Homeowner Checklist: 10 Maintenance Items to Keep Your House Functioning Properly

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Whether or not you believe your house is a machine that you operate (it is), there are systems within that require regular maintenance. As lovers of buildings, we are experts in knowing which systems these are. Here is a list of 10 maintenance items to remember:

#1. HVAC system

The first on the list is one of the most important – HVAC. For HVAC filters, the frequency for which you should replace filters will vary depending on many factors so you should keep an eye on this – it may range from weekly to quarterly.

Several factors that may affect this are external sources of pollutants (roadways, farmland, pollen, wildfires, etc); Some of the internal factors are people, pets, finishes (carpet), age of the home, condition of ductwork, and humidity level to name a few. Be sure to also include the outdoor units, too!

Dirty HVAC air filter
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#2. ERV/HRV system

This is similar to your HVAC system, but this system is responsible for bringing in fresh air and making sure you are provided with fresh, filtered (clean) air throughout your home.

These systems have ‘cores’ that need to be protected from dust and other particulate so they have pre-filters. These pre-filters should be replaced more often than your HVAC system filters since they’re bringing unfiltered outdoor air into the house.

#3. Water filtration system

Like the HVAC system, water filtration system filters need to be replaced. There is a reason you’re filtering your water and if the filter is clogged, you’ll have the unfiltered water at a lower flow rate.

#4. Water softener tank

The water softener tank is replenished with softener salt. The Midwestern United States, like other places, has particularly hard water. This results in premature wear and eventual failure of your plumbing fixtures – toilet, sink taps, shower and tub taps, etc.

The minerals in hard water cause corrosion on these fixtures and leave lime, calcium, and iron spots on surfaces and finishes. Depending on the hardness of the water, you may need to replenish the salt more or less frequently so this one may take some extra care while you fine-tune the scheduling.

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#5. Flush water heater

This is particularly important if you do not soften your water. The process of heating water results in some minerals effectively being cooked out of the water and these end up depositing on the heat exchanger or hot water tank in your water heater. That nice tankless water heater won’t last long if you don’t regularly flush the system.

#6. Vacuum out the HVAC unit

Over time dust begins to build up and this can reduce the efficiency of the unit.

#7. Gutters

Clean gutters and make sure downspouts aren’t clogged. Clogs can cause water problems which can be disastrous!

#8. Downspouts

Ensure downspouts aren’t discharging water at your foundation. This is a hidden problem and when the problem is found, it’s often expensive to fix. Routing water away from your house today is a cheap insurance policy.

Gutter filled with leaves and rainwater
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#9. Check for biodegradable materials

Make sure leaves, mulch, or other biodegradable materials aren’t collecting against your house. These provide great nesting opportunities for critters/bugs; they retain moisture which can cause issues with your building’s exterior finishes. Termites are also encouraged to move in with warm, damp conditions. We’ve all seen and heard the horrors of termites!

#10. Keep your fireplace clean

If you have a fireplace, particularly wood-burning, make sure you’re getting the flue cleaned AT LEAST once a year. The process of wood-burning often creates creosote which is toxic and a fire risk! At a minimum, cleaning regularly will reduce the fire hazard!

It’s important to refer to the Owner’s Manual for each item and ensure you’re following the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you want to make sure your home is operating properly and efficiently, it’s important to keep up on each of the systems that make up your home.

If you have a third-party team that assists you with your home maintenance, talk to them to make sure they’re aware of each of the systems in your home – they can’t replenish your softener salt if they don’t know you have one! Keeping your home ‘machine’ running effectively will result in a more comfortable and healthier home!

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Written by Paul Reynolds.