Skip to Main Content

Home maintenance checklist for every season

A lawn sprinkler watering the yard
toddarbini/Getty Images

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

Following a home maintenance checklist is a great way to ensure your property stays in tip-top shape, and dividing your maintenance tasks by season can help spread out costs and keep things more manageable so you don’t get overwhelmed. Here’s a handy home maintenance checklist of tasks for each season, as well as items to tackle monthly and yearly.

Seasonal home maintenance checklist

Winter

  • Inspect the roof, gutters and downspouts for damage or debris after snowstorms, if your area gets them.
  • Check the basement for water leaks during thaws.
  • Clean refrigerator and freezer drip pans, and vacuum the coils.
  • Ensure all electrical holiday decorations have tight connections and that any exterior decorations are labeled for outdoor use only.
  • Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter of buildup. You’ll be using your stove and oven a lot more during the holidays.
  • Check your water heater for leaks and pressure issues. Consider installing a leak detector to prevent costly flooding damage.

Spring

  • Check for damage to your roof from winter storms. During the spring and summer, get your roof inspected after major storms or hail to check for damage.
  • Blow out your sprinkler systems and restart outdoor water sources.
  • Uncover and check all exterior faucets for leaks or damage.
  • Have an HVAC professional inspect and maintain your air conditioning system.
  • Examine and replace extension cords that have become worn or damaged to avoid electrical fires.
  • Repair cracked, broken or uneven driveways and walkways to prevent trips and falls.
  • Check the shutoff valve at the water main and each plumbing fixture to make sure they work and aren’t leaking.
  • Make sure your fire extinguisher is accessible and operable. Fire extinguishers cost about $20 to $40, depending on size.
  • Clean lint buildup from the clothes dryer exhaust duct, damper and space under the dryer to prevent fires.

Summer

  • Check play equipment for damage, and repair if necessary.
  • Inspect your wood deck or concrete patio for deterioration. Reseal your wood deck to extend its life and prevent water damage.
  • Hire an arborist or tree trimmer to remove damaged or dead trees that might fall on or near your home.
  • Examine exterior siding for chips or damage, and repair as needed.
  • Check window and door locks to ensure they lock properly.
  • Check your home for water leaks and/or damage. 

Fall

  • Drain sprinkler systems and other outdoor water sources and cover outdoor pipes to prevent freezing.
  • Mow your lawn and winterize your garden. Bring plants in during cold spells to prevent frost damage.
  • Rake leaves and aerate your lawn. At the end of the season (and before snow falls, if applicable), clean the gutters.
  • Clean the interior of major kitchen appliances before the holidays.
  • Drain, clean and cover your swimming pool if you live in a colder climate.
  • Empty gas-powered lawn equipment of fuel to avoid damage.
  • Hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect and clean flues and vents.
  • Re-caulk/seal around doors and windows to keep cold air out.
  • Protect your air conditioning unit with a waterproof cover.
  • Clean lint buildup from the clothes dryer exhaust duct, damper and space under the dryer to prevent fires.

Monthly to-do items

  • Check and test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Snake and clean all drains as necessary — tubs, showers and sinks — to avoid costly plumbing problems.
  • Check heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) filters and change, if necessary, to keep your system running at maximum efficiency. This is especially important if you live in a warmer climate and run your AC most of the year.
  • Clean your dishwasher screen to get rid of trapped food particles that can block water flow and affect efficiency.
  • Wash out and disinfect trash cans to avoid odors and bugs.
  • Examine your utility bills for big spikes in usage. It could be a sign of major issues with your home’s systems, or that you need to adjust your usage habits.

Don’t skip these 4 tasks during the year

1. Getting a furnace/heating tune-up

A heating system needs to be serviced once a year, typically at the start of the heating season. A qualified professional will change the filters and check for dangerous carbon monoxide leaks to keep it running at top shape.

  • Furnace cleaning or repairs typically cost a few hundred dollars.
  • Potential savings: Replacing a furnace costs a few thousand dollars, and major repairs could run as high as $2,000. You might add $100 or so in higher heating bills during the winter if your furnace becomes inefficient, too. But a new, more efficient furnace will save you in heating costs in the long run.

