Weekends are a time to relax and enjoy family and friends, but be sure to set aside time for some home maintenance tasks. Doing so will keep your home and its systems, equipment and appliances in top shape and save you money. Though it’s not a comprehensive list, here are nine important tasks you shouldn’t neglect.
Roof and gutters
Using binoculars, inspect your roof safely from the ground in the fall before the first winter weather and again in early spring before heavy rains. Look for shingles that are cracked, split or moved out of place, as well as for displaced flashing.
Clogged gutters can cause water damage to the eaves of your house. Inspect gutters that you can safely reach and remove leaves and debris. For second-floor gutters, hire a professional service. Investing in gutter screen guards will stop leaves from accumulating in the first place.
Water heater maintenance
Once a year, have your water heater flushed. Mineral scale builds up in the tank over time, diminishing the heater’s capacity and heating efficiency. Neglecting this home maintenance task will shorten the water heater’s life, and having to replace it will cost you around $1,000.
Windows and doors
Air and water can penetrate through windows and doors with deteriorated caulk and seals around the edges. Routinely inspect the caulk around windows inside and out. Use a putty knife to scrape out any cracked, gapping caulk you find and replace it with a fresh line of new caulk.
Inspect the seals around the edges of exterior door frames along with the seal and the sweep on the doors’ bottom edges. Replace any that are warped.
Mineral scale builds over time in faucets and disrupts water flow, so removing it is an important home maintenance task. To clear faucet heads of buildup, remove their screens and soak them in a cup of white vinegar for an hour. Rinse and replace. Place a cloth dampened with vinegar on showerheads’ spray openings, then place a larger cloth over the showerhead and tie it tightly enough to hold the vinegar cloth in place. Leave for an hour, then remove and run the shower briefly to flush.
Be careful to not let vinegar touch the metallic finish of your faucets and showerheads for an extended time. Vinegar can damage the metal’s luster.
Heating and air maintenance
Change your return air filters at least once per quarter, preferably more often. If this home maintenance task is neglected, dust-clogged filters make the HVAC system labor to do its job. This drives up energy bills and makes equipment wear out sooner.
Rinse dust off your outside air conditioner condenser fins with a gentle spray of water to help them do their job better. The fins are delicate, so don’t use a forceful spray that could damage them.
Washer and dryer
Between loads, leave the door to your washer open to let the tub dry. Some advocate running a cup of vinegar through the washer occasionally to deodorize and prevent mold. Be careful — if used too frequently, vinegar can damage rubber seals and hoses, causing leaks. Better to use cleaners specially made for this purpose, available at the grocery store.
You already know to clean the lint trap of the dryer after every load. But you also should periodically clean the exhaust hose and reach into the wall conduit to remove lint buildup. Check the cover of the vent on the outside wall of the house at least once a year. Dryer lint is highly flammable and a significant cause of many house fires annually.
If your refrigerator has a water dispenser, change the filter at recommended intervals. Dump the ice from the collection bin, and clean the bin with a diluted mix of white vinegar and water.
Your refrigerator’s condenser coils are beneath the appliance behind a protective grid. Periodically use a vacuum cleaner hose to clean dust from the condenser coils. This ensures your refrigerator will operate with peak efficiency.
Keep trees trimmed
Trees add value and beauty to your home but can also cause damage. As part of your routine home maintenance tasks, keep limbs cut back from the roof and from encroaching on utility lines. If limbs are already close to electrical lines or if limbs are high and crowding the roof, hire a professional tree service.
Clean the chimney
If you use your fireplace regularly, chimney cleaning is an important home maintenance task you need to have performed annually. Smoke causes deposits of highly flammable creosote to build up within the chimney, especially if you use store-bought, chemical-based logs. There are around 25,000 chimney fires each year in the U.S., causing hundreds of billions of dollars in damage.