Owning a home in Northern California can be a joy, but it can also be a lot of work. Luckily, ongoing home maintenance can be broken down into short, easy-to-tackle monthly to-do lists that help make it more manageable.
To help get you started, we've put together a list of tasks to tackle over the next three months — starting today! For a full, yearlong list of suggestions, check out our 12-Month Northern California Home Maintenance Checklist.
Now, roll up your sleeves and get your home in tip-top condition.
Start on the right foot by focusing on home safety and energy efficiency.
- Fire and carbon monoxide safety. First things first! Make sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are in good working order. Many of the latest models have a 10 year life span, making them an excellent investment in protecting your home and everyone in it. You’ll want to check them again in six months.
- Electrical safety. Be sure all your circuits are properly grounded. If you have breakers tripping and fuses blowing on a regular basis, have an electrician take a look.
- Insulate. A single family home can lose hundreds of dollars in wasted energy each year due to improper insulation. Proper insulation slows the movement of heat between two spaces, keeping your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. You can purchase inexpensive insulation from your local home improvement store and fill areas where heat might be escaping — the attic is a likely suspect.
- Make your home smart this year. New Year’s Resolutions are for your home too! Modernize an older home and save money on your electric bill with a smart thermostat. Once it’s installed, set it at a comfortable temperature that you won’t be tempted to crank up during the day. At night, turn it down 10 to 15 degrees. According to the Department of Energy, it could save about 10% on your winter heating bill.
Pro Tip: Consider shopping for a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector. You’ll find both conventional (usually battery-operated) models and “smart” models, which offer alerts and other features through a smartphone app.
Now that safety is in check, spend this month focusing on interior projects and cleaning.
- Inspect and clean dryer vent. Cleaning the duct that connects the back of your dryer to the outside vent won’t only improve the unit’s efficiency, it can prevent a house fire caused by lint buildup. Purchase a dryer vent cleaning kit and tackle the project in one afternoon.
- Vacuum refrigerator coils. One little-known fact about your refrigerator is that cleaning the condenser coils located in the back or bottom of the appliance will save energy and keep it in prime working condition. Plan to give the coils a good vacuuming twice a year, especially if you have pets.
- Clean your kitchen exhaust fans. Exhaust fans help remove steam and odors when you’re cooking. They should be cleaned monthly to avoid grease buildup.
- Begin planning home improvement projects. If you’re considering a home remodel or improvement project later in the year when the weather improves, now is the time to start planning. Contractors
book up quickly in the summer months, so begin interviewing and getting bids now so you can schedule the job to begin when you’re ready. In the meantime, shop for the materials and finishes you’d like installed.
Pro Tip: AAA House Manager Members have access to licensed contractor services. We pride ourselves on clear and competitive estimates, and on sticking to proposed timelines. Plus, all pros are AAA employees or vetted trade specialists: we don’t use freelancers. Give us a call at (855) 634-0334 to schedule a free consultation.
This month, focus on finding and repairing issues before they become major problems.
- Check for leaks. First, turn off all water usage in your home, including faucets, toilets, the dishwasher, and washing machine. Read your water meter immediately, then again after an hour or two. If the usage increased noticeably during that time, you likely have a leak and it’s time for a household-wide leak inspection. Check each faucet for drips, and leaks under the sink. Perform a food coloring test on each toilet, and check the dishwasher for a defective motor, pump or seals. If you can’t find the leak, it’s possible that it’s between your water meter and your house, which means it’s time to call a professional.
- Inspect your home’s exterior. Winter weather, growing tree roots, and Northern California’s creeping faults can cause damage when you’re not looking. Start by searching for cracks in the concrete around your home, including on the driveway. Check for water pooling around the foundation as well. Any issues you find should be dealt with immediately.
- Head onto the roof. Inspect your roof for signs of loose or broken shingles, even if you’re not experiencing leaks in your home. Also look at the chimney for signs of wear, and plan to have a cleaning and inspection done once the weather warms up.
- Tree health inspection. If you’re lucky enough to have large, mature trees on your property, have them inspected by a certified arborist. They will check for signs of illness or dead branches, and catch problems before they escalate and kill a tree. A dead or dying tree poses a safety hazard to you, your home and neighboring properties.
Pro Tip: Our AAA House Manager Premier plan includes a Home Assessment — a thorough examination of your home. We follow it up with a detailed Home Health Report that included any issues that should be addressed before they become big problems.