Home maintenance can seem like a full-time job some days. But if you’re organized and space out tasks through all seasons, you’ll be protecting your biggest investment – your home – and saving money, too. The key is to take care of things before they break or cause damage, because those can end up costing more than general upkeep. Creating an all-season home maintenance checklist that you can refer to and update regularly can help you do that, without piling on the stress. One especially good tip is to add reminders to your smartphone calendar for all of the major tasks on your home maintenance checklist. Keep track of what has been updated or repaired, how much it cost and the contact info for any tradespeople you worked with so you know what’s in store the next time those fixes come around. Not sure where to begin? Our all-season home maintenance checklist will give you a year-round plan for what’s required.
May 7, 2021 in Life
Ah, the relief of winter’s disappearance! Spring is the time to inspect your home for wear and tear from the cold-weather months.
• Once the temperature is regularly above zero and everything is melting, take a walk around the exterior and look for any foundation cracks or damp areas. This could indicate the beginning of a basement leak. Do the same inside, whether the basement is finished or not. Check floor and ceiling corners and along baseboards and feel for dampness.
• Inspect your garage door opener and change the batteries. Check the mechanism and, if needed, lubricate the chain – this will keep your garage door opening smoothly and protect against rust.
• Check any exposed basement drains. Sewage gases can leak into the atmosphere, causing a musty odour. If you smell them, top up the drain with fresh water.
• Power-wash the exterior siding. If your home is all brick, consult a professional before you begin to ensure you won’t be causing damage to the bricks and mortar.
• Clean gutters and downspouts of any debris so they run clearly.
If you work through your spring list completely, you can get away with doing a bit less home maintenance in the summer (leaving time for gardening, if that’s your passion!). Here are the hot-weather tasks to add to your list.
• Inspect and patch driveways and walkways if needed. Cracks in concrete or asphalt can be simply a result of natural wear and tear, but if cracks are splitting open or chunks are missing, it may be time for a professional repair.
• If you have one, inspect your air conditioning unit. Keeping it covered all winter is important for its longevity, but if it was exposed, you’ll need to do a thorough check. Look for and remove debris like fallen leaves or small rocks or acorns scattered by animals.
• If you have a pool, it pays to perform regular maintenance. Make sure the filter is working, check the liner for tears and ensure the water and chemical levels are correct. Consider having a pool technician do an overall inspection once a season.
Fall may be a short season, but there’s plenty to do besides storing your outdoor furniture and putting the garden to bed. Here’s what else you need to do to prep for winter.
• Clear eavestroughs of fallen leaves or debris.
• Inspect your water heater for any damage and test the hot water pressure. Most tanks have a small tap at the bottom – place a container underneath it to catch the water before you turn it on. If the water runs clear and at normal speed, the pressure is fine. Anything odd requires a visit from a technician.
• If you have a gas fireplace, vacuum around any vents to remove loose dust. Consider having a gas fireplace technician perform a checkup and cleaning annually. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, give it a scrub, inspect and clean the vents and consider having a certified chimney technician visit to ensure the chimney and flue are in good working order. • Inspect the seal around exterior doors and windows, and repair as necessary to prevent warm air from leaking out.
• Inspect the door sweep to make sure it seals well. That’s the flexible plastic at the bottom of your door that stops drafts from sneaking in.
• Cover your air conditioner to keep debris out.
The most important thing to keep on top of during the winter is your home’s heat source, but there are other items to check off the list.
• Change the furnace filters regularly. Have this appliance inspected by a certified technician once a year – this visit should include a thorough cleaning of all internal parts to keep them running efficiently and safely.
• Clear all floor vents of debris and dust bunnies so warm air can circulate freely.
• Turn off the water to outdoor faucets and drain them to prevent frozen pipes.
• Check the batteries in your thermostat and replace once a year.
In addition to your spring, summer, fall and winter to-dos, there are some home property maintenance tasks that should be completed once per season as well. Schedule a quarterly reminder for these in your phone, too.
• Deep-clean the range exhaust fan. Remove the filter and wash it according to the directions. This will stop greasy buildup, which can hamper functionality.
• Deep-clean all appliances to remove old grease or soap buildup and perform any routine maintenance recommended by the manufacturer.
• Vacuum out the dryer vent and exhaust tube to remove lint buildup, which can cause fires.
• Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly, change the batteries if necessary and check that all fire extinguishers are up-to-date and fully charged.
It’s important to have a fund set aside for annual home maintenance costs. If you keep up with your checklist, you will be aware of any major repairs and costs as (or before) they crop up — but it’s inevitable that they will. General upkeep requires funds as well.
Since homes are so varied in size, age and construction techniques, it’s difficult to assign a blanket amount that fits everyone. But paying what you can into an account earmarked for home maintenance costs is smart. Even $25 a week nets out to $1,300 a year, which could go far depending on your home’s requirements.
You know what else is helpful when it comes to saving money? Rewards that fit your lifestyle. As you’re building your budget, it pays to investigate credit card benefits. With Membership Rewards® enrolled American Express® you ca use Use Points for Purchases1, for purchases charged to your card like a smart-home thermostat.
However you go about it, it’s best not to touch your home maintenance savings until you really need it. If you have a positive balance after everything is complete, save it for next year’s checklist!