man checking off a list

Check It Off: The Ultimate Guide to Home Maintenance

By keeping your home in tip-top shape, you’re making it more comfortable, more efficient, and more sellable in the future.

Your Guide to Home Maintenance

Maintaining a home may seem like a daunting task, especially to first-time homeowners. There’s more to it than keeping up with chores, and it can sometimes seem like a part-time job (but with flexible hours). Don’t let the fear of maintaining a house stop you from fulfilling your dream of buying a home. Get organized and make a plan instead.

Luckily, On Q Financial is here to help you get a handle on home maintenance. In this convenient guide, we’ll explain what steps to take throughout the year to keep your home looking and running its best. We’ve outlined all the best practices for tackling necessary projects and how you can preserve your home’s value for years to come.

If looking around your property causes you stress, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to change your mindset. This is your opportunity to master the art of home ownership and take control of your property. You might even learn some handy new skills and gain confidence along the way. By keeping your home in tip-top shape, you’re making it more comfortable, more efficient, and more sellable in the future. Let’s roll up our sleeves, get to work, and check off some boxes below!

Monthly Maintenance Checklist

The first step in home maintenance – as with any important undertaking – is to make a list. That to-do list will help you stay organized and on task. You also get to experience a rush of satisfaction for each item you check off! Keep in mind that some tasks, like mowing the lawn and cleaning the gutters, are recurring while others are just needed annually or seasonally. You might want to create separate categorized lists for different cadences or seasons.

While the index below includes general tasks that every homeowner should at least be familiar with, not all of them will apply to your personal property. It’s up to you to decide what makes sense, what you can DIY, and what you may need to call a professional for. This list is meant to be customized, so you can add and delete as you see fit.

Monthly Checklist

  • Appliance Filters

    Clean filters at least once a month to keep appliances running in peak condition. You’ll find filters in washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, window A/C units, bathroom vents, etc.

  • HVAC Filter

    Also considered an appliance, but we felt it was important enough for its own checkbox. The HVAC filter affects your home’s air quality and having a clean filter will reduce allergens in the air you breathe and promote a healthier environment.

  • Address Hard Water Deposits

    Soak faucets and showerheads in a cleaning solution regularly to remove mineral deposits. This can relieve pressure on pipes and ensure a longer life for your plumbing.

  • Clear Drains

    Whether you use a homemade mixture or a manual snake tool, regular drain cleaning will extend the life of your pipes and prevent a buildup of foul odors.

  • Test Detectors

    Regularly testing your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is critical to home safety for you and your family. Those detectors will serve as lifelines in an emergency.

  • Check Vents

    Make sure that indoor and outdoor air vents are not blocked. Proper ventilation helps keep your energy costs low and prevents hazardous conditions in the home environment.

  • Clean Windows

    Wipe down windows, doors, and screens. It may seem like common sense, but in our busy lives, it can be easy to overlook the smudges. Keeping these free of dirt and dust can significantly increase the natural lighting and atmosphere of a room.

  • Dust Hard-to-Reach Areas

    Dusting ceiling fans and light fixtures is essential to maintaining air quality in your home. The dust that inevitably clings to hard-to-reach areas can be a source of allergy irritation. That alone can reduce the comfort and joy you feel at home.

  • Clear Out Gutters

    Removing leaves and debris from your house’s gutters and downspouts is one of a homeowner’s most important tasks. Clogged drainage could lead to roof and water damage; both can be costly to repair.

  • Yard Maintenance

    Curb appeal has a large effect on your home’s value and it says a lot about you as a homeowner and a neighbor. Keep lawns mowed, gravel or rock areas free of trash and debris, rake the leaves, prune unwieldy trees, etc. What you’re thinking right now is true: you might need a separate list for outdoor tasks!

Spring Maintenance Checklist

Spring is a renewal of life! With spring comes beautiful weather, budding flowers, and, of course, spring cleaning. It’s the perfect time of year to organize closets, wash walls, and ready your home for summer fun. Take some time to enjoy the fresh air in your now-tidy yard before the heat sets in, but be sure to tackle your spring checklist as well.

Spring Checklist

  • Inspect Roofing

    Examine your roof for any shingles that may have been damaged by stormy winter weather. Attending to roof issues right away will spare further damage and save you a headache (and money) later in the year.

  • Inspect Driveway

    Like the roof, winter weather, shoveling, and snow-blowing can wreak havoc on driveways and you may find some new cracks or holes. Spring is a good time to mend any gaps so that they don’t get bigger and harder to fill.

  • Refinish Your Deck

    When excellent weather graces your property, it’s the perfect time to restore the deck. Then you’ll be able to enjoy those summer barbecues on the sharp-looking deck!

  • Pest Control

    Spring is when all of the creepy critters come crawling back out from their crevices. Whether you use organic solutions or spray for pests, taking preventative measures in early spring is far better than dealing with vermin after they find their way into your cozy home.

  • Septic Tank Inspection

    Every few years, it is wise to have an inspector assess your septic tank. Septic tank repairs can be quite costly. Far better to head them off at the pass by recognizing plumbing problems while they’re still relatively easy to solve.

  • Inspect Outdoor Plumbing

    Following the winter months, you may want to ensure irrigation and outdoor faucets are working correctly. You can also take the opportunity to remove any insulation you may have used in the colder months.

  • Fertilize Your Lawn

    For lush green grass, now is the time to fertilize or reseed your lawn. Don’t wait too long, as the heat of summer could ruin your hard work before the grass even grows. Consider adding a pre-emergent to prevent weeds from taking root, and taking over your lawn, later in the season.

