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Home Maintenance DIYs for Every Season

As a homeowner, you know it’s important to keep up with regular maintenance. Not only can doing so keep your property looking great, but it can also help protect it from damage. Sometimes, seemingly simple maintenance tasks go a long way toward preventing serious issues such as water damage and fire hazards.

In 2020, property damage accounted for 97.7% of homeowner’s insurance claims. Of these, water damage and freezing made up 19.9%, and fire and lightning made up 23.8%. Following a seasonal maintenance checklist may help you protect yourself from these types of perils. Read on to learn which tasks you should tackle to keep your home looking great year-round.

The Importance of Keeping Your Home in Tip-Top Shape

Properly maintaining your home is critical for many reasons. Not only can consistent home maintenance help you avoid the hassle and expense of emergency repairs, but it also improves your curb appeal and helps ensure your home retains its value.

Neglecting your home maintenance can lead to an array of problems, ranging from termite and pest damage to plumbing backups, roof leaks, wet rot, fungus, and more. Other types of neglected maintenance, such as failing to repair cracked sidewalks or tiles, can also cause injuries, which can lead to liability claims.

Homeowner’s insurance policies typically exclude damage that is deemed to have been caused by a lack of maintenance. Even if the peril is normally covered, if the insurance carrier determines that the incident could have been avoided with proper maintenance, they may deny your claim.

While there’s a chance the claim may be approved, taking steps to prevent damage in the first place can help you avoid having to deal with your insurance carrier at all. Typically, a bit of preventative maintenance costs far less than repairing damage.

Spring Maintenance Tasks

After a long, cold winter, your home likely needs a bit of TLC. Warmer spring weather gives you the chance to catch up on tasks you couldn’t do during the colder months, making this a good time to get outdoors and tackle some projects. Here are some important springtime home maintenance tasks.

Check Air Conditioning Units and Systems

Once the summer months hit, your HVAC system may run almost daily. Ensuring it’s in top shape in the spring can help prepare it for the summer heat.

What Could Go Wrong

HVAC systems produce water as part of their normal functioning. Without proper maintenance, the water can leak into your home and cause flooding, water damage, mildew, and mold. In some cases, a poorly maintained HVAC system can also create a fire hazard.

What to Look For

  • Remove debris from around your outdoor unit.
  • Trim back trees and bushes so there is at least 1 to 2 feet of clearance around and above the unit. 
  • Change the air filter.
  • Clean out the condensation drain.

Clean the Roof

Spring is a good time to clean off your roof since you typically don’t have to worry about freezing temperatures or over-exerting yourself under the sweltering sun. Taking care of roof maintenance every spring can also help you avoid a buildup of mildew or mold.

What Could Go Wrong

Left untreated, mold can feed on rotting wood and make the roof unstable, eventually leading to the need for a full roof replacement. Roof mold also creates an attractive habitat for rodents, which may lead to additional damage.

What to Look For

  • Remove debris.
  • Carefully wash off mold and mildew. 
  • Repair or replace any shingles or tiles that are loose, damaged, or missing. 
  • Check the flashing around your chimney to ensure there are no spaces where water or bugs can enter your home.

Clear Your Gutters

During the springtime, mice, squirrels, wasps, ants, and other pests start looking for new places to nest. Clogged gutters make excellent nesting spots, and once they’ve gotten comfortable, the pests may find their way into your home. Since springtime often brings heavy rains, it’s also important to clear out your gutters so they can effectively do their job.

What Could Go Wrong

Your gutters direct rainwater away from your home. If they back up, water can overflow, creating a host of problems. Water backing up onto the roof can cause fascia boards to rot. If it drips down the side of your home, this can lead to mold spores growing on your walls, the ceiling, your windows, and/or your insulation. Sometimes, the water can pool around the base of your home, damaging your foundation.

What to Look For

  • Clean your gutters. Use a garden hose to flush out the gutters and downspouts, clearing out any remaining debris. 
  • Once everything is clear, repair any metal that is hanging or sagging.

