According to the results of Hippo’s 2021 Homeownership Report — which were recently summarized by BusinessWire — “first-time homeowners feel a significant lack of preparedness after purchasing their home.” The survey found that “many faced unexpected repairs and surprises in their first year of homeownership that left them eager to prepare for the unexpected in 2022.” 68% of homeowners who responded to Hippo’s survey “wanted to improve their knowledge of home maintenance and repairs.” This should come as no surprise considering “77% experienced an unexpected issue that needed repair within the first year of owning their home.” Given this, we put together an annual home maintenance checklist for owners hoping to take better care of their property in 2022. Many of the tasks outlined below are repeated yearly and can be completed at any time of year. Others, however, must be completed biannually or specifically in spring, summer, fall or winter. For those that belong on a seasonal home maintenance checklist, we note which time of year each should be completed. From weather stripping windows to paying property taxes and from cleaning the dryer vent to servicing your HVAC system, follow below for a list of annual home maintenance tasks.
35 Home Maintenance Tasks to Check Off Your List Every Year
#1 Inspect and Clean the Exterior — Including Gutters, Foundation, Roof, Facade and Driveways
Each year – typically in the early spring after all winter storms have passed – homeowners should inspect the entire exterior of their home. In doing so, they should inspect the roof, siding, driveways, gutters and foundation. According to Ronda Kaysen in a recent article for The New York Times, homeowners should “check the roof for signs of loose or broken shingles.”
At the same time, homeowners should consult with a professional on how best to protect their roof against ice dams during the winter. A professional might suggest running an electric heat cable or improving your attic’s insulation.
They should also check “the facade and foundation for cracks or signs of water pooling.” Twice a year, homeowners should clear out the gutters of any debris, check that all gutters are draining properly and make repairs as necessary.
Should You Power Wash Your Home’s Exterior?
To keep your home’s exterior paint in good condition, you might also consider an annual power wash. In an article for MarthaStewart.com, Sara Dickinson notes that “power washing your house is an easy way to boost its curb appeal, prime surfaces for painting, prevent damage, and bring the façade back to its original glory.”
Taking advice from Lowes Project Expert Hunter Macfarlane, Dickinson recommends deep cleaning your home’s exterior no more than twice a year. Before pressure washing your house, be sure to check the type of paint and finish used on your home’s exterior, close all doors and windows and prep a mild detergent that will not harm any plants.
#2 Sweep, Spray and Scrub Your Deck
Next, homeowners should inspect their deck for rusted nails, rotted wood or exposed hardware that might need to be hammered or drilled back into place. While homeowners need not seal their deck each year – experts recommend once every three years – they should thoroughly clean it annually.
This resource from The Home Depot recommends sweeping, scrubbing and spraying your deck with a “biodegradable outdoor cleaner that removes mildew” each year. Be sure to check with your general contractor or the manufacturer of your wooden deck before pressure washing, as this could damage the boards.
Remove and replace any rotted boards to maintain the deck’s structural integrity. If elevated or stilted, make sure the beams or girders under your deck remain structurally sound.
#3 Inspect and Clean Your Pool — Especially After Natural Disasters Like Floods and Wildfires
While homeowners should test their pool’s water quality every two or three weeks, they should also have the pool inspected and thoroughly cleaned every few years. In some cases, you might want to have the pool drained and refilled annually — especially if you feel the pool might have been contaminated or damaged. If your home experienced a major storm, earthquake, wildfire or other disaster within the last year, having your pool inspected and cleaned is especially important.
According to Ebonee Williams in a recent article for Angi, a pool inspector will “help identify potential hazards and necessary repairs, and advise you of options to rectify any problems.” They will check the pool’s water levels, equipment, exterior, interior and adherence to local building codes. After their inspection, your pool inspector will provide a detailed report explaining all findings and recommendations.
#4 Service Your Air Conditioning System Annually and Service Boilers, Radiators and Heat Pumps Biannually
Experts typically recommend annual or biannual checkups and servicing for most residential HVAC systems, boilers and radiators. If you do not have your systems serviced annually, you should still replace air filters in your central air conditioning system and heating system every few months. Most filters last about ninety days.
