As a homeowner, you likely have a growing “to-do” list of home maintenance projects. From small tasks like replacing lightbulbs and watering the plants to more arduous ones like cleaning the gutters, there is always something to be done. And even as you settle into retirement years and opt to ‘age in place,’ these tasks will still be there. So how can you keep track of everything?
The best way to keep on top of home maintenance tasks is by creating a checklist, broken down by season. By knowing what tasks need to be done at a designated time of year, keeping your home in tip-top shape becomes less overwhelming and more manageable. Consider the following schedule to get started.
Clean Your Gutters
Dirty gutters can cause all sorts of problems, from a leaky roof to water infiltrating your home. As the warmer weather creeps in, be sure to clear your gutters of any fallen leaves or leftover debris from the winter. A simple cleaning can go a long way in preventing significant (and messy) problems in your home. But before you reach for your ladder, consider calling a family member, friend, or even a professional to help you get the job done. With more than 164,000 ladder-related emergency room visits per year in the US1, it’s important to put your safety first.
Degrease Your Grill
With more moderate weather, it’s only natural to want to pick up your spatula and start cooking on the grill. However, before you throw those burgers and hot dogs on, you’ll first want to give your grill a thorough cleaning. Removing stuck on food, grease, and grime from under the grates not only helps to prevent fires and cook food more evenly, but also removes harmful bacteria that could contaminate your food and cause illness.
Schedule Your HVAC System Maintenance
Prior to the hot summer months, it’s a good idea to have your HVAC system serviced. After all, once the temperature starts to spike, you’ll want your air conditioning to kick on right away. Schedule a servicing call during the spring. An HVAC technician will come to your home and check the ductwork for signs of damage, as well as clean and service the A/C compressor. While there, you can ask them to clean any vents you may have in your bathrooms as well!
Check Your Sump Pump
They say that April showers bring May flowers—but if your home has a sump pump, too much rain could spell disaster. Have your sump pump checked in the spring to ensure that it’s draining properly. Between thawing leftover snow and seasonal rainfall, you’ll need to make sure the motor is working efficiently to prevent water from seeping into your home.
Replace Batteries in Your Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
By now, you know the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: in the event of an emergency, they can save your life. However, it goes without saying that these detectors can only function if they have working batteries. Consider changing the batteries in your detectors when you switch the clocks to daylight saving time in the spring. This will keep you accountable and on schedule. While you’re at it, consider upgrading your detectors with smart detectors that are linked throughout your home with voice alerts, rather than just a standard alarm.
Inspect Your Drains
Nobody likes a leaky drain, and for good reason. Even the smallest of leaks in faucets can do a number on your water bill and leave your grounds feeling extra soggy. Be proactive in checking for leaks in all water lines, from your sinks to your washing machine valves. And don’t forget any outdoor faucets you may have. If a faucet or spigot is leaking onto a wooden deck, it runs the risk of rotting the wood.
Check Outdoor Sprinklers
Spring showers bring beautiful flowers, but once the rainy season is over, your plants will still require regular watering. Are your sprinklers prepared for the job? Before the dry season, take a walk around your yard to make sure all sprinkler heads are upright. You’ll want to make sure the spray is wide enough and not blocked by any debris. During your walkthrough, be sure to identify any potential leaks, pooling water, or low pressure—all tell-tale signs of a cracked underground pipe. If this is the case, call in a plumber before the issue worsens.
Plan for Extreme Heat
In the dog days of summer, heat waves are inevitable. Prepare your home for this harsh weather by checking the weather stripping around doors and windows. If you have windows that receive strong morning or afternoon sun, consider covering them with drapes to limit sun exposure. Also, heat waves can also put strain on power grids, which means brownouts and blackouts are possible. Be proactive by putting together a disaster supply kit, complete with flashlights, batteries, bottled water, and more.
Prevent Bugs/Pests Access
As much as you love spending time at home in the summer months, you’re not the only one – termites, ants, bees, and even rodents like it, too. And the warmer weather brings no shortage of these critters. Some infestations, like a few ants around the house, can quickly be solved with a spray can and thorough cleaning, while others, like termites, may require you to call in the pros. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take against bugs and pests. Start by identifying and sealing small holes or openings in your home where mice or insects may be gaining access.
