Complete these seven quick tasks each month to keep your home in excellent condition:
Inspect and clean refrigerator door seals—The rubber seals on your refrigerator and freezer doors are important for keeping the temperature inside the compartments regulated. When they’re not sealed or are sticky from food residue, your refrigerator will need to run the compressor more frequently to keep the temperature low. Keeping your door seals clean ensures that your appliance isn’t overworking. Clean with warm water, a sponge, and a drop of dish soap.
Vacuum carpets—Dirty carpets look bad. Worse, dirt is abrasive, so walking across a dirty carpet grinds down the carpet fibers and leads to an earlier replacement. Vacuum monthly to maximize the life of your carpet—vacuum high-traffic areas weekly.
Clean drains—Avoid unexpected plumbing costs and the hassle of dealing with clogged drains by making it a habit to check drains in your shower, kitchen sink, and bathroom sinks on a monthly basis. Removing debris, food particles, or hair from drains before there’s a clog will save you from an untimely drainage issue and a subsequent plumbing bill.
Change your filters—Doing so takes less than 10 minutes and is a vital step in ensuring your HVAC system functions at maximum efficiency. Changing your filters regularly will also reduce your utility bill. In addition to checking and replacing your air filters, inspect your furnace filter and remove any dust that has accumulated. You’ll want to replace your furnace filter every one to six months, particularly in the autumn and winter. Check your air filters monthly—and replace if necessary.
Clean dishwasher screen—If you use your dishwasher regularly, check to see if yours has a filtering screen under the bottom spray arm. If it does, you need to keep this clean. Otherwise, food particles will stick to the screen and will develop into a thick, sludgy material that blocks water flow and reduces effectiveness over time. Consult the manual to verify how to remove and clean the screen.
Empty basement dehumidifier—If you have a dehumidifier in your basement, it’s important to empty its reservoir regularly. Depending on your climate and how damp the basement is, you may need to empty more frequently than once a month. If it’s full—empty it.
Clean kitchen bins—Food and liquid often find their way into the bottom of your trash can or recycling bin. If left uncleaned, this can create a sludge that smells bad and attracts insects and other pests. Clean your trash and recycling bins monthly to avoid this.
Spring home maintenance checklist
When winter ends, trees begin to bud and flowers start to bloom. At this time, most people think of spring cleaning. Yet spring is also an excellent season for regular home and exterior maintenance.
Maintain garbage disposal—Pour a pot of boiling water down your garbage disposal drain. Measure 1/2 cup of baking soda and pour down the drain. Let sit for 3–5 minutes. While you wait, combine one cup of vinegar and one cup hot water. Pour that mixture down the drain. Optionally, cover the disposal drain with a drain plug. Let the mixture sit for 10–15 minutes. Flush the piping by pouring another pot of boiling water down the drain. Check the screw and tighten if necessary.
Drain hot water heater—Fully drain your hot water heater to remove debris and sediment from the bottom. This annual maintenance task will prolong the life of your water heater, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars over time.
Test each smoke and carbon monoxide detector—To err on the side of safety, you may consider conducting a monthly test of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. At a minimum, you’ll want to test them quarterly. You’ll see this appear on each season’s maintenance checklist.
Inspect windows and doors—Remove any weather stripping. Check the locks and latches. Assess whether any windows or individual panes need to be replaced.
Check basement conditions—Search for leaks or other damp conditions in your basement. Repair any leaks that you find. Clean your basement dehumidifier.
Inspect plumbing—Check for plumbing leaks throughout the house. Look at pipes under sinks, check ceilings for stains or other signs of water damage, and test your toilets to ensure they’re functioning properly. Check faucets and shower heads for leaks or drips, and replace the washers if they’re leaking. Clean shower heads and faucet aerators to remove mineral deposits (see our guide on removing hard water stains). Inspect the caulk in your showers, sinks, and baths, repairing or reapplying if necessary. Finally, test the temperature pressure relief valve in your water heater.
Inspect fire extinguishers—Fire extinguishers have an expiration date. Check annually to ensure your extinguishers have not expired. If an extinguisher will expire within the next 12 months, consider replacing it. The best place to ask questions about fire extinguishers is your local fire department.
Clean dryer vent—Lint buildup decreases your dryer’s efficiency and increases your utility bill. If that’s not enough of a reason, consider that excessive lint buildup is one of the most common causes of home fires. First, vacuum the inside of the dryer cabinet. Consult the manual on how to remove the access panel for easier access. Then, clean the vent. You can do this yourself or hire a professional if you’d like. To clean, you can either disconnect the vent from the dryer and use a vacuum to suction any lint in the system, or you could feed in a dryer bush—available at most appliance stores—from the outside into the house.
Test detectors and replace batteries—You’ll want to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors quarterly. On or before the summer solstice, replace the batteries in all of your detectors.
Wash windows and doors—If you used a power washer to clean the exterior of your house in the spring, you likely won’t need to again. But a light cleaning with standard household cleaners will freshen up the windows and the doors of your home.
Inspect for termite damage—You can perform a very simple termite inspection in your home. Tap windowsills, baseboards, and walls. If you hear a hollow, flat sound, it may be termites and it’s worth calling a professional to inspect your property. If you see termites—alive or dead—hire a professional.
Maintain your yard and garden—Water, mow, aerate, weed, and otherwise tend to your plants and garden. Sweep and clean outdoor patios and decks as needed.
Fall home maintenance checklist
Maintain garbage disposal—Pour a pot of boiling water down your garbage disposal drain. Measure a half cup of baking soda and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for three to five minutes. While you wait, combine one cup of vinegar and one cup hot water. Pour that mixture down the drain. Optionally, cover the drain with a drain plug. Let the mixture sit for 10–15 minutes. Flush the piping by pouring another pot of boiling water down the drain. Check the screw and tighten if necessary.
Test each smoke and carbon monoxide detector—You may consider conducting a monthly test of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. At a minimum, test them quarterly.
Remove leaves—It’s autumn, and leaves are going to fall. Keep your basement window wells clear by cleaning monthly or more frequently as needed. You’ll also want to check gutters on a monthly basis. If you can see leaves in gutters from the ground, you’re behind schedule on this chore. Test your leaf blower and snow blower to ensure they work correctly before the seasons change.