Still — according to Jonathon Jachura in a post for Essential Home and Garden — homeowners should try to have their systems serviced every year. Jachura recommends having your air conditioner serviced in the spring t0 ensure you benefit from cool air before the oppressive summer heat arrives. In that vein, furnaces should be serviced in the early fall. Heat pumps, radiators and boilers should be serviced every six months.
#5 Check Smoke Detectors, Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Fire Extinguishers
Every year, homeowners should check their smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers — replacing batteries and entire units when necessary. Smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries can last up to five years, but most experts recommend replacing batteries every six months.
Fire extinguishers last up to twelve years, with rechargeable extinguishers requiring service after six. Still, homeowners should inspect their extinguishers annually to ensure they remain in good condition. Reviewing the extinguisher’s use instructions can also be helpful.
Dusting your alarms regularly can help them operate at peak performance. Proper placement is also essential — especially when it comes to carbon monoxide sensors. According to the EPA, “carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air and…may be found with warm, rising air.”
Because of this, carbon monoxide detectors must “be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor [or] on the ceiling.” To avoid interfering with results, homeowners should not place “the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing appliance.”
Smoke detectors should also be mounted away from fireplaces and appliances. While smoke detectors should be placed in every room, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed on every floor of the home.
#6 Identify and Budget for Necessary Home Repairs
Another helpful annual task is to identify and budget for necessary home repairs, improvements and maintenance. Homeowners facing major repair projects — like replacing a roof or updating plumbing — can create a home maintenance fund and/or arrange for external financing.
Homeowners who have increased their equity over time can draw on that equity through cash out refinancing, a HELOC or home equity loan to cover the cost of repairs. Whichever way you create your home maintenance fund, identifying areas of need, allocating funds appropriately and regularly checking the fund’s balance can all be part of your annual checklist.
#7 Create an Evacuation or Emergency Plan Based on Threats in Your Area
Whether you live in an area at risk of floods, hurricanes, wildfires or extreme heat waves, creating an evacuation or emergency plan based on threats in your area is vital. This plan should be updated each year to reflect your family’s unique situation. Refer to your local government for more guidance when crafting an evacuation or emergency plan.
#8 Conduct Any Necessary Abatement or Hardening to Protect Against Natural Disasters Like Wildfires and Floods
Along these lines, homeowners should also conduct any maintenance related to natural disasters common in their area. In California’s wildlands — where wildfires are common — homeowners should harden their homes and landscaping by conducting necessary abatement.
In areas prone to flooding, homeowners should clear debris from around their homes to prevent damp from entering. They should also check septic systems and wells, install storm windows and conduct any other maintenance recommended by their local government.
#9 Check the Condition of Windows and Doors
Ninth on our list of annual maintenance tips for homeowners is to check the condition of windows and doors throughout the home. To avoid loss of warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer, homeowners should check for gaps along window frames and door jambs.
They can improve air tightness by caulking or weather stripping any windows or doors with gaps. Homeowners can help prevent insects and rodents from entering structures by repairing holes in screens.
#10 Look for cracks in the interior of your home where bugs could get in
Along this vein, homeowners should also look for cracks in the interior. Cracks near door and window frames, below molding, where walls meet and between floors can all allow insects access to the indoors.
In their “12-Month Northern California Home Maintenance Checklist©,” AAA recommends “block[ing] all potential entrances to attic and crawl spaces with durable materials like wire mesh or sheet metal.” They also suggest “seal[ing] all cracks and openings in your home’s exterior, including holes for wiring…[as] a persistent animal can widen almost any crevice or opening.”
#11 Make Sure You Have Supplies in Case of Emergency
If your area is prone to power outages during heat waves or storms during the winter rainy season, make sure you have enough supplies. Check your pantry for expired cans of food and bottles of water. Stock up on candles, batteries and first-aid essentials. Ensure your generator is in working condition.
#12 Ensure Your Home Security System and Subscriptions Are Up-to-Date
Experts recommend homeowners have their security systems checked between every month and every sixth months. If you installed a subscription-based security system, make sure your plan is up-to-date and all equipment has been serviced properly.
