How Often To Do House Maintenance – Given the choice, few of us would be happy to spend a Sunday on a ladder pulling leaves from gutters. But when your home is your biggest investment, as it is for most Americans, it needs to be maintained. Home maintenance can be a daunting prospect – especially for a new homeowner who has never seen a boiler up close, let alone one that has been drained. But no need to feel overwhelming. A house functions with the seasons, coming to life in the spring and hunting down for the winter. Follow this natural arc all year round, and keep on top of the little things, and your home will run like a well-oiled machine.
After spring, most of us are eager to open the windows and clean out the closets. It’s also time to give your home a good chance, inside and out.
How Often To Do House Maintenance
Spring cleaning. Start outside, raking any remaining leaves that have survived the winter, and laying mulch in your flower beds and under hedges. A thin layer of mulch will protect plants from drought and keep weeds at bay. Turn your outdoor faucets back on, checking for damage. If you plan to hire a lawn care service to maintain your property and mow your lawn, now is the time to renew your annual contract.
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Tree. If you have any trees on your property, have them inspected by a certified arborist, who will be able to check for signs of disease or any dead branches and catch problems before they grow and kill a tree. Signs of damage may be missed by the untrained eye, and a dead or dying tree poses a safety hazard to you, your home and neighboring properties.
Lawn and hedges. Reseed your lawn, filling in bald patches before the heat of summer. Plant your perennials, and give them plenty of water. Later in the spring, when the grass turns bright green again and the lilacs bloom, it’s time to fertilize the lawn, although you don’t need to fertilize as much as you think. (See more about the best lawn mowers from Wirecutter.)
Goodbye snow blower, hello lawn mower. With the last of the winter blizzards behind you, early spring is the time to store the snow blower (if you have one) for the summer. You will need to drain the fuel or add stabilizer, check and clean the motor and parts. Later, pull out the lawnmower and give it a check before the grass gets too long. Mowers get a lot of use, but not much love. Send it out for a tuneup annually, where a small engine repair company might sharpen the blades, change the spark plug and perform any other necessary maintenance. Expect to spend $50 to $75, according to Angie’s List.
Inspection. Walk around the outside of the house: Are there cracks in the concrete? Is the driveway in good condition? Check the roof for signs of loose or broken shingles. Look up the chimney for signs of wear. Check the face and foundation for cracks or signs of water pooling.
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The gutters. Your gutters control the flow of rainwater onto your home, protecting your roof, siding and foundation. Clogged gutters can cause a roof to leak or seep water. Clean them at least twice a year (or more often, depending on how many trees surround your property and hang over your roof). Also, check for damage.
If you do clean them yourself, be careful on that ladder, because more than 630,000 Americans needed medical treatment in 2015 for ladder-related injuries, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can also hire a professional gutter cleaner, a service that costs $75 to $225, depending on the size of your home, according to Angie’s List.
Painting. Exterior paint looks nice and protects your shingles from water damage and rot. Look for signs of peeling or chipping paint. You may need a touch up or a fresh coat. If you plan to hire a professional, schedule the job in the spring so that the work is done by the end of the summer.
Give the house a bath. Spring is a good time to give the house a good scrub, washing away all the winter. Take out the storm windows and wash the windows, inside and out. The house can get grimy, too. Grit stuck to the face can damage paint and masonry over time. Wait for a warm, dry day and go to work.
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Patio or deck. You may not use your deck all winter; there may be a layer of winter gloom across it. Brush it clean. Inspect your deck, looking for signs of split wood and loose nails. Pull out any leaves or debris between the boards. Then clean it well:
Swimming pool. If you have a pool, it’s time to reopen it for the summer. You will need to treat the water, check and change valves and filters, and inspect all equipment before attempting to swim in the pool. You could hire a pool service to do the dirty work. Americans spend, on average, $242 per year on pool maintenance, according to Home Advisor.
HVAC systems. For homes with central heat and air, call your HVAC technician to schedule a biannual system check and servicing. A technician should check the ductwork for signs of damage, and clean and service the furnace and A/C compressor. Clean the bathroom vents, too. Duct and vent cleaning costs homeowners an average of $348, according to HomeAdvisor.
Steam heat. For those of you with steam heat, drain your boiler to clean out any accumulated sediment.
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Plumbing. Have your pipes good once in a while, check under the sinks to make sure there are no signs of leaks. Also look up at the ceilings for telltale water stains – a sign of a leak in the wall. Check the faucets for drips and the flapper in your toilet tank to make sure it hasn’t worn out (once the flapper starts going, expect your toilet to flush more often.) Do what you can to arrange; call a plumber for what you need help with.
Sump Pump. Spring often brings rain. Check your sump pump to make sure it is draining properly. You don’t want to wait until there is a big snow melt or rain storm to find out if the pump motor is fired.
Chimney. Even if you don’t use the fireplace regularly, the chimney still needs regular checking. A chimney carries dangerous gases from your fireplace, wood stove or furnace out of your home, helping to keep the air breathable. Your chimney should be inspected annually, and cleaned periodically depending on how often you use it, according to the American Chimney Safety Institute.
Check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors. Between 2007 and 2011, nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths were in homes without working smoke detectors, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Change batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a year. The change to daylight hours is a good day to choose for the job. Another good option: Mother’s Day. You may also want to consider so-called smart detectors that are linked throughout your home and give voice alerts, not just alarms. Read more about the best smoke alarms on Wirecutter.
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Summer is the season to enjoy your home, not fix it. But still, some tasks need to be done. Keep on top of them, and you’ll still have plenty of time for beer and barbecue.
Garden. By summer, you and your mower should be close friends. Set your mower on the highest setting so you don’t cut the grass too short and it is exposed to drought and weeds. Dig up the weeds (this should be a weekly affair). Water the plants and deadhead flowers that have bloomed. These steps will keep your garden looking tidy, and your neighbors content. If you hire a professional landscaper, check local ordinances, as some communities restrict the use of equipment during the summer.
Water plants and foliage. Make sure your foliage gets plenty of water during the hot summer days. Water early in the day, but not necessarily every day. Plants prefer a good soaking a few times a week rather than a daily light drizzle.
Sprinklers. When the spring showers end, your plants will need extra water from your sprinklers. Check your system. Hire a landscaper if you can’t do it yourself:
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Swimming pool. Do your best to keep it clean. Skim the surface frequently to keep leaves and debris out of the water. Scrub the sides once or twice a month to keep algae growth under control. Check the filter basket and chemical levels weekly. And keep an eye on the water level.
Exterior repairs. If you’ve been thinking of painting your face or repairing your porch, summer is a great time to do so.
Ceiling fans. Turn the setting on your ceiling fan back counterclockwise. This pushes the air down, creating a nice breeze.
Air conditioning. Whether you have central or window air conditioning units, you should clean your filters at least once a month, especially if you run the A/C a lot.
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