Our homes are often our most valuable investment. That’s why the importance of home maintenance cannot be overstated. With the right maintenance and cleaning tips, you can perform preventive maintenance tasks and help extend the life of home appliances, such as HVAC systems, electrical systems, ovens, and washing machines.
In this article, we included insights from experts to help care for your home, from routine maintenance for your HVAC system to simple and effective ways to protect your kitchen appliances. A house in good condition will significantly improve the homeownership experience by offering peace of mind and financial security.
Importance of home maintenance
A home requires attention and care to thrive. Home maintenance isn’t just about fixing leaks or repairing cracks; consistent maintenance impacts the overall well-being of your property.
- Regular maintenance is important to maintain your home’s value. When you invest time and effort into caring for your property, you’re safeguarding its market worth
- Regular ventilation, plumbing, and pest control checks contribute to a healthy and comfortable living space
- Prevention is better than cure, and the same applies to home maintenance. By addressing issues promptly, you can avoid more extensive, expensive problems down the road. Your home warranty may cover regular inspections and minor repairs.
Home maintenance and cleaning tips
Here are some practical and actionable home maintenance tips, including cleaning for different appliances:
General maintenance tips
- Regular HVAC check-ups: Schedule professional HVAC inspections and cleanings to ensure optimal efficiency
- Gutter maintenance: Remove debris from gutters to prevent water damage and blockages
- Roof inspections: Periodically inspect your roof for damaged shingles or signs of wear
- Seal windows and doors: Check for drafts and seal gaps around your windows and doors to improve energy efficiency
- Plumbing checks: Inspect for leaks and fix any issues promptly to prevent water damage
Appliance cleaning and maintenance tips
- Refrigerator: Clean condenser coils at least twice a year to maintain efficiency. Check and replace water filters as recommended by the manufacturer
- Oven and stovetop: Clean oven surfaces regularly to prevent build-up. Check burner elements and replace them if damaged
- Dishwasher: Run an empty dishwasher with a special cleaner to remove build-up
- Washing machine: Clean the lint filter in the washing machine regularly
- Water heater: Check for leaks and annually flush the water heater to remove sediment
What is a recommended schedule for routine home maintenance tasks throughout the year?
“Creating a routine home maintenance schedule is essential to keep your home in good condition and protect your assets. A guide to home maintenance tasks throughout the year:
- Inspect the roof: check your home’s roof for any damage, loose or missing shingles that occur during the winter months. Also, remove debris from your gutters to ensure proper drainage.
- Check windows, doors, and foundation: inspect the windows and doors around your property, look for gaps or cracks, and replace weather stripping when necessary. Examine the property’s foundation for cracks or signs of settling.
- Check the exterior of your home for signs of insect infestation, wood rot, or any other material deterioration.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: replace batteries and ensure proper functioning.
- Inspect plumbing for leaks and fix any issues. After the rough months of winter and heavy spring rains, ensuring no leaks in the pipes is essential.
- If necessary, trim trees and bushes: keep branches away from the house to prevent damage to the exterior walls or foundation.
- Hire a company to clean the chimney: schedule a professional chimney sweep yearly. Over time, a chimney will build up specific blockages. These can catch fire and destroy your property or make it easier for smoke and CO² to flow back into your home.
- Winterize exterior faucets: disconnect hoses and cover outdoor faucets. Also, make sure your pipes inside the home are insulted especially.
- If applicable, inspect the attic, look for signs of pests, and ensure proper insulation in preparation for the cold winter months.
- Check the heating system: ensure your furnace is working efficiently.
- Similar to the fall season, it’s important to inspect insulation throughout the house: ensure adequate insulation in the attic and walls.
- Clean and test the sump pump: ensure proper functioning to prevent
Remember to adapt this schedule based on your specific home and local climate. Regular home maintenance tasks can prevent costly repairs and help extend the lifespan of your home’s systems and components.”
Ryan Bullock from Buying Property 215
What specific challenges should homeowners of older homes be aware of when it comes to routine maintenance?
