No matter the time of year, you can be maintaining your home and your investment. Each season affords specific tasks that allow you to make steady monthly progress on improving your home's condition. Be warned! Neglecting your home's maintenance can cost you a ton of money over time and even be unsafe! Your home may be your most significant investment, and to not only maintain it but to actively improve on it makes financial sense. In no time, small issues can lead to extensive and expensive repairs. Properties that are not well maintained can lose10 percent (or more) of their appraised value.
All is not lost, by only dedicating a few hours per week per season you can improve the condition of your home and pay yourself for doing so, in the end.
You can use each season to your advantage (instead of an excuse!) and make steady weekly progress. It is the best path forward for the safety of your family and the soundness of your investment. Use the following seasonal checklist as a guide to maintaining your house and landscaping throughout the year. It's applicable for all climates and situations; please share it with friends and family members whom you think could benefit; they will thank you for it!
Please skip ahead to the season you are currently experiencing. This guide will start with Winter.
Disclaimer: Please follow the manufacturers specific instructions for maintenance and repair.
Winter is the time of the year most homeowners hibernate in regards to the home maintenance and improvements – depending on where you live and the climate. In hotter areas, Winter can be the most active time for home repair. Winter presents some of the most chilling opportunities for nature to damage to your home, Ice, high winds, cold temperatures, and low humidity. You especially need to stay alert in Winter and keep on top of the following:
Tune Up Generator
If you own a portable generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance. Make sure it’s working before you need it, and stock up on supplies like fuel, oil, and filters. If you do not have a generator, consider getting one, it can save the day when that 100-year storm comes along.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Make sure pipes are sufficiently insulated, and keep your heat on low when you’re away. Are your pipes prone to freezing? Leave faucets dripping slightly overnight. Insulate the crawl space to keep the temperature above freezing. Whatever you can do to keep the pipes warm. Install a cutoff valve in your sewer line if possible.
Heating System Maintenance
Check and change filters on your heating system or have a professional do it. Monitor the water level on your boiler. Consider controlling the humidity with a humidifier.
Drain and Shut Off Outdoor Faucets
Drain and shut off outdoor faucets before the first seasonal freeze – if possible. Secure an insulated cover over exposed faucets, and store hoses for the winter in a dry, warm place, preferably inside.
Rock Salt Supply
Keep plenty of rock salt, on hand in preparation for winter weather conditions. Look for brands that are safe for kids and pets and will not do damage to your walkway or yard. Keep them stored in a safe, secure place. Have then readily available, but secured.
Be on the lookout for Ice Dams
Ice dams are thick build-ups of solid ice that can build up along the eaves of your house. They can do significant damage to roofing shingles, gutters and downspouts, and house siding. Installing heating cables prior to the first winter storm can help. Don't go up on your roof during winter; install these in the Fall!
Check for Snow Buildup on Trees
Snow and ice can cause tree limbs to break, which can be especially dangerous if they are near your home. Use a broom to remove excess snow periodically. Have large dead limbs removed by a tree service every few years.
Remove Window Screens
Temperature drops and high winds can damage your screens. Snow may get trapped between screens and windows, causing damage to the window infrastructure. Store them inside if possible.
Have it serviced by a professional unless you are good with vehicles and have the correct tools and experience to repair it yourself. Don’t wait until the first whiteout of the season to make sure your snowblower is up to the task.
Spring is a time for new beginnings and fresh energy. It's the typical time of year to do some Spring cleaning and overall 'fixing up' to get ready for the Summer fun.
Conduct Annual Spring Cleaning
Be sure to tackle any areas that may have been neglected such as your door jams, baseboards, blinds, curtains, fan blades and behind and under furniture, Deep clean your appliances, including your refrigerator, microwave, grill, dishwasher, oven, and range hood. Clear out clutter from your closets and storage spaces; these can attract rodents. Give away clothes you no longer wear, and toss old and expired food and medications out.
Shut Down Heating System
Depending on the type of heating system you have, and you may need to shut your system down when not in use. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for proper procedures.
If your home uses central air conditioning, schedule an annual tune-up with your HVAC service technician. If you have a small window unit, be sure to maintain via the manufacturer's directions.
Frequently check your plumbing to spot any leaks or issues. Look for evidence of leaks such as water stains on the ceilings and check for dripping faucets and leaky toilets that need to be addressed. Inspect your water heater for sediment build-up. Check your sump pump (or any pump types) to ensure it’s working correctly.
Inspect Smoke Alarm, and Detectors
Check that your smoke, radon, and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Batteries should be replaced every six months. Devices should be replaced at least every five years. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Inspect Perimeter of Home
Walk around your house and look for any signs of damage or decay that needs to be addressed. Peeling paint? Cracks in the foundation? Loose or missing roof shingles? Create a plan to make needed repairs yourself or hire a contractor. You can rotate those tasks year-round by using this guide.
Clean Home’s Exterior Wash windows, clean and replace screens if they were removed during the winter. For the home’s surface materials, it’s generally advised that you use the simplest & gentlest method that is effective. A simple garden hose with a pressure head on it will work in most cases. Power washing should only be done every five years or more. Power washing can chip paint and splinter wood.
Clean Gutters and Downspouts Neglected gutters can cause water damage to a home, so make sure yours are clean and free of debris. Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned twice a year or more. Even if they have screens, you should at least check them twice per year.
Rake Leaves Rake your lawn to remove leaves and twigs. Too many leaves can damage the grass roots. However, take care because repeated raking can damage your lawn.
A layer of fresh mulch helps to stop weeds and bugs, deal with moisture, and moderate soil temperature.
