You GUYS! This home ownership thing is no joke. I mean, we owned the townhouse, but it was kind of a different story. We weren't responsible for almost anything outside. It was tiny. And also when we moved in it was incredibly ugly so anything we did to it would be a vast improvement (you can see the before and after pictures in this post if you're curious 😉 ).
But now that we've lived in the new house for a few weeks, we're realizing that there's a lot to keep up with. And since both Donnie and I like to have a plan, we wasted no time nailing down a schedule for home maintenance-type things. And when I say "we," I mean mostly Donnie did it because I was too busy thinking about all of the pretty decor I wanted to add. 🙂
So when he offered to write a post about some of the maintenance-y things that he is doing/will do, I definitely wasn't going to turn that down. (Especially because it meant that I would have a list of all of the things he said he was going to do in writing. Just sayin'. 😉 )
Keep in mind that it is not an exhaustive list (and it doesn't include all of the cleaning tasks that keep this place neat and tidy), but rather the major maintenance items we're focusing on in our home. Your list may be similar or different, but hopefully this post will serve as a good starting point either way. Take it away, Donnie!
Creating a Home Maintenance Plan
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Since moving into our new house a few weeks ago I've discovered that to protect our investment, it's going to take a lot more work than previously with our townhouse. It's bigger, we now have a yard, and exterior maintenance that we are now responsible for. It's also exciting that it's a brand new house, so if I keep up with routine house maintenance from the beginning, I should be able to reduce the number of future issues.
I don't have a great memory. If something isn't written down or on a calendar, I will never remember to do it. So over the past week I've tried to brainstorm as many home maintenance items as I could and organize them by frequency. Since my hand written list isn't the prettiest, Abby was kind enough to create a little printable home maintenance checklist, which you can download below.
After I made my list, I needed to take it one step further to make sure I actually completed the tasks on it, so I put a digital system in place. I am a big fan of the task management app Wunderlist (ToDoist is another good one!), so I used it to input recurring tasks and set them up to send me a notification when it is time to complete one of the home management items. Hopefully this will ensure that I don't miss anything!
My hope is that this house maintenance schedule will help some of you implement a similar system. This list isn't perfect and I'm sure I'm missing some things or have things scheduled too frequently or not frequently enough. If there's something I missed or you have a different opinion about something, please let me know in the comments-- I'm always looking for constructive feedback!
Weekly Home Maintenance
Upkeep hardwood floors. We love the new floors in our house, but so far they've been difficult to keep clean. We track in dust from the basement and our two boys leave little smudges and footprints if their feet aren't clean. Our strategy so far has been to use the incredibly nimble Swivel Sweeper and then follow up with the Bona Hardwood Floor Spray Mop. Our entire first floor has hardwood floors, as do the stairs leading up to the second floor and the second floor hallway. This entire process takes less than 30 minutes.
Open windows and air out house. Building materials, air fresheners, dust, paint, and many other things can contribute to poor indoor air quality. At least once a week I like to open windows and let the stale air circulate out of the house bringing in new, fresh air.
Monthly Home Maintenance
Check for water under dishwasher, fridge, washing machine, and sinks. Water can do a tremendous amount of damage, especially to drywall and anything wood, like our floors. I check for water leakage or drips under our fridge and dishwasher by unrolling some paper towels an sliding them underneath where I can't see. I then pull out the paper towels and check for any moisture. If the towels pick up any water, I can investigate further.
Our washing machine is now on the second floor, and although it has basin it sits in with a drain to the basement, it still makes me nervous. I feel around the hot and cold water supply connects for any drips and also check the washing machine pan for any water.
Wipe down the outside windows. This may eventually become a quarterly task but at least for right now, I like to do this at least monthly. There's construction in the neighborhood, and if it's dry and windy we get a nice coating of dirt on our windows. We have the type that tilt in, so it's easy for me to clean the bottom pane. I can get to 3/4 of the top pane by just reaching out the window. I may need to invest in a squeegee with a rotating head like this one to more easily reach the top pane from inside the house.
Quarterly House Maintenance
Change furnace air filter. Some people have recommended changing furnace air filters monthly, but to me the filters still look brand new after a month. With a quarterly schedule, I can see the difference between a new and old filter and I feel less wasteful. I use these basic dust filters. I've heard that more expensive and dense filters can put undo strain on your heating and cooling systems.
Wipe down baseboards, doors, door trim, and window trim. We have nice, tall white baseboards in our new house, and I'd like to keep them that way. The top ledge seems to accumulate dust, which can eventually stain the white paint. It's a little bit of work moving furniture to wipe down baseboards, but I think it's important. It's much easier to wipe away handprints and dirt from doors and other indoor trim.
Wipe down window sills. The bottom of windows tend to accumulate a lot of dirt. Fortunately it's easy to open the windows and use a sponge to wipe everything down. I can't imagine this taking more than 30 minutes for the entire house, especially if I keep up with it.
Test garage door reverse feature. New garage doors have that laser-eye auto reverse safety feature. It should be a flawless system, but it's still a good idea to test the functionality at least once a month. In the past I've noticed misaligned lasers after someone or something bumped into the mechanism.