#13 Have Well Water, Water Softener and Other Water Filtration Systems Tested
Each year, homeowners should have their well water tested by a professional. They should also check the well opening or cap for any fissures or other issues. According to the CDC, homeowners should have their well checked “every spring to make sure there are no mechanical problems.” Well water should be tested “once each year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels.”
Homeowners with other water filtration systems should have their water and equipment tested too. In her article “The Ultimate Home Maintenance Checklist for Every Season” for Better Homes & Gardens, Jessica Bennett suggests checking “water softener and replenish[ing] salt if necessary” every month.
#14 Inspect Electrical Cords for Damage
Frayed electrical wiring can emit carbon monoxide, shock users and/or create a fire hazard for occupants. Each year, homeowners should inspect all electrical cords for damage — especially by household pests like rodents or inspects.
#15 Clean Shower Heads and Sprinkler Heads to Remove Deposits
Cleaning shower heads, sink faucets and sprinkler heads of mineral deposits should be part of every spring cleaning checklist. By removing these deposits, homeowners improve water pressure and overall efficiency.
#16 Check Warranties to See Which Are About to Expire
Many elements of a home — from appliances to building materials — come with warranties that expire after a few years. Reviewing these warranties annually can help homeowners determine when and how to service and/or replace certain appliances and other features within their home. For example, the typical manufacturer’s warranty for roofing shingles is between twenty-five and thirty years. An HVAC system may have a limited warranty between five and ten years.
#17 Have Appliances Checked Before Major Holidays
Your microwave might only last five years, but your dishwasher might last ten years while your oven could last fifteen to twenty. Regardless of how long each appliance is expected to last, every homeowner knows the worst time for equipment to fail is during the holidays. To avoid a raw turkey on Thanksgiving or a pile of dirty dishes on Christmas Eve, have appliances checked or serviced before all major holidays.
#18 Check Doorknobs and Locks
Make your home more secure by checking all door knobs and locks each year. Pay particular attention to exterior doors and doors used infrequently. If locks are broken, these doors could points of entry for intruders.
If knobs are stuck, these doors could be barriers to a safe escape during an emergency. Homeowners should also check window locks. New homeowners should have all locks replaced upon moving in.
#19 Inspect and Pump Your Septic Tank
According to the EPA, “the average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional.” The Environmental Protection Agency also recommends that homeowners have their household septic tanks “pumped every three to five years.”
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD advises cleaning your home’s septic tank every two years. Other experts suggest homeowners casually inspect their septic system — including the tank and drainage field — each year. Homeowners should contact a professional if they suspect any issues.
#20 Seal Tile Grout
Tile grout in your kitchen and bathrooms should be sealed every six months to a year. How often you seal the grout between tiles depends on how often each space is used. Tile grout in a primary bathroom used each day should be sealed every six months, while tile grout in a powder bath can be sealed as infrequently as every two years. Sealing tile grout prevents mildew, mold and bacteria from growing. It also extends the lifetime of your tile floors and countertops while delaying discoloration.
#21 Check Toilets, Sinks, Showers, Tubs and Appliances for Leaks
Next on our home maintenance checklist is to inspect your laundry room, bathrooms and kitchen for leaks. In their “12-Month Northern California Home Maintenance Checklist©,” AAA recommends checking the surrounds on all toilets, tubs and showers for evidence of mold, mildew or pests.
Homeowners should also look under sinks and around appliances like their dishwasher and washing machine. Check outdoor faucets to prevent drips and save money on your utility bills. This should be done quarterly — around the start of each new season — to keep your home in tip top shape.
#22 Clean Refrigerator Coils and Garbage Disposals
To avoid clogging pipes and keep your sink working properly, homeowners should also clean out their garbage disposal a couple times each year. To deep clean your garbage disposal, pour a few ice cubes down the drain and flip the switch. The average lifespan of a garbage disposal is twelve years, but if you clean and have the system serviced regularly, the disposal could last even longer.
Homeowners should also clean their refrigerator coils each year. The post “How to Avoid Refrigerator Repairs” from Family Handyman explains. According to Family Handyman, “when the coils are clogged with dirt and dust, they can’t efficiently release heat.”
