There may be no better time to set up your home for success in 2024 than when the yearly calendar ends and the burst of new year motivation kicks into high gear. That’s why we put together a comprehensive home maintenance guide and checklist you can use to ensure your home runs efficiently, maintains its curb appeal, and so that homeowners can spot potential issues before they become costly problems.
Let’s dive in and cover some essential home maintenance tips you can complete today and throughout the year.
Home maintenance checklist
We’ve compiled all our home maintenance tips into an easy-to-use home maintenance checklist that you can use throughout the year to keep tabs on progress and tasks to complete.
Change the furnace air filter
A clogged air filter blocks the airflow to your furnace system, which causes it to work harder. Experts recommend changing furnace air filters every three months. Doing so ensures your furnace runs efficiently, which can heat your house faster and save money on energy costs.
Flush your water heater
Flushing your water heater two to three times yearly is essential to maintain its performance, especially if you live in an area with hard water. Built-up sediment can block the pressure relief valve, and neglecting maintenance can lead to flooding. A proper maintenance plan ensures your hot water is heated efficiently and helps to avoid breaking down prematurely.
Schedule free HVAC inspections
Many local HVAC repair and maintenance companies offer free inspections for your electrical, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems. It’s wise to use such services to understand potential issues and plan for upcoming costs to ensure your home’s most critical systems will work properly for years to come.
Clean exterior air conditioning unit
Cleaning your external air conditioning unit takes less than 30 minutes and is a simple DIY task to ensure the most critical system in your home during the summer months is running smoothly. An air conditioning unit’s coils can collect dust, foliage, and other debris over time, reducing airflow to the system and affecting efficiency.
Inspect your pipes
A quick inspection of your home’s pipes can help find issues that could cause bigger problems if not fixed. The main areas of your home to inspect are faucets in the kitchen and bathroom, toilets, exposed pipes in your basement or crawl space, water heater, and outside hose spigots.
Look for any leaks, signs of corrosion on fittings and valves, stains, and dripping faucets. It’s also a good idea to turn your supply lines off and on to ensure the systems are working and there are no leaks.
A slow-draining faucet or tub drain is more than a nuisance. Slow drains can cause bigger backups when clogging or creating foul odors. Fortunately, both issues are easy to resolve when learning how to clean drains in your home.
Cover hose spigots
Most big box stores and local hardware stores sell covers that protect your hose spigots from freezing over. Best yet, spigot covers are quickly installed and cost around $5 apiece. This task is a no-brainer winter home maintenance tip for homeowners living in colder climates, especially considering it can cost several hundred dollars for a professional to replace a leaking fixture.
Deep clean the oven
We get it, deep cleaning cleaning the oven is an arduous task, which explains why it is often overlooked. But there are other benefits to cleaning your oven beyond the satisfaction and quality of life of undertaking this task.
A dirty oven is a fire hazard. Grease and grime build-up can combust under high temperatures. A dirty oven can also cause air quality issues as smoke particulates circulate when old food and spillages heat up.
Deep clean and degrease cooking surfaces
While setting some time aside to clean the inside of your oven, spend a few extra minutes cleaning the greasy work surfaces around your stovetop and oven. Cleaning up grease, grime, and old spills has similar quality-of-life benefits to cleaning the inside of your oven while also reducing fire hazards.
Wipe down the refrigerator and freezer
Wiping down the interior surfaces of your refrigerator and freezer can remove stains from spilled foods. Food debris also builds up within drawers, on shelves, and in deeper corners, which results in general cleanliness eyesores and foul odors.
Clean your refrigerator coils
Cleaning your refrigerator coils every six months is a simple task to complete in tandem with wiping down your refrigerator and freezer. Dust and debris build up on the refrigerator coils, which blocks airflow to your refrigerator and forces it to work harder. In most cases, you’ll need a few handy household items to clean the coils, such as a vacuum, dust mask, and small brush.
General exterior inspection
One common spring home maintenance tip is to inspect the exterior of your home while paying close attention to several items, including landscaping that may need to be maintained, trees with low-hanging branches, checking your siding for cracks, and inspecting caulked joints.
