Part I: Interior Checklist
For most Americans, your home is your biggest investment. Just like your car, boat, and heck, your body, you need to invest time and care into its upkeep. Sometimes this will cost, if you need to hire a professional, or buy/replace something. This upkeep goes beyond just changing your air filters (though that’s important, too). There are many other things that need to be done regularly. It all sounds so daunting! However, if you schedule it and keep on top of things, you don’t need to spend every Saturday doing home maintenance. Use our schedule and keep your home safe, functioning, and wonderful for many years to come. We recommend actually adding these as repeating appointments to your calendar.
- Deep clean kitchen appliances. The quick wipe downs you do regularly are pretty good, but a monthly deep clean of your stove top, range hood, oven, and microwave keep them looking good and working well. They will last longer, too. Don’t forget to give the door edges on your dishwasher a good scrub and wipe-down, too.
- Clean the garbage disposal. Don’t wait until it starts smelling funky. You don’t need to buy anything special; you can use basic household ingredients.
- Inspect HVAC system filter. Depending on the system and the type of filter you use, they need to be replaced or cleaned every 3, 4, or 6 months—check the filter instructions to be sure. If you have multiple people living at home, if you have pets, or you have allergies, you may need to do this more often to keep the air quality at a healthy level.
- Test smoke and CO2 detectors. Most have a TEST button—it’s fine if the alarm sounds. If not, replace the batteries, or check for corrosion. If it’s hard-wired and not sounding, it may need replacing. Most smoke detectors expire in about 10 years, but CO2 detectors have a life span of about 7 years.
- Test garage door auto-reverse feature. If you have kids or pets, this is an important safety feature. Place a 2×4 on the ground where the door would close—it should reverse after a second or so when the door hits the wood. Test the photo-electric sensors as well by placing an object in front of them. The door should immediately go back up. If not, the garage door opener needs to be adjusted, fixed, or replaced.
- Check for leaks around toilets and sinks. Even a small drip or leak can eventually cause hundreds of dollars in damage. If you find a leak, tighten up valves and connectors, then wipe up the leak. Check again in a few days if there is water again. If there is, you may need a plumber. I placed leak detectors under all my sinks as well as next to my washing machine, and they really work!
- Clean dryer vent. This helps your dryer’s efficiency as well as prevents fires. Attach a hose to your vacuum, or get a dryer vent cleaning kit.
- Trip your GFCI outlets. These are usually found in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room, but you may also have one in the garage. Plug a light into the outlet, click the TEST button to see if the light goes out, then click RESET to see if the light comes back on. If it does, you’re good; if not, you need to replace the outlet.
- Check the water flow in tubs and showers. If you find a slow drain, fix it before it becomes completely clogged. We like Bob Vila’s technique for chemical-free declogging.
- Clean your bathroom exhaust fans. These get clogged with dust, lint, hair, and more, hurting efficiency. Pull the fan cover off the ceiling and use a vacuum; some fans can be removed to be fully cleaned.
- Inspect low-use areas in your home. In guest or basement bathrooms, run both sink taps, flush the toilet, clean sediment rings from the bowl, and run the shower.
- Check ceilings for water leaks. Walk through your entire home and check the ceilings for water stains—this means you’ve got a leak in the wall or ceiling. Get this taken care of ASAP.
- Inspect windows and doors. Check for drafts, broken seals, loose hinges, cracked caulking.
- Check your fire extinguishers. This is as easy as checking the gauge to see if it has expired. Also make sure the extinguishers are easily accessible (not behind something heavy) and that everyone in your household knows their locations. You should have one on every level of your home, and definitely in the garage and in the kitchen.
- Clean Your Refrigerator Coils. Carefully pull out the fridge and use rags and a vacuum to get all that dust and hair cleaned off. The fridge uses up to 15 percent of your home’s total electricity, so you want it running as efficiently as possible. This also extends the life of your fridge. Do the same for your garage unit, if you have one.
- Flush your hot water heater. Do this to remove accumulated sediment, especially in hard water areas. It will keep your hot water heater running better and help it last longer.
- Clean your Waste Management bins. Pick a hot, sunny day after your garbage, recycling, and yard waste have been picked up. Roll them out onto your driveway, and use a hose or pressure washer. Check out this step-by-step guide.
- Inspect and clean your chimney. Do it yourself, or hire a chimney sweep.
- Oil your garage door springs. Whether you have an electric opener or not, lubricating your garage door springs makes it much easier (and quieter!) to operate.
Keep on schedule with this maintenance list, and not only will your home run like a well-oiled engine, you’ll also save money in the long run. If you are considering selling your house in the near future, you’ll definitely want to get it to an A+ state first.