House List of Doom

house list of doom

Every Thursday, RidgeCrest Herbals holds an all-team meeting called Ideas Worth Stealing. Anyone is welcome to present anything that interests them or any knowledge they care to share. Last year, I did a short presentation called "Aspen's Home Ownership List of Doom." There is no class in school and no first-time home buyers requirement that teaches you all the little things you are supposed to keep track of. So when I realized that the dishwasher I had bought five years before had a SECOND filter I was supposed to be cleaning (I can't tell you how disgusting that first clean was), I set out to research all the things I knew I didn't know about homeownership. 

People who know me know I can be a bit extra about organizing; it's a way to manage my anxiety. For example, I am firmly convinced that the whole house will fall over if I don't change my furnace filter every month. I now have a number of systems in place to make sure that I never lose sight of all the different parts of maintaining my home.   

Now, I'm sharing that list with you! Whether you own your home and find this helpful, or don't own and find this list a good reminder that renting may not be so bad after all, I hope you enjoy it!  

The MANY things you have to think about when you own a house:

  • Your sewer line should be cleaned at least every two years. You can purchase an attachment for a pressure washer that makes it quick and easy. Getting an inspection for older homes with trees is a good idea.
  • Air ducts should be cleaned every 3-5 years.
  • Furnace filter should be changed at least every 90 days.
  • The water heater should be drained once a year, more if you live in an area with hard water.
  • If you have a home humidifier, water filtration system, or air scrubbing system on your furnace, these all have filters that need replacing.
  • Covering the air conditioning unit during the winter is a hotly contested topic. Modern units are built to withstand extreme temperatures and precipitation. Covering it may trap moisture and lead to mold and rust. It may also lead to critters looking for someplace hidden to spend the winter. Make sure to keep the fall leaves and debris swept off and away from it, as well as the winter snow, and it should weather just fine.
  • HVAC systems should be checked by a professional twice a year, once in the spring for the AC and again in the fall for the furnace. This ensures they run at peak efficiency and cut your energy bills.
  • Have an electrician inspect your breaker box every 3-5 years.
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every six months, replacing batteries as needed. Replace entirely every ten years.
  • Dryer vents should be cleaned out twice a year with a vacuum or cleaning kit. Not doing so can result in longer dry times, increased electric bills, and create a fire risk.
  • Washing machine filters should be cleaned monthly or at least four times a year.
  • Once a month, run the self-clean cycle on your washing machine if it has one, or just run an empty load with bleach or vinegar to clean the tub.
  • Wash your pillows every 3-6 months. Use dryer balls or tennis balls in the dryer to fluff them back up.
  • Exercise the shut-off valves on your plumbing fixtures twice yearly so they don't build up sediment and get stuck. They'll be ready to turn if you need to shut off the water.
  • Faucets have aerators to reduce the amount of water that comes out of them, and to control the stream. Soak them in vinegar every six months and use an old toothbrush to remove mineral buildup.
  • Wrap your shower head in a bag with vinegar overnight to dissolve hard water deposits.
  • Keep your shower drain clear by running boiling water down it, followed by a mixture of one cup of white distilled vinegar and one cup of baking soda. Wait 15 minutes, then flush with boiling water again. This recipe can be used for any drain in your home.
  • Keep an eye on the grout around tubs, toilets, showers, windows, and anywhere that could leak water, and re-apply as necessary to avoid damage and black mold.
  • Bathroom fans should be cleaned every six months to a year to prevent bacteria, mold, and mildew effectively.
  • Fire extinguishers and a fire suppression kit should be on every floor of your home, especially in the kitchen and garage. Know how to use them.
  • Emergency escape ladders should be near a window in every second-story room of your home in case of fire.
  • Refrigerator coils should be cleaned at least once a year. Every 6 months if you have a lot of dust or pets.
  • Depending on use, the oven should be deep cleaned every 3-6 months.
  • Clean the dishwasher filter AND the possible second filter 3-6 times a year.
  • Once a month, put a bowl with two cups of vinegar in the dishwasher and run an otherwise empty load to keep it fresh and clean.
  • The garbage disposal in your kitchen sink should be cleaned twice a month. You can purchase foaming pods to do this. Run cold water so that any gunk is hardened and can be broken up and flushed.
  • Clean or replace the range hood filter above your stove twice a year.
  • If you have granite countertops - check for porosity and seal accordingly every three months to a year.
  • Clean and re-seal your wood deck in the late summer/early fall every 1-2 years to keep it looking its best.
  • Lubricate the moving parts of your garage door every six months. It extends the lifespan and keeps it quiet.
  • Use an air compressor or a stiff brush and vacuum to clean out soffit vents once a year. This keeps airflow in the attic and reduces moisture buildup, preventing mildew and rot. It also reduces cooling costs during hot weather.
  • Rain gutters and downspouts should be cleaned twice yearly in the early spring and fall. If they're blocked with leaves and debris, rainwater won't drain properly and may cause damage to the interior, exterior, and foundation of your home.
  • Does your home have foundation vents? These can be closed in the winter to save energy and avoid burst pipes. Keep them open the rest of the year to prevent trapping humidity and allow airflow around the foundation.
  • Check your exterior grade to avoid water around the foundation of your home.
  • If your home has vinyl siding, pressure wash it annually.
  • Use an air compressor to blow out your sprinkler system in the fall to avoid frozen pipes.
  • Inspect your sprinkler system in the spring for any leaks or broken heads. Check often throughout the season. Watering in the early morning is best to avoid wasteful evaporation.
  • If your home has stucco, look for cracks around windows and repair them to avoid water damage.
  • Clean out the weep holes in your windows once a year before the rainy season to ensure rainwater flows away from the house.
  • You can check for drafts around windows or doors by lighting incense and moving the stick around the edges. If the smoke wavers, you've got a leak.
  • Check the weather stripping around doors and replace it as necessary.
  • Invest in a termite inspection once a year, especially if you live in a warm, moist climate.
  • Standard homeowners insurance policies generally do not cover floods, earthquakes, landslides, sinkholes, or sewer backups. The good news is you can purchase separate policies for these types of events if you live in areas that are prone to any of these perils. Review your coverage and understand its limits and exclusions. Better to have adequate coverage for the unexpected than not enough!

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