Home Maintenance Schedule and Checklist

Home ownership is the main financial investment for majority of people in Australia and all over the world. For most people, this is often seen as an ultimate life goal. Having your own parcel of land and living in your own home is a great achievement. With this investment and achievement comes an equally huge responsibility of caring for your home. To keep your house looking great and to prevent serious damage, it really pays to constantly perform routine maintenance. Some tasks are required to be done as regularly as weekly and monthly, whereas others, normally the bigger and more involving tasks, require to be done on an annual, two yearly, five yearly or ten yearly intervals.

Staying on top of these planned preventative maintenance tasks might seem like a pain, but it will pay off massively in the long run when it comes to the condition of your house – both saving you huge repair costs and maintaining good value of your home. If you overlook, put off or postpone these planned preventative maintenance tasks, you may end up spending thousands of dollars in repair costs and or lowering the value of your home significantly. A lot of planned preventative maintenance tasks go unattended because (1) there are a lot of little maintenance tasks around your home that need to be completed from time to time with limited time, and (2) a lot of people don’t know where to start or are not aware that it is important to complete these maintenance tasks.

To make it easier and ensure that you do not miss any essential planned preventative maintenance tasks for your home, we have put together a home maintenance checklist below, which contains the fundamentals for home maintenance, and if you do your best to stick to it, you will reap the rewards a few years down the track.

Weekly

Regular cleaning and housework

Regular cleaning helps to prevent mould and permanent staining, and will give pests less of an incentive to move in with you. Humid conditions promote mould growth in rooms like bathrooms, basements and attics, as well as garages. The fungus can cause various allergies and breathing and respiratory problems while being rather unsightly too. It’s advisable to do your research on different types of mould and mildew so that you know what you’re looking for. In case of a severe mould infestation, call in a professional for safe removal.

Monthly

Clean air conditioner filters

Remove and clean air conditioner filters as recommended by the manufacturer – clean filters will help your air conditioner to operate more efficiently.

How often this needs to be done will depend on how much use your air conditioner get, and how dusty it is where you live.                          

Test smoke alarms

Once a month you should do a quick test of all of the smoke alarms in your house by pressing the ‘TEST’ button to make sure they’re still able to make an ear-piercing scream. If an alarm isn’t working, try a new battery and if that doesn't work, you'll have to replace the whole unit.       

Check all your plumbing fixtures

Check all your plumbing fixtures for any damage and possible leaks. Depending on the quality of your external pipes, prolonged sun exposure during the summer can cause cracks in the material. Therefore, it’s necessary to do a thorough inspection of your outdoor and indoor plumbing to ensure that everything is in check. Look under sinks and around valves for any water drips; if leakages are found, call for a plumber immediately before the problem gets out of hand.

Flush unused drains

Plumbing traps work by 'trapping' a small amount of water, which prevents sewer gases from entering your home. When they’re not used, this water can evaporate, which allows gases through. Occasionally flushing some water through will replenish the trap and keep sewer gases contained.                                  

Test temperature and pressure valve on your hot water tank

Hot water release valves help to release steam from your hot water tank when the temperature’s too hot or the pressure’s too high. If they’re not working, this can cause the tank to split or explode. A monthly test may also help to keep the valve from seizing. Follow safety instructions when testing your valve.

Maintain your garden/yard

This is a must if you want to keep your plants and grass healthy throughout the summer. Regular watering and trimming is imperative for keeping your green space in check and looking its best! You should also clean your lawn furniture regularly and use umbrellas to avoid fading or discolouration of the material.

Get your gas range and stovetop serviced

Any blockages or leaks in your gas pipes can lead to a devastating explosion. We all know how hazardous improper use of gas can be; hence, regular maintenance is of critical importance. While this is a job for the professionals, you can do your bit by maintaining a clean stovetop and removing dust and debris from behind and underneath your gas range.