Seed or Sod Lawn
If you have bare spots on your lawn, spring is an excellent time to seed or lay new sod. The peak summer heat can be too harsh for a new lawn yard.
Planting annuals and spring perennials are the sure-fire ways to spruce up your garden. It’s also an excellent time to prune existing flowers and shrubs and remove any dead plants.
Tune Up Lawn Mower
Schedule your lawnmower for a professional tune-up to have the blades sharpened and the engine optimized.
Prepare Pool If you own a pool, be sure to follow best practices for your particular pool to ensure proper maintenance and safety. It is always best to have a professional deal with this task!
Inspect Sprinkler System Check that it’s working properly and make repairs if needed.
Check the Deck
If you have a deck or patio, inspect it for signs of wear and tear that may have occurred over time. Clean it per instructions and apply a fresh coat of stain/re-surfacer.
Summer is a busy time of year, and many neglect the home and garden due to other commitments and interests. Here is a list of tasks you should perform in the Summer.
Clean A/C Filters
Be sure to clean or replace your filters often (quarterly), particularly if you’re running your air conditioner often.
Clear Dryer Vent
Reduce your summer utility bills by cleaning your laundry dryer vent at least once per year. Not only will this task help cut down on your electric bill, but it will also limit what many do not know is a serious fire hazard!
Check Weather Stripping
Check on weather stripping around doors and windows to ensure a good seal. Your air conditioning and heating will be more efficient if you stay on top of caulking and weather stripping.
Adjust Ceiling Fans
Utilizing fans instead of your air conditioner, where appropriate climate-wise, will help minimize your utility bills and prolong the life of your heating/air conditioning system. Make sure the fans are set to run counter-clockwise in the summer to push air down and create a cooling breeze.
Early Morning Watering
Ensure your lawn and garden get watered often during the hot, dry summer months. Water in the early morning to minimize evaporation, but be aware of any watering restriction laws in your area, which may limit the time and days you are allowed to water.
Mow Lawn Routinely
Mow your lawn regularly in the summer. Adjust your mower blade height to the highest setting that makes sense, as taller grass helps shade the soil to prevent drought and weeds.
Make a habit of pulling weeds at least once per week. It will prevent weeds from taking over your garden and ruining your home’s curb appeal and overall value.
Exterminate Pests & Insects
Make sure you keep on top of pests! Remove any piles of leaves, branches, and all unwanted debris. Standing water is not good, make sure you keep on top of it. Inspect the perimeter of your home and lawn for signs of rodents, wasps or termites. You should have a mitigation service that comes out to your property each season to check traps and refresh bait.
Fall is a beautiful time of the year, and it is the most delightful time to be outdoors to work on your home. Home maintenance in the fall it vitally important as you prepare your home for the winter months to come.
Check Alarms and Detectors
Check all of your detectors twice per year, typically in the spring and fall. Batteries should be replaced as per manufacturers instructions, in the spring and fall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to check test your individual devices. Replace units every five years, even if they are working.
Ensure safety and efficiency by having your heating system serviced and inspected before you run it for the first time. Clean out the vents if they need it and replace the filters.
Shut Down A/C
If you use a central air conditioning type of system, you may be able to have it serviced at the same time as your furnace. If you have a portable or window unit, ensure it’s properly sealed or remove it and store it for the winter.
Fire safety professionals recommend that you have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned every few years. Be sure to inspect the fireplace and chimney before you start using it for the season.
Seal Windows and Doors
Check doors and windows for drafts and caulk or add weatherstripping where necessary.
Plant Fall Flowers, Grass, and Shrubs
Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, cool-season vegetables, and bulbs that will bloom in the spring. It’s also an OK time to reseed or sod your lawn, although spring is a better time.
Apply Fall Fertilizer
If you choose not to use a mulching mower, a fall fertilizer is usually recommended. For best results, aerate your lawn before applying the fertilizer.
Inspect Gutters and Roof
Inspect your gutters and downspouts and make needed repairs. Check the roof for any broken or loose tiles. Have them replaced. Remove fallen leaves and debris. Kill any moss with a moss killer solution.
Drain any remaining water and shut down your sprinkler system to prevent damage from freezing temperatures over the winter.
Rake or Mulch Leaves
Its that time of year - raking time. We all love it! A layer of leaves left on your grass too long can lead to unhealthy grass. Alternatively, rather than raking, use a mulching mower to create a natural fertilizer for your lawn.
Clean and Close Pool
If you own a pool, it’s time to clean it and cover it up before winter starts.
We hope this checklist makes maintaining and optimizing your home's condition a bit easier and more fun. The investment you make in your homes healthy structures and systems will pay you back threefold! It makes a positive impact on your future buyer's opinion of the value of the house.
It is a best practice to keep a record all repairs, maintenance, and updates in a file where you know they are. They will be invaluable when you go to sell your home! You can get a much higher asking price if you have documentation. It shows the house is loved and valued by its current owners.
Are you looking for real estate advice? Do you need recommendations for contractors and service professionals? We have a list of vendors that we have worked with over the years, and we are happy to advise and make referrals.
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HGTV – Landscaping & Hardscaping
Allstate Insurance Blog – Test smoke detectors
The New York Times – Home Maintenance Checklist
WikiHow - Maintain a healthy lawn
Better Homes and Gardens Magazine – What to plant in the Fall
The Spruce – Late Fall Fertilizer
This Old House – How to get rid of ice dams
Home Depot - Inspect and pest control
This Old House – May Mulching
Lowes – Lawn Fertilizer Projects
Houzz – Home maintenance checklist
HouseLogic.com – Home Maintenance Tips
Home Advisor – Servicing Your Air Conditioner