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Maintenance Tasks for your home

Monthly Checks, Cleanings and Maintenance Tasks for Your Home and Yard

Your home and yard; It’s your biggest investment, your castle, your refuge from the storm, your place of peace and security, and a valued possession that should be protected and cared for on a continual basis. Unfortunately, for most of us it also means a constant continual checklist spinning in the back of our head. It takes time, knowledge, work, and skills but most of all it takes organization. A lot of the work can be performed by yourself. Those tasks for which your current skill level is not adequate, you can either study up with Google and YouTube, or hire an individual competently skilled in those areas where you need help.

Some maintenance charts or checklists are designed around monthly, quarterly, biannually, and annually tasks. Others are organized according to the seasons of the year beginning with the annual spring cleaning to battening down the hatches for the winter season. Some divide the tasks between home and yard, and some combine them. And some are a combination of all these varying approaches. For me, a monthly checklist of all needed and/or desired tasks to be performed, maintenance or otherwise, is most functional for my life and the four distinct seasons of the geographical region in which I live. Yes, those tasks that are to be performed monthly may be repeated in the checklist for each month, a good reminder of the frequency of that task and the need for scheduling.

Below you will find items/tasks for each month of the year.  IMPORTANT: At the end of this article is a year calendar, where the article information is summarized for each month. You can download the document, save it, and make any changes specific to your unique needs, desires, and geographical environmental conditions. It then becomes your customized monthly calendar of tasks to complete.

January (winter):January

During the winter in my neck of the woods, snow falls a plenty. This dramatically reduces outdoors activities and is therefore, a logical time to complete many of the inside maintenance tasks. For me this is important so that these tasks do not take up time during other months when I am out and about engaging in the many outdoor activities that I so enjoy.

 

Inside House

  1. Clean door knobs, door frames, and electrical outlets. The repetitive opening and closing of doors, and switching of lights on and off, leaves a concentrated and discolored grime on these surfaces. A good wiping down of these areas can make a big difference in how clean your home looks. These are also a favorite hangout for germs during this flu season that are unwelcome guests in my home.
  2. Tighten door knobs, deadbolt locks, dresser handles, hanging racks (towels, coats), and other screwed on items. Go room to room with tools in hand, systematically checking for anything that is loose, and securely tightening any loose items.
  3. Remove and clean sediment from shower and faucet head aerators. Mineral buildup can adversely affect the proper flow and spray distribution of water through shower and faucet heads and should be thoroughly removed. An overnight soaking in vinegar followed by scrubbing with a toothbrush should do the trick.
  4. Clean ceiling fans. Dust and lint will accumulate on the sides and upper surfaces of the fan blades. Vacuum the blades first, and then wipe them down with a cleaner designed for the material of which your blades are made.Ceiling Fan
  5. Clean/dust off tops – refrigerators, cabinets, display shelves, door tops (and frames), bed headboards, etc.
  6. Minor around the house projects. Winter can be a good time to paint indoors or perform those repair or maintenance tasks that you have “put off for a later date.” For example, clean the garbage disposal and sharpen the blades by placing ice cubes in the disposal and grinding them up.
  7. Check grout and caulking in bathrooms, kitchen, around windows, etc. Repair as needed.
  8. Change furnace filter. During winter’s heavy heating months, it is recommended to change the furnace filter each month, unless otherwise indicated for your specific furnace.
  9. Check fire extinguisher. Ensuring that your fire extinguishers are in top working order and readily accessible are essential elements in a home fire safety plan. Regular and proper maintenance of fire extinguishers may mean the difference between the ability to suppress a small fire before it can get out of control and lead to extensive property damage and potential loss of life.
  10. Test smoke and CO2 detectors. This task is obviously very important and a good item to perform in the first month of the new year. Hold the test button down until you hear the alarm sound. If you don’t hear anything, replace batteries as needed to ensure proper function.
  11. Protect your water pipes. Where I live January is the coldest month of the year. If temperatures plunge to subzero temperatures, consider running your facet at a drip pace to keep the water moving and prevent pipes from freezing.
  12. Take down Christmas decorations. Most folks I know wait until after the New Year to take down Christmas decorations. Same in our home. It’s then important to store them in an organized manner for easy and sequential access come next December.

