Home maintenance is never going to be exciting.
After all, the word “maintenance” effectively just means “returning things to a usable state”. That’s not exciting. Exciting would be: “creating something new” or “dreaming up a new DIY project to try”– these are exciting. Doing something to return it to normal? Not so much.
Nevertheless, home maintenance is an essential; without it, you could find yourself having to go through a home emergency, or at the very least, your home won’t quite run as it should. Given the necessity of maintenance, you’re going to want to get through it as quickly and as efficiently as possible. After all, it can’t be avoided– so you just have to take a deep breath and dive right on in.
Let’s try and make that dive a little easier. Below is a checklist of all the essential tasks that are required for good home maintenance. Set aside an afternoon once per month and get through the entire list, then you can refocus yourself on more inventive and creative pursuits for the other 29.5 days.
Task #1: Clean The Dryer Lint Trap
Your dryer’s lint trap should be cleaned at least once a week, though if you can remind yourself to do it more frequently then that’s great. Once a week is the bare minimum.
If you don’t clean your lint trap, then you run the very real risk of the lint catching fire. This can, and does, happen; thousands of households suffer through fires caused by clogged lint traps.
If you’ve never cleared your lint trap before, or just want to ensure you’re doing it correctly, then this video can give you a few pointers:
Task #2: Clear Your Gutters
This isn’t a fun task; let’s be upfront about this. Gutters become clogged by old leaves, debris that birds have dropped, and an assortment of other gunk that you’re not going to enjoy removing.
However, remove it you must. Your gutters are essential to the smooth running of the exterior of your home. So grab a step ladder at least once per month and clear any obstructions, so rainwater can flow freely.
If you skip this task, then winter can become particularly hazardous. Here’s how the problem develops:
- Your gutters are clogged with old leaves from fall and other debris;
- Heavy rain falls;
- The rainwater cannot flow freely through the gutters and into the drain, so it remains in the gutter.
- In the best case scenario, you will just experience a pool of stagnant, vile-smelling water in your gutters.
- The worst case scenario is that the weight of the sitting water becomes too much for the gutters to withstand, and the entire guttering surrenders to gravity and goes crashing to the ground. This is extremely expensive and time-consuming to repair.
So while it’s unlikely to be your favorite task, cleaning your gutters is essential.
#3 – Check Your Fire Systems
Fire is the biggest fear for many homeowners. The idea of fire tearing through your house, leaving nothing but ashes in its wake– well, it’s enough to keep you up at night.
That’s why so many of us take the time to install smoke detectors and sprinklers. However, when was the last time that you checked that these systems actually work– or are you just assuming that they do?
As part of your home maintenance, check that your smoke detector is working. There’s a really useful video on how to do this here:
As for your sprinklers, you’ll need to check that they are in working order and — most importantly — that there is no sign of corrosion. If you do see any issues, then the likes of Engineered Corrosion Solutions LLC should be able to help fix the issue.
With the above steps taken care of, you can be confident that your fire protection systems are functioning as they should.
#4 – Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detector
First and foremost, if you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector: buy one. These should be considered an essential purchase for every homeowner; carbon monoxide can be lethal, but it’s odorless, so you won’t necessarily notice any leaks until it’s too late.
Your carbon monoxide monitor should have a “check” setting; read through the manufacturer’s handbook to find how yours works. It only takes a few seconds to check this once per month, but it’s a step that could save your life.
#5 – Empty Your Kitchen Cabinets
Have you ever gone looking for something in the back of a kitchen cabinet and found a jar of sauce that expired five years ago? You’re not alone; most of us tend to fill our cabinets and forget about half of their contents.
If you’re not checking your cabinets on a regular basis, then you may miss the telltale signs of a rodent infestation. Once per month, empty your cabinets out and check all food produce; packaged goods, such as flour, should be particularly well scrutinized. You should also check the cupboards themselves, giving them a wipe down with a cleaning solution while you do so.
If you’re not sure of the signs of a rodent infestation, then this video explains all:
If you see any of these signs, then you have a few options. There are several DIY methods for ridding yourself of mice, but if these fail, don’t hesitate to call in a professional.
#6 – Snake Your Drains
General living can cause your drains to clog. Hair from the shower; grease from cooking equipment– it all begins to add up.
To combat this, you may think that all you need to do is reach for an at-home chemical product. There’s plenty of these available, all claiming to be able to rid your drains of anything that might be blocking them. These can be suitable for maintenance, but realistically… they’re not worth it. Store-bought products are simply too weak to make enough of a difference, and they’re also expensive.
Buying a snaking kit is by far the best investment you’ll ever make towards the health of your drains. You can even try a DIY snake if you really want to keep the costs down. However, you procure your snake, use it at least once per month in the kitchen and bathroom drains.
#7 – Test Your Garage Door Auto-Reverse Feature
If you have a garage door, federal law requires that it be fitted with an auto-reverse system. The law was passed in response to a number of child deaths and is meant to prevent the door from continuing to close when it encounters an obstacle. Your door may have this feature without you even knowing it.
Here’s how to test whether it works:
Given the potential safety implications of this feature not functioning, running a monthly check is a great idea. This can give you peace of mind, and ensure that your family is protected when out near the garage.
#8 – Move Water In Unused Areas
This sounds a little vague, but it’s definitely something you’re going to want to do. There may be rooms in your house that use water but that are not often used; your guest bathroom is a prime example of such an area.
Every month, go and quickly flush toilets and run sinks in unused areas. If you don’t, then the minerals in the water can cause permanent damage; a waterline in the toilet is the most common sign of this. If these lines appear, then they are almost impossible to get rid of. It’s easy to prevent this happening by just running the water for a few seconds or flushing the toilet, so make sure you include this stop on your monthly blast.
#9 – Clean Your Refrigerator Coils
If your fridge coils are dirty or are covered with lint, then you have a number of potential problems. First and foremost, your fridge will be less efficient; it will use more energy but produce less of a cooling effect. Secondly, the life expectancy of your fridge will be dramatically reduced.
As you’re probably expecting by now, here’s a handy video to show you how to clean the coils and thus avoid having to buy a new fridge every few years:
If you do this on a monthly basis, you can be sure your fridge is running as efficiently as possible, for as long as possible.
The above list may sound draining, but remember: one afternoon out of every month to ensure that your home is in fine shape? It’s worth it.