Annual House Maintenance Checklist

by Kathy Batesel

Brand new homes and very old ones will be more comfortable and valuable if they are well-maintained.
Brand new homes and very old ones will be more comfortable and valuable if they are well-maintained. | Source

Preventative Maintenance Matters

Whether you rent or own, when you spend thirty percent or more of your earnings on a place to live, you want it to be problem-free! By paying attention to simple home maintenance matters just twice a year, you'll be able to prevent troublesome problems for yourself (and your landlord, if you have one.)

As a Realtor, I see the effects of poor maintenance all the time! I also get to enjoy seeing what happens when owners make it a habit to perform bi-annual maintenance, and lemme tell ya...

It makes a huge difference!

The First-Time Homeowner's Survival Guide: A Crash Course in Dealing with Repairs, Renovations, Property Tax Issues, and Other Potential Disasters
The First-Time Homeowner's Survival Guide: A Crash Course in Dealing with Repairs, Renovations, Property Tax Issues, and Other Potential Disasters

Property maintenance isn't the only concern homeowners need to know. This book offers tips for first-time homeowners on insurance, property taxes, and keeping things in top shape with simple tips.

 

Benefits of Proper Home Maintenance

I know it's easy to procrastinate unpleasant tasks. In fact, I'm pretty good at it myself. Investing a couple weekends a year on taking care of your residence pays off, though. Take a look at how your family will benefit from making this a regular part of your lifestyle:

  • Keeps your family safer
  • Catches problems when they are smaller and less costly to fix
  • Avoids preventable problems altogether
  • Improves your home's appearance
  • Maintains your home's value
  • Keeps your lifestyle from being disrupted by unexpected system failures

As a tenant, you can keep your landlord informed about the property's condition. In exchange, you'll not only earn their good will, you can avoid inconvenient problems. Nobody wants a higher electric bill because the windows aren't working well, or to wait three days for a maintenance guy to come out because the air conditioner stopped working!

I've compiled a list of the simple tasks that can be done without special expertise and put it in a simple table format you can print off and use all year. These suggestions come from a variety of sources, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Bob Vila, my experiences, and more. After the list, you'll see photos of some of the most common maintenance issues I see as a Realtor.

Outdoor Preventative Maintenance

Spring
 
Fall
 
Clean rain gutters
_____
Clean and inspect rain gutters
_____
Check water drainage at foundation, windows
_____
Drain outdoor faucets, hoses before freezing weather
_____
Trim dead tree limbs
_____
Look for signs of rodents, animal nests around shed
_____
Check tree roots and vines around concrete and structures (they shouldn't press against or intrude)
_____
Inspect / repair areas where animals can enter
_____
Scrape and paint peeling/chipped paint
_____
Uncover chimney caps
_____
Weather-proof wood decks, fences
_____
Cover or remove window air conditioners/fans
_____
Visually inspect shingles, replace chimney cap
_____
Repair or seal cracks in concrete before snow falls
_____
Scrape and repaint peeling paint
 
Check window seals and sills for water penetration
_____
Visually inspect seals around roof vents
_____
Service swimming pool
_____
Service swimming pool
_____
Test gate, fence, and shed locks
_____
Run water through gas lines of BBQ units (spider webs can cause fires)
_____
Ensure wood is stacked away from house
_____
Check well pumps for leaks
_____
 
 
Clean AC coils, drain condenser pan
_____
 
 

Indoor Prevention

Spring
 
Fall
 
Inspect basement/crawl space for signs of moisture
_____
Check attic vents
_____
Test sump pump and floor drains
_____
Inspect furnace
_____
Inspect hot water heater for leaks, rust
_____
Check garage door operation
_____
Inspect boiler units for signs of leaks
_____
Check garage door safety stop
_____
Visually inspect for pests (termites, carpenter ants, rodents, bats)
_____
Inspect electrical cords for signs of damage
_____
Check indoor plumbing for leaks in cabinets
_____
Test smoke detectors
_____
Repair dried or cracked caulk at sinks and basins
_____
Inspect chimney flue
_____
Ensure windows and doors operate well
_____
Clean interior duct work
_____
Test window and door locks
_____
Visually inspect ductwork for damage
_____
Replace batteries in smoke detectors and other safety equipment
_____
Check/replace weather stripping
_____
Test fire extinguishers / check dates
_____
Remove screens and install storm windows (where applicable)
_____
Check bath, oven, and ceiling fan operation
_____
Replace faulty windows
_____
Clean dryer vent, ensure it vents to outdoors
_____
Visually inspect insulation in attic
 
Check washing machine water lines for leakage
_____
Drain and service hot water heater
_____
Remove storm windows, replace screens (where applicable)
_____
 
 

Photos of Common Maintenance Issues

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This was in the basement of a house I showed recently. Although it was raining, homeowners will see brown stains or mold that signal problems even when the weather is dry... IF they look for them!Although we only use our bathtub once or twice a year, I'll be replacing this caulk so water can't seep into the walls and cause wood rot in the wall joists.Most smoke detectors have lights or sounds to warn us of low batteries, but if you went on vacation, the batteries could have gone dead without you knowing it!When gutters are clogged, the water can back up to the flashing and creep under the shingles or tiles of your roof. This can cause indoor leaks and damage.
This was in the basement of a house I showed recently. Although it was raining, homeowners will see brown stains or mold that signal problems even when the weather is dry... IF they look for them!
This was in the basement of a house I showed recently. Although it was raining, homeowners will see brown stains or mold that signal problems even when the weather is dry... IF they look for them! | Source
Although we only use our bathtub once or twice a year, I'll be replacing this caulk so water can't seep into the walls and cause wood rot in the wall joists.
Although we only use our bathtub once or twice a year, I'll be replacing this caulk so water can't seep into the walls and cause wood rot in the wall joists. | Source
Most smoke detectors have lights or sounds to warn us of low batteries, but if you went on vacation, the batteries could have gone dead without you knowing it!
Most smoke detectors have lights or sounds to warn us of low batteries, but if you went on vacation, the batteries could have gone dead without you knowing it! | Source
When gutters are clogged, the water can back up to the flashing and creep under the shingles or tiles of your roof. This can cause indoor leaks and damage.
When gutters are clogged, the water can back up to the flashing and creep under the shingles or tiles of your roof. This can cause indoor leaks and damage. | Source

