Home Maintenance Checkup
a .pdf version here.
This information can help guide you as you inspect your:
can't take care of itself. Your monthly budget should include
money for routine maintenance and repair for the house and yard.
Plan to set money aside for the large, irregular expenses that
occur normally as a house ages. Large expenses include interior
and exterior painting, repairs or replacement of heating and air
conditioning units and appliances, floor coverings, and roof surfaces.
Housing experts recommend setting aside 1 to 3 percent of the
market value of your house each year to pay for maintenance and
repair costs. While all of these funds may not be needed if your
home is new, the accumulated amounts will help you pay for large
future expenses, such as re-roofing or replacing a heating unit.
Home maintenance helps provide a healthy, safe environment as
it protects your growing financial investment. It is much easier
to prevent the development of unsafe, unhealthy conditions and
structural damage than to pay medical or repair bills or both.
Who is responsible for home maintenance? The home owner is responsible
for what is owned. (Check your owner agreement if you live in
a condominium or townhouse.)
Why should you do regular home maintenance?
- To maintain
the value of the property.
- A well-maintained
home usually sells more readily and usually brings a higher
- A well-maintained
house is more comfortable.
care minimizes unexpected repair work and expense.
small repairs keep costs from becoming larger.
- A lender's
agreement usually requires the owner to maintain the property
to protect the lender's financial interest.
What is involved
in home maintenance? Cleaning roof and gutters, cleaning or painting
outside wall surfaces, cleaning floors and walls, vacuuming carpet,
keeping sink and shower drains running freely, etc.
What is involved in home repair? Replacing broken glass in windows
or doors, replacing warped or worn shingles, repairing a cracked
or heaved sidewalk or driveway, replacing worn out faucets, repairing
a broken stair rail, etc.
How often should you do maintenance and repairs? Maintenance and
repairs should be done as soon as the need appears. This sooner-the-better
practice helps prevent further damage and keeps repair costs down.
At least once every 6 months, inspect your house and yard thoroughly
to identify items needing work.
Who should do the maintenance and repairs? The home owner who
does his or her own maintenance and repairs saves money. Use the
following sources to learn how to do your own maintenance and
use and care booklet and care guides from repair and cleaning
leaflets on maintenance and repairs.
(DIY) publications often available free in builder supply or
- Home maintenance/repair
books and videos in the public libraries or stores.
- An experienced
neighbor or friend.
If you are
not able to do the work, hire a qualified, experienced repair
person. Ask friends for personal recommendations. Check the telephone
book, neighborhood newspapers, or special advertisements to find
a reputable repair person. Ask for written estimates, and do not
pay in advance for maintenance or repair services.
Include a maintenance/repair category in your monthly budget.
If you do not need the money in a particular month, put it in
a savings account for the periodic, expensive repairs that will
happen as a house ages.
Inspect your house regularly. Develop a system where you inspect
one area per month to ensure regular inspection of each area.
Start at the foundation of the house and work upward and inward.
The following list of areas to check may help.
BASEMENTS, and YARDS
that strikes the house or drips down from the roof should drain
away from the foundation walls. The gutter and downspout system
should keep water from pooling around the foundation where it
can create a moisture problem. Be sure gutters and downspouts
are kept open and in good repair.
- Trim shrubs
and bushes away from the foundation walls. Clearance space should
be at least one foot.
masonry foundation walls for cracks or weakened, crumbling mortar.
main support beams, support columns, and floor joists for evidence
of bowing or warping.
wood structural members, such as joists, beams, and columns,
with a screwdriver or pocket knife to be sure wood is solid
and free from decay.
the inside and outside of all foundation walls and piers for
termite tubes and damage. You may choose to have an insect-control
company to do this each year.
that the crawl space vapor barrier is in good condition and
placed correctly. A vapor barrier is usually a polyethylene
material (6-mil) that covers 70 to 100 percent of the crawl
space, depending on the severity of the moisture problem.
the inside of basement walls for dampness or water stains indicating
seepage or a leak.
- In most
areas, water lines and outside faucets need some freeze protection
or winter drainage. In addition, garden hoses should be drained
and stored for the winter.
leaves and debris from around an outside heating/air conditioning
condenser and trim back shrubs that may block air movement around
- Yard care
power equipment should be drained of fuel in the late fall or
early winter and serviced according to manufacturer's instructions.
below grade window wells, and storm drains should be cleaned
of debris or leaves.
and walks should be checked for cracks, breaks, or erosion that
may damage them. If asphalt surfaces need repairing, be certain
you have the equipment and skill to do a lasting repair job.
Otherwise, choose a reputable contractor. Unrepaired cracks
in concrete can lead to further damage.
and repair garden equipment after the last use of the season.
Remove dirt and rust, then store in dry area. Winter is a good
time to file rough spots on hoes and shovels and to apply linseed
oil to handles of garden tools. Thoroughly rinse pesticide and
herbicide sprayers to prevent clogging, and rinse fertilizer
spreaders to prevent corrosion.
- A septic
tank needs periodic attention. Learn how to check for sludge
and scum accumulation in the tank, and have solids pumped out
of the tank as needed.
gates, and retaining walls should be checked for ease of operation,
condition of structure, and materials. Make repairs as needed.