This forces the compressor in your refrigerator to “work harder and longer than it was designed to, using more energy and shortening the life of your fridge.” To clean your refrigerator coils, use a “coil cleaning brush and vacuum.”
#23 Check for Loose Tiles Inside and Pavers Outside
Keep your home safe by checking for loose tiles indoors and loose pavers outdoors. Prevent fall and other injuries by lifting each loose tile, clearing any debris and reapplying mastic or paste.
#24 Check Your Attic and Basement for Pests, Leaks and Other Damage
If your home has an attic or basement, be sure to check each for leaks, pests and damage to insulation, plumbing or electrical at least once a year. A musty odor, shredded insulation, damp walls, chewed wires and damaged screens could all indicate a pest, leak or other issue. You might choose to have a professional inspect each space more thoroughly if you suspect an infestation or other problem.
#25 Trim Trees Away From Your Home
Depending on the type, age and proximity of trees near your home, you might need to trim branches annually or every three to five years. The HomeOwners Alliance resource “Home Maintenance Checklist,” suggests “pruning any large trees or shrubs that are close to your home in order to reduce their water consumption which can contribute to subsidence.”
This resource also recommends trimming trees around your home “to avoid loose or dead branches coming down in strong winds.” After storms, be sure to inspect your trees for any damage, as instability could harm your house, your landscaping or your neighbor’s property. If you suspect a tree near your house is either damaged or unwell, contact an arborist for help.
#26 Check Your HOA Agreement for Any Additional Maintenance Requirements
Those who live in gated communities or other neighborhoods governed by an HOA should check their agreement for any additional maintenance requirements. Your HOA might disseminate its own home maintenance checklist for members of the community.
While HOAs usually collect dues periodically to cover the cost of maintenance for common areas, they might also require homeowners to order or conduct routine maintenance of their private property. For example, you might be required to trim hedges, add a fresh coat of paint to your home’s exterior or power wash your deck each spring.
#27 Get Rid of Any Pooled Water
While examining your home’s outdoor areas, be sure to check for any marshy spots or areas of pooled water. Aerate your lawn and either drain or pump areas with standing water that could attract pests like mosquitos. Consult with a landscape architect if you suspect regrading might be necessary.
#28 Make Sure All Insurance Policies Are Up-to-Date and Provide Adequate Coverage
Every year, homeowners should read through all insurance policies to ensure each is up-to-date and provides adequate coverage if a disaster were to occur. Depending on the value of your home and your home’s exposure to risk, your insurance company might change your policy’s coverage from year to year.
Check your general homeowners insurance policy as well as flood insurance, wildfire insurance and other catastrophe insurance coverage at least once a year to ensure your home and possessions are properly protected.
#29 Make Sure Water Continues to Drain Away From the House
Homeowners should also check their irrigation system — whether a drip system or a sprinkler system — to ensure all water continues to drain away from the house rather than towards it. Make sure all gutters and pipes are free of clogs and clear debris from vents in your foundation. Inspect any retaining walls and other hardscaping elements.
If you notice any loose mortar or crumbling pieces of the wall, it might be time to replace your retaining wall. New or growing cracks could also spell disaster. Consult with a professional landscape architect if you suspect any issues.
#30 Look for Peeling Paint, Mildew and Mold
Next on our home maintenance checklist is to look out for peeling paint, mildew or mold inside your house. A musty, earthy smell could indicate the presence of mold or mildew. Homeowners should also touch walls and carpeting in rooms that share a wall with a bathroom to determine if any are especially cold or damp.
Peeling paint could also reveal hidden mold or mildew caused by a leak within the walls of your house. In addition to indicating dampness, mildew or mold, peeling paint could point to other insidious issues too.
In her article “Why Peeling Paint is a Home-Buying Red Flag” for Southern Living, Melissa Locker explains. Locker writes that “peeling paint is a warning sign for home inspectors doing their due diligence for buyers.” This is because “older homes, particularly those built before Jan. 1, 1978, almost certainly have lead-based paint in them.”
Unfortunately for homeowners, peeling lead-based paint “is more easily ingested or inhaled and that can lead to serious health problems, like cancer.” If you suspect mold, mildew or any other toxins, contact a professional immediately.
