Has this ever happened to you? There is a problem at your house. A service person comes out to investigate the issue and they ask you about the replacement or maintenance on the item and you distinctly remember it happening relatively recently. Then, as you put that event into context you realize it was not as recently as you thought. In fact, it wasn’t recently at all. (Example: Service person: When was the last time this furnace filter was changed? Homeowner: I remember changing it not that long ago. In fact, I remember I last changed it during an episode of The Sopranos. Service person: The Sopranos went off the air in 2007).
As I get older I find this happening more and more. In fact, I’ve found that the only way I can reliably keep up with my home maintenance is to have a predetermined schedule and stick with it. Relying on remembering to do things just won’t cut it anymore. So if you’re like me now or like me in the past (when I just didn’t do any home maintenance) I’m going to strongly encourage you to create your own Home Maintenance Calendar so you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing everything you can to avoid breakdowns and costly home repairs and avoid embarrassment the next time you’re asked when something happened.
There are many ways to structure the schedule and there are many ways to record the events that need to happen. You can pick one day every month and do all of your scheduled tasks at once or you can spread it out so you’re only doing a little bit at a time. You can add it to your Google calendar or you can get an old-school paper calendar and write on it (kids, this is how everyone used to remember everything). The important thing is that you are looking at it and you are keeping up with it.
Of course everyone’s home is different and everyone’s dedication to maintenance is different, but below are some good examples to get you started.
Monthly: Change your furnace filter(s), flush your hot water heater, clean your garbage disposal, check the salt in your water softener, and check your fire extinguishers
Semi-Annually (twice a year): Change the batteries in smoke and CO detectors and test them, clean your clothes dryer duct and vent , add water to floor drains, test your sump pump, check your attic for signs of leaks and/or infestation
Spring: Clean your gutters, test your AC system, make sure trees aren’t coming in contact with your roof or interfering with utility lines, check your roof for damage, inspect the caulking around windows and doors and touch-up as necessary, lubricate garage door tracks, pull off storm windows and install screens
Summer: Inspect your deck or patio for any deterioration, touch up failing exterior paint, have your snow-blower serviced, have your furnace serviced
Fall: Clean your gutters, test your furnace system, check weather stripping on windows and doors, turn off outside faucets, store patio furniture, have your chimney cleaned, install storm windows, cover your AC unit
Winter: Have any damaged screens repaired, have your lawn mower serviced, make a thorough inspection of the interior of your house and tighten any loose screws, lubricate any squeaky hinges and touch any deteriorated caulk in the bathroom and kitchen
You may want to add lawn items like doing fertilizer and weed-control applications. If your house has some unique feature that requires regular maintenance like a pool, lawn irrigation or a septic system you definitely want to get that maintenance on your calendar as well. Don’t be afraid to add new items as you think of them or change the timing on items if you find they need to be done more or less frequently.
I’ll wrap this up be reiterating that the most important part of all of this is that you are actually looking at the list and completing the tasks. If you make your plan too detailed and too overwhelming and things start falling through the cracks. A smaller list of things that do get done will always be more beneficial to you than a more comprehensive list that doesn’t.