Six Monthly

Clean windows

Clean windows allow more light in and look far better – depending on where you live and how much rain you get, you may need to clean your windows once every three months.

Check / test water pumps

Pool pumps – and more importantly water supply pumps of you’re on tank or bore water – should be regularly serviced according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Clean exhaust fan covers and rangehood filters

Cleaning fan grilles and rangehood filters will reduce the stress on the exhaust fans and extend their lifespan.

Clean out your air vents

Apart from dust and debris, there could be insects and vermin hiding inside your air ducts which will not only create a ‘mess’ in there but also restrict the airflow. What’s worse is that dirty vents lower the quality of indoor air, leaving your family at risk of various types of illnesses. If you’d prefer not to get your hands dirty, consider calling in a professional to do the needful.

Clean and oil decks

A well cared-for timber deck will look new, and resist rotting, cracking or warping. You can clean your deck with a high-pressure hose before reapplying deck oil. Composite and PVC decks normally don’t require the same treatment.

Inspect large trees on your property

Regularly inspect trees so that you have an idea of whether they might threaten powerlines, foundations, plumbing, roofs or retaining walls – also to see if they’re sick or dying. If so, they may need to be removed.

Check for holes that may act as entry points for pests

Check eaves, walls and under-floor spaces for holes that may act as an entry point for pesky birds, rats, mice or possums.

Check termite barriers for evidence of infestation

If you see any signs of infestation, whatever you do don’t disturb the termites! call a pest controller as soon as possible. Disturbing termites can cause them to disperse, and make them harder to get rid of.

Clean washing machine hose filter and mixer tap aerators

Over time small impurities will be caught by the filter in your washing machine’s inlet hose, and by the small aerator screen on your mixer tap outlet. Both are normally easily removed for cleaning.

Check the expiration date of your fire extinguisher(s)

In case of a sudden fire, your fire extinguisher may be of no use if it has expired. While they generally last for up to 10 years, it’s a good idea to check on them every summer to ensure that you are prepared for an emergency.

Yearly

Clean exterior walls

Keeping the exterior of your house clean will help to protect your walls and keep your house looking good. If you live near the sea or near heavy industry, you may need to clean your home as frequently as once every three months.

Sweep chimneys and flues

Particularly important if you have wood fires due to creosote build-up. A blocked chimney or flue can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or fires.

Clean fireplaces and slow-combustion wood heaters

Cleaning fireplaces or slow combustion burners properly will remove build-ups of creosote and soot, and ensure that everything operates properly.

Steam clean carpets

Steam cleaning helps to kill germ and disinfect your carpet. Vacuuming regularly will also help to keep your carpet in good condition, removing small dirt particles that might otherwise wear against carpet fibres.

Clean ceiling fans

Mostly a matter of hygiene – over time, ceiling fans collect dust and grime.

Clean light bulbs

Cleaning your light bulbs can improve their light output by up to 20%.

Change batteries in smoke alarms

Regardless of how well they seem to be working, you should replace your batteries once a year to ensure smoke alarms are always working.

Restain your deck

If you have a timber deck, restaining will ensure that it maintains its lustre and appeal. How often you need to restain it will depend on the stain you use – some need to be restained annually, others can be done once every two years. Composite decks don't need to be stained.

Check steel around home, prepare/prime/replace as necessary

If you catch rust early, it’s much easier to control. Replace rusted screws to prevent them from either failing, leaving stains, or corroding surrounding metals.

Check for signs of concrete cancer

Concrete cancer can occur when the steel reinforcements inside concrete become rusted due to water getting in through cracks, or as a result of certain chemical conditions or water in cracks freezing and then thawing. Over time this can cause the concrete to spall and degrade.

Check weather seals around doors and windows

Weather seals can have a big impact on the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems.

Clear guttering, traps and drainpipes

Blocked up guttering, as well as being a fire risk, can cause water to overflow into your roof.

