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Hometime Suggests Home Maintenance Chores to Keep Your House in Good Working Order


Big remodeling jobs, like kitchen and bathroom makeovers, get a lot of attention because they add value to your home, the results are often dramatic and, once completed, the job won't have to be done again for a decade or two. Compare that to cleaning gutters and vacuuming refrigerator coils. No glamour, no glory, just dull maintenance work that must be done over and over and over. Here's a thought to make those routine tasks a bit more bearable: That beautiful new kitchen won't help you much at resale if prospective buyers see rotting windows, a wheezing furnace, and dings in the living room walls before they ever get to the kitchen.

If it's been a while (years?) since you tackled any of these projects, we suggest you make a priority list of any problems that could endanger the safety of your family or your house and take care of those first. Then, make a year-round schedule that suits your needs. Try to create a mix of big and small jobs and space the work evenly over the year so you don't get overwhelmed. Here's a list of maintenance projects to get you started.

MONTHLY

  • Test garage door opener, GFCI receptacles and breakers, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check plumbing fixtures and water-using appliances for leaks
  • Grind a cut-up lemon and then a couple of cups of ice in the garbage disposer
  • Clean pop-up sink and tub strainers
  • Pour a mixture of baking soda, white vinegar, and boiling water down drains to keep them running freely
  • Check furnace filter, replace if necessary
  • Drain a few gallons of water from the water heater
  • Pour water down seldom-used drain

WINTER

  • Clean faucet aerators and showerheads
  • Clean refrigerator drain pan and vacuum condenser coil
  • Clean kitchen exhaust fan filters
  • Vacuum bathroom vent fan covers
  • Clean dishwasher food filters and check that openings in spray arms are clear
  • Examine caulk and grout in shower, repair as needed
  • Clean and seal grout
  • Exercise (turn off and on) plumbing shutoff valves
  • Exercise circuit breakers
  • Test relief valve on water heater (Note: If you haven't done this before, be prepared for the valve to stick in the open position)
  • Vacuum smoke detectors, heating registers, vents, ducts, and radiators
  • Clean out dryer vent duct

SPRING

  • Clean faucet aerators and showerheads
  • Clean refrigerator drain pan and vacuum condenser coil
  • Clean kitchen exhaust fan filters
  • Vacuum bathroom vent fan covers
  • Examine caulk and grout in shower, repair as needed
  • Clean dishwasher food filters and check that openings in spray arms are clear
  • Open hose bibs, check for leaks
  • Clean gutters and downspouts after trees have seeded, repair as needed
  • Hose off house exterior, scrub off any mildew
  • Clean gaps between deck boards, treat deck for fungus and mildew
  • Clean around air conditioner compressor
  • Inspect weatherstripping, replace as needed
  • Inspect screens, repair as needed
  • Clean out under decks and porches
  • Clean out basement window wells
  • Clean sliding door tracks and lubricate with white lithium compound
  • Inspect septic field and tank area for flooding or odor
  • Have septic tank inspected and pumped as needed
  • Tune up lawn mower
  • Rake debris off lawn after soil dries out
  • Aerate lawn
  • Inspect basement/crawl space, house, and attic for signs of pests such as termites, carpenter ants, wasps, and hornets

SUMMER

  • Clean faucet aerators and showerheads
  • Clean refrigerator drain pan and vacuum condenser coil
  • Clean kitchen exhaust fan filters
  • Vacuum bathroom vent fan covers
  • Examine caulk and grout in shower, repair as needed
  • Clean dishwasher food filters and check that openings in spray arms are clear
  • Examine windows, reglaze as needed
  • Look for cracks in foundation and brick or stucco siding, repair as needed
  • Clean and lubricate garage door tracks

FALL

  • Clean faucet aerators and showerheads
  • Clean refrigerator drain pan and vacuum condenser coil
  • Clean kitchen exhaust fan filters
  • Vacuum bathroom vent fan covers
  • Examine caulk and grout in shower, repair as needed
  • Clean dishwasher food filters and check that openings in spray arms are clear
  • Close and drain hose bibs, drain and store hoses
  • Trim foundation plantings to leave a foot of clear space between plantings and house
  • Rake debris away from side of house and other structures
  • Clean gutters and downspouts, repair as needed
  • Check roof and roof penetrations for leaks
  • Trim any tree branches near or touching roof or gutters
  • Check all exterior caulk, repair as needed
  • Examine weatherstripping, replace as needed
  • Clear storm window weep holes of debris
  • Clean out under decks and porches
  • Clean out basement window wells
  • Check septic field and tank area for flooding or odor
  • Fertilize lawn
  • Clean around air conditioner compressor, then cover
  • Fill any cracks in driveway and sidewalks
  • Winterize lawn mower and clean yard and garden tools
  • Have fireplace and flues inspected and cleaned, repair as needed
  • Schedule heating system tune-up and cleaning
  • In cold climates, mulch gardens with leaves or straw after the ground freezes

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Reprinted with permission of Hometime®. For further information about home maintenance and common home repairs, tune in to Hometime or visit www.hometime.com. © Hometime 1999, all rights reserved.

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