As a homeowner, it’s always a good time of year to tackle the items on your home maintenance checklist to ensure your home stays in tip-top shape through the rest of the year. Divvying up home 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.
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, says Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor, a platform that matches service professionals with homeowners.
Potential savings: Replacing a furnace costs an average of $4,250; major repairs could run as high as $1,200. You might add $100 or so in higher heating bills during the winter if your furnace becomes inefficient, too.
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, DiClerico says.
Cost: $1,500 for full attic insulation, or a few hundred dollars to fill in minimal spots
Potential savings: Preventing ice dams can avoid replacing an entire roof, which costs an average of $7,500. It could also prevent water damage to interior ceilings and walls.
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, DiClerico says. Ideally, you should clean the gutters and downspouts in the fall and spring, and check them monthly.
Cost: $150 for professional gutter cleaning
Potential savings: Repairing a ceiling that’s been damaged by water can cost about $670. Runaway roof water can wear down foundation walls, and that repair can run as high as $4,000.
Keeping your home’s humidity to 30 to 50 percent consistently can keep the growth of moisture-loving dust mites and mold at bay. “A dehumidifier is the quickest defense, especially if you have a damp basement, which can harbor a lot of allergens,” DiClerico says.
Cost: $1,300 to $2,800 to install a dehumidifier. Basement models average between $1,300 and $1,800, while crawl space units are $1,500 to $2,000. Whole-house versions range from about $1,500 to $2,800.
Potential savings: High humidity levels that lead to serious mold outbreaks require professional remediation, which costs an average of $7,500. Larger jobs may start at $10,000 and up.
Note: All costs referenced above come from HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide.
If you don’t have the expertise or time to handle these tasks, 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, director of communications with the U.S. 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 (the homeowner) for payment and put a lien on your house, Hutt warns.