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17 Maintenance To-Dos for New Homeowners

Friday, January 17, 2020 Home Maintenance By: Anne Larson

Man in overalls carrying toolbox and leather binder

True Blue has compiled 17 maintenance to-dos for new homeowners, complete with written guides and how-to videos.  While we realize we there are several “to-dos” out there, we believe this is a great place to start!

Change Locks

Cost: $20 / Time: 30 minutes

You closed on your new house, you have no idea who else has a key.  Just be safe and change the locks.  You can also re-key existing locks, which is a cost-effective way to achieve the same result.

How To:
Written Guide

Change Locks

Replace Door Strike Plate

Cost: $1 per screw / Time: 20 minutes

The screws that come with your door are typically no longer than an inch, you are just screwing into the door jab.  Pop by the hardware store, pick up some 3-inch screws and replace these baby screws.  The 3-inch screw will be installed directly into the framing of the house.  It’s a cheap layer of protection, just do it.  Don’t believe us, check out the video below.

How To:
Written Guide

Change Garage Code

Cost: Free / Time: 5 minutes

You’ll have to reference your garage opener manual for this one or google the manufacturer and model number for a guide.

 

Smoke Alarm & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Cost: $10-$20 per alarm / Time: 5 minutes

All smoke alarms, wired or otherwise, should be replaced every five to ten years. Most modern alarms can be replaced by simply rotating the alarm counter-clockwise and pulling down; the opposite is true for installation. Battery-powered smoke detectors will obviously require a new battery and wired detectors will need to be plugged in before twisting the detector back in place.

Smoke Alarm & Carbon Monoxide Batteries

Cost: $5 per alarm / Time: 5 minutes

Are the smoke alarms looking yellow?  If so, they are in need of a replacement.  Truth be told, you have no idea when these were last changed.  Grab a step ladder, stool, or chair and pop that battery cover off.  You don’t want your new home to go up in flames.

Clean Dryer Vent

Time: 15 minutes

Cleaning your dryer vent is a simple way to prevent lint related fires.  Depending on your set-up this may be something you can complete yourself.  Cleaning your dryer vent not only prevents a fire but also ensures your dryer is working more effectively.

How-To:
Written Guide

 

Fire Extinguisher

Cost: $20-$70

Everyone should at least have one extinguisher in their home so they have a chance to turn a tragic story into an interesting piece of dinner conversation.  Extinguishers should be inspected every month.  Replacement of your fire extinguisher ranges from 5+ years, be sure to check your manuals and do your research.

Wondering which kind you should have?!  We have you covered here.

Clean Chimney

Cost: $400-$500
True Blue Recommendation: Highland Chimney Specialists

Chimneys can be blocked/partially blocked by animals or debris.  Additionally, build-up from regular use can cause a fire and, as we all know, fire safety/prevention is cool. The tools required for getting this done and getting up on the roof is likely beyond the average homeowner.  Leave this to the professionals.

 

Change HVAC Filter

Cost: 6 pack $25 / Time: 2 minutes

This is a simple home maintenance chore that must be done regularly, every other month to annually depending on the filter. The ideal schedule for your home will depend on a variety of variables that include: occupant allergies, pet shedding, system use, what’s in the air (dust), etc. These are typically easily accessible, on the outside of your HVAC unit, and you slide the filter in/out, it’s about as intensive as changing a toilet paper roll.

How To:

Change Furnace Filter

Dishwasher Filter

Cost: $20 / Time: 10 minutes

A lot of washers have filters that can cause quite a stink. Cost, time, and maintenance schedules depend on your specific washer. A self-cleaning filter essentially has a garbage disposal and doesn’t need attention, but manual filters are garbage nets. As you might suspect, a garbage net isn’t something you want to let fester. In addition to smell, a full filter can also prevent your dishwasher from draining properly.

How-To:
Written Guide

Dishwasher Filter

Drain/Flush Hot Water Heater

Free / Time: 20 minutes

Sediment collects in your water heater during regular use. This can cause inefficiencies in heating and flow and even clog your drain valve. Some people believe this is unnecessary, or even counter-productive, so you’ll have to decide for yourself.

How-To:

Drain/Flush Water Heater

Clean Drains with Snake

Cost: Zip Strip: $15 / Drain Snake: $30

This one isn’t necessary if the drain is functioning properly, but who knows when, or if, this was ever done. The idea of being ankle-deep in shower water isn’t bothersome, but the idea of some shedding wookie’s leavings acting as a teabag is disconcerting. Simple hair clogs can be cured with a cheap “zip strip”, but a drain snake may be a worthwhile investment for you.  Alternative methods should be avoided because you risk severely damaging the system. For instance, Drano can erode seals that weren’t meant to handle caustic material and tools that use air pressure can actually break pipes because they weren’t meant to handle the pressure.

How-To:

Snake a Drain

Clean Gutters

Free/ Time: 30 minutes

Gutters, even those not around trees, can get clogged with debris and should be checked/cleaned at least annually.  You could do this with a ladder, but accessibility may prove daunting enough to warrant hiring a professional. Ridiculous looking tools also exist that are supposed to enable you to clear gutters from the ground, but it doesn’t seem like the best idea because you can’t actually see/verify your gutters are clean and in good condition. Clogged, or even partially clogged, gutters can prevent rain from draining through the down-spout, which is can lead to several water issues, all of which we hope you never find out about. Gutters are essential to collect rain from your roof and send it far away from your house.

How-To:

Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Check Window Caulk

Cost: $20 / Time: 1 hour

Windows are holes in walls. The frame and glass of the window fill most of that hole, but there’s still empty space around the edge. Water and cold are can seep through that empty space, which means damage and/or inefficiency. Caulk around the windows prevents this from happening and you get the added benefit of bandying about big, hot caulk-oriented puns. This suggestion is meant more for modern sliding windows as I’m not sure of the needs of older form factors.

How-To:

Window Caulking

Check Interior Silicone

Cost: $5 / Time: 20 minutes

Go around to all the places like your kitchen or bathroom sinks, shower, etc. and check the condition of the silicone seals. These wear over time and could become ineffective as your house settles. Inspect for gaps, breaks, or wear and replace as needed. The process for silicone is very similar to the process outlined above for window caulk. You should also check the grout between tiles, but that’s a little more involved.

Bathroom Exhaust Vent

A lot of people seem to think that bathroom fans are a stank-reducing, sound-masking, comfort-enhancing luxury; however, they’re functionally critical to the health of your home. They remove humidity from a closed environment, which would otherwise serve as fuel for anguish in the long-run. In addition to cleaning the easily accessible area, cleaning the actual vent shaft can also be helpful and can be done if/when you have your HVAC ducting cleaned.

How-To:

Clean Bathroom Exhaust

 

Clean Back of Refrigerator

Free / Time: 15 minutes

You never see the back of your fridge, but that’s where a lot of important bits and pieces are. Dust buildup can reduce the efficiency of the fridge, which can increase electrical bills and force a premature repair/replacement as the system works to overcome your laziness. You should also take this time to replace any water filters and clean your ice maker, if applicable.

How-To:

Clean Back of Refrigerator