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Home maintenance tips for new owners

Home maintenance tips help a lot when you're new to homeownership

After working so hard to save for a house and finally becoming a homeowner, taking good care of your home is likely your top concern. Homeownership makes home maintenance a whole different thing than it was when you were a renter. Here are some home maintenance tips to help you keep your exciting new investment in its best shape.

A home maintenance checklist for new homeowners

  • Monthly or Quarterly

    Change HVAC filters: Your heating and cooling system includes a filter. How often you need to change it depends on your household. If you have pets and family members with allergies, you may want to change it monthly. Otherwise, you could be fine changing it up to every three months.

    Clean fridge coils: Your refrigerator has coils, either underneath the unit or behind it. These coils get dusty, and that causes your fridge to work harder. Save electricity and lengthen the life of your fridge by vacuuming the gunk away regularly.

  • Bi-annually

    Do routine HVAC maintenance: Twice a year, have an HVAC professional come over for routine home maintenance on your HVAC. In early fall, have them tune up your furnace, and have them do the same for your air conditioning in early spring.

    Clear your dryer vent: Lint builds up in the pipe leading from your dryer to the outdoors, creating a fire hazard over time. You can have a contractor do this job, or you can buy a dryer vent brush to clean it out yourself.

    Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: This is one of the most important home maintenance tips. Replace the batteries and push the test buttons to be sure they’re always in working condition.

  • Annually

    Make a snow plow plan: If you live where it snows, you’re not going to want to wait until you’re trapped in your driveway to figure out how to remove the snow. Book a snow plow service in early fall, or get a snow blower (or make sure yours is in working order if you have one) so you’re ready at the first sign of winter.

    Make a lawn mowing plan: Many cities have rules about how long your grass can be, and letting your grass get too long can also invite bugs and rodents into your yard. Book a lawn mowing service or get a lawn mower in early spring.

    Check indoor and outdoor caulking: Your home has caulking everywhere. It’s around in the inside and outside of windows and doors, and around your tub and sinks. That caulking helps protect your home, so check it out closely every year and re-caulk if necessary. Make sure you buy the right caulk for each job (some types are for exterior use, others are made for tubs and sinks), and also remove the old caulk before applying the new stuff.

    Touch up exterior paint: Your paint has an even bigger job than making your house look good; it protects your siding. Even if you’re not ready to repaint your entire house, scrape any peeling paint every year and repaint any exposed siding.

    Stain and seal the deck: Wood decks require annual maintenance to stay in good shape. Re-stain and seal your deck every year. Fall is a good time to do it, as the cooler weather is ideal for the job, and your deck will be protected all winter. This can be a DIY home project or you can have a handyperson do it.

    Test your sump pump: Your sump pump protects your home from flooding, so make sure it’s in working order.

    Drain the water heater: Sediment builds up in your water heater over time and can shorten the life of the appliance. Drain it annually to get the sediment out before any damage occurs. If you have well water that is hard or contains high levels of minerals, you may want to do this more often.

  • As needed

    Clean gutters: Clogged gutters cause all sorts of problems. They can let water threaten your home’s foundation, allow ice dams to build up on your roof, and even become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Fall is the busiest time for cleaning gutters because of falling leaves (you may have to clean them as often as weekly depending on how many trees you have), but it’s good to do a spot check year-round as needed, too.

    Do a deep clean of the whole house: A good ol’ house cleaning is important to your home maintenance. Dirt and grime can cause appliances to fail, hide needed repairs, and mask odors that indicate something’s wrong in your home. Depending on the size of your home and family, and if you have pets, you may need to do this as often as weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Ready for the really fun homeownership stuff? Learn about how to decide which home projects you can DIY and which you should leave to the pros, next.