DIY Do's And Don'ts

Home Repair and Maintenance Guide


Electrician working in living room

Do you have money to burn? According to Jim Thomas of American Home Shield warranty company, not performing regular maintenance on your home is like burning money. He says "So many homeowners neglect basic maintenance like having their A/C and heating units serviced yearly, replacing air filters, and even painting, that instead of having small maintenance costs they end up with huge repair or even replacement costs."

To avoid this cash drain, Thomas recommends keeping a monthly home repair and maintenance checklist as a reminder to take care of the little problems before they become big ones.


Here is your month-by-month guide to money saving maintenance:

January Maintenance Checklist
  • Check for ice dams or icicles which could cause roof damage.
  • Arrange for an energy audit to make sure your home's energy efficiency (or lack thereof) won't drain your wallet.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

February Maintenance Checklist
  • Check for ice dams or icicles which could cause roof damage.
  • Tackle indoor painting projects.
  • Clean lint from dryer ducts and vents to prevent fires and increase dryer's efficiency.
  • Inspect grout in bathrooms and kitchens, and repair and seal if needed.
  • Clean out sump tank and clear screen on sump pump (if you have one).
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

March Maintenance Checklist
  • Fertilize lawn with pre-emergent crabgrass preventer.
  • Check your home's foundation for cracks to prevent damage from mold or mildew.
  • Inspect fences, repair if needed.
  • Inspect deck, replace protruding nails with galvanized screws, then clean and seal the wood.
  • Inspect gutters for sagging or damage and repair if needed.
  • Clean and store storm windows, replace with screens.
  • Remove insulating covers from outdoor spigots and store for use in the fall.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

April Maintenance Checklist
  • Clean out gutters.
  • Wash roof, siding, and gutters.
  • Scrape peeling exterior paint, then prime and repaint.
  • Change batteries in smoke detector.
  • Wash inside windows.
  • Test sprinkler system and arrange for necessary repairs.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

May Maintenance Checklist
  • Have A/C system cleaned and serviced.
  • Check gutter, downspouts and roofs for leaks.
  • Clean fireplace, schedule chimney cleaning and have chimney repointed if needed.
  • Cut back branches or trees that touch the siding or roof.
  • Wash exterior windows.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

June Maintenance Checklist
  • Check supply hoses to washing machines for leaks or deterioration.
  • Remove toe plate from dishwasher and check for leaks.
  • Test GFCI circuit in garage or utility room.
  • Add root killer to sewer line to prevent blockages.
  • Inspect roof and replace any curling or missing shingles.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

July Maintenance Checklist
  • Check that A/C drip tubes flow freely.
  • Have septic system pumped if you have a septic system.
  • Repair potholes in driveway.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

August Maintenance Checklist
  • Have furnace or heating system cleaned and serviced.
  • Repair or replace cracked or broken windows.
  • Clean and lubricate tracks on sliding doors.
  • Lubricate door and window hinges.
  • Check for brick and mortar cracks, repair if needed.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

September Maintenance Checklist
  • Add a programmable thermostat if you don't already have one.
  • Check foundation for cracks or leaks and seal if needed.
  • Caulk around windows and doors.
  • Drain, flush, and refill water heater, wrap with insulating blanket if not done already.
  • Add weather-stripping around attic stairs.
  • Add new door sweeps to bottoms of exterior doors if drafty.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

October Maintenance Checklist
  • Check irrigation system for leaks, drain and winterize.
  • Remove garden hoses from spigots and store for winter.
  • Cover outdoor spigots with insulating covers.
  • Remove window screens, wash and store.
  • Wash exterior windows, then re-install storm windows.
  • Replace batteries in smoke detector.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

November Maintenance Checklist
  • Clean out gutters.
  • Clean, oil, and store garden tools and lawnmower.
  • Check weather-stripping on windows and doors and replace if needed.
  • Caulk around pipes and wires where they enter the exterior wall.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

December Maintenance Checklist
  • Check for ice dams or icicles to prevent roof damage.
  • Replace air filter in HVAC system.

As you can see, there is a lot of work in maintaining a home. None of it is terribly difficult or expensive, with the biggest investment being your time. Since your home is probably the costliest investment you will ever make, it is crucial to protect it and avoid expensive damage like rotted wood, broken HVAC systems, or the wasteful lack of energy efficiency. Making timely repairs will help both your wallet and the environment.

Barbara Green is The Design Diva and owner of Sensibly Chic Interior Design. She creates one-of-a-kind interiors that reflect your taste, lifestyle and budget. Follow her on Twitter @thedesigndiva.

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