You have undoubtedly heard this a million times: buying a home is the greatest investment you will ever make (I cannot disagree on that, don’t get me wrong). However, how to take care of your new investment is something that’s not often discussed.
There are several small details that new homeowners need to keep their home maintenance in check. No worries, it’s much easier when you break it down into small, manageable tasks that correspond with the seasons.
For example, in the spring, you can focus on deep cleaning and decluttering; in the winter, you can concentrate on ensuring your home is well-insulated and draft-free.
Staying on top of the small stuff throughout the year ensures a well-run household.
Here is your list of 15 home maintenance tips to help you keep your home at its best.
15 Home Maintenance Tips You Can’t Miss:
1. Check the doorbell and the locks
The security of your home is essential, and one of the first things you should do to secure your house after you move in is to change the locks. Or, at the very least, get them rekeyed.
You never know how many people might have keys to your house. So, it’s better to prevent.
2. Check the smoke detectors
Replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors is one way to help ensure your safety in the event of a fire. If you don’t have smoke detectors installed in your house, you should buy some and install them according to the National Fire Protection Association’s guidelines.
While you’re changing out the batteries, take a look at where your detectors are placed. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there should be a smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on every level of a house. If your home does not have smoke detectors (although the home inspection should have found these), now is the time to install them.
Make sure you maintain them regularly to avoid losing your home or, even worse, your family.
3. Replace your furnace filter when necessary
During the winter months, it’s important to change your furnace filter regularly.
Home furnaces and boilers are used much more frequently to keep up with the higher heating demands. If your filter is filthy, you must replace it to avoid dirtying your home and wasting energy.
Dirty filters also affect how well furnaces and boilers work, potentially causing your furnace to require repairs.
4. Renew any dead outlets
For some homeowners, the most prevalent issue is outlets that don’t work.
We recommend checking that you have GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles with those “Test” and “Reset” buttons near any plumbing fixtures. If you don’t, you may want to install GFCI receptacles or call a professional electrician.
5. Check the thermostat settings
Adjusting the thermostat in your home can make a big difference in your energy bill.
There are two ways to determine how high or low you should turn the temperature: how comfortable you are and how much you pay.
Consider changing it to 7 to 10 degrees from its normal range when you’re not home. This could save you up to 10% annually on heating and cooling costs.
Ultimately, you should set it as low and as high as is tolerable for you. Consider installing a smart thermostat or upgrading the current one in your house.
A smart thermostat saves you money. It can learn your temperature preferences and automatically adjust to them and remind you when to perform maintenance on your heating and cooling system.
With a smart thermostat, you can remotely control your thermostat from your phone, tablet, smart speaker, or another internet-connected device.
6. Remodel or reseal your bathtub, shower, and bathroom fixtures
Over time, the grout or caulk fillers in your bathroom will start to break down and wear out. If you notice any cracking, peeling, or mildew build-up, it’s important to take care immediately.
Not only does moldy grout or caulk give off the impression that you don’t clean your home regularly, but it can also be a health hazard. As a temporary solution, you can treat moldy grout or caulk with a bleach solution. However, you should plan on recaulking every 5 years as part of regular home maintenance.
It’s a surprisingly easy process that anyone can do—just grab a tube of caulk, a caulk gun, and a handy DIY caulking guide.
7. Check your gutters regularly
Keep an eye out for detached downspouts on the perimeter of your home every so often.
Water can flow into your home if your downspouts aren’t working correctly, causing problems such as water intrusion and foundation damage.
The cost of fixing this problem is relatively low in comparison to the cost of expensive repairs you might need to make in the future.
8. Search for the circuit breaker box
Label all the breakers in your breaker box so you know which one controls which circuit in your house.
The breaker box is usually a metal box with a door located inside or outside the house.
Some breaker boxes have a main shut-off lever on the outside of the box, preventing electricity from flowing into the box. Nevertheless, even if all breakers are off, electricity will still flow to the box if there is no lever. To put it another way, keep your hands off everything inside the box except the breakers’ levers.