While at it, it’s worth inspecting areas where the home’s foundation is exposed and looking for cracks.
Clean the gutters
Cleaning your gutters at least twice yearly ensures that rainwater and melting snow properly flow away from your home’s foundation. It may be best for some homeowners to clean their gutters more frequently, especially if trees overhang their roofs.
Poorly maintained gutters can result in water pooling near your home’s foundation, resulting in flooding and creating foundational issues. Overflowing water also seeps under your shingles, leading to roof damage, leaks inside your home, and potentially mold.
Ensure the downspout is working properly
A downspout ensures water flowing from your gutters is properly directed away from your home’s foundation. There are two things you’ll want to inspect with your downspout. Firstly, check for clogging issues by running water from your garden hose into the downspout.
Then, inspect the downspout where the elbow meets the ground. The downspout should ideally direct water onto a gutter splash block several feet from the side of your home. This way, water flows away from your home and doesn’t pool around the foundation.
Schedule a free roof inspection
The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends having your roof inspected at least once annually. Most roofing companies will complete an inspection for free.
The primary items a roof inspector will be searching for are signs of hail damage, cracked and missing shingles, sagging, clogged roof vents, exposed nails, and ensuring chimneys and skylights are properly sealed.
Catching roofing issues early on is critical since even a minor leak can cause catastrophic damage inside your home and walls.
Wash home siding
Spraying down your siding using a garden hose helps to remove dirt build-up, grime, and stains that accumulate over time, helping your home look brand new again. Also, pay attention to areas where insects, spiders, and other animals have built webs and nests in corners and under soffitts.
Fill driveway cracks
Repairing driveway cracks ensures that your driveway stands the test of time. Ignoring cracks in your driveway can lead to several issues, including crumbling and foundation issues.
Even something so small as a hairline crack can cause crumbling with the freezing and thawing cycle. Larger cracks allow water to wash away sediment in the driveway foundation, which can create slab leveling issues.
Trim shrubs and trees
Low-hanging tree branches block pathways and can be an injury hazard with heavy winds, torrential rain, and when burdened by snow from a storm.
Addressing issues before they become a problem can save you from potential headaches. If a falling branch injures a neighbor, the homeowner may be negligently liable if a personal claim is filed.
There’s also a chance your homeowner’s insurance will have to pay for damages caused by a tree on your property causing damage to your neighbor’s home. So, it’s best to nip the potential problem in the bud.
While leaving shrubs un-trimmed shrubs isn’t an injury risk, a quick trim can do wonders to improve your home’s curb appeal.
Lubricate the garage door
Garage doors don’t work efficiently and are overly noisy when not properly lubricated every six months. Lubricating the garage door rollers, hinges, tracks, and garage door coil with lithium grease is a simple DIY task that takes less than 30 minutes.
Inspect, clean, or regrout bathroom
Grout around your vanity backsplash and between shower tiles can crack or become discolored with daily usage, even with proper maintenance.
There are two ways to address grout issues in your bathroom. Off-the-shelf grout cleaners are excellent for restoring the original grout color. If the grout is cracking, you’ll need to remove and repair the grout so water doesn’t seep behind the tiles and cause potential in-wall moisture problems.
Deep clean bathroom mold and mildew
Unsightly mold and mildew buildups can become a health hazard, especially if black mold is present. There are several ways to get rid of shower mold using common items found around the home, such as bleach, baking soda, vinegar, or specialty products you can buy at the store.
Fix squeaky door hinges
There’s a good chance at least one exterior or interior door hinge in your home isn’t as smooth and quiet as possible. While there are temporary fixes for a squeaky door hinge, such as applying a lubricant, fixing the root cause ensures that this one-and-done project stands the test of time.
This Old House compiled a fantastic comprehensive video demonstrating temporary and permanent fixes to fix a squeaky door hinge.
Inspect and caulk window seals
Properly sealed windows help to create an air-tight home and reduce your energy bill. But as any home ages, cracks can develop, and seals become ineffective.
