Your home needs maintenance - that’s just a fact of life. If you take good care of your home and perform your necessary preventive maintenance, you can avoid taking on unneeded costly repairs. But I’ve heard from a lot of homeowners who don’t know what the necessary maintenance is - and what to prioritize (there are only so many hours in a day!).
If you need some idea of where to start, here’s a home maintenance plan you can follow.
Start With a Home Inspection
My biggest piece of advice when it comes to buying or maintaining your home is to hire a licensed home inspector to walk through it. They can help you pinpoint real areas of concern in your home and help you plan a maintenance schedule that works to your advantage. For example, they can help you determine if you’ve got a hidden source of moisture that needs to be addressed before it becomes a full-blown mold problem.
Perform Seasonal Tasks Quickly
The changes in weather bring an entirely new set of household chores every season. Knowing what to take care of - and when - will keep you ahead of the game when it comes to your home’s maintenance.
If you live in a harsher climate, the spring is the time of year you go around your home and look for any damage Old Man Winter left in his wake.
- Check the caulking and weatherstripping around your home for any damage. Replace as necessary.
- Do a visual inspection of your roof, and look for signs of wear and tear. Peeling or missing shingles are a sign that it’s time to reroof.
- Check your foundations for cracks and leaks. If you do find any cracks, don’t panic. Mark them with tape, and monitor whether they get any bigger; they can usually be filled with an epoxy injection. If they continue to grow, call in an expert.
- Finally, prepare your gardens for the season and lay down some mulch.
At the start of the summer season, make sure your deck, air conditioning unit and ceiling fans are all in working order.
- Be on the hunt for any boards that are showing signs of rot. Make sure you take a good look at your deck’s ledger board (the piece that connects the deck to your main structure). If that’s starting to pull away, get it replaced before stepping foot on your deck. I read about way too many deck accidents in the summer time - accidents that could have been easily avoided with a good inspection. If you aren’t sure what to look for, many home inspections will include a deck inspection. Generally, if your deck is over five years old, it should be inspected, and at least every three years beyond that.
- Have your air conditioning unit inspected and cleaned. If you’re worried that your unit isn’t working as efficiently as it could, an inspection that includes thermal imaging can help you detect any spots in your home that let the warm outdoor air sneak inside.
- Switch the orientation of your ceiling fans to run counterclockwise, so cool air is pushed downward.
The fall has you performing a lot of the same maintenance that you would during the spring. It’s all about protecting your home from the upcoming winter season.
- Do a once over of your property to look for broken weatherstripping and caulking. Left alone, those gaps could left cold drafts in, which are responsible for up to 30 percent of a home’s heat loss.
- Look for signs of damage on your roof. It’s not too late to get it repaired before the winter sets in. Though keep in mind that contractor schedules fill up quickly, so it may be tough to squeeze the job in before winter hits.
- Make sure you’re raking up the leaves and regularly cleaning out your gutters from any fallen debris that would cause water damming. Rake the leaves out of your gardens, too.
Much of winter maintenance is about ensuring your home is safe for you and your guests.
- Have your shovel ready in the winter, and clear off any pathways and entrances to your home.
- Lay down de-icing agent as necessary to prevent any harmful slips and falls.
- Outdoor holiday lights aren’t meant to be up year round. If you’re putting up lights for the holidays, take them down as soon as it’s safe to climb your ladder.
- Finally, switch your ceiling fans to rotate clockwise to force the warm air down.
Keep Up To Date with Non-Seasonal Maintenance Tasks
These are the tasks that you’ve got to take care of, rain-or-shine. But because you know they’re regular duties, you can mark them on your calendar to easily remind yourself of when they need to be completed. There are a few more tasks that you should make sure to take care of that aren’t tied to seasons.
- Test your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and radon alarms every month. If the units run on batteries, they should be changed twice a year (I do mine when the clocks change). And remember, these units aren’t meant to last forever - check the expiration date and replace them as needed.
- Pay attention to your HVAC filters. I change mine every three months, but during the summer and winter months (when our systems tend to work harder), I change them monthly. A clean filter really does make a difference in how well your unit works. That means money saved on your monthly energy bills. If you’re having a renovation done, I would do my best to refrain from running the system as much as possible, but if it’s unavoidable, check your filters twice a week.
I get asked about duct cleaning a lot - and while it’s not a job you’ll need done yearly, if you notice mould, think you’ve got a vermin problem, or just completed a renovation, then you should consider bringing in a pro to clean your ducts.
With this schedule, you’ll be able to keep up with your home maintenance needs all year round.