Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Your home is likely to be one of your largest investments. Every year that you own your home you are building equity. However, it needs regular maintenance and updates to keep it at its highest value and to prevent costly repairs later. Here is a list of home maintenance suggestions to protect your investment. If you find yourself needing a professional, please let me know. I’m happy to refer you. I recommend a full maintenance list every Spring and Fall, but Fall is a nice time to deal with maintenance issues because a lot of contractors will be slowing down as the weather gets colder and wetter. In the spring, it can be hard to find a good contractor that isn’t booked solid.
Consider having a professional home inspection every few years. They will find things you just don't notice anymore. Check with Atlanta Property Inspections to schedule a home maintenance inspection at 770-932-8634.
Fertilize, aerate, and reseed your lawn.
Check for dead or diseased trees. Any tree that has no bark, or has dropped more limbs than usual is suspect. Also, if your tree was the first one on the street to have it’s pretty fall leaves, that may be a sign of a problem. Removing trees can be dangerous. This is not a DIY task usually. It's also expensive, get a few quotes. I like Ryan's Tree Service. Click here for their website
Remove branches, sticks, piles of leaves, and dead bushes.
Review your potted plants and remove any that are done for the year, and make plans for the ones that will need to come inside. You don’t want to wait for the day AFTER a freeze to remember them.
Now is a great time to plant bulbs for a pop of spring color.
Check that all plants are at least 12” away from your home. (Ivy growing on your home or trees may look pretty, but it is very destructive and will cost you a lot of money and frustration. If you have ivy, call a pro to make a plan to remove it.
Trim bushes and trees. Make sure windows are not obscured, and that tree branches are not against the house, or over the roof.
Store Your Mower Properly
Clean and oil garden tools after last use and store for winter.
Clean the mower deck well. Remove all the dried on grass clippings and dirt and have the blade oiled and sharpened sometime over the winter so it’s ready to cut your new baby grass in the spring.
If you have a gas mower the fuel and spark plug needs to be maintained. Check the website for your mower for specifics on how to do that, but at the very least, do not just leave it. Treat the gas or remove it and lube the spark plugs. Otherwise next spring you will be really frustrated.
If you have an electric mower that runs on a rechargeable battery, do not leave the battery plugged in all winter. (Trust me on this, it’s not good. Those are expensive batteries to replace). There are several battery maintenance options including a charger that keeps it charged w/o blowing it up.
If you have an electric that runs on a cord, take the time to check the cord carefully for wear and damage. Take advantage of holiday sales to score a good price on a replacement if necessary. Make sure you are using the correct gauge cord. They’re not cheap, but if you use one that is too thin you can damage the motor.
Outdoor Water & Faucets
Remove and drain garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.
Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.
Drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads. If you can't drain it, hire a pro to blow it out.
Clean gutters and check for wear. Make sure all the brackets are still attached securely and that there are no signs of wood rot. Gutters and eaves are one of the first places I look for water damage and signs of deferred maintenance.
If you see large amounts of colored sand/grit, those are from your roof and signal a loss of UV protection. Call in a roofer for an assessment.
Repair gutters and check that water is being directed away from the foundation. Or consider a rain barrel and use the water for gardening/landscaping irrigation.
Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Water, wind, ice, and snow can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof, leading to a greater chance of further damage inside the home.
A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar -- called a boot -- that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape.
Exterior House Stuff
Clean vents, make sure they’re free of spider webs, dryer lint, flying insects, bird nests, etc
Caulk around exterior doors and window frames for a tight seal. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and caulk those as well to protect from water, insects, and mice. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.
Check windows for broken glass or fogged window seals.
Remove and store screens. Install storm windows and doors if you have them.
Check wood for worn paint and touch up as needed. Every 5 years or so have the exterior trim painted. Paint house every 5-10 years depending on the paint.
If you have hardboard siding, it is CRITICAL that you keep it covered with paint. Assess which boards need to be replaced and plan to replace the whole section.
Brick - usually very maintenance light, check for loose bricks, mortar coming loose, or stair-step cracks. Repair to avoid costly interior damage and pest issues.
Clean and protect your deck. If you seal it from the water now, then it will protect it from freeze damage later.
After your last BBQ make time to clean your grill well and oil it. Store outdoor lawn furniture, kids toys, hammocks, and soccer nets
Clean exterior lights, make sure bulbs work. Replace with LED if necessary.
