Your home is your nest and probably your biggest investment. It’s important to keep up with maintenance, but that can be harder to do as we get older. If you’re looking to stay in your own home, here’s a list of must-do chores plus tips on finding help with costly but necessary repairs.
Keep an eye on your roof
- Once a year, and after big storms, check your roof for damaged shingles and vents. Do this inspection while you’re standing on the ground and leave the rooftop work to professionals to avoid a fall.
- If your trees have grown to overhang the roof, hire an arborist to trim them back.
- Hire someone to clean and repair your gutters and downspouts every year.
Watch the walls
Another annual chore is to check for holes, cracks, and peeling paint on interior walls and exterior siding. You can probably patch and paint small holes and cracks on your own. If you see signs of mildew or large cracks, call a professional to inspect the damage.
Focus on your foundation
Check your foundation every year for signs of cracking or damage. Obvious signs include major cracks in walls and siding, interior doors that won’t stay open, and floors that slant to one side. Foundation work can be costly, so shop around and check customer reviews before hiring a repair company.
Step up floor and path maintenance
Cracked tile, wrinkled carpet, and heaved walkways are tripping hazards. Call a flooring professional or handyman as soon as you notice any of these issues.
Pay attention to plumbing and sewer systems
- Check your water heater every month for leaks, especially if it’s older.
- Newer washing machine filter need cleaning every month.
- Check under sinks for leaks whenever you clean. You may need to repair or replace drainpipes, water lines, or the faucets if they’re leaking into the cabinets.
- If your home has a septic system, have it pumped at least every 5 years to prevent problems that can lead to costly repairs.
- Replace water filters as needed.
Take charge of your electrical system
- Test your ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet switches once a year by pushing the test button, which should cut the flow of electricity to the outlet. Then push reset. Have an electrician replace broken outlets.
- Replace and upgrade burned out lightbulbs as needed.
- Walk through your house and pick up any electrical cords that cross the floor – they’re a tripping and fire hazard.
Be safe with natural gas
Check the pilot lights on your gas-powered appliances and visually inspect your home’s emergency shutoff gas valve once a year.
Clear the air in your home
- Change your heating and air conditioning filters according to the manufacturer’s schedule, usually monthly. If you can’t change the filters, ask your HVAC maintenance provider about longer-lasting filters they can change during their twice-yearly visits.
- Check that your dryer vent and range hood vent outlets are clear of debris and open properly. Vacuum it your dryer exhaust line or hire a pro to clean it once a year. Clean the grease filter on your range hood at least once a year, more often if you cook a lot.
- Check the humidity in your basement and add a dehumidifier if you need one to prevent mildew.
- Keep your fireplace clean and have a chimney sweep inspect it each fall before use.
Double-check your doors and windows
Twice a year, check your exterior doors and your home’s windows to make sure the locks work properly and that the hardware is secure. Tighten hinge and doorknob screws if needed.
Assess your alarms and safety gear
- Once a month, take a broomstick around your house and push the test button on all your smoke detectors. Replace the batteries once a year and as needed.
- At same time, test your carbon monoxide detector.
- Make sure your fire extinguishers haven’t passed their use-by date.
- If you have a personal emergency response system, test it monthly, too.
Use these home maintenance resources
If you need help paying for repairs to your home, you may have some community and government options. The Huffington Post has a long list here. You can also ask your local Area Agency on Aging and your utility company if they help seniors who need help with home repairs.
This list will get you started, but you can do much more for your home if you wish. This Old House has a 4-page long, detailed printable home inspection checklist. Lifehacker has another list that includes annual heavy cleaning chores to keep your appliances in top shape, too. It’s a good idea to declutter regularly to make downsizing easier later on, too. Keeping up your home is a lot of work, but it pays off in comfort while you live there and again when you’re ready to sell.