Home Maintenance Schedule

Home Maintenance

Regular maintenance is the key to keeping your home in top shape, preserving its value, and preventing problems like wet basements. Home maintenance begins when the home is brand new and continues forever. Therefore, it is best to make regular maintenance a habit from the very beginning. In addition to normal maintenance, you can expect to replace major systems of your home on a predictable schedule, so be aware of these expenses and plan for them.

  • Monthly Maintenance items
  • Every 6 Months Maintenance items
  • Annual Maintenance items
  • Spring Maintenance items
  • Summer Maintenance items
  • Fall Maintenance items
  • Winter Maintenance items
  • When things go wrong
  • Wet Basement
  • Life expectancy of major systems
  • Monthly

  • Inspect yard, landscaping for standing water or drainage problems immediately after (or during) heavy rain.
  • During moderate rain, inspect gutters and downspouts for leaks. If any leaks are noticed, plan on caulking them during dry weather.
  • Test smoke detector.
  • Change HVAC air filter.
  • Check under sinks for signs of leakage.
  • Test GFCI breakers and receptacles.
  • Clean or replace filter in range hood.

    Every 6 Months

  • Check and clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Check water supply lines and valves for leaks, including inside the water meter box.
  • Check around water heater and water service entrance valve for leaks. (you do know where your water service entrance valve is, don’t you?)
  • Inspect windows and screens, lubricate tracks and latch mechanisms.
  • Clean and inspect gutters and downspouts
  • Clean and inspect culverts and drainage tiles
  • Check for cracks in caulking around the following areas: sinks, bathtubs, toilets, faucets, countertops, ceramic tile, window sills, exterior door trim.
  • Familiarize yourself with the locations of main water and electrical cut offs, and their use so that in the event of an emergency (water is spraying all over the kitchen for example) you will know where to turn off the water and electricity.
  • Annual Maintenance items

  • Have HVAC system checked and maintained by qualified technician.
  • Check attic vents for blockage.
  • Inspect inside of attic for signs of roof leaks.
  • Check cabinet doors, drawers and hinges for alignment. Adjust and lubricate if needed.
  • Check and clean chimney if needed.
  • Clean exterior of house: siding, gutters, concrete slabs, decks etc. Be aware that some kinds of siding (vinyl for example) shouldn’t be pressure washed because of the possibility of forcing water into the thermal envelope of the house, no house is built to withstand careless pressure washing. Care should always be taken to restrict water from washing to the exterior of your home.
  • seal asphalt driveway
  • touch up paint/caulk interior
  • touch up paint/caulk exterior
  • Lubricate drawers, hinges, locks, garage doors, anything that has moving parts or is squeaky or sticky.
  • Spring Maintenance items

  • Lawns should be seeded or reseeded in late winter or as early in the spring as possible while nights are cold and the ground is wet.
  • Open foundation vents around beginning of April.
  • Clean and seal decks while nearby plants are still dormant to avoid damaging plants with sealer over spray.
  • Apply pre-emergent crab grass killer if desired. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Fertilize lawn and landscaping as soon as spring growth appears
  • Prune large trees before leaves appear, while branch structure is visible.
  • Middle TN is usually frost free by the middle of April, so tender bedding plants can be safely set out after this date. Wait a few weeks longer to set out warm weather plants such as tomatoes or peppers.
  • Clean gutters as needed to keep leaves from accumulating. Stopped up gutters may cause roof and foundation leaks, and serious long term damage to your home.
  • Summer Maintenance items

  • When over night temperatures are no longer cool stop applying fertilizer to grass
  • Summer is a great time to touch up exterior paint and caulk,
  • Seal asphalt driveway
  • Fall Maintenance items

  • Pay attention to weather forecasts and do these things before freezing temperatures to avoid expensive plumbing repairs
  • Remove garden hoses from outside faucets before freezing weather, even “frost proof” faucets will be damaged if there is a hose attached.
  • Close foundation vents, and check crawl space access door.
  • Clean gutters as needed to keep leaves from accumulating. Stopped up gutters may cause roof and foundation leaks, and serious long term damage to your home.
  • Remove leaves from lawn. If you pile them up and let them rot they make a great soil amendment for your flower beds or vegetable garden. Consider planting a natural screen around a corner of the yard for a compost pile to recycle your leaves, grass clippings, prunings, and other waste into excellent organic compost.
  • Apply lime to lawn if needed. Almost all soils in middle TN need lime, plus it is relatively cheap and very environmentally friendly. However some evergreen shrubs can be stunted or damaged by too much lime.
  • Winter Maintenance items