#31 Make Sure Fuel Cans Are in Good Condition and Stored Properly
Many homeowners store gasoline, propane, butane and other fuel in their garages or outdoor sheds. If you do, make sure all fuel cans are in good condition and stored properly. In a recent article for The News & Observer, Simone Jasper recommends storing all fuel cans “at room temperature and far from flames or sparks.” Avoid storing fuel cans in areas of your home where major fluctuations in pressure or temperature occur.
Be sure to “check containers once a month for potential leaks…[and] add fuel stabilizer if gas cans have been full longer than 30 days.” Properly dispose of any leaking or punctured cans. Keep children away from fuel cans at all times. After using outdoor tools and equipment like your leaf blower, snow blower or lawn mower, drain fuel completely.
#32 Check All Outlets for Discoloration and Other Issues
The National Center for Healthy Housing’s “Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist” recommends testing outlets for “proper hot, neutral and ground” at least once a year. At the same time, homeowners should check for discolored outlets as discoloration could indicate a short circuit.
Because short circuits can cause fires, be sure to call an electrician right away if you notice overall discoloration or burn marks. Even if they have yet to notice any issues, homeowners should have their electrical systems inspected every three to five years.
#33 Gather and Securely Store All House Documents
HomeAdvisor’s “New Homeowner Checklist” advises safely storing and organizing all “home-related documents…in a physical binder” you can easily access. In this binder, homeowners should store a “home details sheet,” “copy of the deed and other legal documents,” “home warranty and proof of inspection,” “mortgage billing details,” “user manuals” and structural or geotechnical engineer reports. A record of any maintenance conducted since purchasing your home and a “go-to list of service professionals” are also helpful to include.
#34 Tether Outdoor Furniture and Appliances
Before warm weather beckons kids outside to play, be sure to inspect all outdoor toys, houses, swing sets and other children’s playthings. Check for insect and other pest infestations, degrading plastic, rusting metal and old hardware.
When the summer season comes to a close and autumnal winds or winter storms threaten your home, be sure to tether outdoor furniture and appliances to prevent them from blowing around your backyard or through a sliding glass door. Pay special attention to large flat pieces like umbrellas, tables and trampolines, as these easily catch the wind.
#35 Test Indoor Air Quality
Next on our home maintenance checklist is to test indoor air quality from time to time — either professionally or with a monitor you purchase and operate yourself. You might choose to test IAQ throughout your home periodically, after having work done on your home, whenever you buy a new appliance or if you notice a change in your health.
In her article “How — and when — to check indoor air quality in your home” for The Washington Post, Laura Daily offers a few tips. Quoting pulmonologist and chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, Albert Rizzo writes that “‘we spend most of our time indoors, so that air is just as important as that on the outside.'”
If you want to hire a professional, Daily recommends reaching out to “organizations such as the IAQA, the American Industrial Hygiene Association or the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH).” To keep track of your home’s IAQ throughout the year, Daily suggests “‘[looking] into an air-quality sensor…for carbon monoxide, humidity, VOCs and particulate matter.'”
Each Year, Homeowners Should Also…
Pay Property Taxes
Clean Window Weep Holes
Drain Sediment from Their Hot Water Heater
Change Their Alarm System Code and Safe Access Code
Conduct An Energy Audit to Ensure Their Home is Energy Efficient
Rotate Their Mattress
Have Area Rugs Cleaned
Deep Clean Any Skylights
Assess and Restock Supplies
Dust Space Heaters and Cover Air Conditioners During the Winter
Lubricate Garage Doors and Make Sure Garage Door Openers Are Working Properly
Clean Exhaust Fans in All Bathrooms
Order a Termite Inspection
Inspect Stairs and Guard Rails for Safety
Insulate Pipes to Prevent Frozen Pipes During Winter
Check Their Sump Pump for Proper Drainage
Clean the Chimney and Have It Inspected
Still Have Questions About Annual Home Maintenance?
If you are a new homeowner — or a seasoned homeowner who recently moved into a different type of property than you are used to — reach out to the team at Torii for advice. Not ready to chat with an expert? Peruse our blog for more helpful tips.