“From my experience dealing with owners of old homes, understanding old building science and systems helps most people tackle maintenance issues. Most of the market idealizes ‘modern’ solutions like waterproofing or new vinyl windows because of the idealization of new construction. This exists in the trades, commercial products, and consultation. Old buildings function differently than new ones, relying on the breathability of un-waterproofed basements, unfinished attics, and window-based ventilation. The envelope of the building is meant to breathe, unlike with new homes. These aspects of old building systems are seen as undesirable or detrimental, so people try to mitigate them using new construction methods. This breaks down the functionality of the buildings, generally causing more harm than good. Take parging; the use of plaster on foundation stone to prevent moisture from entering a basement. Without a waterproof external envelope, this can lead to water retention, degradation, and mold in your foundation! Instead of prioritizing solutions meant for modern buildings, old homeowners should work to understand the intentions of systems that already exist in their homes when performing maintenance. Find a way to have modern styles and technology work in tandem with your home, not against it!”
Emily Noyes from Rethos
Can you provide tips for preventing scratches on different types of countertops?
“Granite countertops are almost impossible to scratch under everyday use. It has a Mohs hardness rating of 6-7, which means a diamond or a masonry drill bit is hard enough to scratch granite, but knives, pots, and pans won’t mark the surface at all. You won’t need to worry about scratching granite or quartzite countertops.
You can scratch most other countertop materials. However, some simple precautions will minimize the chance that you may damage your countertops.
With a rating of 7, the mineral quartz is even harder than granite, but don’t let that fool you. The resin used to manufacture quartz countertops is far softer and can be scratched. Still, quartz countertops are hard, durable, and not easily scratched. To be safe, use cutting boards for food prep, place silicone trivets under pots, avoid sliding dishes over the surface, and don’t use abrasive products or pads for cleaning.
Marble is softer than granite, so you must take care to avoid scratching marble countertops. Do not cut on the surface, slide plates, or use abrasive cleaners.
Porcelain countertops are nearly scratch-proof. Standard steel knives will not scratch the surface. However, ceramic blades will. So, the simple solution for this material is to refrain from using ceramic knives.
Similar to porcelain is the relatively new sintered stone countertops like Dekton. Sintered stone (or ultra-compact surfaces) will not scratch under regular use. This material is as durable as granite.
Countertop materials like Corian solid surface, soapstone, concrete, wood, laminate, epoxy, and even stainless steel are vulnerable to scratching. Take precautions as outlined above and maintain a scratch-free countertop.”
Ryan Burden from Countertop Specialty
Sparkling Reflections: Top tips on how to clean large mirrors without damaging and leaving ugly streaks
“Large full-length mirrors amplify light and enlarge the space and are an easy and stylish addition to elevate your room’s decor.
Here are the best tips to keep your large mirrors looking sparkling and stylish:
- Lint-free microfiber cloths: Capture dust and grime without leaving streaks.
- Mild soapy water: Removes dirt and stains gently.
- Optional: Distilled water (final polish), glass cleaner (stubborn marks), rubber squeegee (for larger mirrors).
1. Dust: Wipe over the frame and glass with a dry microfiber cloth. Use a soft brush to dust intricate details on the frame
2. Deep clean: Apply a mild soapy solution to stains, then wipe gently with a damp microfiber cloth and dry thoroughly. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbers, as these can damage the mirror’s surface and frame.
3. Polish: Use a lightly damp microfiber cloth with distilled water for a final streak-free shine.
- Work in sections: For larger mirrors, divide the surface into smaller areas and clean them one at a time to avoid overlooking spots.
- Prioritize safety: For larger mirrors, ensure proper stability and ask for assistance if needed.
By following these professional tips, your large mirrors will continue looking sparkling and stylish.”
Sanra from Shine Mirrors
What’s the best way to clean and organize laundry supplies to maximize space and accessibility?
“The secret to keeping your laundry organised and tidy, like any space in your home, is incorporating customising storage solutions that are designed around your laundry products + supplies. High use items should be stored so they are quick and easy to access – so think shelves or cupboards at eye level or drawers with internal compartments. Drawers are rarely used in laundry storage, yet they are hands-down one of the most efficient way to store products – as the simple act of pulling the drawer open, provides instant access to every product from front to back. So if you’re designing a new laundry, be sure to add drawers to your cabinetry storage agenda!
