Anyone who has neglected a warning light (or two) on their car’s dash knows that failing to attend to one issue can lead to far greater issues down the road. Sure, finding the time for an oil change can be a pain, but it’s nowhere near as frustrating as having to replace an entire engine when that sludgy oil runs amok. The same can be said for home maintenance, as a proactive approach to protecting your investment is a time and money-saving alternative to a reactive one.
Unlike your car, however, your home doesn’t have warning lights — and it’s up to you, the homeowner, to determine when your home needs tending to, what needs to be done, and how the costs will be covered. In our experience, one of the best ways to keep track of necessary maintenance and limit extensive repairs is by creating a home maintenance checklist. Further, being able to anticipate these major repairs can allow you to put a plan in place for when the bill comes due. Read on for Truehold’s guide to creating your own home maintenance checklist, and discover why a home maintenance checklist can be so vital when it comes to protecting your investment.
Starting your home maintenance checklist can be difficult, but once you leave the starting block you’ll begin to notice just how much there is you’d like to get done. Our advice is to start with small, day-to-day tasks, and build toward larger undertakings. As you save and prepare for these larger projects, checking the smaller tasks off your home maintenance checklist can provide a sense of accomplishment to keep you wanting to tackle more major ones. If your home maintenance checklist is in need of a foundation, feel free to build off of ours.
Home maintenance may be fundamentally similar across all properties (in every climate,) but the finer details of your home may be unique to even those of your neighbors in the same subdivision. With that said, whether you are a homeowner of a sprawling Tudor-style home or a cozy cottage, or even if you are an older adult looking into aging in place home modifications, there are some home maintenance tasks that should be a part of your monthly routine if they aren't already.
HVAC filters are some of the hardest workers in your home, cleaning your air while ensuring your air conditioning and heating system is operating at its best. While you should check your HVAC filter every month, some filters can go 60 days without being replaced. However, if record high (or low) temperatures have seen you put your HVAC system through the wringer, your HVAC filter’s lifespan may shorten. While you’re at it, be sure that all vents are clean and unobstructed so that your new filter doesn’t inherit the old filter’s mess!
Another monthly maintenance task to incorporate into your routine is a regular test of your home’s safety mechanisms. In particular, be sure to test your home’s smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector to ensure all batteries are operational. While this can be done every quarter, we recommend checking your alarms more frequently than absolutely necessary. And, considering hundreds of homeowners die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year, this test is a key component of your home maintenance checklist.1
Our last recommendation for monthly home maintenance is one that is often overlooked: cleaning your garbage disposal. While the inner machinations of a garbage disposal are not fully known by many homeowners (where does the food go?) those who have had to deep clean one know how important it is to regularly check them. Contrary to popular belief, the food that goes down a disposal does not vanish from thin air — rather, it accumulates, cultivates odor-causing bacteria, and can even begin to grow mold. Homeowners should exercise caution when cleaning their disposal, but the process can be done in less than an hour and should be done well before it becomes noticeable.2
Apart from monthly maintenance, there are larger tasks that will have to be done quarterly as well. Whether you want to complete these separate from your season-specific home maintenance tasks (outlined below) or in one fell swoop, be sure that these are included in your home maintenance checklist.
While smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be checked every month or two, other household safety equipment like fire extinguishers can be inspected quarterly. To make sure your fire extinguisher is primed for action, inspect its pressure gauges as part of your quarterly home maintenance checklist.
Like cleaning your garbage disposal, frequent tests of your garage door’s auto-reverse function should also be a part of your quarterly home maintenance checklist. While not all garage door openers have this function, all doors manufactured after 1993 are required to have it by law. If you’re not sure if your garage door is equipped with this, now is the perfect time to find out! After making sure that your sensors are in their proper place, test this potentially life-saving function by doing the following:
While this is not a costly repair, home repair costs can accumulate — and we’ll discuss how to cover these costs later on. If not repaired, faulty garage doors can be harmful to people, pets, and objects.
