While not as exciting as remodeling or decorating your home, it’s important to get into a routine of regular home maintenance. For new homeowners and those who haven't spent much time maintaining a home, here are the home maintenance basics you want to be aware of so you can protect the investment you've made in your home.
Why is home maintenance so important? Like visiting your doctor each year for your annual checkup, home maintenance focuses on preventing unnecessary repairs. If you change your air filters regularly, your heating and cooling systems will run more efficiently (lower utility bills) and last longer. You'll save money and have fewer emergencies to manage.
Home Maintenance Basics
Before we jump into all the areas of your home that need preventive home maintenance, let's review priorities:
- Safety for your family and guests, should always be your top priority.
- Identify and repair water damage quickly, both leaks from rain water to indoor plumbing problems.
- Address problems impacting energy and water efficiency, so your home is comfortable but not wasteful.
The framing of your house defines the space. Then there's an exterior envelope that wraps your home up tight to keep conditioned air (heated or cooled) inside. Within that shell, the key systems (plumbing, electrical and heating/cooling/ventilation) inside your home are what make our lives comfortable. It truly is magical that you're able to get what you want, where you want it and when you need it.
For example, hot water is much more than a hot water heater. The system includes all the pipes that carry hot (and cold) water to every faucet plus the pipes that carry the waste water away after it's been used. These systems are made up of hundreds of parts that must work together to provide you with a comfortable, functional living environment.
Home Maintenance Basics: Prevention
Your review will go smoothly with a checklist that identifies the things you need to inspect around your home. You can create your own checklist or use one of ours. They're organized by season (Read: Home Maintenance Tips for Women Homeowners) to cover all home maintenance basics.
- Maintenance tip #1 – starts with doing a visual inspection of your home's surfaces and systems. That's because problems are much easier to fix when they're found early.
- Maintenance tip #2 – You always want to find and correct the source of the problem before you repair other damage. For example, you need to resolve a roof leak before you address the ceiling stains caused by the roof leaking.
- Maintenance tip #3 – Many home repairs jobs require multiple skills, i.e. plumbing is buried inside your walls so the plumber has to remove drywall to find and fix some plumbing leaks. Most plumbers will leave you with a dry house but typically they don't handle drywall repairs, so you'll need to call a handyman.
- Maintenance tips #4 – Coordinating multiple specialty contractors and product purchases can be challenging and time consuming. While the actual work might only take a few days, don't be surprised if you end up living with an unfinished repair for several weeks. Don't be too tough on yourself as you simply don't know the sequence of repairs in order to schedule each contractor to arrive the next day. For example, the repairs might start with a plumber, followed by a handyman, and finally a flooring company.
As a homeowner, your most important role is to find problems and make sure they're addressed in a timely fashion. That doesn't mean you have to make the repairs yourself. Some some tasks like tuning up your HVAC system, should always be done by home professionals. You may try making repairs first but don't be afraid to call for help like we did above, when cleaning the vents on our refrigerator didn't resolve the problem.
Exterior Home Maintenance Basics
Your home’s exterior, also called the envelope, is like your winter coat. Unlike your coat which you take off when going indoors, the envelope remains on your house because it's exposed to the elements 365 days a year. This envelope fills several roles keeping your house dry and airtight.
So what are the home maintenance basics for your home's exterior?
It’s important to make repairs quickly as moisture can cause more extensive damage hidden from sight for years. There are so many different components that make up your home's exterior, that we're listing them here with links to all related articles.
- Roofing and gutter repairs and replacement.
- Siding, exterior trim and painting.
- Doors and window repairs and replacement.
- Decks, fencing, porches and patios.
- Landscaping, driveways, walkways & more.
Interior Home Maintenance Covers …
Once you've made sure your home is dry and warm, it's time to move indoors and make sure everything is running efficicently. Our seasonal checklists offer a lot more detail. Here we just want to review the areas of your home, and the systems that need preventive home maintenance basics.
Changes to your home’s interior include both the hidden systems (electrical, plumbing and HVAC) that create a warm, comfortable environment and the look and feel of your rooms, from ceiling to flooring. In addition to the aesthetic look of your rooms, you want to consider the functional aspects of each room and feature, with many homeowners continually searching for more storage areas.
- Appliances and electronics are everywhere now.
- Electrical systems for lighting and electronics.
- Kitchens, bathrooms and the laundry room should be checked for
- Plumbing for bathrooms, kitchens plus hot water heaters and water softeners.
- Doors and windows should be checked for smooth operations.
- Flooring should be checked to spot problems that need to be addressed, like caulking or refinishing wood floors.
- Heating, ventilation and air condition (HVAC) to keep you comfortable. You'll need to schedule an HVAC professional for this task.
- Walk through your garage, basement, attic and check other features like a fireplace.
Beyond Basic Home Maintenance
Once you've completed your home maintenance review and planned out follow up repairs, we hope you've got the time and money to update your home to support your lifestyle better. Here are some of the most popular homeowner projects to start dreaming about:
- Decorating with furnishings, artwork and more.
- Maybe you just want to paint a few rooms?
- Carpentry that fit your home and lifestyle. We've also got a fun series on Interior Trim Ideas (7 articles).
- Interior Trim Series.