If you’re restricted with space and a laundry reno is out of the budget, investing in some cost-effective stackable baskets is a great way to maximise your current storage footprint. You can label baskets according to household items or laundry supplies, to make it quick and easy to access what you need. The other upside of basket storage, is that you can categorise supplies according to tasks. For example – “bathroom cleaning”, making the weekly bathroom clean simpler, as you can take this basket with you to complete the clean, so you have everything at hand to do the job.”
Ania Forster from Zephyr + Stone, Online Home Design Hub
How often should I clean the dishwasher filter to prevent clogs and maintain optimal performance?
“Many homeowners aren’t aware of this, but every dishwasher needs an occasional cleaning, especially the filter. Food and debris can build up inside and cause clogs. Common signs of a clogged dishwasher are odd gurgling noises, water doesn’t drain, or dishes don’t get clean—issues you generally want to avoid. When you should clean your dishwasher filter can vary, but it’s usually based on your dishwasher loading habits. The filter lives in the bottom below the propeller and catches food particles during cycles. It’s important to keep this clean since a blockage can eventually cause serious issues, including damaging the water pump.
If you wash or rinse your dishes pretty thoroughly before loading, you’re removing most of the food that can be caught in the filter, so a yearly cleaning is recommended. But if you don’t rinse off dishes beforehand, the cleaning should be more frequent, about once a month. You’ll want to look at your manual for details on removing it, but usually, you only need to remove the bottom rack and propeller. Once it’s out, rinsing with hot water and scrubbing with a bottle brush can remove the build-up and keep your machine going without any future plumbing issues.”
Laura Foudray from Christian Brothers
What are the key steps in maintaining and cleaning my HVAC system to ensure optimal performance and identify potential issues early?
“Maintaining and cleaning your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system is crucial for ensuring its optimal performance and longevity. Regular maintenance can not only improve the efficiency of your system but also help in identifying potential issues early, which, in turn, can save you from costly repairs down the line. Here are some key steps to follow:
- Regular Filter Replacement: One of the simplest yet most effective steps in maintaining your HVAC system is to replace its filters regularly. Dirty filters restrict air flow, reducing efficiency and putting more strain on the system. It’s recommended to check filters monthly and replace them at least every three months.
- Annual Professional Inspection: Having a professional HVAC technician inspect your system annually is vital. They can perform a comprehensive check-up, including inspecting and cleaning the wiring and mechanisms, which is a more intricate task.
- Cleaning Vents and Ducts: Ensure that all vents and ducts are free of dust and debris, as blockages can significantly hinder the system’s performance. Regular vacuuming of these areas helps maintain clear air pathways.
- Checking Thermostat Settings: Regularly checking and adjusting your thermostat settings can help in keeping your HVAC system running efficiently. Programmable thermostats can be particularly useful in managing your home’s temperature without overburdening the system.
- Utilizing Technology for Efficiency: In today’s tech-driven world, consider using smart home technology to monitor and optimize your HVAC system’s performance. For instance, 1build, a technology platform offering real-time construction pricing data, can be a valuable resource when considering upgrades or repairs to your HVAC system. With access to data on materials, labor, and equipment costs, homeowners can make informed decisions about their HVAC maintenance, ensuring they get the best value for their investment.
Regular maintenance not only increases the lifespan of your HVAC system but also contributes to the overall value of your home. By keeping these tips in mind, homeowners can enjoy a comfortable, efficient home environment year-round.”
Dmitry Alexin from 1build
What steps should homeowners take to prepare their heating systems for the upcoming colder weather, and when is the best time to schedule professional maintenance?
“To ensure your heating system operates efficiently, safely, and comfortably during the winter months, homeowners should take several key steps. First, regularly changing the heating system’s filters is essential, as dirty filters can impede airflow and diminish efficiency. It’s advisable to check filters monthly and replace or clean them as necessary. Additionally, verify that your thermostat is functioning correctly and set it for maximum efficiency and comfort. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to save energy by reducing heating costs when the house is unoccupied.
