This year, you want to have a head start on maintaining your home. We all do – but it seems like such a daunting task! You know that by maintaining your home you can save money, lower your bills and keep your appliances running longer, but how can you fit all of that maintenance in your hectic life? The best way to keep up to date in maintaining all of your systems, appliances and structures of your house is to commit to doing at least one maintenance task a week. With only 52 weeks in a year, that not only seems doable, it’s downright easy!
Landmark Home Warranty is an expert when it comes to maintaining your home, since we repair or replace our customers’ failed systems and appliances for $60, as long as they’ve been properly maintained. We reached out to our employees to get a list of things they have seen while taking claims calls that you can learn from. Of course, you should always follow the system or appliance manufactures’ instructions on how to clean and maintain it, but this is a good starting point. Read your owner’s manuals for all of your home’s systems and appliances and add or change this list as you go.
We’ve also included some free printables that you can use to make sure you’re on track.
Home Maintenance Checklist
For your first few weeks of doing home maintenance, it’s a great time to start on your plumbing. With November and December out of the way (the two months when cooking and eating seem to be in high demand) this is a great time to clean out your pipes and get your plumbing ready to go for the new year.
- Clear Your Pipes
Depending on your habits, it might be a good time to clean out your drains and refresh yourself on what you should and shouldn’t be putting down the pipes. Use the tips in our latest “Ask The Plumber: Drains” article to clean out your plumbing and keep it clean.
If you find yourself in a state with high sediment in your pipes, it may be a good idea to descale your pipes this week as well. (Click that link to find tips on how to descale your pipes.)
- Clean Shower Heads and Taps
Sediment and hard water deposits often block the flow of water from your taps and showerheads. For this week’s maintenance, keep your taps and showerheads lasting longer by cleaning them. You can use vinegar to clean your showerhead using this DIY article. You can also improve your water flow on your sinks by cleaning the aerators with this DIY article.
- Remove Caulk and Recaulk Tubs, Sinks etc.
If you’ve noticed that the caulk around your appliances is wearing off or getting moldy, remove it and recaulk. This will keep your plumbing more secure and make sure it lasts for a long period of time.
- Get Rid of Icicles and Ice Dams
You should be doing this all throughout the winter months, but it’s a good idea to take some extra time today to make sure there aren’t any you’ve missed. Melting ice can run into your roof, causing leaks, flooding and major damage to your home’s structure.
Maintaining your appliances is something you should be doing while following the manufactures’ instructions – specifically with how often. However, cleaning inside appliances in the wintertime is a great way to maintain your home when it’s still too cold to venture outside.
- Clean Oven Filters and Range
Cleaning your oven filters and range should be completed often, to remove grease build up that could be flammable. Here’s an article on how you can quickly and easily clean your oven’s range and filters.
- Clean Oven
Your oven should be cleaned often as well in order to increase its lifespan. Use this heat-free way to clean dried on food and grease that could cause a fire.
- Vacuum Lint from Dryer
One of the most flammable appliances in your home is probably one you’d least expect: your dryer. A build-up of lint can ignite easily, and cause major damage to your dryer and home. Here is how to clean and vacuum out lint to protect your dryer.
- Clean Your Dishwasher
Dishwashers are hardly the appliance you think to clean and maintain – because don’t they get cleaned when they’re washing your dishes? You can drastically improve your dishwasher’s lifespan and cleaning power by using these cleaning tips.
March is the gateway to spring, one of the biggest times for cleaning your home. It’s time to get out of hibernation and start getting ready for summer!
9. Test Sump Pump
If your home has a sump pump, make sure it’s working. Springtime is when snow starts to melt and you could have problems with flooding. It’s better to test it now and make sure it’s pumping properly than wait and deal with the aftermath. EHow has a guide on how to test them here.
- Deep Clean Your Home
Spring clean your house! Dust, dirt and grime can all build up in the wintertime and spring is the perfect time to give your home a good scrub. Try to clear out clutter and donate unneeded items to charity.
- Checking Roof for Soft Spots
With the snow melting and potential for heavy rains to start in the spring, it’s a good time to see if your roof needs to be repaired. Check for soft spots by using a pair of binoculars and seeing if there are any loose, broken or missing shingles on your roof. You’ll want to get a roof technician to repair those as soon as possible. (If you have roof leak repair with your home warranty, that can be patched up if you’ve properly maintained your roof.)
- Clean Gutters
Gutters full of dirt, fall leaves and other debris can cause flooding. This water can back up into your roof and cause wood rot and leaks, or could seep into your foundation and cause flooding. Take a day to clear out your gutters to avoid this problem.
- Check Water Flow from Down Spouts
After your gutters are cleaned, pour water through your downspouts to see if the water is running away from your home instead of pooling around your foundation. Pooled water can leak into your home’s foundation and window wells and cause flooding.
Now that you’re prepared for rainy springtime, it’s time to use the last few months of spring to get ready for summer.
- Pest Control
April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring bugs in large quantities. As pests begin to emerge in the springtime, keep your eye out for signs of pests and consider spraying your home. Landmark’s infographic on pests and where to keep an eye out for them can help. If you have a home warranty in certain states, you can receive pest control starting at $60.
