25 Yearly Home Tasks

A guide to the annual upkeep of a home. Energy and cost-saving tips for the homeowner.

The importance of home maintenance cannot be overestimated. Small problems have a way of turning into large, expensive problems when they are not addressed promptly. Doing a yearly maintenance check on your home can prove to be a good investment. Here are 25 things you can do to catch small problems before they turn into big ones.

1. Check windows and sliding glass doors for cracks or broken locks. Also make sure that they are operating smoothly, and that the tracks are free of dirt, insects and debris.

2. Check the caulking around the bathtub, sinks and showers. Touch up as necessary. If you notice mold or stains, use a bleach pen to brighten it up.

3. Also check the grout in the bathroom and on tile floors. If grout is showing signs of mildew, the bleach pen may eliminate it. In severe cases, tile may need to be regrouted.

4. Replace the filters on your air conditioner and furnace. Ensure that you have a yearly supply available so that you do not find yourself putting off replacing filters. A clean filter can save you lots of money on electric bills!

5. Check (or have a professional check) the chimney for signs of build-up of creosote and soot. Clean if necessary.

6. Inspect the water heater. Make sure that there are no leaks and that it is venting properly. Make certain the insulation is not coming loose. Also, many manufacturers recommend that two gallons of water be drained from the hot water heater to reduce the build-up of sediment.

7. Test your smoke alarms and replace the batteries. Vacuum the smoke alarms as well. Most people recommend that this procedure be followed twice a year, with the twice yearly time changes being good reminders.

8. Clean out gutters and downspouts. Check for any blockages.

9. Trim any trees or shrubs that are touching the house or that could cause damage to the structure. Particularly watch for any tree limbs that could damage your roof in the event of a storm, or aging tree. It may be necessary to call a professional tree trimmer for jobs involving limbs in larger trees.

10. Clean your home's exterior.

11. Check for areas that may need paint touch-ups both inside and outside of the house.

12. Inspect the roof for damaged, loose or missing shingles. This is also a good time to check for any problematic tree branches, as mentioned in number nine.

13. Before winter sets in, clean and store all tools and outdoor appliances. Empty the gasoline out of lawn mowers and blowers and dispose of properly.

14. Clean the lint from all parts of the clothes dryer. This also helps you save on your electric bill, as well as prolonging the life of your dryer.

15. Check the heating system. Make sure that furnaces and the pilot light are functioning properly. If you are unfamiliar with this process, you may feel more comfortable leaving this to a professional.

16. Make sure that the insulation in the attic is in place and that the inside of the roof is not showing any sign of water stains or mildew. We know how expensive mold problems can be to repair!

17. Replace expired fire extinguishers.

18. Check for termites. This can be accomplished by examining the wood that touches the ground for signs of damage. Earthen "tubes" are a sure sign of termites. Termites can rapidly inflict damage on a home, literally gnawing away at it until the structure is unsafe. This is also a good time to make sure that your termite protection is up to date.

19. Vacuum your refrigerator coils. This is another big energy saver.

20. Check for leaks around your pipes and for clogged drains. Make sure that toilets are fastened securely to the floor.

21. Check your doorstops, and replace any that are bent or that have broken off. This seems to be more common in homes with small children, who take great delight in playing with doorstops. Holes in the wall from doorknobs are definitely not an attractive addition to your home!

22. Check the main electrical panel for moisture. This is usually indicated by rust. Turn the breakers on and off, to ensure that they are functioning properly. If you notice any burned wires, or if the panel feels warm to the touch, call an electrician.

23. Septic tanks should be check and cleaned if necessary.

24. If you have siding on your home, check to make sure that no pieces of the siding are loose or damaged.

25. Check any outdoor play equipment for safety issues. Make sure that wooden platforms are rot-free, and that chains or ropes for swings are in good condition.

Of course, these yearly inspections and tasks should be spread out over the year. Some may need to be conducted twice a year or even more often, depending on your home. A good strategy is to make a calendar and put tasks in order seasonally, and spread the rest out evenly. Here's to having a safe, energy-efficient, functional home!

© High Speed Ventures 2011