 

Outside & Yard

  1. Check for icicles or dams that may form. Do not allow icicles to grow and become potentially dangerous structures should they fall. If allowed to grow too large their weight can pose a risk to the integrity of your roof. Also, their constant drip during times of thaw may cause foundational damage as well as slick spots for falls. Installing de-icing cables can largely prevent the formation of icicles and ice dams.
  2. Check roof snow load. During the month that experiences the heaviest snow fall, check to determine if the depth of the snow, especially in valleys and along the edges of the roof, is such that damage to the roof could occur. If an excessive amount of snow accumulation is present, begin the strenuous shoveling, but be aware of what is below, and avoid complications that could come in the spring from large concentrated piles of melting snow around the perimeter of your house.
  3. Ice melt. Be prepared with ample supply before the storm hits. Ensuring that your walkways are ice free can help reduce the likelihood that you or a neighbor take a fall on to hard cement. Can’t be too careful now days.

 

February (winter):

As you near the end of winter that will soon give way to spring, it is a good time to complete all remaining indoor tasks that have yet to be completed. There is very little outdoor maintenance that can be effectively performed during this month.

 

Inside House

  1. Clean and Re-organize the laundry room. Over time this room seems to gather odds and ends not meant to be housed here. Remove and/or discard those items. Toss beat up sorting bins and old unused laundry products. Look for ways to free up space as this room also tends to become crowded, especially if this room is also where shoes are removed when entering the house. Because some of the items in this room can be harmful if swallowed, ensure that those items are stored high and out of reach of the little ones.
  2. Clean out dryer vents/exhaust duct. The benefits of cleaning the duct from the back of your dryer to the outside vents includes a more efficient dryer, reduced energy bill, and may prevent a more dangerous event like a fire. Depending on the length of the duct, a forced blow force to the outside vent can help clear the system.
  3. Clean refrigerator and coils. This is another good time to perform a deep cleaning and organizing of the items in your refrigerator. It is also important to clean the coils that are usually located on the back-bottom area of the appliance. A good vacuuming of the coils with the upholstery attachment can help save energy. And, since you had to pull the refrigerator out to access the coils, take the time to vacuum the dust and dirt from the floor as well as clean the floor that undoubtedly will be quite dirty.
  4. Deep clean window blinds and light fixtures. Begin with vacuuming off the dust and then take a damp cloth with remove the remaining grit.
  5. Check pipes under sinks and toilets. Make sure there are no signs of water seepage or damage from leaks.
  6. Clean out your medicine chest. With the season or flu and other illness’ tapering off, February is a good time to evaluate all medicines and eliminate those that are expired or no longer used.
  7. Clean bed sheets, skirts, and comforters. February is as good a month as any to perform this task.
  8. Replace furnace filter.

Outside & Yard

  1. Inspect your driveway and walkways. The cold, the ice melt, the thaw; these freeze and thaw cycles can erode and breakdown concrete and asphalt. Items needing repair should be noted so that they can be repaired come March.

 

March (spring):

March marks the beginning of spring where the temperature starts to climb, and the rains start to fall. Unlike January and February where most of the maintenance and other tasks are performed indoors, March launches your heavy outdoor maintenance season. It’s also a time when water damage can occur if certain precautions aren’t taken or maintenance functions are not performed.

 

Inside House

  1. Deep clean your dishwasher. This includes the use of a “Calci-Free” de-scaler and an old fashion scrubbing of any internal features that have buildup.
  2. De-ice freezers. Over time ice will build up on the ceiling, sides, and shelves. Unplug the power cord and perform a systematic removal and organizing of items in boxes. When ready, begin the process of de-icing.
  3. Clean kitchen cabinets inside and out. This can also serve as a good time to get rid of those items that have been in your cabinets for months or years and have never been used.
  4. Clean out the pantry. Discard any food items that have long since reached their expiration date.
  5. Clean washing machine. This is as good a time as any, especially before summer arrives.
  6. Service your air conditioning system. Doing this now can prevent those first hot days that always seem to seem miserable until we become a bit acclimatized to the warmer weather that soon will come.

 

Outside & Yard

  1. Perform an inspection of your roof. If the snow is gone in your location, inspect your roof for damage to shingles and vent boots, and get any damages repaired before the spring rains descend.
  2. Clean debris from gutters. Leaves form the previous fall, sediment and shingle debris from the winter snows and rains can accumulate in your gutters.
  3. Clean out the shed. Clean, eliminate junk, and organize so that you have the space for storage and the room for work that will get underway when summer arrives.
  4. Clean the home siding and outdoor decks. A good forceful spray will remove dirt from the sides of your home and leaves and other debris from your deck. Performing this task may reveal loose boards and protruding nails that should be immediately repaired.
  5. Clean road salt from entrances. Avoid the damaging effects if left on concrete and asphalt.
  6. Check your basement foundation for damage. Early detection is also the best policy when it comes to preventing water from entering your home.
  7. Sump pump maintenance. If you have a sump pump, spring thaw is just around the corner bringing with it wet weather. Prepare for the increased groundwater by cleaning out your pump pit and ensure it is working by testing it.