Clean Your Dryer Vents
2,900—that’s the number of fires caused by clothes dryers every year2. Since many of these occur in the fall and winter months, it’s smart to get ahead of the hazard in the summer. While you should be cleaning the lint trap after every use of your dryer, it’s important to note that dryer vents need additional cleaning and maintenance at least once per year. Locate an HVAC specialist in your area and ask them to conduct a thorough cleaning and inspection of your dryer vents.
Rake the Leaves
Take a moment to think about fall—crisp air, cooler temperatures, the leaves changing colors. But what happens when those beautiful leaves fall from the trees? A thick bed of leaves on top of your lawn could smother your grass and lead to mold growth, so you’ll want to remove them before it’s too late. Raking your leaves not only helps you avoid this fate, but also goes a long way in aerating your lawn. Before you grab the rake, give your family members or grandkids a call—they may be willing to help, and eager to jump into the big pile of leaves when complete!
Have the Chimney Cleaned
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, fall is a great time to schedule its annual inspection. Regardless of how often you use your fireplace, your chimney still requires a regular checkup. A chimney can carry hazardous gases from your fireplace, wood stove, or furnace out of your home, so you’ll want to ensure the air inside your home is safe and easily breathable. Call in a professional to inspect the chimney. They’ll not only remove any built-up creosote, but they’ll also check for other potential hazards like bird nests or debris.
Check Windows & Doors for Drafts
With fall comes cooler weather, so you’ll want to make sure your house is well-insulated and able to retain heat. Take a walk around the house and check your windows and doors for any cracks or drafts. Caulking any openings will go a long way in preventing drafts ahead of the cooler winter months. You can also install storm windows and doors for even further insulation.
Have Your Furnace/HVAC System Serviced
You don’t want to wait until the coldest days of winter to discover an issue with your furnace or HVAC system. Be proactive in the fall and schedule to have your furnace and ductwork serviced, replacing any air filters as needed. An inspection will not only alert you to potential problems but will also help ensure your system is running as efficiently as possible.
Get Your Boiler/Radiators a Checkup
If your home is heated with steam heat, you know just how essential a functional boiler is, which is why it’s important to schedule its annual checkup. As part of this maintenance, your boiler should be cleaned thoroughly by draining the water to remove any sediment that may have collected and settled in the tank. Your plumber or heating specialist should also check on your radiators to make sure the valves are running correctly and are not worn out.
Replace Batteries in Your Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Remember those batteries you put in your smoke & carbon monoxide detectors back in the spring? It may be time to replace them. Use the end of daylight saving time as a reminder to check on your detectors and add new batteries.
Prepare for Snow Removal
Depending on your region, winter has the potential to bring heavy snow. Be prepared and make sure your snow blower is in good working order ahead of the first storm, and that you have ample gasoline and motor oil to power it. You can also send the snow blower out for a tune-up to get ahead of any potential issues. After all, you do not want to be left in a heavy snowstorm with nothing more than a shovel!
Prevent Pipes from Freezing
It’s no surprise that water pipes in crawl spaces, attics, or basements are prone to freezing in the winter – especially in certain climates. When water in your pipes freezes, it expands, presenting the opportunity for damaged or cracked pipes. What happens when the ice melts? The pipe bursts, and your home fills with water. Yikes! Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take around the house to prevent pipes from freezing in the first place. Before the cold weather arrives, shut off and drain any outdoor faucets. On the colder days and nights, keep the faucet running at a drip to keep water moving and keep cabinets below sinks open to allow warm air to circulate. You’ll also want to consider insulating pipes where possible by wrapping them with foam or another insulation material.
And there you have it—your home maintenance projects by season. While it’s no secret that owning a home comes with year-round responsibilities, you don’t have to dread these tasks. Remember that proactive maintenance is far more manageable and less costly than last-minute repairs or emergency calls. If any of these tasks are beyond your skill or comfort level, don’t be afraid to hire a professional.
By keeping up to date on even the smallest maintenance tasks and following a schedule, your home will keep running like a well-oiled machine for years to come. And if you’re part of the 90% of senior homeowners who wish to “age in place”3 or plan to make more extensive repairs or modifications to your home, a reverse mortgage could be a welcome source of cash flow. By tapping into your home equity with a reverse mortgage, you’ll improve your income and access an additional source of monthly cash flow to use as you wish. Better yet, there are no required monthly mortgage payments4 on a reverse mortgage.
- Real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, and property maintenance required.