The Ultimate Home Maintenance Guide for Homeowners

Posted

The Ultimate Home Maintenance Guide for HomeownersThere’s no doubt about it, life gets busy and we tend to get into the same routine of putting off the things on our home to-do lists. In doing so, you might allow urgent maintenance repairs to become more serious issues.

 

 

While you certainly may not intend on neglecting important maintenance tasks, by waiting to fix issues or make needed repairs, you’ve actually put both your personal safety and one of your biggest investments at risk for trouble in the future.

 

In some cases, you may not think a certain maintenance task is urgent but taking a closer look will help in determining just how long you should wait to address the issue. Putting off one small repair could lead to an extensive one just a few weeks later.

 

A small crack in the roof might seem like a repair you can put off for another week but just one bad rainstorm will have you wishing you didn’t wait. If you’re thinking about listing your home in the near future, it’s important to keep in mind that properties that are not well maintained can lose 10 percent (or more) of their appraised value.

 

You may wonder how you’ll find the time to make sure your home is in its best condition, but when you take a look at the big picture, you only need to spend a few hours on home maintenance projects every season.

 

We’ve put together the ultimate home maintenance reference guide for homeowners. By breaking up major projects by season, your checklist won’t seem as overwhelming. Feel free to share this with friends and family who can benefit!

 

 

Spring

 

Spring is especially beautiful in Florida – the flowers have started blooming and while there may still be some chilly days lingering, most Floridians start to focus on getting their home ready for outdoor entertainment.

 

Interior

 

❏     Start Spring Cleaning

When was the last time you cleaned those hard to reach areas behind your fridge and appliances? Now would be the perfect time to freshen up those areas to ensure that major buildup doesn’t occur. Clean ceiling fans and other areas that have been neglected over the last few months. Don’t forget to declutter – unused clothing and household items can take up lots of space (and create dust) if you let it pile up!

 

❏     Evaluate Heating System Needs

This is a case-by-case inspection. For some, it may be smart to shut off your heating system but we recommend checking the manufacturer’s instructions for best procedures.

 

❏     Schedule an A/C Tune-Up

If your home has central air conditioning, it’s best to schedule an annual tune-up with your HVAC technician. For those with a portable or window unit, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance best practices. If in doubt, call a professional!

 

❏     Inspect Plumbing

It’s a good idea to periodically check your plumbing to spot any leaks or maintenance issues. Look for evidence of leaks—such as water stains on the ceiling—and check for dripping faucets or running toilets that need to be addressed. Inspect your hot water heater for sediment build up. Check your sump pump (if you have one) to ensure it’s working properly.

 

❏     Inspect Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so change them now and again in the fall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.

 

Exterior

 

❏     Inspect Perimeter of Home

Walk around your house and look for any signs of damage or wear and tear that should be addressed. Are there cracks in the foundation? Peeling paint? Loose or missing roof shingles? Make a plan to make needed repairs yourself or hire a contractor.

 

❏     Clean Home’s Exterior

Wash windows and clean and replace screens if they were removed during the winter months. For the home’s facade, it’s generally advisable to use the gentlest, effective method. A simple garden hose will work in most cases.

 

❏     Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year. Neglected gutters can cause water damage to a home, so make sure yours are clean and free of debris. If your gutters have screens, you may be able to decrease the frequency of cleanings, but they should still be checked periodically.

 

❏     Rake Leaves

Gently rake your lawn to remove leaves and debris. Too many leaves can cause an excessive layer of thatch, which can damage the roots of your lawn. They can also harbor disease-causing organisms and insects. However, take care because overly vigorous raking can damage new grass shoots.

 

❏     Seed or Sod Lawn

If you have bare spots, spring is a good time to seed or lay new sod so you can enjoy a beautiful lawn throughout the remainder of the year. The peak summer heat can be too harsh for a new lawn. If you miss this window, early fall is another good time to plant.

 

❏     Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide

While a healthy lawn is the best deterrent for weeds, some homeowners choose to use a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to minimize weeds. When applied at the right time, it can be effective in preventing weeds from germinating. However, a pre-emergent herbicide will also prevent grass seeds from germinating, so only use it if you don’t plan to seed or sod in the spring.

 

❏     Plant Flowers

After a long winter, planting annuals and spring perennials is a great way to brighten up your garden. It’s also a good time to prune existing flowers and shrubs and remove and compost any dead plants.

 

❏     Mulch Beds

A layer of fresh mulch helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture and moderate soil temperature. However, be sure to strip away old mulch at least every three years to prevent excessive buildup.

 

❏     Fertilize Lawn

Depending on your grass type, an application of fertilizer in the spring may help promote new leaf and root growth, keep your lawn healthy, and reduce weeds.

 

❏     Tune Up Lawn Mower

Send your lawn mower out for a professional tune-up and to have the blades sharpened before the mowing season starts.

 

❏     Inspect Sprinkler System

If you have a sprinkler system, check that it’s working properly and make repairs as needed.

 

❏     Check the Deck

If you have a deck or patio, inspect it for signs of damage or deterioration that may have occurred over the winter. Then clean it thoroughly and apply a fresh coat of stain if needed.

 

❏     Prepare Pool

If you own a pool, be sure to follow best practices for your particular pool to ensure proper maintenance and safety.

 

 

Summer

 

School is out and the kids are home all summer long! You’ll want to get ahead of your summer maintenance repairs so you can take the rest of the season to sit back, relax and enjoy the Florida weather!