 

April (spring):

April showers will come, and the spring planting will begin. It’s time to start turning your winter battered yard into the outdoor wonderland you will enjoy all summer long.

 

Inside House

  1. Clean inside windows. Combined with an exterior cleaning of windows, the sunshine can more effectively enter your home and help to naturally heat your home.
  2. Clean out the garage. Use this time to toss away junk – unused paint, oils, and any items that could be hazardous or of no further use. Recyclable items should be place in the recycle bin.
  3. Deep clean closets. Get down to the nitty gritty with a thorough cleaning of the carpets, walls, and shoe racks. As your wardrobe changes with the temperature change, review any clothing items that you will not be wearing and consider donating them to help others.
  4. Replace furnace filter.
  5. Clean lamp shades. A good place for dust to collect and a target for a good vacuum cleaning and/or a damp cloth wipe down.
  6. Check water softener. Check to determine if salt is needed to fill an empty reservoir.

 

Outside & Yard

  1. Check yard for low spots. Fill in as needed with a gradual application of a combination of dirt and sand. The watering will drive the dirt and sand through the grass and help build up the low spot.
  2. Remove any dead flowers, plants/shrubs, etc. If you did not remove dead flowers or plants from your yard or planting beds in the fall, take this time to remove them in preparation for spring planting.
  3. Check lawn sprinkler system. Inspect the valves, sprinkler heads, and when turned on check to ensure that it is properly working and covers its coverage zone.
  4. Tune up the lawnmower and sharpen blades. A good tune up and sharpening of blades now may last the entire mowing season.
  5. Mosquito preparation. Prevention is an important function in dealing with these pesky critters. Remove standing water and fill in where needed. Ensure that there are no containers that could hold water and provide a breeding ground.
  6. Prune bushes, trim stalks, etc. Help your plants to have a better growing season by cutting them back as needed for growth or functionality purposes.
  7. Clean outside windows. Weather permitting, let the sunshine better enter your home with a thorough cleaning of your outside (and inside) windows. Doing so will help bring a needed relief form the long winter and serve to naturally heat your home.
  8. Repair or replace damaged window screens. This time of year, the outside bugs and critters begin to be more active, and you don’t want them being active in your home.

 

May (spring):

Inside House

  1. Deep clean all inside garbage cans. Fill your garbage cans with hot water, add cleaner, allow to soak for a few hours, and then give them a good scrub down.
  2. Wipe down baseboards. Sometimes best to have the children or grandchildren tackle this one. A little financial or activity incentive has produced some clean baseboards over the years.
  3. Deep clean oven and stove. Just before summer officially begins is a good time to thoroughly clean these appliances. And while at it, pull it out and clean the floor and cabinet sides.

 

Outside & Yard

  1. Get your lawn fertilized. Whether you or a service provider perform this task, an early spring application starts your lawn off right for a summer of green and healthy grass.
  2. Plant flowers and your garden. Whenever the anticipated planting time is in your area (no more freezing temps) plant and add mulch and fertilizer as needed.
  3. Remove debris from window wells. If you don’t have protective guards over your wells they can become cluttered with leaves, rocks, and all manner of “stuff”. Now that you are spending more time outdoors you want them looking nice and clean.
  4. Inspect brick and stone patios and pathways. As winter can be tough on these structures, perform a check of the surfaces for any loose materials. Also check to see if frost heaves or erosion has altered the levelness of the bricks. Make repairs as needed for safety and cosmetic purposes.
  5. Service your lawn. To ensure a green and weed free lawn apply the needed fertilizer and weed control for a good start to the summer.

 

June (summer):

The long-awaited arrival of summer is finally here. Our physical energy levels rise and we are ready to get outside and have fun. This is a good time for remaining maintenance to be completed for the summer festivities of July.

 

Inside House

  1. Deep clean oven and stove.
  2. Replace furnace filter.

Outside & Yard

  1. Prep your grill. Summer is the time for BBQing. Clean the grill, check all connections, and fill your propane tanks for a summer full of fun and food.
  2. Repair fence, gates, or other outdoor structures. Check for signs of loosening, malalignments, etc. and repair as needed.

