Owning your own property is a major life achievement. Likewise, owning a rental property (or many) is a great investment, and it’s a fantastic way to build a mostly passive income. However, as any homeowner knows, if you don’t stay on top of maintenance and repairs, even a dream home can become a nightmare.

A home preventative maintenance checklist can help you to keep up with the routine repairs and maintenance your home or rental property needs to stay in good shape. It can be difficult to remember everything you need to do every month, season and year, and forgetting or not properly planning for some essential maintenance tasks can lead to some unpleasant surprises.

We’ve broken this checklist into an easy-to-follow list based on when each thing should be done. Some homeowners choose to do this work themselves, while others choose to hire a maintenance service to schedule customized visits where they complete the essential maintenance tasks. Regardless of how you’ll manage it, it’s important to get an overview of what’s involved. So let’s dive in.

Why Do You Need a Home Preventative Maintenance Checklist?

It’s tempting to put off repairs and maintenance on your home or rental property. No one wants to spend the money to get things done around the house, but the truth is, the longer you leave these things, the more they will cost you down the line.

Ignoring potential problems early on might save you a little money in the short term. Still, minor problems can turn into big problems very quickly, and big problems are usually expensive.

Preventative maintenance is more than just doing routine repairs, though. It’s a system that lets you address possible issues before they even become a problem, and that means you can prevent problems from happening at all.

There are many things that can go wrong with a house, though, even if it’s in great shape. A home preventative maintenance checklist just helps you to remember what needs to be done and when, so you never miss another scheduled inspection, cleaning or part replacement. This strategy minimizes the risk that you’ll run into big problems.

The Checklist

Next, let’s look at the different things you need to do to prevent problems around your house or rental property and when they need to be done. Keep reading after the checklist because we’ll also discuss who should be doing the various things on this list and what might happen if someone finds a problem during an inspection.

Monthly Inspections

Some of the simplest preventative maintenance tasks should be done every month, and most of these can be done by nearly anyone with some very basic DIY knowledge. Unless you prefer the convenience of having these all done for you, you probably don’t need to hire a professional for these:

· Check and replace HVAC and furnace filters. Dirty filters can affect the operation of your HVAC system, and they can also allow more dust and dirt into your air.

· Clean and vacuum wall grilles and registers.

· Check counters, tiles, and floors. Look for scratches or damage to tiles or counters, and fix any problems you find quickly. This kind of damage only gets worse over time.

· Check your range hood filter. A good clean is always a good idea.

· Check your fire extinguishers – they might need to be replaced or serviced, depending on how long you have had them.

· Check your fire and carbon monoxide alarms. These are some of the most important pieces of safety equipment in your home.

· If you have a water softener, check that it is working correctly, and replace any parts that need replacement.

Most of the items on this list can be handled in a few hours and are relatively cheap and easy to do. If you spot any serious problems or concerns, make a note of them, and speak to a professional to find out what you need to do.

Related: A Guide to HVAC Maintenance Service

Quarterly Preventative Maintenance

The items on this list should be checked every three months, and most of them are manageable if you have some basic DIY knowledge. Again, if you find any serious problems or red flags during your checks, contact a professional or specialist to find out what you should do next.

· Change your air exchanger filters, such as your HVAC filters. If you leave these too long, they could affect the air quality in your home.

· Check your dryer lint filters and ducts, and your washer inlet filters.

· Check extension and appliance cords and replace any frayed or damaged cords. Faulty wiring could cause an electrical fire.

· Inspect the caulking around sinks and tubs. It should not have any gaps and should be white. If it’s not white try cleaning it, but if it’s damaged or doesn’t get clean, it may need to be replaced.

· Inspect your hot water heater. Look for any obvious signs of problems or leaks. This is something that you might want to call a professional for because it can be hard to spot problems with hot water heaters if you’re not trained to work with them.

The items on your quarterly maintenance checklist are things that usually don’t need to be addressed more often, and they shouldn’t become a problem within a month or two if everything is working properly and in good condition.

Spring Checks

Your spring checks will mostly be about cleaning and finding any damage that might have happened during the winter. Snow, fallen leaves, and puddles can all hide damage around the house, so you might find things that you didn’t notice during the winter.

· Clean your roof. Pressure washing your roof in the spring is a great way to get rid of all the stuff that’s been deposited there over the winter.

· Clean and check gutters and downspouts. Leaves and other debris can block these, and when it rains, you could have overflowing gutters to deal with.

· Check outdoor caulking, and clean or replace it as necessary.

· Check all your windows and doors to make sure they’re not showing any signs of damage or leaking.

· Check your screens and screen doors. You’ll want them to be working perfectly when the bugs come out in the summer.