Prune, Sow, and Generally Attend to Your Landscaping

During the winter, it’s common for branches, twigs, and leaves to accumulate around your property. It’s important to clean this up before you can tackle your springtime mowing. Attending to your landscaping can also prepare your property for springtime planting and mulching.

What Could Go Wrong

Allowing leaves and other organic debris to stay on the ground can cause rot in your yard and planting beds. It can also promote mildew and mold growth and attract pests to your property. Trees with low-hanging branches can cause roof damage, and bushes near your home that have not been trimmed may help rodents and insects find their way indoors.

What to Look For

  • Remove debris from your yard and planting beds.
  • Prepare your garden beds for planting.
  • Put down weed control on your yard if needed.
  • Prune your trees and shrubs.

Seal Windows

Freezing temperatures can create cracks in your caulking or window sealant and can cause the windows to separate from the frame. Heavy rain can also cause your window frames to rot. Re-sealing your windows in the spring can help you avoid high energy bills and other damage that may occur.

What Could Go Wrong

Damaged window sealing can compromise the integrity of your window’s glass. It can also lead to moisture condensation and provide an opening for insects to enter your home.

What to Look For

  • Look for gaps in the window insulation, cracked seals, and any other issues that need to be repaired. 
  • Check your caulking and weatherstripping and replace them if needed.

Summer Maintenance Tasks

Summertime typically brings high heat and, sometimes, heavy rains. Taking the time to do certain home maintenance tasks during this time can help ensure your house is prepared to stand up to extreme temperatures. Pleasant summer days can also be a good time to take care of outdoor maintenance and repairs.

Repair Exterior Walls

Fixing problems with your home’s exterior walls during the summertime can give you plenty of warm, sunny days to complete your project. Starting early in the morning can help you get the bulk of the work done before it gets too hot and allows for plenty of drying time during the hottest part of the day.

What Could Go Wrong

When cracks and other issues are left unrepaired, water can invade the walls, causing rot and mold. If left until the winter, freezing can create even greater damage.

What to Look For

  • Look for cracks or gaps in the exterior walls, broken siding, or other issues that need to be addressed. 
  • Determine whether you can fix the problem yourself or if you need to hire a professional.

Inspect and Repair or Replace Windows

If you noticed any problems with your windows during your springtime inspection, the early summer months are a good time to repair or replace them.

What Could Go Wrong

You might be tempted to ignore small window leaks, but this can lead to big problems. By allowing moisture into your home, faulty windows can cause mold growth or lead to wood rot in your walls. Windows that don’t open, close, or lock as they should also create security risks, such as opening your home up to theft or making it difficult to escape during a fire.

What to Look For

  • Check to see if any of them are letting drafts in, collecting moisture, or tend to get stuck. 
  • Make sure the windows close tightly and the locks are working.

Declutter Your Home

In the dead of summer, when temperatures really start to rise, you may benefit from spending a few days indoors decluttering your space. This allows you to enjoy your home’s cool comfort while accomplishing an important maintenance task.

What Could Go Wrong

Clutter can create dark spaces where bugs and rodents make themselves at home. If your house is cluttered, items may block vents, obstructing airflow. This can cause a buildup of moisture and lead to mold damage.

What to Look For

  • Tackle one section of your home at a time. 
  • Divide items into three piles – one to keep, one to donate or sell, and one pile for the trash.
  • Take note of the belongings you’ve decided to keep and determine whether you need to re-evaluate your personal property insurance coverage.

Repair Decking, Driveways, and Other Exterior Surfaces

A warm summer day is perfect for repairing your decking, driveway, sidewalks, and patio. After a cold winter and springtime rains, it’s common for concrete surfaces to crack. Wood and stone surfaces also need to be cleaned and sealed to keep them looking good and avoid damage.

What Could Go Wrong

Uneven or cracked surfaces can create a trip and fall hazard. Also, surfaces that have not been sealed can absorb water, which may lead to mildew, mold, and other types of damage.

