your tile looking nice and helps it to last longer.
- Give your house a deep clean. Yes, most people like to do this in spring, hence the name “spring cleaning,” but summertime is a great time to do this if you let it slide in the spring. Allowing dust and dirt to build up over time can cause problems with your house. So, grab a mop and a dustrag and get to work. It’s actually a good idea to deep clean like this twice a year, so plan on doing it again during those cold winter months.
- Inspect your fire extinguishers. Technically, this should be done on a monthly basis, but use the heat of summertime as a good reminder to tackle this simple but important task. Start the habit now and keep it going throughout the year.
- Vacuum your refrigerator coils. This might sound like a strange tip, but the truth is if you allow dirt and grime to build up on your coils over time, they won’t run as efficiently. Keeping them clean can help cut down on your energy costs and prevent the need for expensive repairs.
Top 10 Tips for Fall Home Maintenance
Beautiful autumn. The air becomes crisp and cool. The leaves start to turn. And you’re simultaneously finishing up all of those summer projects and preparing for the winter ahead.
- Check for cracks in your driveway, walkways and other pavement on your property. If you discover cracks, have them sealed to prevent them from filling with ice and expanding over the winter months.
- It’s that time again. Turn your clocks back and test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and change batteries if necessary. Don’t wait until you hear the “beep” that means the battery is already dead. This one is really important.
- Flush hoses and outdoor faucets. Close the faucets and store hoses away for the winter. If you have a sprinkler system, this is also the time to winterize it.
- Have your chimney cleaned by a professional. You may have heard some people say that this is better done in the spring. Technically, it doesn’t matter as long as you have it done once a year.
- Test your sump pump. This is not something that you want to stop working without warning. If you have a basement, this should be a regular part of your home maintenance routine.
- Make sure your house is ready for the cold. Have your furnace serviced by a professional. Check your windows and doors for potential places cold air can leak in. And, last but not least, check all of your heating vents to make sure they are open and not covered or blocked by furniture or other objects in your home.
- Flush your water heater. By flushing your heater and removing any sediment that has built up, you can prolong the life of this important fixture. It can also keep it running at its maximum efficiency.
- Winterize your air conditioning systems. If you have central air, we recommend covering the unit with a tarp. If you use window AC units, remove and store them.
- Give your garage door a little bit of love. Grab a can of garage door lubricant and go to work spraying it on the overhead torsion springs. While you’ve got the can out, also coat the rollers, hinges and tracks.
- While you’re already focusing on the garage door, this is also a great time to make sure your garage door sensors function properly. Place a 2×4 piece of wood under the open door and then lower it. If your sensors are working correctly, the door should come down, briefly touch the board and then go right back up. It’s important that this safety feature is working, so if the door stays down on the wood, then you’ll want to have your garage door opener serviced and adjusted.
Top 10 Tips for Winter Home Maintenance
Obviously, you won’t be doing much outdoor maintenance this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be diligent in watching over your home. Use the colder months to focus on maintaining and repairing the interior of your home.
- Spend time cleaning the basement from top to bottom. And we don’t mean just running a vacuum. We’re talking about cleaning windows, dusting baseboards and taking other measures to prevent the buildup of dirt and mold.
- Inspect caulking around showers and tubs. Repair as needed.
- Remove and clean showerheads. Removing these fixtures and clearing away the sediment that has built up in them is a great way to extend their life. It can also help keep your water pressure stronger, guaranteeing more hot, relaxing showers.
- Check for loose screws. Inspect items such as doorknobs, cabinet handles and racks, and tighten anything that seems lose before it can fall off and either break or disappear altogether.
- Inspect of the locks, including deadbolts, on all doors and windows. Repair or replace anything that seems to be loose, sticking or otherwise not functioning as it should.
- Check electrical outlets. When it comes to homeowners and electricity, certain things should always be left to a professional. However, it’s relatively easy for a homeowner to test to make sure all of their electrical outlets and light switches are working correctly.
- Get rid of icicles. While you may not be spending much time outside, especially if you live in an area prone to snow and ice, it’s still important to keep an eye on the exterior of your home. When you find icicles beginning to grow, get rid of them before they can become big and heavy and cause more problems.
- Give your kitchen sink a little bit of love. Clean out the aerator inside the end of the faucet and run cold water while the garbage disposal runs to get all of the food bits cleared out. You can also freeze vinegar into ice cube trays and then dump the ice cubes into the garbage disposal. Turn the disposal on and allow it to grind up all the ice cubes. The ice will help to sharpen the blades and the vinegar will neutralize any unwelcome odors that might have built up.
- We said it before, but this is the perfect time to do it again — check those smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This can be especially important during the winter months if you’re using your fireplace or supplementing your heating system with a space heater, which can pose a significant danger to your home if not used properly.
- Flush toilets and run water in places where this may not be done every day such as guest bathrooms and laundry sinks.
The Importance of Home Maintenance
Regular home maintenance is important for two reasons. First, it keeps your home functioning as it should. Second, it keeps you and your family safe. Overlooking certain routine maintenance items can potentially cause problems and breakages that can be expensive — and dangerous. By conducting simple routine checks on your home and property, you can protect yourself and your family, as well as your finances.
While some of these projects may end with you needing to call in a professional, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money by making a habit of identifying and correcting problems early on.
We hope that you’ll never experience a major problem with your home, the truth is that even the most diligent of homeowners may encounter a problem they didn’t anticipate. When that happens, it’s important to have home insurance with a company you can trust. That’s where Reisinger Insurance Agency, Inc. comes in. Our homeowner’s insurance coverage is intended to give you peace of mind during the good times, as well as to provide you with the support and help you need to get through the hard times. For more information about our policies or help with submitting a claim, contact us today.