Just like your car or your own body, your house needs regular care to keep its condition in top shape. To help you make this a habit, here’s a helpful summary of the most common maintenance tasks every house requires. Use this guide to make a checklist for your own house’s particular needs.
Monthly safety tasks
First and foremost, it’s imperative for your family’s safety that you perform particular tasks around your house every month.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can save your life in an emergency. Make sure they’re working by following the test procedure explained by Jeremy Anderberg’s article for The Art of Manliness. First, press the test button. If the alarm doesn’t blare, replace the batteries and clean the terminals. If the alarm still doesn’t sound, buy a new detector.
Jessica Bennett recommends a handful of other crucial tasks in her article for Better Homes & Gardens. Press the test button on all ground-fault circuit interrupters. Make sure the fire extinguishers around your house haven’t expired. Inspect all electrical cords for wear and tear. Remove any obstructions from all air vents and the dryer vent.
Test the garage door’s auto-reverse feature and the safety sensors. Oil the chain and hinges so they don’t seize.
System and appliance upkeep
Start a routine of checking all your house’s major appliances and systems every season, starting with the furnace. After 2-3 months, the furnace filter can get very dirty, so season changes should remind you to replace this screen.
Other such tasks recommended by Anderberg include cleaning the range hood filter with a degreaser, vacuuming the refrigerator coils, checking the water softener and adding salt if needed, and testing the water heater’s pressure relief valve.
Deep clean your house
Set aside a Saturday every season to thoroughly clean your entire house. Get your family to all pitch in so you can finish all this work in a single day.
Carpets need to be washed with a carpet cleaner. If you don’t own one, rent one or borrow one from a friend. Wood floors need a quality waxing and polishing to protect them and prevent cracking. Similarly, moisturize all wood furniture, tables, and cabinets.
Ronda Kaysen of The New York Times recommends washing the outside of your house too by rinsing the outside with a garden hose, being careful to cover all the windows and doors with protective plastic sheets.
While you’re outside, unclog the gutters, scrub the windows, and wash the shed, too.
Inspect and address as needed
Perform a walk-around inspection of your house on a regular basis and take note of anything that needs to be addressed. For instance, repair and replace broken siding, fill cracks in the driveway, reattach loose or missing roof shingles, fix damaged screens, cut dying or wild trees, mend leaking pipes, and test the sump pump. Addressing these problems may require an expert, so don’t hesitate to call a professional for help.
If your house has other major features — such as a deck, pool, or fireplace — you’ll have to perform appropriate maintenance tasks for those beyond the ones listed here. But for the majority of homes, this guide is a good place to start.