What to Look For

  • Check to make sure deck railings are secure. 
  • Look for split or decaying wood as well as loose or corroded fasteners.
  • Inspect the flashing.
  • Look for mold and algae growth.
  • Remove any weeds that have grown up in cracks.
  • Cement down or replace any loose slabs or bricks. 
  • Check your driveway and walkways for cracks and other tripping hazards.

Check Plumbing and Pipes

In many parts of the country, summer brings warm, dry weather, which can make it easier to access and inspect your plumbing. This is particularly true for outdoor plumbing, such as your sprinkler system.

What Could Go Wrong

Summer’s heat and UV rays can cause your pipes to expand, which may decrease your water pressure and could lead to leaks. Left untreated through the winter, this can also lead to serious issues such as ruptured pipes.

What to Look For

  • Look under your sinks for dripping water.
  • Listen for strange noises, vibrations, and other issues when turning the water on and off. 
  • Inspect areas where pipes are buried underground after a period of no rain to see if there are any puddles, as this can indicate that you may have a ruptured water line underground.

Fall Maintenance Tasks

Many of your fall home maintenance tasks revolve around preparing your home for the blustery winter weather that is coming soon.

Inspect Your Fireplace

While many homeowners include fireplace maintenance in their spring cleaning, there’s a chance you may have had an animal intrusion or a chimney leak over the summer. Inspecting your fireplace in the fall before you plan to light your first fire can help keep your home safe.

What Could Go Wrong

Failing to maintain your fireplace can lead to blockages, which may allow toxic gases to build up in your home. A dirty chimney can also create a fire hazard.

What to Look For

  • Inspect the soundness and integrity of the chimney structure and the firebox.
  • Repair any gaps, cracks, or signs of wear. 
  • Look for smoke stains on your ceiling, which can indicate your fireplace isn’t functioning properly. 
  • Consider calling in a professional to sweep out your chimney.

Check Your Heating Systems

Don’t wait until the temperatures get frigid to check whether your heating systems work correctly. Taking care of this task now can give you time to make any necessary repairs and save you the cost and hassle of calling for an emergency repair on the first cold winter night.

What Could Go Wrong

Older heating systems and those that aren’t properly maintained can create fire hazards and may also release toxic gasses into your home.

What to Look For

  • Clean up the area around your furnace or HVAC system. 
  • Check to see if your air filters need to be replaced.
  • Test the furnace and thermostat to make sure they’re working as they should.

Prepare Your Landscaping for Winter

Taking the time to prepare your landscaping now can help protect your plants and increase their chances of survival during the cold, harsh winter. This is also the time to address any potential hazards, such as diseased trees and low-hanging branches.

What Could Go Wrong

Failing to protect your outdoor plants could mean that you have to spend a lot of money to replace them in the spring. If you don’t take the time to address rotting trees and low-hanging branches, heavy snow and winter storms could knock them down, damaging your roof, siding, or other parts of your home.

What to Look For

  • Rake leaves and remove debris.
  • Apply mulch around trees and prune your plants. 
  • Call an arborist to remove dead or dying trees and trim large branches.

Check Your Home Insulation

During the winter, your home’s insulation helps keep the warm air indoors and the cold air outside. Ensuring you have enough insulation now can reduce your winter energy bills and help prevent damage to your home.

What Could Go Wrong

Homes with insufficient insulation are prone to both ice dams and roof leaks. When your attic isn’t properly insulated, warm air escapes through the eaves, heating the snow and allowing it to turn into a dam of ice. This can slide down the shingles, eventually wearing down the roof and leading to leaks, water damage, and mold growth.

What to Look For

  • If visible, look for areas where the insulation is thin or if it blocks the ventilation in your attic or crawlspace.
  • Calling a professional to perform your insulation inspection may be preferable.

Freeze-proof Your Indoor and Outdoor Pipes and Faucets

If you live in areas where temperatures reach freezing, it’s important to protect your outdoor pipes and faucets. Taking care of this now allows you to prepare your home before a potential problem occurs.