- Attic Inspection
As the weather warms up, it’s time to make sure everything is working well in your attic and there haven’t been any leaks. Keep your eye out for rusted nails, stains on the roof, or damaged wood. Make sure that bathroom fans are venting to the outside and not into the attic space, as that can cause a build-up of moisture and mold. If your attic only has insulation for flooring, make most of this a visual inspection to be safe.
- Tune Up Air Conditioner
Call a professional to get your air conditioner running for summer. If you have a home warranty, you can get a tune-up for only $60. You will have your condenser coils cleaned, filters replaced, refrigerant levels, contacts, condensation lines and thermostat checked.
- Vacuum HVAC
After getting the air conditioner tuned-up by a professional, you should clean it. Unplug the unit before getting started, and wipe away any dirt and debris from the case and the blades that are on top of the unit. Then, gently vacuum the fins on the outside of your unit. You should also clean around the unit to make sure there are no blockages that will stop air from being taken into the unit and cooled.
May should be a month where you’re preparing for the hot temps of the summer. Keep getting your cooling methods ready with these five maintenance tips.
- Lubricate Fan Motor
If you choose to not get an HVAC tune-up, or if the tune-up doesn’t include adding oil to your fan motor, you should lubricate it. Follow your user’s manual to know what kind of oil to put on, how much and how to get inside of your condenser unit.
- HVAC Filters
If you get an HVAC tune-up, you’ll have your filters replaced. However, replacing your filters for central air cooling system isn’t a one time job. You should make sure to be replacing the filters every one to three months as you use the HVAC system. You can learn more about HVAC filters with this article.
- If You Have a Swamp Cooler, Clean the Unit and Get It Started
Before starting your swamp cooler up and running, clean the drain pans, change the water pads (if you didn’t do that in the winter) and lubricate the motor according to your manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Check All Exhaust Vents Are Clear
There are many vents in your home that bring air and gasses to the outside of your home. This could be from your bathroom vent, HVAC vent, dryer vent, etc. These vents need to be clear from debris, animal nests, plants, trees, or dirt. Clear away anything that could block the vent, and clean it to keep it ventilating your home properly.
- Install Weather Stripping
As the temperatures heat up, make sure your windows and doors aren’t going to let the cool air out of your home. Re-caulk and install weather stripping anywhere that could cause a draft.
The beginning of summer is a great time to reduce fire hazards for your home, as well as protect it from the harsh temperatures that come with the season.
- Clear Dead Plants and Shrubs
If you have semi annual plants that die after short periods of time, or you just haven’t taken care of dried up leaves and wood from the winter, do so now. As you enter the hottest days of the year, you don’t want any potential fire hazards lying around your garden.
- Trim Trees
Trim shrubs and trees that could cause roof damage if they fell, or that are nearing electrical lines. Warm days can lead to nasty thunderstorms that could cause problems with dry wood and lightning.
- Touch Up Paint, Siding
Paint and siding is like your home’s skin. It protects its foundation and structure from sun, water and wind. If you notice there are places where the siding is coming off, or your paint is peeling, touch up those places.
- Replace Damaged Window Screens and Glass
Each year you should be checking your windows and screens for damage. If there are large holes in your screens, patch them or replace them in order to keep bugs out of your home. If you have any damaged glass, summer is the perfect time to replace it. As the temperatures drop in the winter, glass can crack more if water gets into the cracks and freezes.
- Clean Out Window Wells
Make sure your window wells are free of debris that could potentially be a fire hazard. Dead plants and garbage tend to make their way down into the wells. Make sure to clean them out each year.
School is out, which means you’ll be doing much more outside. Use these tips to get the outside of your home ready for summer.
- Clean and Maintain Garage Door
When school is out, it’s time for swimming, soccer, and family vacations. Make sure to check to see if the garage door is properly balanced and the coils are lubricated with our article here.
- Clean Deck
Clean and repair your deck as needed during this time. Leaving a deck un-cleaned can serve as an invitation for pests and bugs to begin living in its wood.
- Clean Outdoor Intake Valves
If you have vents that use intake valves, make sure those are clean and clear of debris that could make your systems and appliances work harder than necessary.
- Check Ductwork to See If There Are Leaks
Assuming your air conditioner is up and running, go to the ductwork so you can visually inspect to see if there are any leaks. Run your hand along the joints of the ductwork to feel if any air is escaping. If you find leaks, call your HVAC specialist, or home warranty company.
As the temperatures heat up, it’s time to remember that your home needs to have maintenance done on the inside as well. Here are some tips to keep the inside working as well as the outside of your home.
- Clean Ceiling Fans
If the temperatures are warm, you’ll no doubt be using your celling fans. Make sure to clean them using a duster or wet cloth. You can use your manufacturer’s owners’ manual to ensure that you’re maintaining your ceiling fans properly. If they do fail from old age and normal wear and tear, a home warranty can cover them.
