The Home Maintenance Short List

Updated on March 26, 2023

Unlike your car, your home doesn’t come with a maintenance manual. Keeping your home in good shape means staying on top of the many things you need to do to protect its value and your family’s safety. The good folks at General Casualty have compiled an essential short home maintenance list to help you do just that!

A home maintenance checklist can get very long. “But there are simple things people can do on a regular basis to avoid loss and preserve their investment,” says Charles Valinotti, Senior Vice President with QBE Regional. “All kinds of things can happen to a home. Even minor incidents can wind up costing thousands of dollars.”

Ready to tackle some easy, yet important maintenance tasks, that could save you money down the road? Here are a few of those annual, monthly, and seasonal chores:

Once a Year

  • Inspect Your Fireplace Chimney. Do you see shiny black soot? It’s called creosote, and Valinotti says excess build-up can cause a chimney fire. “You’ll want a professional chimney sweep to come in and clean it at least once a year.”
  • Dust Heating Registers, Vents, Radiators, and Smoke Alarms. A good vacuuming will get rid of airborne dust and improve airflow on heating units, and will ensure that smoke alarms work properly.

Once a Month

  • Look for Leaks. Check your hot water heater for rust stains or water on, around or under it. This could mean a valve is leaking and a plumber should be called to replace it, or could also signal the entire unit should be replaced. “We see many losses each year running as high as $100,000 that are caused by hot water heater leakage,” Valinotti says. It’s a good idea to take a look at your dishwasher and toilets, as well. Leaks over long periods of time can damage floors and lead to expensive repairs.
  • Test Smoke Alarms. Press the test buttons to make sure the alarm is working.

Once Each Spring and Fall

  • De-gunk Your Gutters. To prevent overflow and decay, remove leaves and other debris from gutters, and clean the screens that lead to the downspouts. Check the gutter joints for cracks.
  • Examine the Roof for Leaks. Take a look at places where items protrude from the roof (such as a chimney, sky light, or vent pipes), and see if shingles are loose or broken. Inspect the interior ceiling at those same places for water stains. “We’ve seen homes where water worked its way into eaves and shingles,” Valinotti says. “In one case, the home’s support beam had snapped in half because it had rotted over time. The insured was surprised, to say the least.”

And one other simple maintenance tip that can fit into anyone’s busy schedule:  Valinotti says once a year, you should “exercise” your home’s circuit breakers. Open and close each breaker to prevent it from sticking. This will help keep the breakers moving easily, and it takes about 10 seconds.

Click here for General Casualty’s long version of this list!

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