Housing Finances

60-Second Guide to Doing a Home Checkup

Owning the home of your dreams is about more than just shopping with a real estate agent. Even after you shop through dozens of homes to pick the perfect one, find the right mortgage, get through closing, and move in, your job is just beginning.

That’s why it’s so important to do regular maintenance, ideally twice a year. Not only will it improve the value of your home, but it will also help you catch minor problems before they turn into major ones. With that in mind, let’s take a minute to learn more about how to give your home the checkup it deserves.

0:60: Safety first

Ensure that all smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers are in good working order. Replace batteries as needed, or at least twice each year.

Then move to your fireplace, if you have one. Clear it of ashes, and check your chimney in the fall for loose or missing mortar. Have the chimney professionally cleaned. Make sure the damper closes tightly. In spring, leave it open for improved ventilation if the home is not air-conditioned.

0:51: Go to the top

Your roof protects your house from the elements. Check the roof and around vents, skylights, and chimneys for leaks. Repair as necessary. Also, go into your attic and check your vents to make sure they’re working properly. Close vents to conserve heat in the fall. Open vents to ensure proper ventilation in the spring.

Last, check the gutters and drain pipes to make sure they’re not clogged with leaves, and that they drain away from your foundation. In cold climates in the fall, drain outside faucets.

0:41: Work with your fridge

Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. If you close the door over a dollar bill and can pull the bill out easily, the latch may need to be adjusted or the seal may need to be replaced. If you have a coil-back refrigerator, vacuum the coils at least twice each year for more efficient operation. Also, stock up — a full refrigerator uses less energy than an empty one.

0:33: Keep your cool (or warm)

In the fall, have your heating system checked. If you have window air conditioners, remove them in the fall, or put weatherproof covers to prevent heat loss during the winter. In the spring, have an air conditioner check.

Also, clean or replace filters once a month, or as needed. Check and clean dryer vent, air conditioner, stove hood, and room fans. Keep heating and cooling vents clean and unblocked by furniture and draperies.

0:28: Deal with doors and windows

Seal drafty doors and windows. If you added up all of the small cracks where heating and cooling escapes from a house, it would equal an open window.

Also, if you have storm windows and doors, take down your screens in the fall and replace them with your storm windows, if they’re the removable type. In the spring, take the windows down, clean them, and store them, putting up your window screens.

0:21: Keep water where it belongs

Leaks in faucets are a major source of water loss. Check for leaky faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms. Replace washers as necessary.

In addition, fall is a good time to drain your hot water heater. Remove any sediment from the bottom of the tank.

0:12: Bottoms up

Go outside and look around the side of your home. Look for cracks and holes in house siding or paint. Replace caulk if necessary. Check basement walls and floor for dampness. Clean your dehumidifier regularly, if you have one.

0:04: Celebrate your happy home

Home maintenance may not be fun, but it’s well worth the effort. When it comes time to sell your home, it could mean thousands of extra dollars for you.