Home Maintenance Tips

The following seasonal tips will help you assess and repair any damage from previous months, and ensure that you’re prepared for the upcoming season:

Checklist Image

Spring Icon

Spring

  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Filters for ventilation systems, such as a heat recovery ventilator, should be checked every two months.
  • Have your fireplace or wood stove and chimney cleaned and serviced as needed.
  • Shut down, drain and clean your furnace humidifier, and close the furnace humidifier damper on units with central air conditioning.
  • Turn on the power to your air conditioner and check the system to ensure it’s working. (You should have your air conditioning system serviced regularly; follow the manufacturer’s specifications to determine how often it should be serviced.)
  • Clean or replace air conditioning filter, if necessary.
  • Check and drain your dehumidifier; clean if necessary.
  • Check your smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace their batteries regularly.
  • Clean your windows, screens and hardware, and replace storm windows with screens (once you make any necessary repairs or replacements).
  • Open the valve to your outside hose connection after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Examine the foundation walls for cracks, leaks or signs of moisture, and repair as required.
  • If you have a sump pump, ensure that it’s operating properly before the spring thaw sets in. Check that the discharge pump is connected and allows water to drain away from the foundation.
  • Re-level any exterior steps or decks that moved as a result of frost or settling.
  • Check for and seal off any holes in the exterior cladding that could be an entry point for small pests, such as bats or squirrels.
  •  If applicable, check your eavestroughs and downspouts for loose joints, secure the attachment to your home, clear away any obstructions and ensure that the water flows away from your foundation.
  • Clear all drainage ditches and culverts of debris.
  • Repair and paint fences as necessary. (Allow wood fences to dry properly before tackling painting and repairs.)
  • Take care of any necessary spring landscaping, such as fertilizing young trees.
Summer Icon

Summer

  • Monitor your basement humidity and avoid Relative Humidity (RH) levels above 50 percent. Use a dehumidifier to maintain RH below 50 percent.
  • Clean or replace your air conditioning filter, and clean or replace ventilation system filters if necessary.
  • Check your basement pipes for condensation or dripping and, if necessary, take steps to reduce humidity or insulate cold water pipes.
  • Check your basement floor drain to ensure that the trap contains water; refill with water if necessary.
  • If you have a plumbing fixture you don’t use very often (such as a laundry tub, or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower), briefly run water through the fixture to keep water in the trap.
  • Deep clean your carpets and rugs.
  • Vacuum the bathroom fan grille.
  • Disconnect the duct connected to your clothes dryer, and vacuum the link from the duct, the areas surrounding your dryer and your dryer’s outdoor vent hood.
  • Check your windows to make sure they open and close smoothly; lubricate as required.
  • Lubricate door hinges and tighten screws as needed.
  • Check for and replace damaged caulking and weather-stripping around mechanical and electrical services, windows and doorways, including the doorway between the garage and your home.
  •  Lubricate your garage door hardware and make sure it’s working properly.
  • If you have an automatic garage door, lubricate its opener motor, chain and other moving parts, and make sure that auto-reverse mechanism is properly adjusted.
  • Inspect your electrical service lines for secure attachment where they enter your home, and make sure there’s no water leakage into the house along the electrical conduit. Check for overhanging tree branches that may need to be removed.
  •  Check exterior wood siding and trim for signs of deterioration; clean, replace or refinish as needed.
  • Remove any plants that contact, or roots that penetrate, your siding or brick.
  • From the ground, check the general condition of your roof and note any sagging; this could indicate structural problems, and would require further investigation from inside the attic. Note the condition of the shingles for possible repair or replacement, and examine roof flashings, such as at chimney and roof joints, for any signs of cracking or leakage.
  • Check the chimney cap, and the caulking between the cap and the chimney.
  • Repair your driveway and walkways as needed.
  • Repair any damaged steps.
Fall Icon

