learn how to take care of your house
All homeowners should know “Regular Maintenance is the Key”. Inspecting your home on a regular basis and following good maintenance practices is the best way to protect your investment in your home. Whether you take care of a few tasks at a time or several all at once, it is important to get into the habit of doing them. Establish a routine for yourself, and you will find the work is easy to accomplish and not very time-consuming. A regular schedule of seasonal maintenance can put a stop to the most common — and costly — problems, before they occur. If necessary, use a camera to take pictures of anything you might want to share with an expert for advice or to monitor or remind you of a situation later.
By following the information noted here, you can learn about protecting your investment and how to keep your home a safe and healthy place to live.
If you do not feel comfortable performing some of the home maintenance tasks listed below, or do not have the necessary equipment, for example a ladder, you may want to consider hiring a qualified handyperson to help you.
Seasonal Home Maintenance
Most home maintenance activities are seasonal. Fall is the time to get your home ready for the coming winter, which can be the most grueling season for your home. During winter months, it is important to follow routine maintenance procedures, by checking your home carefully for any problems that may arise and taking corrective action as soon as possible. Spring is the time to assess winter damage, start repairs and prepare for warmer months. Over the summer, there are a number of indoor and outdoor maintenance tasks to look after, such as repairing walkways and steps, painting, checking your chimney and roof.
While most maintenance is seasonal, there are some things you should do on a frequent basis year-round:
- Make sure air vents indoors and outdoors (intake, exhaust and forced air) are not blocked by snow or debris.
- Check and clean range hood filters on a monthly basis.
- Test ground fault circuit interrupters on electrical outlets monthly by pushing the test button, which should then cause the reset button to pop up.
- If there are young children in the house, make sure electrical outlets are equipped with safety plugs.
- Regularly check the house for safety hazards such as a loose handrail, lifting or buckling flooring, inoperative smoke detectors and so on.
Timing of the seasons varies not only from one area of Canada to another, but also from year to year in a given area. For this reason, we have not identified the months for each season. The maintenance schedule presented here instead of providing general guide for you to follow. The actual timing is left for you to decide, and you may want to further divide the list of items for each season into months.
- Have furnace or heating system serviced by a qualified service company every two years for a gas furnace, and every year for an oil furnace, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
- If you have central air conditioning, make sure the drain pan under the cooling coil mounted in the furnace plenum is draining properly and is clean.
- Lubricate circulating pump on hot water heating system.
- Bleed air from hot water radiators.
- Disconnect the power to the furnace and examine the forced-air furnace fan belt, if installed, for wear, looseness or noise; clean fan blades of any dirt buildup.
- Check chimneys for obstructions such as nests.
- Vacuum electric baseboard heaters to remove dust.
- Remove the grilles on forced-air systems and vacuum inside the ducts.
- Turn ON gas furnace pilot light (if your furnace has one), set the thermostat to “heat” and test the furnace for proper operation by raising the thermostat setting until the furnace starts to operate. Once you have confirmed proper operation, return the thermostat to the desired setting.
- Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Ventilation system such as heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
- Check the duct work to and from the heat recovery ventilator is in good shape, the joints are tightly sealed (aluminum tape or mastic) and any duct insulation and plastic duct wrap are free of tears and holes.
- If the heat recovery ventilator has been shut off for the summer, then clean the filters and the core and pour water down the condensate drain to test it.
- Check to see that bathroom exhaust fans and range hoods are working properly. If possible, confirm that you are getting good airflow by observing the outside vent hood (the exterior damper should be held open by the airflow).
- Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace batteries.
- Clean portable humidifier, if one is used.
- Check sump pump and line to ensure proper operation, and to ascertain that there are no line obstructions or visible leaks.
- Replace window screens with storm windows.
- Remove interior insect screens from windows to allow air from the heating system to keep air condensed and to allow more free solar energy into your home.
- Ensure windows and skylights close tightly; repair or replace weatherstripping as needed.
- Ensure all doors to the outside shut tightly, and check other doors for ease of use. Replace door weatherstripping if required.
- If there is a door between your house and the garage, check the adjustment of the self-closing device to ensure it closes the door completely.
- Cover outside of air-conditioning units and shut off power.
- Ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall, so that water does not drain into your basement.
- Clean leaves from eaves troughs and roofs, and test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
- Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close interior valve to outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost-proof hose bibs.
- Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.
- If you have a septic tank, measure the sludge and scum to determine if the tank needs to be emptied before the spring. Tanks should be pumped out at least once every three years.
- Winterize landscaping, for example, store outdoor furniture, prepare gardens and, if necessary, protect young trees or bushes for winter.
- Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
- After consulting your hot water tank owner’s manual, drain off a dishpan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank to control sediment and maintain efficiency.
- Clean humidifier two or three times during the winter season.
- Vacuum bathroom fan grille.
- Vacuum fire and smoke detectors as dust or spider webs can affect their functioning.
- Vacuum radiator grilles on back of refrigerators and freezers, and empty & clean drip trays.
- Check pressure gauge on all fire extinguishers; recharge or replace if necessary.
- Check fire escape routes, door and window locks and hardware, and lighting around outside of house; ensure family has good security habits.
- Check the basement floor drain to ensure the trap contains water; refill with water if necessary.