First-Time Buyer’s Guide to Home Maintenance

Congratulations, you’ve purchased your first home! In the hustle and bustle of moving in, it’s easy to overlook routine home maintenance tasks. We know reading that might have been a bit daunting, but don’t worry, most of these tasks take a few minutes or a quick call to a professional! Take a deep breath and enjoy this home maintenance guide for first-time home owner.

1. Clean your Garbage Disposal
Pour a cup of vinegar into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Once the cubes are frozen toss them in the disposal and turn it on. The vinegar will dissolve the scum build-up and the cubes scrub the blades and drain. You’ll want to repeat this two to three times per year to keep your disposal smelling fresh and running properly.

2. Check your Crawl Space for Water
This isn’t the most glamorous job, but it’s important! We recommend grabbing a Tyvek suit from your favorite home improvement store to make it a little easier on you. Suit up, grab a flashlight, and crawl under your house. Pay close attentions to corners and edges for changes in color and use your fingers to test for dampness. Check this at least once a year to avoid mold and water damage to the bones of your home. If you find water, give us a call and we can help point you in the right direction to get it fixed.

3. Check your Furnace and HVAC Filters
This is a simple task for you to complete right after you move in. Who knows what dust and grime the previous owners left behind? Furthermore, clogged filters make heating and cooling systems run less efficiently, which means you will be spending more money to heat/cool your home. A clean filter also does a better job of trapping harmful pollutants and allergens that you don’t want lurking around your home. To replace your filters, turn your system off, pull out your filters, and inspect them for dirt and grime. If they are dark/dirty you can purchase the appropriate replacements at your local hardware store.

4. Service and Clean the Furnace
This is where you’ll want to phone a pro. If you don’t have one you trust, feel free to give our office a call and we can send you our recommendation. You’ll want to have your furnace inspected every Fall to prolong the life of your appliance. When your furnace isn’t running properly, it can emit harmful carbon monoxide and runs less efficiently.

5. Inspect and Clean Wood-Burning Fireplaces and Chimneys
As you burn, creosote builds up in your fireplace and chimney creating a fire hazard and increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is another project you do not want to do yourself. Call a professional chimney sweeping company (if you need a referral, let us know!) and have them come out every Fall so you can enjoy your fire through the winter.

6. Clean your Gutters and Roof Valleys
Grab your ladder and waterproof gloves! Remove debris from your gutters then flush them with a garden hose to make sure there are no hidden clogs. Trust us, you don’t want to be out in the rain trying to unclog a gutter or downspout. Next, remove any piled-up debris on the roof and make sure your flashing is free of rust and holes. Clogged gutters and mucked-up roof valleys can cause water to back up and potentially enter your home via the roof, crawl space, or even foundation. Be sure to clean your gutters and clear off the roof at least twice a year to keep them clean of debris.

7. Recaulk your Windows
It’s estimated that 80% of winter heat loss occurs due to cracks in your home. Yikes! Sealing spaces around your windows with caulk will really help solve this problem! First, you’ll want to make sure you have the right caulk for your window finishes, but you’ll also want to make sure you are using a high-quality caulk with a movement capability between 25-50%. When you’re applying the caulk, make sure temperatures meet the specifications of the product you are using and that all surfaces are clean and dry. The Department of Energy estimates that by sealing drafts alone, homeowners can same more than 10% on their energy bills. At the end of the summer, inspect your windows and touch up any damaged caulking while the weather is dry.

8. Check and Repair Bathtub Caulk and Toilet Seals
Inspect the caulk that seals the tub to the floor, edge of tub, and wherever the tub sides come out of the wall or tub surround. If the caulk is peeling or cracked, replace it with a polyurethane bathroom caulk. For the toilet seal, look for condensation or discoloration of the flooring around the seam where the toilet meets the floor. If you see either, you’ll want to call a plumber to determine the source of the leak. Check these items annually to make sure seals are working properly to preventing water from leeching into the rest of your bathroom.