Building a Home Maintenance Checklist

As a homeowner, you need to have a good home maintenance checklist to keep everyhing in good condition and there are certain home maintenance chores you should make sure you have on your calendar.  These home maintenance chores will keep you safer in your home and protect you from potentially costly repairs.

These chores really fall into three categories. Some will protect your family and/or your home from fire, some will protect your most expensive appliances, and others will protect your home from water.  All are important periodic tasks to make sure you avoid the more costly repair or replacement down the road.

The List of Home Maintenance Chores

Fire DetectorCheck the Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector

You've probably heard a reminder about this when you have to change your clock in the Spring and Fall for Daylight Savings Time.  Better yet, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you test your detectors monthly and replace the battery once per year.  If you don't have one or both types of detectors in your home, head to the store now and take care of it.

Check the Fire Extinguisher

You should have at least one fire extinguisher in your home, preferably in the vicinity of the kitchen.  If you don't, you can pick one up for a very reasonable cost.  Once per year, check the gauge or refer to the instructions that came with your model to make sure it is still in working condition.  This is something you want to work when you finally need it.  Also, make sure it didn't get pushed back into a cabinet so far that nobody could find it.

Check the Chimney

If you burn real wood in a fireplace you need to have your chimney inspected each year to prevent a fire.  If your fireplace is gas or you don't have one, you're off the hook.  It's worth the quick visit from the chimney sweep to have peace of mind as you head into another long winter of cozy fires. While you're at it, make sure you have a fire resistant rug in front of the fire and a plan deal with a cinder if one enters the room. A decorative pot with some water inside might be just the thing.

Clear the Dryer Vent

This is not just referring to the lint screen on your dryer here.  Inpect the entire run of venting that goes from your dryer to the outside of your house.  Check inside the venting.  Move the dryer out and clean well under and behind it where you are sure to find lint.  Go outside and make sure the exit point is free of lint.  Use fresh duct tape to seal everything back up when you're done.  Do this annually.  If you notice your outside vent gets lint in it more often like mine you might need to check that part on a monthly basis.

Check the Washing Machine Hoses

This is something most people think about right after it is a problem.  The two water hoses that connect to your washing machine were not made to last forever.  The pressure of the water and aging over the years will make them more susceptible to rupture.  You should already flip your water to your washing machine off if you go on a long trip, but you should also inspect them well every year.  Since you're going to clean under your dryer once per year that is the time to do this as well.  If the hoses are starting to look old, replace them with new ones.  Just don't forget to turn off the water supply first. Between this and the dryer maintenance, you can make your washer and dryer last longer.

Drain the Water Heater

Once per year you should drain your water heater completely.  Believe it or not, your water heater keeps collecting sediment over the years.  To keep it working at maximum efficiency you need to empty it each year so that the sediment will escape.  Refer to your user's manual on how to do this since the process will vary by manufacturer.  Another benefit is that your water heater is likely to last longer for you.

Change the Furnace Filter

If you didn't know, your furnace has a filter in it to keep dust and other things from getting into your furnace and making it work harder.  Over time this filter gets full just like your dryer vent.  There are several kinds of filters, each with different lifespans, so the frequency of change here depends on your furnace.  Refer to your user's manual to figure out how often.  Generally, quarterly is the timing recommended for many models.  Some claim to be annual, but it is doubtful that they are effective for that long.

Clean the Gutters

Every year you should make sure your gutters are clean.  Water is your worst enemy when it comes to a house, and having well-functioning gutters is important.  Your house height and the proximity of trees will dictate how big of a job this is.  If you live in the woods, good luck to you, but don't skip it.  While you're at it, make sure the downspouts are sending the water away from the house and not dumping it right next to your foundation. Don't hesitate to add extra flexible tubing to channel water further away if needed.

Inspect Windows and Doors

This is a good job for late Summer, before it gets too cold.  From the outside of your home, inspect all the seals around your windows and doors.  If you find any wear and tear that could allow air or, worse yet, water in, get the caulk ready.  Not only will this make your home more comfortable in winter, it will keep moisture from getting into your home and on the wood around your windows.

Check the Slope Around the House

This is a Summer job for most.  Your property should have at least a minimal slope away from the house for a few feet all around, even if your lot is level.  Over time the ground will settle and may even start to slope slightly towards the house, especially if you have a newer house.  If that happens, get some dirt and reverse the slope so that a heavy rain would tend to roll away from the sides of your house.

Your Annual Calendar

Now that we've discussed all 10 of the chores that should be on your home maintenance checklist, let's take a look at how it breaks down throughout the year.


  • test your smoke detectors
  • test your carbon monoxide detectors
  • check your dryer vent from the outside of your house


  • check your furnace filter and replace if necessary


  • change the battery in your smoke detectors
  • change the battery in your carbon monoxide detectors
  • check your fire extinguisher and make sure it's accessible
  • have your chimney inspected and cleaned if necessary
  • inspect and clean your dryer vent from your dryer to the outside of your house
  • move your dryer and clean under and behind it
  • check your washing machine hoses and replace if necessary
  • drain your water heater
  • check your gutters and clean if necessary
  • inspect your windows and doors for air or water leaks and caulk if necessary
  • inspect the slope near your house and adjust to slope away if necessary

Now that you have learned this information you have no excuses.  Protect your home and your family by building a home maintenance checklist and following this list of chores every year.