When it comes to home maintenance, routine is a good thing. That's why we have spring cleaning and so on. If you schedule key tasks for particular times, you won't overlook jobs. And the better you maintain your home, the less money it will cost you in the long term and the more you're likely to enhance its value.
For example, a heating system service will cost you around $200 to $300, while a furnace replacement will easy cost you 10 or 16 times that amount.
One good way of ensuring you get everything done is to divide the tasks across different times of the year by creating a seasonal home maintenance calendar. Spreading them out avoids the overall task becoming overwhelming, making it easier to manage,
Even though our fall and winter here in Southern California are not usually as dramatic as in many other parts of the country, there are still chores that work well according to seasonal changes.
Since we are now heading towards fall, let's take a close up look at the sorts of tasks that should be on your maintenance calendar. At this time of the year, it makes sense to tackle jobs that prepare you for rain.
- If you have trees that shed leaves, prepare to clear them. It's too time-wasteful to sweep up a few every day. Leave the job till things are almost done. In the meanwhile, make sure you have a sturdy rake and blower ready for the job -- and a disposal plan. Ideally, you should compost them -- you can mow them first to part-shred them. Note that if you plan to burn them, you'll need an outdoor burn permit.
- Once that job is done, check your gutters and downspouts (if you have them) for leaves and other debris. Clear them, and while you're up the ladder, give the roof a quick visual check for missing, loose or damaged shingles. This is an important task. If our famous winter rainstorms strike, you'll want to be sure your home is equipped to handle them. If you can’t do this job yourself, get someone else to help. Even without gutters, ensure earth is banked up to prevent backflow of water against the building.
- Check around the yard and gardens for damaged and dead plants, re-seed or re-sod the lawn if appropriate, prune trees and shrubs and carry out routine maintenance on your gardening tools. Mulch any particularly sensitive plants. Also check decks and patios for wear if there's been heavy use and footfall during the summer.
- Inspect the exterior of your house for damage, flaked paint and loose fittings. Power wash, then put defects right before destructive winds and rain arrive.
- Check and give your pool a thorough cleaning, even if you don't plan to cover it.
- Have your heating system including vents and filters checked and serviced. Track down and seal any drafty areas -- this will help conserve heating energy and lower your bills. Get your AC checked at the same time, especially if it's been working hard during the summer. This is also a good time to get your dryer vent inspected and cleaned. Fires caused by blocked dryer vents affect thousands of homes every year.
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Fall and winter are the worst times for fires and gas incidents, so check your fire extinguishers too. However, it's a good idea to test these devices every quarter. And replace batteries in accordance with manufacturers' instructions. Also, be sure you have a fire escape plan for your family.
- In addition to fire precautions, run a quick safety check around the home -- looking, for example, for loose area rugs, and trailing power cords -- important for the upcoming holiday season.
Other maintenance tasks to consider for fall include:
- Remove and clean window screens.
- Clean (and cover if necessary) outdoor furniture
- Test your basement and sump pump if you have one
- Clean your garbage disposal using ice cubs, followed by hot water and baking soda
You might have other important tasks that you could do at this time, even if they're not tied to autumnal days.
That's why it's good to prepare a written checklist that you can return and add to each year. You can download some useful templates for this, without having to start from scratch. In some cases, they include suggested lists for each season.
Simply run an Internet search on the term "home maintenance checklist". To get started, check this list provided by BetterHomes & Gardens magazine: https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/advice/home-maintenance-checklist/
As we run into winter, home maintenance is very much a continuation of the fall routines, especially in terms of external and yard maintenance, keeping gutters and drains clear.
It's also a good time to tackle annual tasks indoors, like cleaning refrigerators, oiling hinges, painting and decorating, and descaling appliances.
Some jobs, like furnace maintenance, call for experts, while others depend on your level of willingness to do them yourself.
Either way, it's important to hire reputable firms and individuals to ensure the job is done properly and you're not ripped off in the process.
You should always shop around, and the best way to get sound, impartial advice is to seek recommendations from family, friends and neighbors.
Always get at least two bids and make sure you have a clear time and work schedule from each. Check them out online and with the Better Business Bureau. There are also several organizations offering a rating service for contractors.
Remember too that if you have a condo, cabin or other type of second home, it's important to create a seasonal maintenance schedule for that too.
And, while we're talking about covering all the bases, you should make reviewing your home insurance policy part of your checklist too.
The cost of repairs and replacements is rising all the time and you need to be sure that your homeowners' insurance limits match today's rebuilding and replacement costs.
If you're not sure about this, please contact Aldrich Taylor Insurance. We will happily work with you to help you review your coverage.