Front door - Clean and check that lock is functioning easily and door secures without problems. If you have a deadbolt that is key only (on the inside) that needs to be replaced. It’s dangerous.
Make sure your home can be found at night. Is your number easily visible in the dark? Not only will the Amazon driver thank you, so with the fire dept and emergency rescue.
Inspect foundation and driveway. If you see large cracks (1/2" or more) or shifting (one-part pushes out/up) call a foundation pro. The sooner you fix it, the less it will cost you.
Take a second (or third) look at your exterior. Remove any trash or tired “decor”. Replace or remove sun-faded stickers, flags, and signs.
Check your crawl space for signs of water or rodent droppings.
If you have a septic system have it drained and inspected. I like Pink Plumber for that service.
Make sure the electrical panel is accessible.
Seal the garage floor.
If the walls of your garage aren't painted, paint them. It protects the walls from moisture.
Every two years, have a professional garage door company test your garage door. It's the largest moving part of your home and can be dangerous if the safety mechanisms aren't installed properly.
Install a carbon monoxide detector in the home, near the garage.
Test your GFCI outlets and fuses. This is a common problem, that most people don't know they have. Check it. It could save a life. Really.
Interior House Stuff
Have your HVAC system inspected and replace the filter if necessary. I recommend a high-efficiency filter that only gets changed once a year (after spring). You might be able to add one of these during the offseason at a discounted rate.
My preferred vendor is offering a $69 system tune up. Feel free to tell them I sent you. Ask for Judy Williams with Zen Aire. 770-988-4822
Make a list of all the light bulbs in the house that are mismatched or burnt out and replace them. If you have a fluorescent light in the kitchen, time to upgrade. If you have an outdated can light, you can update to clean, cheap and pretty LEDs for a really low price at Home Depot or Amazon. Some just screw in, no need to call electrician.
Check attic. Look for disturbed insulation, damaged wiring and duct wrapping, rodent droppings. Contact pest company for wildlife remediation if needed. Make sure that vents are still covered to keep pests out but allow air to flow.
Smoke alarms can fail because of the build-up of grease or dust on them. So even if the battery is fine, it may not function properly. Replace annually.
Make sure fire extinguishers are charged and available on all floors. I suggest a garage, kitchen, and under each bathroom sink. 2-pack on Amazon for $25.00
Create and/or practice a fire escape plan
Clean dryer vent. I know it's annoying, but really. This can cause fires, will reduce the life expectancy of your dryer, and increase energy bills if left unchecked. Confirm that the dryer is actually venting out of the house. Don't assume…
Run a cleaning cycle on your washing machine and dishwasher
Vacuum all vents and ceiling fans and switch the direction of your ceiling fans, and then deep clean your vacuum.
Donate old clothes and toys to charity
Recycle old magazines and newspapers
Check the washing machine hook up for leaks.
Check toilets for wobble. If it wobbles more than a little, it's likely that the seal is broken. That needs to be fixed. Good time to replace/upgrade the toilets. Gwinnett has a toilet recycling program. Click here for details
Look under all sinks for water leaks.
Inspect tub/shower caulking and replace it if necessary.
Want a second opinion?
As realtors, we've seen more than a few homes. If you would like an on-site consultation about your home and what steps you can take to maintain and improve it, please call 678.458.3697 or book a check-up online.
Click below for a handy checklist summary.
Below are a few links to some of my most frequently referred vendors. Some will offer you discounts if they were referred, so please let them know I sent you. If you're not in my area, your Realtor should be a great source of referrals for this type of information. If you don't have one, let me know and I'll get you one.
Ryan's Tree Service - 770-458-0957 - Website: www.ryantreeservice.com
Northwest - 678-816-0893 Website: www.callnorthwest.com
Atlanta Property Inspections - 770-932-8634 Website: inspect-atlanta.com
Amerispec - 770-935-4990 Website: www.amerispec.com
Zen Aire 770-988-4822 Website: callzenair.com
Findley 770-516-5806 Website: www.findlayroofing.com
Perimeter Roofing - 770-313-7772 Website: perimeterroofing.com
Nalley Roofing - 770-931-5982 Website: nalleyroofingllc.com/wp
Radon Sucks - 706-252-4628 Website: www.radonsucks.com
General Home Repair
Ensign Building Solutions - 770-205-9891 Website: ensignbuildingsolutions.com
Electrical Pros - 770-822-2150 Website: electricalpros.com
Peachtree Interiors - 912-266-1979
Nutech - 470-655-1212 Ext. 204 Website: nutechmold.com