Last, on your quarterly home maintenance checklist, be sure to test your home’s electrical outlets every three months or so. Open up your home’s breaker box and press the “test” button on the ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) breaker. Then flip the breaker handle off and back on again. If your circuit does not trip after pressing the test button, you will need to replace your GFCI outlet.
While each part of your home won’t need regular maintenance, your home maintenance checklist can be broken down by seasonal tasks and further divided according to each part of your home. Assuming you live in a four-season climate, the following seasonal home maintenance checklist paired with the above tests can help you prioritize maintenance and repairs.
If each season of your home maintenance checklist had a theme, the fall season would be preparation. For homeowners who live in climates where winters are white (and windy,) your home checklist should consist mostly of tasks that will prepare your home for whatever the season throws at it.
In addition to your outdoor home maintenance tasks, add the following indoor checks to your seasonal home maintenance checklist:
Depending on the harshness of the elements, you may not be able to tackle many outdoor home maintenance tasks during the winter. Still, the following should be done each winter to limit the damage to your home.
The weather outside is frightful, so you can spend the majority of the winter season checking items on your indoor home maintenance checklist!
Spring can be hit-or-miss, and while the weather may be warmer you may want to wait until summer to tackle any ambitious outdoor projects. In the meantime:
Indoor tasks will be minimal during the spring, so this is a great opportunity for you to finish up your winter renovation projects, give your house a deep spring clean, and plan (and budget) for more significant summer tasks. Additionally:
Whereas fall’s theme was preparation, summer’s is ambition. Warmer temperatures and longer days mean more opportunities to check major items off your home maintenance checklist, so use this time wisely.
Is there anything you’ve missed this year? This is your home maintenance checklist, after all — so if the extra sunlight illuminates any tasks that need to be taken care of, now is your time. However, considering the more involved outdoor tasks that the season brings, we won’t blame you for adding “relax in the air conditioning” to your summer checklist.
As you scroll through our ultimate home maintenance checklist and begin to assemble your own, you might begin to see dollar signs appear over each new task. We admit, seeing these tasks all on the same page can be daunting — but having a plan in place will help you budget for some of the more costly repairs revealed by your checklist. While credit cards are the go-to for many homeowners looking to fund home improvement projects, these tiny pieces of plastic can come with massive interest rates. Many homeowners may consider home equity loans, or home equity lines of credit (HELOC,) both of which have their fair share of perks and limitations. Alternatively, you may also benefit from a refinance, but this approach is also not for everyone.
Funding these repairs and renovations is one thing — actually accomplishing all these tasks presents its own set of challenges. And while we know some homeowners are eagerly awaiting their future renovations as they read this, we can imagine that others are dreading the thought.
If your home maintenance checklist is less exciting and more anxiety-inducing, you’re not alone. For many homeowners, mowing the lawn or tending a garden may bring great joy — but the thought of scaling a roof or emptying your wallet on a new drainage system can bring the opposite. When longtime homeowners grow tired of the never-endless maintenance, the thought of downsizing may come to mind. However, the jump from the freedom of homeownership to the confines of condo or apartment living can be downright claustrophobic.
For homeowners that want to stay exactly where they are while shedding the responsibilities that come with homeownership, Truehold has developed our a residential leaseback agreement program. Through our Sale-Leaseback solution, homeowners can cash out on the home equity they’ve accrued while they continue to live in the home they’ve poured so much labor into through the seasons. These homeowners then pay rent at market value — and in return, we’ll bear responsibility for all maintenance. No home maintenance checklist required.
Whether you’re looking for a way to get hard-earned equity out of your home or enjoy homeownership without the never-ending maintenance, Truehold can help.
1. CDC. Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/copoisoning/index.html
2. This Old House. How to Clean a Garbage Disposal. https://www.thisoldhouse.com/kitchens/21317716/how-to-clean-garbage-disposal