Furthermore, it’s essential to ensure that all heating vents and ducts are open and not obstructed by furniture or curtains and to inspect the ductwork for potential leaks or blockages. Testing the heating system before the onset of cold weather is also crucial; be attentive to any strange noises or odors that might indicate a problem.
The best time to schedule professional maintenance is during the fall before cold weather arrives. This allows any issues to be addressed before turning the heat on. HVAC professionals are typically slower in the fall, making it easier to schedule an appointment. Regular maintenance is critical to maintaining efficient operation and can help extend the lifespan of your heating system.”
Carol Morgan, Publisher from Atlanta Real Estate Forum
What are maintenance tasks homeowners should perform to protect appliances from hard water damage?
“All water-based appliances, plumbing, and plumbing fixtures are susceptible to the damaging effects of hard water. Hard water minerals, namely calcium and magnesium, can build up to cause unsightly stains, reduction in efficiency, and even complete failure of everything from a shower head to water-based appliances like dishwashers, water heaters, and all the plumbing in between.
The best way to protect your home from hard water minerals is with a point-of-entry water treatment system like the NuvoH2O Manor Trio System. These point-of-entry systems will not only protect the visible issues caused by hard water but also the rest of the home’s plumbing. Many homeowners recognize the visible side effects of hard water without realizing that expensive appliances like water heaters, dishwashers, and washing machines are likely being damaged by hard water minerals as well.
If a point-of-entry water treatment system is not right for you, there are other options available to avoid some side effects of hard water, like spotty glassware, and clogged shower heads. Regularly using a cleaning agent, like CitraCharge, to remove limescale from dishwashers, shower heads, sink faucets, and washing machines can extend the life and functionality of these important investments.”
Riley Forkner from NuvoH2O
What measures can I take to prevent and address mineral buildup in appliances that use water, such as coffee makers and washing machines?
“To prolong the lifespan and performance of appliances that use water, such as washing machines, coffee makers, and dishwashers, you must be proactive with regular maintenance. Below are some guidelines on how to maintain each of these appliances:
To prevent mineral buildup, ensure to use a water softener, especially if you are using hard water. Run an empty hot water cycle with vinegar once a month to clean and dissolve any existing mineral deposits. Regularly clean the detergent dispenser and rubber door gasket to prevent any mold buildup to ensure optimal performance.
Mineral deposits in coffee makers can affect the taste of your coffee and the efficiency of the machine. Use filtered water to reduce mineral content, and descale the coffee maker regularly using a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar. Run this solution through the brewing cycle, followed by a couple of cycles with clean water. Clean all removable parts regularly to help maintain the flavour of your coffee and prolong the lifespan of your maker.
To combat mineral buildup in dishwashers, use a dishwasher cleaner or run a cycle with white vinegar to dissolve scale in the machine. If you are using hard water, ensure that the dishwasher’s rinse aid dispenser is filled, as it helps prevent spots and film buildup. Periodically check and clean the filter to prevent debris accumulation, which can increase mineral buildup. Following these steps will keep your dishwasher running efficiently and help maintain the cleanliness of your dishes.”
Nicole Eckel from Appliance Repair Edmonton
What’s the recommended method for cleaning stainless steel appliances without causing scratches or streaks?
“We all love the look of stainless steel in our kitchens until it’s covered with greasy, grimy fingerprints and smudges. Microfiber cloths are the best way to remove the dirt and preserve the sleek shine of your stainless steel surfaces! A microfiber towel’s surface is covered with tiny fibers that actually attract dirt, instead of pushing it around like cotton or paper towels do. These fibers leave your surfaces streak free, and they don’t scratch.
We recommend a four-step process using two products:
First, dampen your all-purpose microfiber cloth. Be sure to wring it out well.
Next, wipe down the surface with a damp cloth. This will soften, remove, and lift the surface debris. Dry your surface with a microfiber glass towel. This removes the dirt water.
Check the surface for residual streaks and polish them away with a dry area of the glass towel.
Remember, don’t overwet your surface; a little water on a microfiber cloth really does the trick! Once you’ve wrung out the towel, fold it twice – that will give you eight clean and damp sides of the towel to work with. Always make sure your glass towel is dry. We recommend folding it in half so you’ll have multiple dry sides as well.”