 

Interior

 

❏     Adjust Ceiling Fans

Make sure they are set to run counter-clockwise in the summer to push air down and create a cooling breeze. Using fans instead of your air conditioner, when possible, will help minimize your utility bills.

 

❏     Clean A/C Filters

Be sure to clean or replace your filters monthly; this is particularly crucial if you’re running your air conditioner often.

 

❏     Clear Dryer Vent

Help cut down on summer utility bills by cleaning your laundry dryer vent at least once a year. Not only will it help cut down on drying times, a neglected dryer poses a serious fire hazard.

 

❏     Check Weather Stripping

If you’re running your air conditioner in the summer, you’ll want to keep the cold air inside and hot air outside. Check weather stripping around doors and windows to ensure a good seal.

 

Exterior

 

❏     Mow Lawn Regularly

Your lawn will probably need regular mowing in the summer. Adjust your mower height to the highest setting, as taller grass helps shade the soil to prevent drought and weeds.

 

❏     Water Early in the Morning

Ensure your lawn and garden get plenty of water during the hot summer months. Experts generally recommend watering in the early morning to minimize evaporation, but be mindful of any watering restrictions in your area, which may limit the time and/or days you are allowed to water.

 

❏     Weed Weekly

To prevent weeds from taking over your garden and ruining your home’s valuable curb appeal, make a habit of pulling weeds at least once per week.

 

❏     Exterminate Pests

Remove any standing water and piles of leaves and debris. Inspect your lawn and perimeter of your home for signs of an invasion. If necessary, call a professional exterminator for assistance.

 

 

Fall

 

Fall is the perfect time to get ahead on repairs before the cold weather arrives. Get ahead on inspections to eliminate last-minute repairs.

 

Interior

 

❏     Have Heater Serviced

To ensure safety and efficiency, it’s a good idea to have your heating system serviced and inspected before you run it for the first time.

 

❏     Shut Down A/C for the Winter

If you have central air conditioning, you can have it serviced at the same time as your furnace. If you have a portable or window unit, ensure it’s properly sealed or remove it and store it for the winter.

 

❏     Inspect Chimney

If you have a chimney, fire safety experts recommend that you have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned periodically. Complete this task before you start using your fireplace or furnace.

 

❏     Seal Windows and Doors

Check windows and doors for drafts and caulk or add weatherstripping where necessary.

 

❏     Check Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

If you checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the spring, they are due for another inspection. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so it’s time to replace them again. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.

 

Exterior

 

❏     Plant Fall Flowers, Grass and Shrubs

Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, cool-season vegetables and bulbs that will bloom in the spring. It’s also a good time to reseed or sod your lawn.

 

❏     Rake or Mow Leaves

Once the leaves start falling, it’s time to pull out your rake. A thick layer of leaves left on your grass can lead to an unhealthy lawn. Or, rather than raking, use a mulching mower to create a natural fertilizer for your lawn.

 

❏     Apply Fall Fertilizer

If you choose not to use a mulching mower, a fall fertilizer is usually recommended. For best results, aerate your lawn before applying the fertilizer.

 

❏     Inspect Gutters and Roof

Inspect your gutters and downspouts and make needed repairs. Check the roof for any broken or loose tiles. Remove fallen leaves and debris.

 

❏     Shut Down Sprinkler System

If you have a sprinkler system, drain any remaining water and shut it down to prevent damage from freezing temperatures over the winter.

 

❏     Close Pool

If you have a pool, it’s time to clean and close it up before the winter.

 

 

Winter

 

While it can be tempting to ignore home maintenance issues in the winter, freezing temperatures can do major damage if left untreated. Follow these steps to ensure your home makes it through repair-free.

 

Interior

 

❏     Maintain Heating System

Check and change filters on your heating system, per the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have a boiler, monitor the water level.

 

❏     Tune Up Generator

If you own a portable generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance. Make sure it’s working before you need it, and stock up on supplies like fuel, oil and filters.

 

❏     Prevent Frozen Pipes

Make sure pipes are well insulated, and keep your heat set to a minimum of 55 degrees when you’re away. If pipes are prone to freezing, leave faucets dripping slightly overnight or when away from home. You may also want to open cabinet doors beneath sinks to let in heat.

 

Exterior

 

❏     Drain and Shut Off Outdoor Faucets

Before the first freeze, drain and shut off outdoor faucets. Place an insulated cover overexposed faucets, and store hoses for the winter.

 

❏     Remove Window Screens

Removing screens from your windows allows more light in to brighten and warm your home during the dark, cold winter months.

 

 

While this checklist should not be considered a complete list of your home’s maintenance needs, it’s a great reference guide to keep handy year round. Repairs will vary over time but keeping a close eye on the overall maintenance of your home can help keep repair costs down. Keep in mind that the investment you make in maintaining your home now will pay off dividends as the value of your home rises.

 

It’s good practice to keep a record of all your maintenance, repairs and upgrades for future reference, along with receipts. These will prove beneficial when the time comes to sell your home and may just be what you need to help negotiate a higher selling price.

 

Need help with home maintenance or repairs in the Orlando area? We have an extensive network of trusted contractors and we’d be happy to provide referrals! Call us at 407-925-8404 or email us at barrett@barrettspray.com, and we will connect you with one of our preferred vendors.