9. Inspect and replace worn HVAC filters
HVAC filters play an important role in keeping your home’s air quality clean. Like furnace filters, most HVAC filters are located in the return air duct of your system.
It’s important to make sure that they are the correct size and have the proper airflow direction. For optimal results, it is recommended that you replace your HVAC filter at least once a year.
10. Do a crawl space or basement inspection
Any moisture coming into your home is cause for alarm, as this can lead to all sorts of problems, from mosquito breeding grounds to rot.
Inspect your home regularly, paying particular attention to areas like basement corners and edges of walls where water may seep in.
If you have a crawl space, be sure to check that there is no standing water, which can attract insects and other pests.
Doing these things seasonally, especially in the spring and fall when rain or melting snow can cause flooding, will help keep your home in good condition.
11. Window checks are important
Once more, look outside your windows for any water that may have seeped in.
Gently pressing down on your window sills can tell you whether water has been leaking in – if they feel soft, there’s a chance water has infiltrated the space between the sill and wall. In the case of extensive damage, it might be best to call in reinforcement in the form of a professional.
If you have windows that feel drafty, are hard to open, or are making strange noises, you may need to recaulk them. Recaulking is a simple DIY project that may ventilate your home, making it more comfortable. It will also keep your window from sticking and help prevent mildew.
Caulking can be tricky, but with some preparation and the right materials, you can seal out the elements and make your windows new again.
12. Do a check on your doors
It’s easy to forget that over a quarter of the heat escaping from your home is lost through the doorways. So if you need to reduce your energy bills, the easiest way to start is to ensure you have properly sealed and insulated your doors, single and doubles.
Make sure your doors are weather-stripped if they don’t already have any, or replace old weather-stripping if it’s not working well. Your HVAC system will be more efficient (and work better) if your house is less drafty.
13. If needed, touch up your house’s exterior paint
Stop looking at those chips and cracks and paint over them before they become a big problem.
If you have lots of peeling and cracking paint on your house’s exterior, it’s time for a fresh coat. If the wood or other material it covers is also peeling, that may mean you need to scrape off the old paint and re-paint.
There are probably a lot of layers of paint on your house if it’s very old (unless the previous owners scraped all the old paint off first), and the original layers probably contain lead.
Don’t worry – your local hardware store can tell you if there’s lead paint in the coating you’re buying. Lead paint isn’t as good and won’t last as long as paint that doesn’t contain lead. It may cost more, but it’s worth it.
14. Repair driveway cracks
Slabs and walkways can crack due to settling and shifting, and not much can be done to prevent this. The best way to handle cracks in concrete is to repair them as soon as they appear, while they are still small.
If you can wait until spring, you should do so. The process is much easier in the spring when the cracks have dried out.
Deep cracks in concrete can also be a problem during a home inspection and are a must-fix for home maintenance needs.
If your concrete is too cracked for resurfacing, you may need to consider mud jacking or slab jacking. This process injects a grout under your concrete slabs to raise them and typically costs around half as much as putting in a new slab.
15. Keep an eye out for pest activity
To prevent pests from becoming a problem in your home, it is important to inspect both the inside and outside of your home regularly for any signs of pests.
This means inspecting your home’s foundation for cracks that might allow animals to gain entry and roofing problems that may allow some uninvited guests.
A professional pest inspector can also perform a once-over on your home yearly. By detecting a problem early on, you can nip it in the bud before it becomes a more significant issue.
Now that you know the main home maintenance tips:
Don’t omit these important things!
The maintenance list that comes with buying your first home might be intimidating. You can do most of the things on the list only once or twice a year.
You can keep track of your home’s performance by having a list of what needs to be maintained, how frequently it should be done, and when was the last time it was done.
If you’re considering purchasing a house in Massachusetts, contact us today by calling (617) 729-2967 or clicking here. We want to guide you in this important process.