Fall

  • If you have central air conditioning, make sure the drain pan under the cooling coil mounted in the furnace plenum is draining properly and is clean.
  • Lubricate the circulating pump on your hot water heating system.
  • Remove the grilles on forced-air systems and vacuum inside the ducts.
  • Have your gas furnace or heating system serviced by a qualified service company every year.
  • Check your chimneys for obstructions such as nests before turning on your furnace.
  • Set the thermostat to “Heat” and test the furnace for proper operation by raising the thermostat setting until the furnace starts to operate.
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Filters for ventilation systems, such as a heat recovery ventilator, should be checked every two months.
  • Check to see that the ductwork leading to and from the heat recovery ventilator is in good shape, the joints are tightly sealed (using aluminum tape or mastic), and any duct insulation and plastic duct wrap is free of tears and holes.
  • If the heat recovery ventilator has been shut off for the summer, clean the filters and the core, and pour water down the condensate drain to test it.
  • Check to see that bathroom exhaust fans and range hoods are operating properly. If possible, confirm that you’re getting good airflow by observing the outside vent hood (the exterior damper should be held open by the airflow).
  • Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace batteries.
  • Clean the portable humidifier (if you use one).
  • Check the sump pump and line to ensure proper operation, and to ascertain that there are no line obstructions or visible leaks.
  • Replace window screens with storm windows.
  • Remove interior insect screens from windows to allow air from the heating system to keep condensation off the window glass, and to allow more free solar energy into your home.
  • Ensure that windows and skylights are tightly closed. Repair or replace weather-stripping as needed.
  • Ensure that all doors to the outside shut tightly, and check other doors for ease of use. Replace door weather-stripping as necessary.
  • If you have a door between your home and the garage, check the adjustment of the self-closing device to ensure it closes the door completely.
  • Cover the outdoor components of your air conditioning units and shut off their power.
  • Ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall, so that water doesn’t drain into your basement.
  • Clean leaves from your eavestroughs and roof, and test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
  • Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close the interior valve to your outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet)—unless your home has frost-proof hose bibs.
  • Winterize your landscaping (e.g., store outdoor furniture, prepare your gardens and, if necessary, cover young trees and bushes).
Winter Icon

Winter

  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Filters for ventilation systems, such as a heat recovery ventilator, should be checked every two months.
  • After consulting your hot water tank owner’s manual, drain off a dishpan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank to control sediment and maintain efficiency.
  • Clean your humidifier two or three times during the winter season.
  • Vacuum your bathroom fan grilles.
  • Vacuum your fire and smoke detectors to remove any dust or cobwebs (which can prevent proper functioning).
  • Vacuum the radiator grilles on the back of your refrigerators and freezers, and empty and clean the drip trays.
  • Check the pressure gauge on all fire extinguishers; recharge or replace if necessary.
  • Check your basement floor drain to ensure that the trap contains water; refill with water as necessary.
  • Monitor your home for excessive moisture levels, such as window condensation, which can cause significant damage and pose serious health problems. (Refer to Claridge’s Maintaining Good Moisture Levels and Air Quality guide for more information.)
  • Check all faucets for signs of dripping and change washers as needed. If your faucets require frequent replacement of washers, they may be in need of repair.
  • If you have a plumbing fixture you don’t use very often (such as a laundry tub, or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower), briefly run water through the fixture to keep water in the trap.
  • Clean the drains in your dishwasher, sinks, bathtubs and showers.
  • Test your plumbing shut-off valves to ensure they’re working and to prevent them from seizing.
  • Examine your windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks. If you find any problems, make a note to repair or replace the defect in the spring.
  • Examine your attic for frost accumulation and check the roof for ice dams or icicles.
  • Keep snow clear of gas metres, gas appliance vents, exhaust vents and basement windows.
  • Monitor outdoor vents, gas metres and chimneys for ice and snow buildup. Consult with an appropriate contractor or your gas utility for information on how to safely deal with any ice problems you may discover.
  • Check electrical cords, plugs and outlets for all indoor and outdoor seasonal lights to ensure fire safety. If you find any cords that are worn out, or any plugs or cords that feel warm to the touch, replace them immediately.