Semi-Annual House Maintenance
Check for caulking and sealing damage. This is especially important in wet areas like the kitchen and bathroom. In our previous kitchen renovation, I noticed some of the caulking around our new countertops pulling away from the wall after a few months. I was able to scrape the old caulking out and re-apply. The same can be true for around bathtubs and showers. I try and use 100% latex or silicone caulking and avoid acrylic, which can shrink and crack over time. I find these squeeze tubes especially easy to use and control for small jobs.
Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. In our new house we have dedicated power to our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with a built in battery backup. It's still a good idea to test everything by pressing the little button.
Check attic for leaks and other issues. Sometimes during a big rain storm, I like to pop my head into the attic with a flashlight to check for any drips or water issues. Also, on a bright sunny day you can check the attic for any light shining through, which indicates some type of hole or gap.
Clean kitchen disposal. Every once in awhile I like to clean the garbage disposal. I found that ice seems to work well. Supposedly it even sharpens the blades. I've also dropped lemon slices down the disposal to freshen things up.
Change heating and cooling vent configuration. Our new house is dual-zone for heating and cooling, which is fantastic, but I've already noticed that some rooms within each zone tend to be too hot or too cold. For example, Abby's massively large home office in the upstairs zone has been significantly colder than the master bedroom. I've partially closed the ceiling vent, and this has helped stabilize the temperature. Once the weather turns cold and we start using the furnace, I'll most likely have to reverse the configuration in these colder-than-normal rooms.
Annual House Maintenance
Pressure wash house siding, driveway, and walkway. It's amazing how much dirt can accumulate on driveways, walkways, and the side of your house. Power washing once a year can make a huge difference. You always have to be careful not get too close to wood and the side of your house to avoid damage. I've always rented power washers in the past, but this year I may purchase one. I prefer gas pressure washers with at least 2700 PSI like this one from Home Depot.
Remove window screens. Window screens are fragile, so I try to avoid exposing them to our cold Pittsburgh winters. Sometime in November I'll remove the screens and store them in the basement until spring. I'll leave one or two in for airing out the house during the winter and for unseasonably warm days when I want to open a few windows.
Check for drywall cracks and nail-pops. New houses always settle, and the drywall can develop cracks in corners and nails can work their way out leaving bumps on your walls. Fortunately our builder offers a 12 month drywall service where we can point out any issues for them to fix. After that initial inspection, I plan to examine the drywall once a year and check for cracks and nail-pops. Nail-pops are easy to fix by driving an additional screw through the drywall into the stud near the nail-pop to secure the drywall and then use a putty knife to dig out the old nail or screw. Then fill the holes with wallboard joint compound, let it dry, and then sand it smooth. The most important step is to make sure you have some leftover paint in the same color!
Clean gutters and check downspouts. Our new house sits at the very top of a hill and being a new development, we don't have very many mature trees in the neighborhood. I don't anticipate our gutters clogging, but I'll still get out a ladder once a year to check things out and make sure everything is in good condition. Also at least once a year during a torrential downpour, I'll go outside and make sure the downspouts are working property and water isn't flooding over the side of the gutters. If left unfixed, all of that extra water can cause major foundation issues.
Check concrete for cracks. Our driveway is asphalt, but we have a little concrete walk and front porch. Concrete is incredibly durable, but it's also very rigid, making it susceptible to cracks. If the cracks remain unfixed, water will get in and the freezing and thawing process in cold climates will make things much worse. Quikcrete makes a nice latex based concrete crack sealant that will prevent water from making the issue worse. It's also designed to match the color and texture of the concrete.
Seal asphalt driveway. Sealing every year is certainly excessive, but it's certainly good to evaluate at least once a year and see if any little cracks are developing in the asphalt. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that sealing every two to three years will be necessary.
Examine exterior siding. We have vinyl siding on house that should last for a long time without any issues. Once a year it's a good idea to look things over and make sure you don't see any issues like the siding pulling away from the house or discoloration. Most siding comes with some type of manufacturer's warranty, and they'll fix any issues you spot.
Cover the top of the air conditioner. I've always thought that air conditioner covers in cold, snowy climates made a lot of sense but I've changed my mind after doing some research. It seems that every spring HVAC guys do a lot of repairs to air conditioners that had been covered all winter. The cover makes a nice habitat for critters, and you can get an excessive amount of moisture and condensation buildup underneath the cover which can cause issues. A lot of experts agree that placing a piece of plywood or something on top is good idea to prevent snow and ice from sitting directly on top of the unit.
Prepare outdoor faucets for winter. Once upon a time we had a really cold stretch at the end of October before I had a chance to kill the water to our outdoor faucet. The faucet developed a big buildup of ice that even extended into the basement of our townhouse. Fortunately I caught it before the pipe burst in the house. I had to get a lot of hot water and slowly melt away the ice, cut off the water, and then drain the remaining water.
Test water heater temperature and pressure relief valve. All hot water tanks have this built in safety feature, but if unused, the valve could build up with mineral deposits and not work when you need it. This video explains how to test the relief valve. It won't take more than a few minutes to do this test each year.
It might seem like a lot, but the longer I attempt to "adult," the more I realize that things like home maintenance are much easier when you have a system in place. And if we can stay on top of tasks like the ones Donnie mentioned above, our home will be better equipped to stand the test of time!
If you'd like to catch up on the rest of our "First Things First" series, you can do so in these posts:
First Things First: Creating a Home Maintenance Plan (You're here!)
Have a wonderful week!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.