It’s all too easy to fall behind on home maintenance when life is full of other surprises and events. Going a few years without checking your roof or basement might not cause an issue all on its own, but it could allow small problems to grow into bigger ones. Make a practice of following this semi-annual home maintenance checklist every spring and fall to stay on top of the essential systems.
Check the Foundation and Basement
A quick stroll around the exterior of the home will reveal a lot about the health of the foundation. Look for cracks, changes in color, or other signs of damage to any visible parts. If the foundation isn’t visible, it’s still possible to spot cracks traveling up walls or around windows that indicate shifting below. Homes with accessible basements and crawlspaces allow for the best inspection of the foundation. Don’t forget to look around for signs of leaking pipes, mold growth, and damaged floor joists while you’re down there.
Dye Test the Toilets
There’s no need to wait until a leaking toilet is leaving the floor wet or running up the water bills. Drop a little food dye in the tank and check the bowl after a few minutes. If you don’t see any signs of color, your toilets should be holding water just fine. Colored water in the bowl, dripping from the tank, or on the floor indicates the need for some plumbing repairs.
Inspect the Water Heater
Make sure your water heater is set below 120 degrees F to avoid the risk of scalding. It’s surprising how many homeowners are sure they’ve done this who still discover they have an unsafe setting on their heater. Switch off the power and turn off the cold water supply valve, then use a bucket under the temperature-pressure-release valve to open it and test it. If the valve won’t open or keeps flowing after you let go of it, you’ll need a new one. Other maintenance tasks should be handled professionally, but you should always check for signs of leaks around the base of the water heater.
Maintain Your Major Appliances
Clean up the filter and coils on your major household appliances, including the refrigerator, air conditioners, and furnaces. Any air filters that haven’t been replaced in a few months definitely need attention now, even if you’re using high-capacity filters. If you’re uncomfortable doing maintenance work on your air conditioner or furnace, schedule a routine maintenance visit with a service technician instead.
Clean Up Exhaust Fans and Range Hoods
Speaking of household appliances, when was the last time you cleaned and checked your exhaust fans and range hoods? Almost all of the models installed in homes today feature some kind of filter or area that can be accessed for cleaning. A lot of dirt, dust, and debris can build up in these ventilation features over just a few months. Cleaning and changing the filters on exhaust fans and range hoods can dramatically improve their efficiency at managing odors and humidity levels.
Open Up the Breaker Box
Electrical problems are rare, but they deserve attention when they do develop. You don’t need to touch the breakers or know much about electricity to handle this task. Just find your breaker box and make sure it’s staying closed. Uncovered or open doors allow moisture and dust to settle on the equipment and increase the chance of corrosion. Corroded breakers are more likely to trip or burn out entirely, leaving part of your home without power. Look for any signs of burning, sparking, insect damage, or water near or in the breaker box. Loose wires are another cause for concern. Don’t touch anything if you see signs of damage. Just call an electrician or your power company for help.
Look at the Roof From All Angles
While you’re outside checking out the foundation and exterior walls, give your roof a once-over as well. Keep an eye out for any visible sagging, accumulation of leaves, visible rafters pressing up through the shingles, loose and missing shingles, and peeling paint along the eaves. Anything that even looks off or changed about your roof should be cause for a professional inspection.
Test and Update the Alarms
Finally, give your fire and CO2 alarms a test and a set of new batteries if needed. Even hard-wired alarms should have backup batteries in case the power goes out. If you don’t have enough fire alarms or haven’t added CO2 alarms to your home yet, take the time to do so now even if it’s not a season with a particular fire risk.
This checklist is easy to complete in one day or a weekend, but it’ll keep you on top of your home’s condition. Practice doing some basic home maintenance and inspections yourself to avoid bigger and more costly repairs in the future.
While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.