 

July (summer):

Of all the months of the year, July is the time for play, vacations, and outdoor recreation. We try to keep tasks to a minimum so as not to cut into this sacred month of fun and entertainment.

Inside House

  1. Drain your water heater. This is an important task that will help improve your heater’s effectiveness and lifespan. It clears out sediment and minerals that can decrease its performance.
  2. Clean the carpets. We figure this is as good a time to do this in the house as windows have been left open and dust has found its way into the house settling in the carpet.

Outside & Yard

  1. Caulk and seal cracks. Fill and seal cracks in driveway, patio, and walkway concrete, and openings in your home. This can help to prolong the life of your concrete and improve your home’s air quality, prevent moisture problems, and prolong the life of your HVAC system.
  2. Weeding of the garden and flower plots. Yeah, it must be done to keep that good-looking yard that you are so proud of.
  3. Harvest and can or freeze. If your garden has fruit or vegetables ready for harvest this month, get er done.

August (summer):

Inside House

  1. Check washing machine connections. With all the outdoor recreating the washing machine is putting in overtime.
  2. Service air condition. Replace your air conditioning filter and clean its drain line.
  3. Service all bathroom vent fans. Clean the vent fans with upholstery attachment of your vacuum and wipe down.
  4. Closet Inventory and organizing. With school neigh at hand, take the time to assess what you have, what you need to purchase, and identify those items that can be donated to charity.

 

Outside & Yard

  1. Spray wasps and other insects. Wasps are more active and aggressive during this time of the year, so be on the lookout for and spray when found to eliminate them from your structures and your life.
  2. Harvest and can or freeze. If your garden has fruit or vegetables ready for harvest this month, get er done, and enjoy it through the winter.

 

September (fall):

Inside House

  1. Clean and store summer gear. Check the status of summer toys (adult and children) and either repair or toss away. Because this is the end of the season, it can be a good time to replace broken items as they go on sale.
  2. Clean out toaster. Time to remove all those burnt crumbs from the collection pan under your toaster. If you only do it once a year (we probably should do it more often), a good and complete cleaning should also be performed.
  3. Prep your furnace for winter. Having a professional inspect and service your furnace is a good idea.

 

Outside & Yard

  1. Complete remaining outdoor projects. This is probably your last month to tackle outside tasks including winterizing your yard for winter.

 

October (fall):

Inside House

  1. Set up Halloween decorations. One of the favorite holidays of the year for many, presenting a scary welcome to visitors is a fun activity.
  2. Fall cleaning. Just as we perform a deep cleaning of rooms in the spring, for many fall is the second scheduled deep cleaning of rooms.
  3. Lubricate door hinges.

 

Outside & Yard

  1. Clean gutters of leaves. As the leaves fall to the ground (or on your roof), take the time to clean the gutters and hopefully prevent any spring overflows should a clogged drain occur.
  2. Winterize your yard. With winter approaching take in hoses and prepare for hunkering down for a few months. Clean and store patio furniture away for the winter. Remove any dead plants, shrubs, and leaves.
  3. Drain the sprinkler system. Thank goodness for sprinkler systems that don’t require a blow out of the lines at the end of the summer season.
  4. Put away the hoses. Be sure to drain the hoses and store them out of the elements.

 

November (fall):

Inside House

  1. Set up and take down Thanksgiving decorations. We have much to be grateful for and this holiday comes at a much-needed time to enjoy the last of fall, and the soon to begin winter.
  2. Check fire alarms and smoke detectors. Ensure the batteries are in good condition, and if not replace as needed. This is not an item to ignore.
  3. Replace furnace filter.

 

Outside & Yard

  1. Remove window screens. If snow or ice gets trapped between the screen and window, it may lead to damage and the need for repair come spring.


December
(winter):

Inside House

  1. Set up Christmas light and decorations. Be sure to follow fire safety guidelines with light strands and extension cords. If you choose to have a real tree, make sure it receives adequate water to keep it green.
  2. Protect entry way flooring. Snow, ice melt, road salt, and other debris is going to get tracked into your home, and the front entrance is your first line of defense. Place floor mats down, provide a wicker basket or rack for shoes, and be quick to mop up any water and debris left on the floor.
  3. Clean fireplace. Consider hiring a certified chimney sweep for this job.
  4. Prevent frozen pipes. All venerable pipes should be insulated.
  5. Replace furnace filter.

Outside & Yard

  1. Set up outdoor Christmas decorations.
  2. Clear all drive and walk ways. Keep the snow removed from pathways will help protect against slick spots.

 

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