Your Home Maintenance Checklist

Routine home maintenance is essential to keeping your house running and preventing minor problems from turning into major headaches. Proper home inspection can also increase the efficiency of your house and appliances. “If you don’t [maintain your house] there’s a risk of becoming sick or even dying in your home,” says Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing, a home research organization.

These preventative measures can help you avoid expensive repairs, extend the life of many of your home’s components, and in some cases, reduce energy consumption.

Renters are not off the hook when it comes to caring for their dwelling either: Alert your landlord if any of the following needs to be done. Responsible tenants can use some of the items on the checklist to ensure their apartment is in top shape. (Download here)

____Check roof for leaks. Also look out for broken shingles. Inspect the interior ceiling for water stains which may indicate leaks. Water penetration can lead to dry rot and structural damage, so don’t delay in making repairs.

_____Inspect caulking. Remove and replace loose caulking and make sure the seals are secure. Also, be sure caulking around sinks, bathtubs, and showers is up to date. Old or fading caulking can lead to damp and moldy spaces which not only looks bad but can have a negative affect on your health, Morley says.

_____Inspect plumbing and shutoff valves. Check for leaks or corrosion. The valves can be turned a quarter to a half turn (to prevent from sticking), says Unigard Insurance Group. Routine maintenance of valves can prevent water damage should a pipe bust or begin to leak.

_____Clean exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms. Vacuum dust out of bathroom exhausts; grease may be cleaned from certain range-hood filters by washing the filter in an automatic dishwasher, says the Healthy House Institute. Not only do fans remove odors from your house which improves indoor air quality, they also remove moisture, which decrease the level of humidity in your home. High humidity can damage building materials and can cause mold growth which can affect your family’s health.

____Trim shrubs around the house. Plants in contact with the exterior surface of your home can promote insects and surface wear, so prune these unruly limbs away from your house or windows.

____Inspect weather stripping. Replace any stripping around doors and windows that are hard or broken or fail to seal. Also, check doors, window frames, siding, and trim for cracks which can help prevent air from seeping in or out, says True Value Co., a hardware retailer.

____Inspect the furnace. Be on the lookout for rust, odd sounds, and smells. Test for proper draft at the furnace or water heater diverter (hold a small piece of tissue paper close to the exhaust to make sure air is flowing toward), says Unigard Insurance Group.

____Clean gutters. Clear debris and check gutters for corrosion, joint separation, and loose fasteners. Flush out downspouts and unclog