Check the subfloor

If you have a stump sub-floor, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on whether – and by how much - settling soil has affected your stumps. Likewise, whether or not your concrete slab foundations need stabilisation or minor repairs.

Service air conditioners

Regular servicing at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer will help to ensure that your airconditioners are always working properly.

Service your hot water unit

Regular servicing at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer will help to ensure that your hot water unit are always working properly.

Flush hot water tanks

Sediment can build up in hot water tanks, and to keep them operating properly tanks should be periodically flushed. How often this needs to happen will depend on the manufacturer’s recommendations, and on the water quality where you live.

Five Yearly

Replace the sacrificial anodes in hot water tanks (not necessary for continuous flow systems)

Hot water tanks contain sacrificial anode rods which collect the minerals from the water and prevent them from degrading the sides of the tank. It’s normally necessary to have a plumber replace these at least once every five years. Ensuring that your sacrificial anode is changed on time will dramatically increase the service life of your hot water tank.

Paint walls (exterior and interior) – as necessary

Paint, as well as making your home look good, helps to protect your wall cladding from the elements.

Reseal timber or stone floors

Resealing stone or timber floors will help to protect them from damage, as well as making them look ‘fresh’ again.

Ten yearly

Replace smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are generally designed to have a ‘rated’ service life, after which they should be replaced.

Check ceiling insulation

Over time, batt-type insulation may settle and become less effective – at which point you may want to replace it or top it up.

Replace vinyl flooring (as necessary)

Vinyl flooring wears down over time, and may need to be replaced after a decade or so to keep it safe and looking good.

Replace carpet (as necessary)

The longevity of your carpet will depend on its quality, how well it’s been cared for and how much foot traffic it’s seen. Most carpets in homes should last a minimum of about 10 years – others will last much longer.

As Required

Replace light globes

Proper lighting is important for comfort, safety and security. Even if you don’t need to use a light immediately, changing blown or depreciated globes when you notice them is a good idea. Although they normally don't just stop working, over time CFL globes and LEDs gradually put out less light, and will need to be replaced.

Lubricate door and gate hinges

If doors or gates become stiff, apply some penetrating oil to the hinges and work them back and forth a bit to let the oil seep in.

Service door locks and handles

A bit of graphite from a pencil on the key will normally help to keep locks working nicely – and if that doesn’t work, a tiny drop of mineral oil may also help.

Repair tile grouting / reapply silicone sealing in bathrooms

Grouting and silicone help to contain water in your shower and protect your tiles and walls. Fix cracks or crumbling grouting as soon as you notice them, ideally with the same colour and style of grouting. If you're reapplying silicone, ensure that the area you're applying it to is thoroughly clean, free from mould and perfectly dry first.

Inspect your roof, particularly after heavy storms and strong winds

Strong winds or heavy rain can easily dislodge or damage roof tiles or guttering. Ideally, you should keep an eye on your roof whenever there’s been serious weather and have any damage repaired immediately by a roofing specialist.

Call pest controllers or pest exterminators, or lay baits where necessary

Rats, birds, possums, termites, ants, cockroaches, bees and wasps can cause damage to your home and pose a health risk. Best to take care of them early if you’re able.

Call plumbers to deal with water hammer

Water hammer is caused by movement of pipes that should otherwise be firmly braced. As well as being annoying, it can also cause damage to pipes or walls over time – which can lead to leaks, and consequently rot.

Deal with leaks and water marks

Small leaks or water stains anywhere in your home should be dealt with immediately. Leaks have the potential to cause rot, and the full extent of the problem may not even be visible. In most cases, the person to talk to about this is a plumber.

Disclaimer

Information provided in the text above is general in nature and does not consider your specific Home Maintenance Schedule and Checklist needs and requirements. The information is not professional advice and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information in the text above as an alternative to professional advice. If you have specific questions relating to this subject, we strongly recommend that you seek independent professional Home Maintenance Schedule and Checklist advice.