10 Fall Home Maintenance Items for Homeowners

This is a great checklist for anyone who owns a home.  Follow this checklist to make sure your home is well maintained and trouble free.  It includes many items that aren’t daily or weekly maintenance, but are vitally important to do at least annually.  This is an excerpt from an article written by Karen Kostiw for Inman, published today.

From pest control to filter changes, this fall checklist is a great reminder of important to-dos many homeowners forget about.

1. Seasonal pest control treatment

Keeping your property free of pests, including roaches, mice and bedbugs, is central to good health. Pests can contaminate food, worsen asthma and allergies and cause structural damage.

To keep pests at bay, deprive them of food, water, shelter and means of mobility by sealing cracks and holes, fixing leaks, keeping dishes out of the sink, not leaving food (pet food included) overnight and removing garbage daily.

Hire a professional to derive a pest control plan and service your home regularly, and review the plan annually.


2. Check smoke detectors and replace batteries

The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.  If you home is new, it likely already has them in each recommended location, if not, it is a small expense and effort for maximum protection.Maintaining smoke detectors is as important as installing them. Vacuum the alarm to remove dust. Change batteries unless you have the long-life variety. Replace smoke alarms every decade as they have a 30-percent failure rate at that time per the National Fire Protection Association.

Keep a record of installation and maintenance. Additionally, smoke alarms, sprinklers and extinguishers can help protect you and your home.

You should review your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy annually. If you rent, your landlord’s insurance only covers the structure of the building, not your personal belongings. Therefore, ensure your valuables are protected from fire damage.

3. Check or add Carbon Monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide is a threat to your home that you cannot see, smell or taste, thus nicknamed the “Silent Killer.”

Although carbon monoxide detectors are designed to be maintenance-free, dust, dirt and other foreign matters can accumulate inside the device’s sensing elements and change its sensitivity. Always follow the manufacturer’s specific recommended practices for maintenance and testing, and ensure it is equipped with an end-of-life alarm.

Test the carbon monoxide detector at least once a month by pushing the “test” button on the device….at the same time you test your smoke detector.


4. Clean and Seal Countertops

For your granite, marble and natural stone countertops to maintain their luster and resist stains, they require maintenance. Professionals generally advise sealing darker product surfaces once a year since they are very dense and stains are nearly invisible.

Lighter surfaces require more attention and should be sealed every three to six months, depending on frequency of use.

It is important to clean any spills from liquids quickly as possible to avoid having them penetrate the surface.

Consult your local home improvement store specialist for recommendations on products to use.


5. Deep Clean your Refrigerator

There appears to be a “National Day” for everything, and November 15 is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day.

Start by throwing out the ice and cleaning the ice tray. Many refrigerators have water and air filters that should be changed at least every six months. If those filters are neglected, you’ll end up with contaminated drinking water.

When you choose to clean the refrigerator, don’t neglect the outside of it — especially the cooling coils. Pull out the refrigerator and vacuum and mop the area.


6. Dishwasher

Yes, even the dishwasher needs maintenance. Take out the racks and clean them, ensuring that no food is stuck. Clear any debris around the spinner, gasket and holes, and then clean them thoroughly.  Many newer models require the addition of salt for softening the water and better drying.

Scrub clean the base and the edges, and bleach any areas that display mildew or mold. Your dishwasher may have a filter and should be cleaned every three to six months depending on usage, but refer to your specific model’s owner’s manual for guidance to ensure performance is not affected.

Consider one of the products that work using the dishwasher wash cycle.


7. Deep Clean your Stove, Oven and Range

 Cooking often leads to food debris and spillage, and a deep clean is necessary. Begin by pulling out the stove and clean the floor and wall areas.Ovens with a self-cleaning feature use a high temperature to burn off leftovers without the use of any chemical agents. Inspect and change range hood filters as needed.



8. Washing machine and clothes dryer

Always clear the lint filter between drying loads. The duct and cabinet should also be inspected, vacuumed and cleaned for lint build-up periodically.Once a month, wash the lint filter with warm, soapy water and let it fully air dry then wipe the drum and exterior with all-purpose spray. Detergent build up can occur inside the washer tub over time.

GE Appliances recommends cleaning the washer tub once per month with one cup of bleach or white vinegar to keep the wash basket fresh and clean and free of mold or mildew odors. Use white vinegar and baking soda with an old tooth brush to clean around the edges so your machine sparkles.  You can also use one of the products that work using the washing machine wash cycle.


9. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

Especially in Florida, it is difficult to inspect and clean your HVAC system, but if you ignore them, you are inviting problems.  Not only do the filters need to be replaced or cleaned, but the drain lines need to be cleared to make sure they drain.  My recommendation – have a professional check and clean your equipment once a year.  Put your home on a maintenance contract, it will assure a professional inspection and maintenance and many times will reduce your costs.  Vacuum air returns and vents. Change all filters in your home, including air purifiers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, gas furnace, the A/C system, etc.


10. Conduct your own energy audit

A professional energy audit is the best way to derive where your home is losing energy, many local utilities offer the service for free.  However, you can conduct your own audit to spot improvements to save money.

Check for drafts along the baseboard of the flooring, junctures of walls, ceilings, plumbing fixtures, electric outlets, lighting, windows, doors and where two different building materials meet.

Energy for lighting accounts for approximately 10 percent of your electric bill, so replace inefficient incandescent bulbs with energy-saving ones. Always unplug devices when not in use to prevent phantom energy use.