What Could Go Wrong

Water expands when it freezes, which can cause a pipe to burst and lead to flooding or significant water damage. When outdoor pipes freeze, this can cause water damage to your foundation, leaks in your basement or crawlspace, and/or cracks in your exterior walls.

What to Look For

  • Before winter hits, remove garden hoses from the spigot and drain the line.
  • Cover outdoor spigots with insulated foam covers. 
  • Inspect your pipe insulation and repair any damage.

Winter Maintenance Tasks

When winter rolls around, we tend to hunker down inside. Common heat sources can create potential issues without proper maintenance, so be sure to complete these tasks early in the season.

Clean Your Dryer Vent

During winter, people tend to wear heavier garments and use more blankets. When washed, these items can create extra lint, potentially worsening clogged dryer vents.

What Could Go Wrong

Clogged dryer vents create a fire hazard in your home. It can also make your laundry room humid, potentially leading to mildew and mold growth.

What to Look For

  • Clean your dryer vent with a vacuum and a dryer duct cleaning kit. 
  • Having a professional take care of it for you could be worth the money. 

Test Fire Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Winter is a common time of year for house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Many winter activities, such as building fires in the fireplace, burning candles, and even turning on your Christmas tree, can create a fire hazard. Keep your family safe by making sure you have working detection devices in your home.

What Could Go Wrong

If your fire alarm fails, you and your family may not become aware of a house fire until it’s too late to get out safely. Early detection also increases the chances of being able to put a fire out before it completely destroys your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning can create flu-like symptoms, confusion, loss of consciousness, and death.

What to Look For

  • Regularly test your detectors to make sure they’re working properly.
  • Prepare your home for potential wintertime power outages by making sure the battery backup works. 
  • Replace the batteries if needed.

Check Humidity Levels in Basements

Generally, humidity in the basement is lower in the winter due to the colder weather. If your basement feels humid when it’s cold outside, this could indicate a problem.

What Could Go Wrong

Humidity can create a breeding ground for mildew and mold, which can ruin your drywall, furniture, and other items stored in your basement. It can also create health risks.

What to Look For

  • Look for sources of humidity. It may be due to insufficient insulation. A cracked foundation or leaking pipes can raise humidity levels, so check for these issues if you notice excess humidity.

Deep Clean Ovens and Stovetops

If you’ve cooked a lot over the holiday season, now is a good time to ensure you don’t have a buildup inside your oven or stovetop that can create a fire hazard.

What Could Go Wrong

Over time, drippings from food can build up and start to burn each time you cook. The smoke it creates may contain dangerous and harmful gasses, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide. It also creates a risk of starting a fire in your kitchen.

What to Look For

  • Clean your oven using the self-cleaning function or with a store-bought oven cleaner. 
  • For your countertop and burners, try using a 1 to 2 mixture of baking soda and vinegar and let it sit for a while before wiping it off.

Check Entryways for Drafts and Pests

Spaces around doors and windows in your entryway can allow the cold winter air into your home. They’re also an easy spot for insects and rodents to enter your home when they’re seeking shelter from the cold.

What Could Go Wrong

Openings that allow cold air in also create an entryway for moisture, such as rain or snow. If moisture gets in and freezes, it can expand, making the opening even larger once it thaws out. Pests can also cause damage by chewing up wires, drywall, and other items.

What to Look For

  • Inspect your entryway for any spaces or gaps. 
  • Use caulk, weatherstripping, silicone, tubular rubber, or felt rolls to seal off unwanted space.
  • Consider tightening hinges to repair gaps around the door.

Your Home Health Checklist

Following this seasonal home health checklist can help keep you and your property healthy and protected no matter what Mother Nature brings. Keeping up with your home maintenance can also help you avoid problems with the integrity of your roof, mold damage, and other issues. Keep in mind that some damages may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance if it’s determined that the issue stemmed from a lack of maintenance.