Blythe Haney from Microfiber Wholesale
What’s the most effective method for removing baked-on grease and spills from the oven interior?
“To tackle baked-on grease and spills in your oven, a homemade cleaning paste can work wonders. Just mix baking soda with water until it forms a spreadable paste. Smear this mixture generously over the greasy areas inside your oven, especially where the spills are the worst. Let it sit overnight; this gives the baking soda time to break down the grease. The next day, wipe off the paste with a damp cloth or sponge. You’ll see the grease coming off much easier. If you come across any really stubborn spots, a plastic scraper can help lift the residue without scratching the oven. Once you’ve got most of the paste off, a final wipe with a mix of water and white vinegar will clean out any remaining baking soda and leave your oven looking shiny. This method is not only effective but also kind to the environment and gentle on your oven.”
Raymond C. from Planet Maids
Can you provide tips for cleaning oven racks without damaging their finish or functionality?
“Cleaning an oven correctly can be a daunting task, but there are things you can do to make it a painless process. Follow these simple tips to restore your oven racks to their pristine condition without causing any damage:
Start by removing the oven racks and placing them in a sink or bathtub. Allow them to soak in warm, soapy water for a few hours or overnight to loosen grime. Create a paste with baking soda and water, applying it to stubborn stains, and letting it sit for 15-20 minutes.
Gently scrub the racks with a non-abrasive brush or sponge, avoiding harsh scouring pads that may harm the finish. Rinse the racks thoroughly to remove any remaining residue. For persistent stains, consider a vinegar soak with equal parts water and white vinegar.
Ensure the racks are completely dry before returning them to the oven to prevent rust. To maintain cleanliness, use oven liners that can be easily cleaned or replaced. With these simple steps, you can effortlessly keep your oven racks in top-notch condition.
Pro tip: Don’t use harsh cleaning chemicals on self-cleaning ovens as they can cause major damage. Always use the self-cleaning option if applicable.”
Charnell Williams from Clean Corp
What is the recommended method for cleaning roof shingles without causing damage or reducing their lifespan?
“The recommended method for cleaning your roof shingles – without causing damage or reducing their lifespan – is to wash your asphalt roof with a pressure washer with a low-degree tip. The tip should be at a 25-degree angle or greater. If the angle of the tip is too narrow, the pressure in which the water sprays could potentially damage your roofing. Keeping your power washer at a wider angle will allow you to remove the debris from your shingles effectively without creating any unnecessary damage. You will also need to use a cleaning solution with the power washer. Any type of heavy-duty roof cleaner solution would work. However, we suggest the APOC Professional Protection 801 Heavy Duty Roof Cleaner. This cleaning solution will help to break down the mold and algae that is growing on your asphalt shingles, but they do not contain bleach or any other solvent in their ingredients.
The best method for cleaning is to work from the top of your roof down, keeping the water flow going down the roof towards the eaves. This is a very important thing to note. It will prevent any water from moving up under your shingles which would create water damage.”
Alexis Reyes from Gunner Roofing
Can you offer advice on cleaning and maintaining electronic devices and screens without causing damage?
“When cleaning electronic devices and screens, it’s crucial to use gentle methods to avoid damage. Start by turning off and unplugging the devices. For screens, use a microfiber cloth to remove dust and smudges. Avoid paper towels or rough fabrics that can scratch the surface. For stubborn spots, dampen the cloth with either glass cleaner or distilled water or a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and white vinegar. Spray the liquid on the cloth and not the screen to avoid getting water into places where it can cause damage.
For keyboards and other surfaces, use compressed air to blow away dust and debris from between keys. Wipe surfaces with a soft cloth slightly dampened with isopropyl alcohol, ensuring the device is off to prevent any electrical issues. Avoid using excessive moisture, and never spray liquids directly onto the device.”
Laura Christia, Owner All Star Cleaning Services, Fort Collins Colorado
Are there scenarios where appliance maintenance and repairs might not be covered by a home warranty, and if so, what are they?