· Check all your door and window sills and thresholds.

· If you have a swimming pool, inspect your pumps and equipment and start making plans to get your pool summer-ready.

· Trim shrubs and trees before they start to get their leaves and flowers. This will make it a lot easier to access the branches you need to cut – and if you cut off dead parts of your trees, they will look a lot healthier when their leaves do come in.

Spring checks help to get your home ready for the summer and ensure that anything that went wrong during the winter is addressed quickly so that it doesn’t get any worse.

Fall Preventative Maintenance

After the summer off (mostly) from preventative maintenance, you want to work through a fall checklist to make sure your home is ready for the winter.

· Check your roof again. Look for damage to the roof itself or loose and missing flashings.

· Check your eaves and soffits. Sometimes, animals make their homes in these areas and they might cause damage – repair or replace any missing panels and call an exterminator if necessary.

· Check your gutters and downspouts again. Whether it’s rain or snow, winter precipitation needs somewhere to go, and clogged gutters are a problem.

· Inspect your siding. Make sure there are no cracks or damage.

· Check all your exterior caulking again to make sure there are no places where you might get potential leaks.

· Inspect all your windows and doors. Look for damage or leaks.

· Make sure all your doors have adequate weather stripping to keep the cold out.

· Check your outdoor plumbing, including faucets and hoses. You can also store garden equipment for the winter in a shed or your garage.

· Check your thermostat to make sure it’s working properly.

Most of the items on your fall home maintenance checklist are to ensure that your home will be warm and dry in the winter – and that you will pay less for utilities to heat it.

Related: The True Cost of Home Maintenance

Annual Checks

The good news is that if you do all your monthly, quarterly and seasonal checks, there won’t be too many things left to check on your annual checklist. These include:

· Inspecting your septic tank if you have one.

· Inspecting your air conditioner and ducting.

· Checking your gate and garage door operators.

Annual checks are usually the “big ticket” items that typically don’t break down often. If you have older equipment in your home, you might want to do these checks more frequently because there’s a great chance that something could go wrong.

What to Do When You Find a Problem

Once you start using a home preventative maintenance checklist, you will probably find a few problems during your checks and inspections. That’s precisely what is supposed to happen, though – and by doing regular checks, you should find any issues early, before they become too complicated and expensive to fix.

When you find a problem, first establish if it’s something you can fix on your own. If all you have to do is replace a small part or component, then you might not have to do anything else except being watchful for additional issues.

However, if you find an issue that you’re not equipped to fix on your own, you’ll need to contact a few local companies and request that they come out to inspect the problem and provide a quote. You usually want to have more than one company quote any repair or replacement because pricing and recommendations can vary a lot from one company to the next.

Once you’ve got the quotes, decide who you want to use to complete the work, and place your order.

Remember that sometimes, during the “busy season,” contractors and service providers work on a first-come, first-served basis, so you could wait a while to get the work done. There are some companies that offer emergency services, but that usually costs more.

An alternative to going through this process when you run into a larger issue is hiring a company on a subscription basis. A preventative maintenance company will not only come when you have these larger issues, resolve the issue and help get you back on track, but they can also create a custom maintenance checklist with you and schedule times during the year to come take care of these smaller tasks before they become bigger ones.

When Do You Need a Professional?

If you’re still struggling to figure out if you need to hire a professional, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

· Is it related to your home’s structure, electrical, or plumbing? In most cases, these things can only be done by a licensed professional.

· Does it require you to work on the roof or in a confined space, or is it dangerous? In this case, you might want to leave it to the professionals, who will have the right safety gear to do the job.

· Does it require tools or equipment that you don’t own?

· Do you need to do something that you don’t know how to do?

· If something goes wrong with the repair, could the consequences be dangerous, costly, or time-consuming?

· Are you not very handy, or do you not have the time to finish the project?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably want to find a professional to take care of the problem.

Remember that if you do want to hire a professional, you need to allow enough time to get through the quote process, and there may be a waitlist for service. So if you haven’t hired a preventative maintenance service to handle your maintenance/repair needs, make sure you contact your list of professionals as soon as possible after you spot a potential problem in your home or rental property.

The Easier Way to Do Routine Maintenance

If you’re reading this home preventative maintenance checklist and dreading the work you need to do, you’re not alone. It’s why we created Prefix Inc, the home preventative maintenance handyman service that makes it easy to get inspections, maintenance, and repairs done correctly and efficiently.

Instead of worrying about all of the things on this list, you can contact our team to schedule checkups and repairs when you need them. Prefix Inc. is a subscription-based home maintenance and handyman service that is affordable, reliable, transparent, and makes keeping your property in great condition as easy as a click or a call.

Contact PreFix today and let our team show you how we can help.