2. Eliminating ice dams

Ice dams can cause serious roof damage, as the water works its way under the roof shingles and into soffit vents. Inadequate attic insulation is usually the culprit, allowing heated air to warm a roof and melt snow. With the spring thaw, the chance of serious leaks inside the house goes way up.

  • Replacing attic batt and roll insulation typically costs a few thousand dollars.
  • Potential savings: Preventing ice dams can avoid replacing an entire roof, which costs an average of approximately $8,000. It could also prevent water damage to interior ceilings and walls.

3. Cleaning the gutters and downspouts

Gutters and downspouts clogged with leaves and other debris can cause the rainwater to overflow — and that can lead to costly repairs. Regularly cleaning gutters can prevent water damage.  Ideally, you should clean the gutters and downspouts in the fall and spring, and check them monthly.

  • You can clean your gutters using your own sweat equity, or pay a few hundred dollars to have it done professionally.
  • Potential savings: Repairing a ceiling that’s been damaged by water can cost hundreds of dollars. Runaway roof water can wear down foundation walls, and that repair can cost thousands.

4. Dehumidifying your home

Keeping your home’s humidity to 30 percent to 50 percent consistently can keep the growth of moisture-loving dust mites and mold at bay, so a dehumidifier is a great investment for most homeowners.

  • Dehumidifiers cost a few thousand dollars to install if you’re considering a self-emptying model.
  • Potential savings: High humidity levels can lead to serious mold outbreaks that require professional remediation, which can cost many thousands of dollars.

Financing home maintenance

While some home maintenance projects are relatively inexpensive, others like replacing a roof or HVAC system can be prohibitively expensive.

If you don’t have the cash on hand for a necessary repair, you may still be able to get the work done.

Your options for securing the funding can include a personal loan, a home equity product like a loan or line of credit (HELOC), or a cash-out refinance of your existing mortgage, according to Jon Giles, senior vice president and head of consumer direct lending at TD Bank.

“How much do you need to borrow, how quickly do you need to pay it back, and what are you comfortable with in terms of payments?” he said.

“A loan versus a line can be a great vehicle to make sure you have a fixed payment, fixed rate, fixed amount,” Giles added, while “a line of credit will give you more flexibility and make sure you’re not paying interest until you disperse the money.”

It’s also important to consider how some repairs could lead you to consider larger projects. For example, Giles said, if you’re repairing your deck, you might consider doing more extensive upgrades to your property. Or, if you need to replace your refrigerator, you might be tempted to buy a whole new suite of appliances to keep everything matching.

Understanding the true scope of what you want to do will also affect what kind of financing you pursue.

Quick tips for hiring home maintenance pros

If you don’t have the expertise or time to handle these tasks yourself, hiring a professional can help you stay on top of things. Here are quick tips on how to hire a contractor or service professional from Katherine Hutt, chief communications officer with the Better Business Bureau.

  • Ask friends and family for references. After you have some names to work with, look the providers up on BBB.org to check their rating for complaints against the business.
  • Make sure you read bids and contracts thoroughly. Don’t let anyone pressure you to sign on the spot. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.
  • Know the difference between an estimate and a contract. Ask for a spec sheet of what services or products you want so you can compare bids. When it’s time to put things in writing, request a contract that details the warranties, payment schedule, itemized list of each service being performed and a timeline of completion.
  • Don’t pay for projects upfront. This is especially true of major remodeling projects. Hutt recommends that you structure payments in three parts: one-third upfront (as a deposit), one-third halfway through and the final one-third after completion.
  • Protect yourself from subcontractors and suppliers. Add a clause in your contract requiring the contractor to pay all subcontractors and suppliers prior to final payment. Otherwise, those companies or individuals may come after you personally for payment and put a lien on your house, Hutt warned.

Learn more:

Written by
Zach Wichter
Mortgage reporter
Zach Wichter is a mortgage reporter at Bankrate. He previously worked on the Business desk at The New York Times where he won a Loeb Award for breaking news, and covered aviation for The Points Guy.
Edited by
Mortgage editor