Few Tools Needed

For most of the home maintenance tasks you'll need to do, you won't need tools. You're doing visual inspections to ensure you don't have to call in a professional for service.

If you find something that needs to be repaired, everyday tools like screwdrivers and pliers will work on many minor repairs, but there are a few jobs that can be performed easier if you have a small selection of items.

The three items I recommend having on hand both for home maintenance and for other reasons are a good flashlight, a hose, and a decent tool kit that contains basic tools - including a drill. (Fixing window locks and door handles can be done with a screwdriver, perhaps, but a drill sure can make the task easier!)

Other items may be purchased as needed, like caulk, with leftovers stored for next year's tasks. (Just push a nail into the spout when you're finished so it doesn't dry out.)

The tools shown here from Amazon are the same quality and type that we use on our home.

Tools You'll Want to Have Available

DeWalt DPG70L-3PK Coated Gripper Gloves, Large, 3-Pack
DeWalt DPG70L-3PK Coated Gripper Gloves, Large, 3-Pack

This 3-pack of gloves is ideal for protecting your hands from jabs, sharp edges, and yucky wet muck if you clean your rain gutters by hand. Tip: After cleaning major clogs, use a hose to run water through them to downspout to simplify the task!

 
Flexon FAW5875 5/8-Inch x 75-Foot All-Weather 4-Ply Medium Duty Garden Hose
Flexon FAW5875 5/8-Inch x 75-Foot All-Weather 4-Ply Medium Duty Garden Hose

If your current hose is a standard 50-foot hose, consider using a longer one to avoid having to remove the house to another water source when working on your roof. The peak of a ranch home's roof is usually about 20-feet from the ground, and you'll have to use the house at several points in your gutters along the length of your home.

 
Black & Decker 14.4V 126-pc. Home Project Kit
Black & Decker 14.4V 126-pc. Home Project Kit

What I love most about this tool kit is that is includes a battery-operated drill in addition to all the standard tools so I don't have to run around looking for one. It seems like screwdrivers, drill, drill bits, and pliers are the most common things I need, so having them all in one kit helps save time and my sanity.

 

Small Visual Signs Can Signal Big Problems

Home Keeper: The Ultimate Organizer
Home Keeper: The Ultimate Organizer

Helps home owners keep track of maintenance as well as insurance policies.

 

Year-Round Maintenance

You may have noticed that most of the items on the lists above are nothing more than visual inspections that take just a minute or two, but as you can see in this video, visual inspections are important to detecting problems early, before they become more expensive and complicated.

Being visually alert isn't something that should only happen twice a year, though. Some things should be noticed and repaired as soon as they are discovered:

  • Burned out light bulbs
  • Toilet valves that don't stop running
  • Slow drainage from sinks
  • Damaged electrical cords
  • Improperly stored chemicals in garage
  • Damaged door knobs
  • Cracked or broken glass in windows
  • Air filters should be changed or cleaned every 1-2 months

Finally, there are some tasks that don't need to be done on an annual basis, but should be periodically maintained:

  • Septic tanks (should be pumped every 2-5 years)
  • Chimney cleaning (as needed, especially if you hear that birds are nesting in it)
  • Inspection and treatment of well water (pour bleach into well and let sit for several days before using water again... best to do while on vacation!)

Maintain Your Home's Value

Maintain your home's value - both financially and in terms of how much you will enjoy living in it - by spending a small amount of time tending to its needs. Just like a good relationship between people requires attention and a bit of effort, you'll find yourself feeling good about your home when you commit to taking care of it.

More by this Author


Comments 6 comments

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

Great suggestions here and the old saying an ounce of prevention or better yet catching problems in the beginning. Voting up and pinning.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Wonderful suggestions, ones that should be known by any homeowner. I was going over the list and spotted some suggestions that had slipped my mind. Well done and thank you!


donnah75 profile image

donnah75 3 years ago from Upstate New York

A useful list of ideas. I am lucky to live in a well-maintained apartment community, and I don't need to worry about most of the outdoor issues. Keeping things in working order inside though is important for renters. If we maintain the apartment and inform the landlord of issues, we are likely not to have to deal with losing security deposit money upon moving out.


jellygator profile image

jellygator 3 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for all for sharing and commenting!

I love when my tenants tell me that maintenance is needed, so I agree Donna!


bizna profile image

bizna 3 years ago from NAIROBI - KENYA

Very good tips for home owners. Ignoring regular maintenance can lead to worse problems arising which can lead to spending much more to get them done. You could also loose a lot in the process since tenants will have moved out and you will only get new ones if you fix the problems. So why wait??????


jellygator profile image

jellygator 3 years ago from USA Author

So true, Bizna. If you're a landlord, it can prove costly to not maintain a property. You won't get great tenants, can't charge as much for rent, and could even develop a bad reputation for being a "slum lord."

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working