It’s a good idea to check for signs of broken window seals and re-caulk broken window seams in your home as the seasons change, particularly in climates with drastic temperature changes from winter to summer.
Restock cleaning and repair supplies
Home maintenance jobs to complete before winter or summer vary, so it’s smart to restock your cleaning each winter and summer. This way, you can avoid making a trip to the store mid-project.
Moving.com compiled a comprehensive guide of essential home cleaning supplies to always keep in stock.
Ensure the doorbell is working properly
Take a brief moment to ensure that your doorbell is working properly. If owning a Ring or similar doorbell, you’ll need to check it more frequently to ensure the battery is properly charged.
Dust and balance ceiling fans
The tops of fans are prone to collecting dust and going unnoticed since few people are tall enough to see over their ceiling fan blades. While a dust build-up is an eyesore, it’s also a health hazard that can affect the quality of your home. Dusting off the ceiling fan blades solves the issue.
While at it, turn your ceiling fans to the highest speed setting and inspect for any wobbling. Balancing your ceiling fans helps reduce noise and heads off what could eventually become an injury risk.
Touch-up your paint
Baseboards, door trim, wall corners, and high-traffic areas can take a beating throughout the year, resulting in blemishes, smudges, and scuffs. For anyone with kids, several walls in your home are likely also “decorated” with an array of adolescent masterpieces.
Thankfully, it’s easy to freshen up your home’s appeal by touching up the paint. All you’ll need is color-matched paint, a paintbrush, and a few commercial breaks to finish the job.
Check for termites and other pests
Pests and termites can wreak havoc on your home if you do not catch them before becoming a widespread issue. Termite problems are particularly difficult to spot since they can cause extensive damage to your home before realizing you have a pest problem. There are several signs exterminators look for to spot termite issues early.
Orkin also put together an excellent household bug guide that is helpful when discovering an issue and you want to determine what type of pest it is.
Clean the washing machine
Experts generally recommend cleaning your washing machine at least every few months to keep your laundry smelling fresh.
Most modern washing machines include a wash cycle option that will resolve some issues, but more work must be done.
Mildew builds up in hard-to-reach areas where water can pool up, drains can clog up, and you’ll want to wipe down surfaces to remove other debris that makes your washing machine work harder than it needs to. Thankfully, it’s simple to deep clean your washing machine using several common household cleaning items.
Remove dryer vent lint
Homeowners should clean lint from their dryer vents once a year. Overlooking this simple home maintenance project can create a fire hazard and result in your dryer working overtime to dry each load.
You’ll need a vacuum and brush to remove dryer vent lint. First, disconnect the hose from the back of the dryer and vacuum out the duct behind your dryer and from the hose connected to the wall. Then, brush out the wall vent or use your hand to remove it. You’ll also want to inspect the exterior vent and remove any blockages.
Electrical and safety
Test GFCI outlets
The GFCI outlets in your home are critical in protecting you from severe shocks and reducing fire hazards. Take a few minutes every three months to test your GFCI outlets to ensure they’re working properly.
Inspect electrical panel
While testing your GFCI outlets, take a moment to inspect your electrical panel paying close attention to signs of rust, corrosion, and proper labeling. A licensed electrician should handle more in-depth tasks.
Test smoke detectors
While the U.S. Fire Administration recommends checking your fire alarms monthly, inspecting them bi-annually is sufficient for most homeowners. Progressive put together a simple guide on how to test your smoke detectors to ensure they are working properly when needed most.
Insulate hot water pipes
Insulating your hot water pipes is a great DIY job to help your home run more efficiently and avoid frozen pipes. The Department of Energy estimates that insulating hot water pipes can raise water temperatures by 2° to 4° degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in less strain on your water heater and reduced water usage.
It’s best to insulate exposed pipes in your crawl space or basement and near exterior walls, where your pipes are most likely to burst in freezing temperatures.
Install a carbon monoxide detector
Adding carbon monoxide detectors inside your home is a smart way to ensure your home’s air is safe to breathe. While you can inspect your home for signs of carbon monoxide, it’s best to spend some money on a basic plug-in or ceiling-mounted detector, especially since carbon monoxide is odorless.