  • Pool Maintenance

    If you have a pool, be sure to inspect it thoroughly for any cracks or other issues. Make sure to give it a comprehensive cleaning, clear away any winter debris, and inspect your pump. A heatwave may surprise you at any time and you’ll want to be ready to dive in!

Summer Maintenance Checklist

Extreme heat in certain US climates can make summer seem a little harsh, weather-wise. Energy bills may sky-rocket due to frequent air conditioning use and the steps you take early in the season can help keep that usage in check. While you might not be keen to work outdoors, there are some indoor tasks you can take care of to help the people and pets in your home stay cool and comfy.

Summer Checklist

  • Weather-stripping

    Inspect the weather stripping around your home’s windows and doors – or install some if you don’t have any. Proper insulation will reduce energy costs and prevent cooled air from escaping so that your home maintains the perfect temperature despite the heat.

  • Blackout Curtains

    Cover windows with blackout shades or drapes that serve to insulate your home. Windows are a major source of heat dispersion and these window dressings are designed to reduce the amount of heat that enters your house. While you’re at it, vacuum or steam all of the curtains too

  • Garage Door Tune-Up

    Oil your garage door chains and hinges. During the summer, you’ll probably want to go in and out of your garage to avoid the heat. A smooth operation of the garage door makes that quicker, and quieter.

  • Refrigerator/Freezer Cleanout

    One way to keep cool is to empty your refrigerator and deep clean inside it, including freezer coils and any drip trays. You’ll stay cool and reduce your energy bill by improving your fridge’s efficiency. Win-win!

  • Tile Grout

    Scrub down all tile grout. While you may not have time for this all-consuming task in other seasons, more time indoors means you can finally deep clean between those tiles.

  • Pool Maintenance (Again)

    If you chose to put off pool maintenance in the spring, now is the time! Even if you already inspected your pool system, regular vacuuming and skimming will keep the water clean and swimming enjoyable.

  • Power-wash Windows and Siding

    A good power-washing can restore an otherwise drab house and correct the natural discoloration homes experience. Bear in mind that power-washing can be intense for your home and can cause damage if performed incorrectly.

Fall Maintenance Checklist

Just as our spring checklist prepared you for summer, our fall checklist will prepare you for the winter. Fall cleanups are your last chance to ensure your yard is in great shape before the snow sets. Luckily, autumn weather is typically more comfortable for outdoor work. Enjoy the beauty of leaf-peeping season, but be sure to pick all those leaves up off the lawn after they “fall”.

Fall Checklist

  • Paint Your Home

    Nothing spruces up the outside of your home like a fresh coat of paint. The cool, yet sunny weather should make it pleasant if you want to do it yourself.

  • Seal Any Holes

    Seal any noticeable holes in your cabinets and around your home. Those afore-mentioned critters and crawlers are looking for a warm spot to hunker down in for the winter, and you probably don’t want those kinds of houseguests.

  • Inspect Heating System

    Forced-air heating systems and chimneys should be inspected and/or cleaned annually by a professional. You certainly won’t want to be left out in the cold if your system fails to work properly when the temperatures drop.

  • Yard Maintenance

    Rake leaves in your yard and apply mulch to the lawn. If you plan to seed for a winter lawn, now is the time to do so. For the gardeners out there, certain plants are also best planted in the autumn.

  • Winterize Plumbing

    Drain and winterize exterior plumbing. For more guidance when it comes to winterizing your home, check out our in-depth article.

  • Deep Clean Carpets

    After tromping in and out of the house from spring, summer, and fall outdoor activities, it may be a good idea to deep clean your floor coverings. Then they’ll be as pretty as can be when you prepare for your indoor hibernation.

  • Inspect Locks

    Did you know that winter months see the highest rate of burglaries? Take some time to inspect exterior knobs and handles to make sure they lock uptight.

Winter Maintenance Checklist

There are many ways to winterize your home, but the big-ticket items include insulation and energy costs. Once again, you may see your electric bill jump. Consider the following items on our list, and add your own if you live in an area that sees extreme winter weather.

Winter Checklist

  • Reverse Ceiling Fans

    By reversing ceiling fan settings to clockwise, they will pull cool air up and push warm air down so you can enjoy it longer.

  • Cover Your A/C Unit

    If you expect snow or excessive hail, you may want to protect your HVAC unit. A weather-proof cover will ensure that melted snow doesn’t pool within and cause interior damage to your unit when it re-freezes.

  • Insulate Outdoor Spouts

    If your climate zone experiences sub-zero temperatures, be sure to insulate your outdoor water faucets to prevent damage from freezing.

  • Inspect Drainage

    Inspect roof gutters and downspouts again for damage after any storm. As noted earlier, poor drainage can lead to severe water and roof damage. It’s better to inspect and clean throughout the season than to deal with costly repairs later.

  • Inspect Your Furnace

    Make sure your furnace is running properly and efficiently. Make sure oil tanks are full and firewood piles are stacked high. Now you’re ready to stay toasty and warm all winter long.

Final Thoughts

Owning a home is supremely satisfying, but it comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Setting aside some time each month to accomplish the maintenance tasks on your list protects your investment and leaves you with the pride that comes from caring for your property. A well-maintained home is more comfortable, more beautiful, and has a higher value. We think that’s worth the effort!

How Soon Can You Own Your Home Outright?

Now that you’ve got the hang of caring for and maintaining your home, check out our Insider Tips for Paying Off Your Mortgage Early.

Read About Paying Off Your Mortgage