You’ve probably heard the sarcastic old saying: “A house is just a hole in the ground surrounded by four walls into which you constantly pour money.”
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re a conscientious homeowner who maintains your property on an ongoing basis. With so many things that need to be inspected, repaired, and replaced over the years, home upkeep can be a bit overwhelming.
Yet, experts say, keeping preventive maintenance affordable can be as easy as setting up a calendar or schedule, and then sticking to it. Using a calendar that spans digital platforms such as smartphones, tablets, and computers will help you set reminders, and see all upcoming events in a list view. You can print hardcopies or, if you’re old school, use a paper calendar in any format that works for you.
How to get started
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common items that should be addressed indoors, outside, and how often each year. Use these as a basis for keeping your house or condo in top shape. Regular upkeep will add to your home’s value as well; if you decide to sell, a well-maintained residence is certain to bring in a higher price than a similar one that “needs work.”
- Make a list of things you do already, or know you should do. Keep it handy, and refer to and update it regularly.
- Organize the list by how frequently each task needs to be performed. This way, you can check it daily, weekly, or monthly. Don’t forget to set those digital reminders–they can be very handy for jogging your memory.
Here are some typical tasks by frequency:
Every 1 to 2 months
- Change air filters in air conditioner or furnace
- Clean and freshen garbage disposal
Every 3 months
- Clean inside of refrigerator, replace baking soda or other freshener
- Flip and vacuum mattresses and box springs
- Clean baseboards and trim
- Inspect and reseal grout or caulk as needed in tiled areas
- Clean ventilation filters in range hood
- Clean oven if you do a lot of baking or broiling
Every 6 months
- Reverse direction of ceiling fans in late spring and late fall
- Test or change batteries in smoke and CO2 detectors
- Clean accumulated lint from inside dryer vent and outside vent hood
- Vacuum refrigerator coils
- Defrost standalone non-frost-proof freezers
- Wash windows inside and out
- Conduct a home safety check in which you test all locks and deadbolts, and inspect for loose knobs, tipping shelves, and tripping hazards such as loose rugs and floorboards
- Clean rain gutters
- Flush water heater
- Review renters or homeowner’s insurance; photograph existing or new possessions before it’s time to renew your policy; back up images offsite or to the cloud
- Aerate your lawn in early spring
- Schedule an air conditioner inspection in early spring
- Book a chimney sweep in summer if you plan to use your fireplace in winter
- Schedule a furnace inspection in early fall
- Check and repair window and door screens
- Check or replace all weather stripping to help keep cold out and heat inside in winter, and heat out and cool air inside in summer
- Create or refill a disaster-preparedness kit
Use the above as a starting point. Of course, each home might have additional amenities, such as water softeners, swimming pools, and carpeting, that require specialized care best handled by professionals.
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