Focus on Prevention
Home maintenance can be overwhelming, especially for new homeowners. Rather than waiting for serious issues to arise, however, it’s prudent to make a monthly schedule of simple tasks to tackle—many of which only take a few minutes to complete. Read on for a list of chores that, if completed regularly, will help to avoid bigger problems down the road.
Test Smoke Detectors
Ensuring that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly is essential for the safety of your home. Check that batteries are working on both devices and change them if necessary. While focusing on fire safety, make sure that fire extinguishers are in working order and aren’t expired. It’s also a good idea to remind the other members of the household of where they’re located in case of an emergency.
Related: Solved! How Long Do Fire Extinguishers Last?
Check the HVAC System
A home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning or HVAC system includes a filter that should be checked and potentially replaced on a regular basis. Those with pets or dusty homes may have to be changed more frequently. While some filters are disposable, others can be cleaned and reused. Cleaning or replacing filters frequently will improve air quality in the home and increase the efficacy of the heating system in the colder months.
Related: 7 HVAC Mistakes That Drive Up Summer Cooling Costs
Maintain Kitchen Appliances
Cleaning the dishwasher, fridge, and oven should be on every home’s monthly cleaning checklist, but there are also some simple ways to maintain these appliances at the same time. For optimal performance, clean or change filters on the dishwasher and fridge if it has a water dispenser or ice cube maker. It’s also prudent to go through food in the fridge and pantry to toss expired items on a monthly basis.
Running out of toilet paper, bandages, or toothpaste can be an annoyance on a normal day, or a serious issue during a major weather event or other emergency. Keep an inventory of cleaning products, paper towels, personal toiletries, first-aid supplies, batteries and other household essentials and check each month to ensure everything is well stocked.
Check for Leaks
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), leaks in an average American household account for 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year. Do a tour of the home looking for signs of leaks around sinks, showers, bathtubs, and toilets. Even a small amount of water should be cause for concern and warrants further inspection.
Unclog Slow Drains
Prevent serious clogs and backups by clearing out bathroom and kitchen drains monthly. Use a drain cleaning tool (available on Amazon) to remove hair and debris. Then, use a commercially produced drain cleaning product or a homemade drain cleaner to finish the job. If the drain is already clogged, a plunger or plumbing snake may be necessary to clear up the problem.
Clean the Garbage Disposal
A kitchen’s garbage disposal can be a breeding ground for bacteria, but luckily there are a number of simple solutions to clean it. Add a combination of ice cubes and bleach into the system, which will both sharpen the blades and kill any lingering bacteria. For a more natural solution, a mixture of vinegar and baking soda will also do the trick. Another popular trick is making vinegar ice cubes by filling a tray with a cup of white vinegar and topping it off with water.
Related: How To: Clean a Garbage Disposal
Check Electrical Cords
A damaged electrical cord should be cause for concern because it can be a potential fire hazard. Examine all cords and wiring in the home monthly to look for cracks, splits, and fraying. It’s also important to ascertain whether household pets or mice have managed to chew through wiring. Any damaged wire should be repaired with electrical tape or replaced completely, depending on the severity of the issue.
Clean the Range Hood Filter
A range hood is essential for proper kitchen ventilation, but a dirty filter impedes its performance. Some higher-end models have indicator lights that will turn on when the filter needs to be changed; for most range hoods, however, the filters simply need to be checked to ensure there’s no excessive grease buildup. While some have disposable filters that should be changed approximately once a year, others have reusable filters that can be washed with water and dish soap using a wire brush.
Related: 10 Smokin' Hot Range Hoods
Do a Tour of the Exterior
No matter the time of year, it’s prudent to ensure that the exterior, as well as the interior of the home, is in good condition. Once a month, do a tour of the yard to check for any potential issues. Look for signs of water damage, cracks in the foundation, and evidence of infestations of bugs or other critters. Take a peek under the deck, check large trees for signs of breakages or rot, and check for loose shingles on the roof.
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