October 21, 2021

Home Maintenance Tips: Inside, Outside, and All Around


By Sean Knight

If you’re in the position of most Americans, your home is likely your largest investment – by a significant margin. Some would call real estate a “passive investment”, but most of us know better! Regular maintenance, the occasional repair, and a wishlist of renovations or improvements, are all part of owning a home. Putting in a little legwork to maintain your home can help protect your investment, reduce the risk of costly repairs, and help you come to a better understanding of where renovations would be most impactful for your home.

Home maintenance can be overwhelming to say the least, but a good place to start is with a simple home maintenance list. Whether you’re into using your smartphone’s Notes app, a shareable Google Doc, or a good old-fashioned piece of paper for your to-do lists, you can approach your home maintenance in much the same way. This allows you to visualize the most essential tasks, prioritize needs based on the season ahead or a growing family, and keep track of when you last did a certain maintenance task.

However you plan to track your progress, the most important part is developing your understanding of what aspects of your home need regular maintenance. It’s not exactly like any other! You may also want to look into home maintenance tips (particularly outside maintenance tips) specific to your area – planning for a winter in Minnesota and preparing for the summer in Arizona will demand very different to-do lists!

For a general starting point, here are some basic home maintenance tips to get you on the right track.

Your Monthly Home Maintenance List

You’ve probably got a solid routine for daily and weekly household chores, but beyond that, it’s all too easy to throw things in the “I’ll do that next summer” basket. While it’s fine to leave certain tasks for just once or twice a year, don’t neglect these simple, essential home maintenance tasks.

  • Check your HVAC filters, and be sure to clean them when dirty. If they’re too far gone, replacing them is straightforward and inexpensive.
  • Check around your toilets, sinks, dishwashers, and washing machines for leaks. Be on the lookout for even subtle stains on the wall and soft or rippled flooring.
  • Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s an annoying task, but either of these could save your life in an emergency.
  • Take a close look at the caulking around your bathtub and shower, and be sure to fix it if it shows signs of deterioration.
  • Inspect the filter on your range hood, located above your stove. These pick up all kinds of food particles and grease, and don’t get cleaned nearly as often as they should. Clean the filter, or replace it if needed.
  • Same goes for your dishwasher filter. These rack up a ton of mileage and have a dirty job – keeping the filter clean will protect your dishwasher, reduce odors, and make your dishes even cleaner!
  • For regular outside maintenance, do a thorough inspection of your home’s exterior every few weeks. Look for cracks in the foundation, clogged gutters, or any damage to the paint or siding.

Your Semi-Annual Home Maintenance List

Now that you’ve got the easy, more frequent tasks down, add these more occasional to-do’s onto the list. Depending on the size of your family, the weather and season ahead, and the condition of your landscaping, you may have to do these tasks more or less often, but 2-3 times per year should be a good cadence to start with.

  • Slide out your refrigerator, unplug it, and thoroughly wipe down and vacuum the coils – they may be on the back of your fridge, or underneath it. This helps to keep things running efficiently and save on your power bill!
  • Remove and unplug your dryer to vacuum out the vent and hoses, which may be on the side or behind your dryer. This prevents nasty buildup and reduces a potential risk of fire.
  • Kitchen smelling off-color? It might be time to clean out your garbage disposal. There are plenty of products that claim to be the best, but we’ve never failed with a handful of ice cubes, a scoop of kosher salt, and let it rip!
  • Examine and test your sump pump, which you might have to keep water out of your basement, crawl space, or foundation. How to test it? Dump enough water into the pit to raise the float and if working properly, the pump should activate and remove the water almost immediately.
  • For some outside maintenance, take a walk around the house and trim back any trees, bushes, or plants that might be encroaching on your foundation, siding, or roof. Six feet of social distancing is a good rule of thumb here!

Your Yearly Home Maintenance List

Last, but definitely not least – the big tasks to do once each year. Again, depending on the seasons and climate in your area, it might suit you best to do these a few weeks before winter, a few weeks before summer, whichever puts more “pressure” on your home’s functions. Your house lives and breathes all year long, and after a few years, you’ll fall into a steady routine. Make sure to take care of the home maintenance tips on this list at least once each year:

  • Drain any sediment from your hot water tank. It’s relatively easy to do, and helps your water heater work more efficiently, saving you money year-round.
  • Check all of your fire extinguishers by lifting them to make sure they’re full and making sure there are no breakages or blockages.
  • Inspect your attic, basement, and any crawl spaces for signs of damage. This can look like moisture, mold, termite damage, or rodent activity. Again, it’s important to know what the most common risks in your area may be and any potential warning signs.
  • Inspect and repair the caulking around windows and doors, which can easily break down and peel away over time, leaving you exposed to potential drafts and moisture.
  • Inspect and restock your emergency supply kit, which might include expired food, outdated documents, or dead batteries. Keeping a “go-bag” stocked and ready with essentials is crucial for making it through natural disasters, house fires, and other emergencies.
  • For your annual outside maintenance, it’s the big (yet immensely satisfying) job of cleaning the outside of your house. That might include spraying down the siding of your home, powerwashing decks and/or driveways, and removing leaves and muck from gutters and drainage pipes. It’s a big job, but nothing feels better than crossing this one off your list.

That’s it! While it’s not a conclusive list by any means, this is a great place to start if you’ve been wondering about how to build a home maintenance list and stay on top of it.

Once you’ve got your maintenance routine established, you might find yourself building a renovation wishlist as you go. While maintenance is a great way to protect your investment and keep your home running smoothly, clever renovations can modernize your home, enhance the efficiency of your appliances, and boost the value of your property exponentially – not to mention a better quality of life! However, funding your home renovation wishlist is often easier said than done.

With these home maintenance tips, you’ll feel confident enough to keep your family warm, safe, and happy, while protecting your largest investment. If that’s not a win-win, we don’t know what is. Happy householding!