WALLS, WINDOWS, and DOORS
bricks or blocks for cracked mortar or loose joints.
siding for loose or missing pieces, lifting or warping, or any
sign of mildew.
painted surfaces for paint failure (peeling, chipping, blistering,
chalking), water damage, or mildew.
all trim for tightness of fit, damage, or decay.
the condition of caulking where two different materials meet,
such as where wood siding joins the foundation wall, at inside
corners, and where window and door trim meets the siding.
the windows for cracked or broken glass, loose putty around
the glass panes, holes in screens, and evidence of moisture
between pane and storm windows.
that windows and doors close properly. Examine all hardware
on windows and doors, and lubricate moving parts.
weatherstripping on windows and doors for damage and tightness
- Make sure
that all window and door locks work properly. Each exterior
door should have a one-inch deadbolt lock for safety.
- Trim back
tree branches that scrape against or overhang the roof. Keep
branches away from chimney to avoid fire hazard and allow proper
draft for safe and efficient chimney operation.
for curled, damaged, loose, or missing shingles.
the lower edge of roof sheathing for water damage.
all roof flashing and the flashing around chimneys, vent stacks,
roof edges, dormers, and skylights.
- Make sure
that the chimney cover (cap) is in good condition, and that
it is tall enough to prevent creosote build-up.
vents and louvers for free air movement. Clean screens and remove
bird nests, spiders, insects, and dust.
- If there
are wind turbines on the roof, check ball bearings. Clear gable
vents of bird's nests and other obstructions.
for damaged gutters, downspouts, hangers, and strainers. If
needed, clean out gutters and downspouts. Make sure they are
free from leaks and rust.
the condition of paint on gutters.
television antenna guy wires and support straps.
all ceilings and walls for cracks, loose or failing plaster,
signs of leaks or stains, dirt, and finish damage.
for cracks where ceilings join walls and where moldings attach
to ceilings and walls.
for odor or visible evidence of mildew or mold.
for finish damage around cabinet pulls.
all joints in ceramic tiles and laminated plastics for adequate
caulking. Have any of the tiles cracked or become discolored?
caulking around sinks, bathtubs, and showers. Some types of
caulking become brittle with age, and therefore useless as a
water seal. Replace with a long-lasting resilient caulking material,
such as silicone or latex.
all floors for wear and damage. Are the floors level, bowed,
or do they squeak when you walk on them? Particularly check
where one type of flooring material meets another, such as where
carpet or wood joins tile.
stairs for loose treads, handrails, or carpeting, and repair
SYSTEMS and FIXTURES
the condition of lamp cords, extension cords, and plugs. Also
examine the appliance cords and plugs of vacuums, irons, mixers,
washers, and dryers.
for exposed wires and signs of wear in the
- If you
have a fuse that blows often or a circuit breaker that trips
frequently, call an electrician to determine the cause and make
the repair. Mark each circuit so that you will know what outlets
or appliances are included on each.
- If you
experience a slight tingling shock when handling or inspecting
any appliance or lamp, disconnect the appliance and repair it.
places where wiring is exposed, such as in the attic. Look for
exposed wires and wires with cracked insulation. Replace those
in poor condition.
- If you
have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in outlets near
sinks, the laundry, the shop, and the garage, check the GFCIs
monthly and after an electrical storm.
that all appliance cords are in good condition.
and COOLING SYSTEMS
- Have heating
and cooling systems checked by a qualified serviceperson once
a year or according to the manufacturer's warranty and service
recommendations. Failure to do manufacturer-recommended servicing
may void warranties.
or replace filters. Check your owner's manual for recommended
procedures. Some filters should be replaced as often as once
dirt and dust from around furnaces, air grills, and ducts.
clean out fireplace ash pit.
- Have the
chimney checked each fall before you use it. A build up of creosote
and soot can be very dangerous. If you use your fireplace or
woodstove regularly, a yearly cleaning is recommended. Seek
help from professional fire fighters or chimney inspectors if
you have any doubt about the chimney safety.
the attic to be sure that insulation or other material is not
blocking free air flow through soffit vents, gable vents, or
other attic vents. If light from the outside shines through
each vent into a darkened attic, then the vents are clear.
faucet and hose connections under sinks and toilets. Look for
leaks at shut-off valves at sinks, toilets, laundry equipment,
and main water shut-off valve.
- Is the
water pressure adequate? Do all the drains run freely?
- In a basement
or crawl space house, pull back floor insulation to check for
leaks and wood damage around water supply pipes, drains, and
sinks, tubs, and showers for proper drainage. Remove hair from
drains. When necessary, use a snake or plumber's friend to unstop
drains--or call a plumber.
the pressure relief valve on the water heater. Open it to see
that it is working. Check for signs of leaking or rusting. Some
manufacturers recommend that a small amount of water be drained
periodically from the tank.
- Test smoke
alarm and heat alarm systems at least monthly. Replace old batteries.
- Keep a
fire extinguisher handy for use in kitchen and near any wood-burning
stove or fireplace. Check the extinguisher gauge for proper
- Keep flashlight(s)
handy and in operating condition.
- Keep outside
security lighting in good repair. Lighting exterior grounds
helps discourage prowlers.
Regular inspection and maintenance of your home will help you
keep the house in good condition and maintain its value. Doing
maintenance and repair as the need arises also keeps small problems
from becoming bigger, more costly problems. Having and following
a plan for home maintenance and repair will make the job easier.
And finally, a well-maintained house will be more comfortable.
The checklist below can help you identify areas where work may
be needed. Make note of anything that needs work. When the work
is completed, add the cost and date. For information on how to
make repairs or handle maintenance, contact your county extension
- Hot Water