You sign the papers on a new home, take your keys, and start unpacking. Once the dust settles and you feel settled in, however, there’s still a lot more to do. You have to learn your home, get to know its systems and functions, and most importantly, create a home maintenance calendar.
Do It Your Way
One thing new homeowners really don’t want to have to learn the hard way is that homes need maintenance. Unfortunately, they also don’t come with consolidated manuals that tell you what needs service and when. So it’s important for homeowners to take stock of their
homes and create an annual schedule, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.
Get started by choosing a type of calendar to create. You can do this in a variety of ways. Some people use their computers and keep everything in a spreadsheet, others use online or desktop calendar software, and others use a good ole paper calendar or a notebook. Whatever you use, put everything in a location and/or format you know you’ll check regularly.
Once you’ve decided how to organize yourself, start with the basics. First up, the monthly stuff. Pick a weekend, say, the first weekend of every month, and know that you’ll spend one afternoon that weekend doing some basic home maintenance. For that weekend, mark down that you need to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries. These do need to be checked monthly, and it’s very easy to forget to do it. While you have the ladder out, dust your ceiling fan blades to help keep your home (and its air) cleaner. Speaking of dusty air brings us to air filters. Check your air conditioner’s filter monthly, and clean or replace it as needed.
While you’re in housework mode, your maintenance day is a good time to do upkeep on your appliances. Check their manuals. Many washing machines and dishwashers, for example, will stay cleaner and remain free of that musty odor they can develop, if you run a hot wash with distilled white vinegar every four to six weeks. While you’re running that hot wash in the laundry room, remember to stop and clean out your dryer’s lint trap.
Not only do you need to clean your dryer’s removable filter after every load, but you also need to clean below the filter about once a month. Most home improvement stores sell simple dryer vent cleaning kits, and these long, snaking devices are a must-have for homeowners. They help prevent clogs of lint from forming inside your dryer, below the lint trap, because they help you pull out lint or push it through toward the exterior vent. When dryer vents get clogged up, there’s simply nowhere for the dryer’s heat to go and nowhere for the lint to go. This will make your dryer run longer and hotter, which is a waste of energy, a fire hazard, and a source of unnecessary wear on your machine.
Once you’ve identified all the areas of your home that need monthly maintenance (Don’t forget to look outside! How often do you need to clean the patio to keep mold at bay? What about the exterior screens?), it’s time to look for things that need less frequent upkeep. As mentioned above, dryer lint traps and vents need monthly cleaning. But every 6-12 months, it’s important to clean the entire dryer vent from the dryer all the way through your wall or roof to the outside. As lint accumulates in the vent, it dries and hardens into a flaky material that looks a bit like paper mache. A single spark can easily ignite this dried lint, and the more there is of it, the worse off you’ll be. In fact, clogged dryer vents are among the top causes of home fires in the US every year.
So, mark your maintenance calendar to have a professional clean those dryer vents once or twice a year, depending on how much laundry you do. While you’re in fire-safety mode, having your fire extinguishers checked is also an important piece of periodic maintenance.
Keep on walking around your home, and make notes in your calendar when you perform maintenance so you’ll know when to do it next. Have your garage door serviced? Mark down that you’ll need to check the lubrication again in six months. Make notes for things like cleaning the water heater, purging the sprinkler lines, having your gutters and chimney cleaned, and having your roof inspected.
What other items do you have on your home maintenance checklist? How do you keep track of it all?