How to fix and maintain your home


You worked hard to own a home. Now you need to take steps to ensure it stays in top shape. Establishing a regular home maintenance checklist can help with that. It gives you a guide to follow so you can catch problems before they become big and can help cut down on costly repairs. If you don't know where to start in keeping your home running smoothly, try these eight basic home maintenance tasks that should be included on anyone's to-do list.

1. Clean Your Gutters

Make cleaning the gutters a regular part of your home care checklist. Gutters are designed to divert rainwater away from a house's foundation. If they are clogged, water can accumulate against footings and seep into your basement or crawlspace. You could end up with mold circulating through your house or serious damage to your foundation. Don't take that chance. Instead, spend an hour a couple of times a year pulling leaves and debris from the gutters.

2. Trim Trees and Shrubs

Trees that lean over your hour or utility lines can cause serious problems if they break during a storm. Keep them trimmed to avoid damage to your house, outbuildings and vehicles. Any shrubs that are up against the foundation should also be trimmed back so they don't provide an easy access point for pests.

3. Flush Out Your Water Heater

As long as hot water comes out when you turn on the tap, you probably don't give a whole lot of thought to your water heater. Sediment can accumulate in the tank over time, however, and should be cleaned out to keep it running at peak performance. You can call in a plumber for a tune-up or try installing a new water heater cleaner for a fairly simple DIY fix.

4. Change Appliance Filters

Your other appliances likely have filters that should be changed. Make a schedule and keep up with them. Refrigerators with water lines or ice makers, air conditioners and heat systems that use forced air probably have a filter that needs to be checked and changed.

5. Inspect and Clean the Chimney

Even if you don't use your fireplace very often, you still want to make sure the chimney is in good repair inside and out. Creosote builds up in the flue over time and can result in a dangerous chimney fire and serious damage to both the masonry structure and the surrounding parts of your house. Avoid trouble by having an annual chimney inspection and cleanings as needed.

6. Caulk Around Tubs and Showers

A quick check of the caulking around bathroom fixtures can help you avoid extensive water damage inside walls and under flooring. It is relatively simple to remove and replace work or cracked caulking. Always take time to properly clean and prep the surfaces first so you have proper adhesion. You will want to allow for the appropriate cure time before exposing new caulk to water as well, but many products on the market cure well within a day.

7. Pressure Wash Siding

Set aside a day about once a year to pressure wash vinyl siding, driveways and porches or patios. This will help you keep mold growth down and give the house an overall neater appearance by removing pollen, dirt and grime. It is also a good time to check for any cracks or defects in your home's exterior before they become bigger problems.

8. Schedule an HVAC Tune-Up

Your heating and air conditioning systems keep you comfortable no matter what the weather is outside. Keep them running smoothly by scheduling annual tune-up services for each. A fall and spring check are sufficient in many areas. You may find a company that will offer special packages that combine inspections and cleaning with discounts on any needed repairs.

You want to protect the investment you have made in your home. Taking care of it by following a maintenance checklist of preventive tasks is a great way to do that.