  • Broadcast grass seed on or about last day of winter
  • Apply dormant treatments to fruit bearing trees
  • Prune and burn diseased or infested branches/foliage from plants and trees
  • If weather turns extremely cold (less than 10 degrees F) take precautions to avoid freezing pipes:

  • 1) Double check that foundation vents and crawl doors are tightly closed.
  • 2) Leave the doors open on cabinets that contain plumbing under the kitchen and bathroom sinks so that they can get some heat.
  • 3) In particularly vulnerable locations along outside walls (usually the kitchen sink) leave the water running a tiny bit if the temperature stays below zero for more than a few hours.
  • 4) If the water heater is in an unheated garage, monitor the temp in the area, and run a space heater if it is getting colder than 25 degrees.
  • When things go wrong

    Electric outlet doesn’t work.

  • Check for tripped breakers, and also tripped GFI or Arc Fault breakers. A GFI plug in another room could be causing the problem so check all GFI devices before you give up. GFI devices (both breakers and receptacles) should be checked monthly. Make sure that appliances like vacuum cleaners are turned off before you plug them in to avoid tripping arc fault breakers.Garage door opener won’t close door.
  • Make sure that the “electric eyes” are still aligned and the path between them is unobstructed. The opener safety feature will not allow the door to close if the two “eyes” can’t see each other.
  • Mold – Mold is almost always caused by excessive moisture or humidity. Moisture content of materials in a properly maintained home are so low that mold can not normally grow. However, moisture can come from:

  • roof or plumbing leaks,
  • condensation on uninsulated plumbing or HVAC ducts
  • spillage – especially in bathrooms and kitchens
  • Whatever the source of the moisture it must be remedied or your home may become unfit for habitation. If you detect mold inside your home you must take immediate action to find and remedy the cause.
  • Interior air quality – The homeowner must monitor interior air quality, and take immediate action to protect the health of habitants. Things that you can do to maintain or improve interior air quality include:

  • maintaining your furnace filter,
  • controlling humidity to prevent mold,
  • vacuuming carpets regularly,
  • using HEPA filters in both the vacuum and furnace.
  • Your central heat and air system acts as a whole house air filter, so consider turning the fan on all of the time to continually filter.
  • Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible during periods of high pollen count or air pollution.
  • Make sure that your dryer vents to the outside and that the vent is well sealed and unobstructed
  • clean the dryer screen after every load of clothes.
  • If you have carpets, consider replacing all or part of them with tile or hardwood floors.
  • The soil in house plants almost always harbors mold (that gets watered and fertilized right along with the plants) which is a source of spores in the interior air, consider moving house plants to a separate space or getting rid of them altogether.
  • One of the biggest things that you can do is to banish smokers out of the house.
  • These actions can greatly improve the quality of life for everyone in your family, but especially for allergy sufferers.
  • Wet Basement

    Regular maintenance can almost always at least improve and sometimes completely eliminate a wet basement without the intrusion and expense of basement repairs and remediation.

    The first line of defense for keeping your basement dry happens outside of your home. Keep rain and ground water away from your home by keeping gutters, driveway tiles drains and culverts clear and functioning as they were intended. Move foundation plantings (bushes) away from the house (five feet minimum) to prevent watering during dry weather from aggravating your wet basement and to allow air circulation. Establish and maintain a grade which slopes away from your basement at all points. Run downspout water away from the foundation (AKA basement) with splash blocks or piping, and then make sure that those pipes stay open!

    Your basement should have a perimeter drain system that was installed when the house was built. That system would have drain pipes which carry water away from the base of the foundation. Often the homeowner doesn’t know what or where they are and the perimeter drain tiles become clogged or crushed at the place where they come out of the ground. Needless to say they need to be maintained.

    Many basements don’t have adequate ventilation and may require a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier can often be placed so that the water that it collects can go down a drain so that it can run continuously when needed without having to be emptied. If this isn’t possible, a condensate pump can be used to pump the water out to accomplish the same thing.

    A wet or damp basement can be aggravated by any source of moisture including:

  • roof or plumbing leaks,
  • condensation on uninsulated plumbing or HVAC ducts
  • spillage – especially in bathrooms and kitchens
  • leaks coming under walk in or garage doors
  • Other than a fire, excess moisture is the quickest way to make a house worthless and ininhabitable (just ask a hurricane victim). Whatever it takes to prevent or remedy a water or moisture problem is time and money well spent!

    Life expectancy of major systems

  • Water heater3-10 years
  • HVAC units10-20 years
  • Roof – standard asphalt shingles15-20 years
  • Roof – 30 year shingles25-35 years
  • Exterior paint5-10 years
  • Asphalt driveway20-30 years