Suggested Homeowner’s Maintenance Checklist: Yearly & Seasonally

The following are general suggestions for homeowners when it comes to home maintenance. Information taken from

Yearly Home Upkeep

Just like you, your house and its many components get a year older every 12 months. Here are a few annual maintenance tasks that can help your home age gracefully:

  • Clean clothes dryer exhaust. Lint buildup in the dryer vent will affect the dryer’s efficiency and may create a fire hazard. In fact, about 15,500 house fires are caused by clothes dryers each year. The National Park Service offers some interesting ideas on what to do with all the lint.
  • Lubricate garage door springs. Whether you have an opener or not, greasing your garage door springs can make it much easier to operate.
  • Drain hot water heater. Sediment that collects in the bottom of the heater can affect its longevity. If you’re not sure how to drain the water heater, this tutorial from the City of Fresno has the answers you seek.
  • Look for signs of termites. A swarm of termites can lead to huge expenses. This termite primer from the EPA can help you spot them.
  • Clean septic tank. If your sewage collects in a tank, it should be inspected annually and emptied as needed. The average household needs a septic tank cleaning every two or three years.
  • Check your fire extinguisher. At least once per year, check the gauge to see if it is still holding the proper pressure, that its hose is not dry rotted, and the date it was certified or manufactured. Most non-rechargeable fire extinguishers need to be replaced every 10 years.
  • Exercise fixture supply valves and inspect lines. These include supply valves and lines for toilets, faucets, clothes washers and dishwashing machines, ice makers and more. Valves that aren’t opened and closed occasionally may seize over time, and not being able to turn them off promptly in case of a leak may create an even bigger headache.
  • Clean your bathroom exhaust fan. These can become clogged with lint, dust, hairspray and more, hurting efficiency. This may be as simple as pulling the fan cover off the ceiling and using a vacuum, and some fans can be easily removed to be fully cleaned.
  • Clean refrigerator coils. Haven’t pulled out your refrigerator in a while? You’ll be amazed at how much dirt and dust will collect in the air passages under your fridge. Use a brush and vacuum and/or compressed air canister to get things cleaned up again, which can improve efficiency and save energy, too. If you have pets that shed, consider doing this twice per year.

Spring House Upkeep

Winter can be tough on your home — even if you live in an area that receives little or no snowfall. Here’s the springtime homeowner’s maintenance checklist to ensure your home is ready when spring flowers begin to bloom:

  • HVAC checkup. It’s a good idea to have your system tuned up before air conditioning season arrives. Always use a trained professional for this. Many companies offer discounts to those who sign maintenance agreements for spring and fall tune-ups.
  • Roof inspection. Winter snow and ice can damage shingles which could lead to leaks. You can inspect your roof with binoculars, but don’t go up there. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 500,000 people are injured in ladder-related accidents each year. Roof repairs are best left to a qualified contractor.
  • Check gutters. Ice buildup during the winter months can cause gutters to loosen and sag. Gutters that don’t drain properly may create drainage issues — left for a season or two, an unstable gutter can spill enough water to damage the foundation.
  • Inspect sidewalks and driveway. Cracks and buckles caused by freezing temperatures should be repaired before they become a major issue.
  • Check seals around doors and windows. Check for drafts again. Cracked caulking should be touched up to prevent the loss of cooled air all summer.
  • Check storm-window drains. Older homes often have triple-track storm windows and screens, and these usually have small drains to prevent rain puddling, which can rot wooden window sills. Make sure any rain that does get trapped can flow out.

Summer Home Care

Vacations, golf outings or lounging by the pool may be on your schedule this summer, but save a little time for your home. Relax with the knowledge that your house is ready for summer by taking care of these chores before hitting the links:

  • Trim around outdoor HVAC units. Grass and weeds growing around the units can affect their efficiency and could even cause expensive damage.
  • Inspect your decks. If the wood is beginning to show its age, summer can be a good time to apply a coat of stain or sealant. Take the time to tap down any protruding nails and sand any rough areas to ensure safety throughout the seasons.
  • Check siding. Warm weather is ideal for pressure washing vinyl or fiber cement siding. Pay close attention to each piece of siding as you clean it, looking for cracks, soft spots and any other signs of trouble.
  • Inspect foundation and crawlspace. Look for cracks that may need repair. Check the crawlspace right after a heavy rain to make sure there’s no water getting in there.
  • Test lawn irrigation system. If you have an underground lawn irrigation system, leaks in the pipes or connections can cause your water bills to skyrocket. The Environmental Protection Agency offers excellent tips for maintaining your irrigation system.

Fall House Maintenance

Before you get too caught up carving pumpkins or watching football, reserve a few weekend hours to take care of these autumn home maintenance tasks:

  • HVAC system inspection. Have a qualified HVAC mechanic inspect your system to ensure it’s ready to heat your home all winter.
  • Turn off outside hose bibs. If you don’t have frost-free exterior faucets, shut off their water supply and drain the lines to prevent freezing. While you’re at it, roll up hoses and get the outside of your home tidy for winter.
  • Inspect the fireplace. Always have a professional inspect wood stove and wood burning fireplace chimneys prior to starting the first fire of the season. The Chimney Safety Institute of America reports an average of 22,300 chimney fires each year; a good fireplace and chimney cleaning can help keep your home from becoming a statistic.
  • Clean gutters and check roof. Remove all debris that can trap snow and water during the winter. If you live in a one-story home, this can be a DIY-project for you and a partner.
  • Check your weather stripping. Weather stripping around doors and windows can become worn or compressed over time, limiting its effectiveness against cold drafts. Try the draft test suggested in the Winter section and see if it’s time for replacement.
  • Check exterior grade. Fill in any depressions near the foundation that can trap water or snow. These water issues could eventually lead to damp basements, settling or foundation damage.

Winter Household Maintenance Tasks

Unless you’re a fan of cold weather, your natural inclination might be to hunker down during the winter and wait for spring’s arrival. However, before going into hibernation mode, there are a few winter home maintenance chores you should attend to:

  • Watch for ice dams. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that builds up at the bottom of a roof, trapping snow and melting water behind it. This can allow water to infiltrate the roof. Get in touch with a contractor to fix the problem so it never happens again. Here’s a good overview of ice dams from the National Weather Service.
  • Check for drafts. Cold air slipping in around doors and windows can cause higher heating bills. Use this simple trick: light a stick of incense and slowly move it around the seams of doors and windows. When the smoke blows around instead of rising in a straight line, you’ve got a draft. Many gaps can be eliminated by applying a little caulk.
  • Test your sump pump. If you have a basement sump pump, make sure the switch is on and pour a little water in the crock to ensure it starts. Many basement leaks occur during upcoming spring thaws, so check it now to be safe. Check the backup battery, too. Review more information on sump pumps from the North Dakota State University Extension Office.
  • Close foundation vents. Crawl space ventilation is good for your home during the spring, summer, and fall. However, during the winter months, closing the vents can help lower your heating costs.
  • Cover outdoor air conditioning units. Snow and ice can damage outdoor air conditioning units if they aren’t protected. Covers are available at most home improvement stores, but even a secured canvas tarp will do. If you don’t have central air conditioning and instead use window air conditioners, store them inside to protect them or wrap them in place until spring.