Our Annual Home Maintenance Check List

Friday, October 4, 2019

Wow, are we *really* rounding the corner to the end of 2019 already? This has been a big year for us, home-wise. We bought our new house, tackled dozens of renovations and age-related improvements, and now we are trying squeak out a couple more "small" renovations before the end of the year. (Might be another bathroom...spoiler!)

But, while our big makeover plans are taking a small break for now, we are switching gears towards annual home maintenance items we've put off. As a Realtor, I'm pretty meticulous about regular home maintenance. It's my philosophy you should keep your house in good enough shape that you could sell it at any time. We have no plans to do that, but it helps me feel motivated to keep up regular maintenance.

So, I thought it might be helpful to pull together a list of home maintenance musts for you to have. You can use this list to finish off the 2019 check list and make a plan to start fresh in 2020!

- Inspect your attic for roof leaks. Summer is our rainy season in North Carolina, so I always like to go up into the attic every few months when it's rainy and check the plywood for dark stains. Sometimes staining means a leak has been fixed, so it's a good idea to check it when it's actually raining. You should be able to reach and feel for yourself if it feels damp. If so, repair asap!

- Check for pests in the attic. Wasps, birds, and other critters get active in the summer. Make sure they're not getting active in your home! Check your attic, under your deck, etc for evidence of pests.

- Fix your window screens. Have a rip in a screen? Now is a great time to make that repair since your doors will likely be open.

- Schedule a power wash. Did you know mildew build up can increase siding rot? Powerwashing your house once a year helps keep the house looking fresh, and prevent fungal growth from causing more damage. In our area, some neighborhood teens were powerwashing houses for cheap. They did a great job!

- Keep up with landscaping. Have an area in your yard that gets out of control? We definitely do. Summer is a good time to get on a maintenance plan with your yard -- whether you DIY or hire it out to a landscaper. It's always less work to maintain something than it is to do a big overhaul so it's better to stay on top of it.

- Check your crawl space if you have one. Does it feel cool or moist down there? Do you see black spots growing on any of the wood? It could be fungal growth, which increases in the hot humid months. That can cause major damage so best to treat it asap. But you won't be able to treat it if you don't know it's there. We have some crawl space to do items we've been putting on. My goal is to have them finished by September!

-Clean out the garage. The cars may have been parked outside all summer long, and the garage has now collected full of cra-- OH, just me? Yours isn't? Liar :) End of summer is the perfect time to take everything out, have a yard sale, and put everything back nice and organized!

Fall is the *best* home maintenance month, in my opinion. This is my "do all the things" month. Check Groupon for discount codes on some of the items below:

- HVAC service. Coming off a hot summer with lots of AC use and prepping for winter where you're blasting the heat, fall is the best time to get your HVAC serviced and make sure it's in good order. Pro tip -- local companies are almost always going to be more reputable and less expensive than big chain companies! If you want an HVAC specialist recommendation, reach out to your Realtor in your area. I'm sure they have one!

- Seed for grass. Fall is the best time of year to seed for next year's summer grass. Lots of companies offer this, but you can also DIY if you have the right tools.

- Clear off leaves/debris from wood surfaces. Once the leaves have fallen, don't let them sit. If those leaves collect moisture and rot under piles of snow all winter, they will cause major damage come spring. Make sure your surfaces are clean before the end of the season!

-Seal driveway and pavement cracks with concrete caulk or mortar. Did you know water can get between driveway cracks, freeze, expand, and make the crack 10x worse come spring? Make sure you inspect your walkways for big cracks and fill them up before the first big freeze.

- Get your chimney cleaned. This is another important annual home maintenance item. Critters, dust, birds, and debris love to hide in chimneys, so it's important to make sure it's cleared out before you use it. But, did you also know chimneys get exposed to water and can crack, exposing you to smoke in your home? Make sure your chimney is safe to use before you use it. (This is almost certainly something you can find a code for on Groupon!)

Winter typically isn't the best time of year to have contractors coming to the house for work. Weather can be weird, projects can be weather/temperature dependent... so I tend to focus on inside things during this season. I like to use this season to get caught up on my "honey-do" list. You know, that list of projects that you've been putting off and saying you'll get to later? Later is now. Go through your mental checklist of what needs to be done and just do it. You'll be happy to have it off your mental load! For us, that's painting the upstairs hallway ceiling and installing our second smoke detector. Yikes! Need to get on that.

- Plan and book spring maintenance items. Sometimes, Groupon will have coupons for things like roof repair, grass seeding, power washing, etc. You can save money by booking these things during the slow season and schedule them for when weather improves.

-Clean out your dryer vent. Did you know clogged dryer vents are the leading cause of house fires? Yikes! Your local fire company probably offers a service or can make a recommendation for someone to come clean yours out. This is important to do every year!

Hopefully you've been doing this all year, but if not, change your air filters! It's important to do this quarterly to have healthy air and good air flow for your HVAC. At the very least, do it once a year!

-Inspect the exterior of your home. Do you see wood crot, cracking, or caulking that needs to be done? Now is a great time to have exterior work done. It's not too hot, and it's early enough in the season that prices may still be reasonable.

- Check your gutters. This April we felt like we were drowning is rain. And so did our gutters. We noticed quickly that our gutters were in bad shape and leaking all over the place. We ended up getting them replaced, but paying attention helped us realize it was time! It's always a good idea to get your gutters cleaned this time of year, too!

- Seed grass again/landscape. After the final freeze, but just before summer, is a great time to plant seeds for your flower beds, veggie garden, and grassy front yard. There's a reason Lowe's gets busy in spring... it's time to get busy outside! (wait... don't do that).

Hopefully this is a helpful list of things to remind you to stay on top of your regular home maintenance. It's important, but doing these regular things can save you thousands of dollars in the long run! To help you remember, I created a little PDF guide with seasonal check list items. You can download that list here!

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