“Maintaining your home appliances is crucial for their longevity and optimal performance. However, it’s important to note that routine maintenance tasks are typically not covered under a standard warranty. These warranties, whether they come from the appliance manufacturer or a third-party home warranty provider, usually cover defects in materials and workmanship or unexpected breakdowns due to normal wear-and-tear. They do not typically include coverage for routine maintenance such as cleaning filters, lubricating parts, or other regular upkeep tasks.
For instance, if your refrigerator isn’t cooling properly because you haven’t cleaned the condenser coils, this wouldn’t be covered by your warranty. Similarly, if your washing machine starts making noise because you haven’t descaled it, this, too, wouldn’t fall under the warranty coverage.
To understand what your warranty covers and what it doesn’t, it’s essential to thoroughly read your appliance’s user manual and your home warranty policy. These documents will provide detailed information about your responsibilities regarding appliance maintenance and what types of repairs or replacements are covered under the warranty.
Remember, maintaining your appliances is not just about keeping your warranty valid; it’s also about ensuring your appliances function efficiently, last longer, and save you money in the long run by reducing the need for costly repairs or premature replacements.”
Mark Reyes from ADVANCE Appliance Ltd.
How can homeowners incorporate energy-efficient features into basement renovations to enhance comfort and reduce utility costs?
“Begin your basement renovation with a thorough inspection to identify any moisture issues. Ensuring a dry basement is crucial for long-term efficiency. Prioritize high-quality spray foam insulation to maintain a comfortable temperature and reduce heating costs. Upgrading to energy-efficient windows can significantly cut down on energy loss. Remember, a well-insulated, dry basement is the foundation of any energy-efficient renovation, leading to enhanced comfort and lowered utility bills.”
Terry Fraser from Renco
How can waterproofing protect a home from potential water damage?
“Because water can enter your home through the tiniest of cracks in basement walls or through the damp soil of a crawl space, every home without proper waterproofing is susceptible to both water damage and foundation problems. Depending on your home’s unique individual needs, an interior waterproofing system paired with a reliable sump pump is recognized by foundation and waterproofing experts as being one of the most effective lines of defense against water intrusion. A sump pump has the ability to capture water collected by an interior drain system and reroute it away from the home. Crawl spaces prone to moisture problems like high humidity may also benefit from crawl space encapsulation and a dehumidifier as added measures toward further protection against moisture. A full-encapsulation seals the crawl space completely from floor to wall with heavy-duty liners, drainage matting, and spray foam sealants at a minimum. The misconception is that you can keep water out of the home. A better truth is that every homeowner can protect their home from water damage with effective waterproofing. To learn more about interior waterproofing and other options like exterior basement drains, downspout extensions, and gravity drains, visit usstn.com/waterproofing for various educational resources.”
Valorie Buck from USS
What advice can you offer to help homeowners recognize signs indicating the necessity for immediate home repairs?
“Recognizing signs of potential maintenance issues in your home is crucial to preventing further damage and saving yourself money from dealing with costly repairs. Parts and labor costs skyrocket during peak seasons, so watching for indicators of issues around the home is crucial for controlling your costs.
We recommend looking at preventative maintenance seasonally to ensure you aren’t stuck paying inflated repair costs.
- Inspect the roof for damaged shingles or leaks
- Change AC filter
- Clean gutters and downspouts
- Inspect AC System
- Clean dryer vents
- Inspect garage doors
- Clean kitchen fan exhaust filter
- Check dishwasher leaks
- Replace the faucet and shower washers
- Check fireplaces and clean flues
- Inspect heating systems
- Inspect the roof for damage
- Seal gaps in windows and doors
- Clear gutters and downspouts
- Winterize outdoor plumbing
- Check major appliances
- Inspect water heater
- Test sump pumps
- Reverse ceiling fans
- Inspect stove and cooktops
- Spray for pests “
Ray Hespen from Property Meld
A home warranty will provide protection and security, offering coverage for repairing or replacing major home systems and appliances. It’s a proactive step to reduce unexpected expenses. While a home warranty is a valuable asset, it doesn’t void the need for regular cleaning and maintenance. They complement each other. Many warranty providers expect homeowners to perform routine maintenance to prevent issues. Neglecting basic upkeep might result in denied claims.