- Check Toilet and Repair As Needed
Opening the back of your toilet isn’t something you generally do unless something has gone wrong when flushing. However, it’s a good time to take a look at your water levels and check to see if your float is in the right position for a good flush – as well as the state of the flapper in your toilet. If you think that some parts need to be replaced or are falling into disrepair, take a look at our DIY toilet fixes. If your toilet outright fails from normal wear and tear and old age, call your home warranty provider.
- Water Softener
If you have a water softener you know you should be checking the water and salt levels consistently. However, now is a good time to check the tank to see if there are any salt bridges you should break up, or if you need to replace the salt and drain your tank. Here are a few tips on maintaining your water softener.
- Clean Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals can start to smell because of a build-up of food on the sides of the unit. You can easily clean your garbage disposal for this week’s maintenance using our DIY post here.
Summer is coming to a close and school has started. Now is a great time to focus on your water heater and begin to think about starting up your furnace.
- Flush Water Heater
If you live in a state where the water has sediment in it, you’ll want to flush your water heater at least annually. This removes sediment from the bottom of your tank, and makes sure the tank lasts longer and heats up your water easier. If your water heater does fail from normal wear and tear, your home warranty can repair or replace it for $60.
- Change Sacrificial Anode Rod
The anode rod is what makes sure the inside of your water heater doesn’t rust. There are times it will need to be replaced, and you should make sure you replace it using the recommended size and type. Check this annually, but it will usually need to be replaced every three years.
This is another part of your water heater that needs to be checked annually. If this valve fails and the pressure is too great in your tank, it could explode, harming you and your family and your home.
- Inspect Heat Exchangers
As winter draws near, your thoughts will soon be turned to cold nights and starting your furnace. Before getting it going though, make sure your heat exchangers don’t have cracks. You can call a professional to inspect it for you, or do it yourself.
October is the official start of fall, which means it’s the last chance to get your home winterized and ready for the freezing temperatures of winter.
- Remove Exterior Hoses and Drain to Avoid Frozen Pipes
One of the things we see in winter and spring is homeowners with burst pipes and flooded basements. Usually this is caused by water being improperly drained from the spigots, freezing and cracking the pipes. Make sure to remove the hoses and get rid of the water inside of the spigot of your pipes.
- Winterize Your Air Conditioner
If you don’t winterize your A/C unit it’s harder to get it running again next summer. Here are Landmark’s tips on how to get your central air unit ready for the cold.
- HVAC Tune- Up
Call a professional to get your furnace ready to go for the winter. A tune-up will include things like calibrating the thermostat, cleaning burners, replacing filters, tightening and cleaning electrical connections and testing pilot system. If you have a home warranty, you can get a furnace tune-up for only $60.
- Vacuum and Clean Furnace
Before you turn the heater on, make sure to clean the unit inside of your home with a clean cloth to get rid of dust and dirt. Then, open the unit (always turn it off first) and vacuum the inside. This makes sure the air being taken into the furnace is cleaner, and won’t make your unit work as hard.
- Change Furnace Filters Regularly
The HVAC technician who helped tune-up your furnace for the winter may have helped you change your filter, but you should be changing it every 1-3 months to keep your furnace running efficiently.
- Vacuuming Coils on Fridge
The evaporative coils on the bottom (or back) of a fridge keep the inside cool. They tend to collect a lot of dust, which acts as a blanket, making the fridge work harder than it needs to, to keep your food cool. You can unplug your fridge and remove the grill on the bottom (or move the fridge from the wall) and vacuum the coils to keep your fridge running longer and cooler.
- Clean Fridge Drain Pan
On some models, a fridge’s drip pan is easy to remove and clean. You can clean it using bleach, or with a shop vac. This will ensure that the drain pan won’t overflow onto your floors.
- Clean Inside of Fridge
Clean the seals surrounding the fridge using a brush and soap and water. Then, make sure the inside of your fridge is clean and ready to take on the extra food that is sure to reside there during the holidays.
- Clean Circuit Breaker
It’s common to use more energy during December than any other month – with the holiday lights, trees and decorations, it’s easy to overload your circuits. If you have a tripped circuit breaker, make sure to unplug them before setting the circuit breaker on again. You can clean your breaker box using a clean, dry cloth and vacuuming out the box itself.
- Test All Electrical Outlets
All you have to do to test these is push the “test” button. The reset button should pop out, and you will simply push that back in to get the outlet started. If you find an outlet that isn’t working properly, call an electrician or your home warranty company. Do not plug anything into that outlet.
- Run Water in Unused Areas of the Home
If you have guests coming into to town for the holidays, make sure to run water and flush the toilets in the guest areas of the home. Not only will this keep your pipes flowing freely throughout their stay, but it will make sure there aren’t any blockages that you’ll need to deal with while you have company.
- Replace Batteries in Smoke Detectors
You should be testing your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month. Every year you should change out the batteries in these devices to make sure you’re never caught unawares.
- Inspect Fire Extinguishers
Every year you should visually inspect your fire extinguisher for corrosion, leaks, a clogged nozzle or a missing locking pin. You should replace it every 5 years.
Want more great tips like this? Go to Landmark’s blog at blog.landmarkhw.com. You can also find more information about home warranties and how they can help maintain your home at www.landmarkhw.com.