Tasks for Maintaining your Home

We spent some time at the beginning of the Covid-19 shutdown to make a few short videos about your home maintenance.

One of the most difficult aspects of home ownership is staying on top of maintenance tasks. It can be overwhelming to know what to look for and when. Too often homeowners are tempted to just ignore maintenance tasks until they become much bigger, and more expensive jobs. Below is a list of various tasks that you should undertake throughout the year to keep your home in top shape. Overwhelmed or uncertain how to do any of these? Hopefully the following can help you out a bit. What follows is a list of things, grouped by interval that should be undertaken.

Every 3-6 months:

  • Gutters should be cleaned—especially in the fall and spring. If this isn’t done, it can eventually rot fascia boards and roof decking and cause ice buildup. Thankfully, cleaning is easy: grab a bucket, some gloves, and ladder, and scoop out any debris that has collected in the gutters. You might also consider installing gutter guards. They cost more up front, but can help keep the majority of buildup from collecting in the gutters.
  • Batteries in the thermostat, smoke detectors, and CO2 detectors should be checked regularly as well. This is a really critical step, as failing to do so can result in house fires, flooding, and even death. See the linked video for simple instructions on checking and changing those batteries.
  • The third task to undertake regularly is changing your furnace filter. A dirty filter can cause poor air circulation in the home, result in higher electric bills, and wear on your furnace blower. If you have pets, this step should absolutely be done every 3 months. To do this, find the intake duct work feeding into your furnace. There will be a slot or another opening somewhere close to the furnace, where you’ll be able to see the current filter.  Install the new one with the proper orientation (there will be arrows on the side indicating proper air flow direction).

Every 6-12 months:

  • Replace the fridge filter. This is particularly important if you are on well water. An old filter negatively impacts water quality and could even damage the fridge and affect any warranties on it. You can usually accomplish this by removing the access panel located at the bottom of the fridge (or inside at the top on newer models), and removing and replacing the filter that is behind that.
  • Cleaning the dryer vents—a dirty vent can result in poor dry times and higher utility bills. If you leave it for too long, it can even cause house fires! To clean the dryer vent easily, go outside and find the end of the vent. Snake a vent brush as far into the ductwork as you can, trying to remove buildup from all sides. Drill-mounted brush systems are also available for longer stretches and faster debris removal.
  • Flush your water heater: Regular maintenance on your water tank can help it last for many more years than it otherwise would. Sediment from hard water scale can build up in the tank, causing corrosion and decreased efficiency. To flush your water heater, first turn off the water to the tank and turn off the heat. Connect a garden hose to the drain valve (at the bottom) and route it outside or to a sump pit. Open the drain valve and partially drain the tank, about 1/3 of the volume of the tank.

One more thing you can look into getting replaced is your water heater’s anode rod. The anode rod in your water heater sacrifices itself to prevent the steel in your water tank from corroding and eventually developing a leak. Replacing it at regular intervals gives new sacrificial metal to corrode and lengthens the life of the tank.