Home Maintenance Tips and Resources for Seniors

Home Maintenance Tips and Resources for Home Maintenance Tips and Resources for SeniorsSeniors

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.

We’ve got more tips on winterizing your home and upgrading your home’s fire safety. Find more senior home and real estate resources at SeniorAdvisor.com

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

8 Comments

  1. Terrie Silbaugh December 25, 2016 Reply

    ARE VETERIANS WIFES ELEGIBLE FOR IN HOME CARE? I NEED A HIP REPLACEMENT THAT IS COVERED UNDER OTHER INSURANCE.

  2. Terrie Silbaugh December 25, 2016 Reply

    ARE VETERIANS WIVES ELEGIBLE FOR IN HOME CARE? I NEED A HIP REPLACEMENT.

  3. Shifi Shah April 18, 2017 Reply

    Hey Casey,
    those pointers are realy helpful, but you missed out on pests as they are one the utmost important factors to be taken care of.

  4. Keith Gumbinger June 16, 2017 Reply

    A few other items should also make the list above — most notably, to make sure that you test your sump pump at least once per year to ensure it is operating properly. It might even be worth keeping a brand-new one handy as a backup, as it would be very inconvenient to have to run out and buy one at the height of a storm.

    Also, while it’s important to make sure gutters are clean and leaders flowing, you’ll want to also pay some regular attention to the drainage around your home to make sure that water is pushed a fair distance away from your foundation. Look for wet or spongy patches and take steps to improve the grading so water flows away properly.

    Don’t forget to also look for insect damage — there are any number of bees and wasps that love to make their nest in little holes and cracks, and boring insects that will punch holes in fascia and soffits, too. Carpenter ants can do plenty of damage to your home and the trees that surround it, so you should address these items sooner than later.

  5. Carl June 25, 2017 Reply

    This is what I need. I am planning to redesign my mom’s home. Thanks.

  6. Nellie G. Segura May 19, 2018 Reply

    I would imagine that doing some work with experienced professionals would allow you to find the right place for your loved one to live.

  7. Airbnb Clean August 14, 2018 Reply

    You really have good point here. This is a big help to all seniors. Thanks for this!

  8. Sherry Gajos September 18, 2018 Reply

    I really liked what you said about how seniors should keep a close eye on the walls of their home in case of cracks, holes, and peeling paint. My grandpa is living alone in his older house and not as spry as he used to be, so we’re looking into ways to keep an eye on him and his house so it stays safe for him to live in. Thank you for the information about calling in a professional to inspect the damage if he sees any signs of mildew or large cracks.

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