From routinely checking outlets to simply replacing light bulbs, electrical maintenance keeps your monthly bills low and gives you the peace of mind that your wires and plugs won’t combust.
1. Swap out old lights with energy-efficient bulbs (Frequency: once a year)
A yearly lightbulb switch can stop your bulbs from burning out too quickly or even exploding.
Still rocking old-school incandescents that need frequent replacement and give off tons of heat? Swap them out with energy-efficient or LED bulbs that give off the same level of brightness while sucking up less energy.
LED bulbs cost more money upfront, but they can slash an average $225 per year off your electricity bill. They also come in different styles for any type of lighting you need. New York Magazine ranked 2023’s best energy-saving light bulbs that are reliable and long-lasting.
If you suspect that there’s an issue with your home’s electrical system (such as a bill that’s higher than usual, plugs that don’t work, or lights that won’t turn on regardless of lightbulb change), hire an electrician who can properly inspect, identify, and repair any electrical issues.
2. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms (Frequency: once a month)
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you install smoke detectors on each floor of your home, in all bedrooms and outside of sleeping areas, as well as in hallways to be up to code. As for carbon monoxide detectors, those should be present on all floors, especially outside of sleeping areas, in the kitchen and dining areas and in the garage.
The U.S. Fire Administration advises testing your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once a month and replacing the batteries once a year. The tests are similar in steps:
Step 1: Press the test button on the alarm.
Step 2: A piercing noise should go off. If the noise is weak or doesn’t occur, replace its batteries.
Step 1: Contact your alarm security company to let them know you are conducting a test.
Step 2: Press and hold the test button. You should hear two beeps.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2, but this time, you should hear four beeps. After 10-15 minutes, your alarm should return to the original setting.
You might even want to consider installing 2-in-1 smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that have the same testing procedure. This way there’s no double-duty when testing or replacing batteries.
3. Vacuum under and behind your fridge, dishwasher, and washing machine (Frequency: once a year)
When was the last time you looked under your refrigerator and dishwasher, or behind your washing machine? Probably not since you had them installed.
Imagine all the frozen peas, dust, and socks that have accumulated in their crevices. Chartrand recommends cleaning under and behind these appliances to chase away the dust bunnies and to keep everything running efficiently.
Refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines use up 15% of your home’s electricity. A yearly electrical checkup on these appliances can help make sure they aren’t eating away at your electricity bill.
This also helps to identify leaks and small puddles early on, and ward off any mold buildup or water damage issues before they spiral out of control.
Maintenance priority: Inspect and clean plumbing systems
Keep tabs on your plumbing fixtures and exposed pipes to see if they are leaking, rusting, or broken. Regular maintenance of your plumbing system will catch water damage early and curb any larger plumbing issues that might occur down the line.
1. Check on the visible condition of your pipes and fixtures (Frequency: once a year)
To look for leaks and identify plumbing issues before they get out of hand, conduct a DIY pipe and fixture inspection of all the visible pipes, toilets, faucets, and shower heads in your house.
If you notice any of the following plumbing issues, you probably have leaks in your home:
- Continuous sound of running water when you aren’t using it
- Sudden increases in your water bill
- Rotting smells from walls near water sources
- Bubbling wallpaper on your walls
- Change in water meter reading
Check if visible pipes are corroded, rusty, or broken. Is there discoloration at the bottom of your toilets? Do your faucets constantly drip in the middle of the night and the handles squeak when you twist them? Is there back flow of water in your sinks or shower tubs?
Schedule a plumbing inspection if any of these problems come up to avoid larger and more expensive issues that may occur in the future.
2. Clean your garbage disposal to keep it functioning properly (Frequency: once a month)
With all the leftovers you shove down the sink on a daily basis, an uncleaned, unmaintained garbage disposal quickly becomes smelly and inefficient to use.
Clean it once a month, and you won’t have to deal with funky odors or a surprise malfunction.
Use these two easy DIY methods in combination to maintain your garbage disposal like a pro:
- Baking soda and vinegar – Mix one cup of vinegar and one cup of baking soda, and pour it down the drain and let it fizz. Then, add a cup of boiling water and let sit for 10 minutes before turning the faucet on warm and switching on the garbage disposal for a few seconds until the mixture disappears.
3. Drain all the water from your water heater (Frequency: Once a year)
As part of its regular maintenance, a water heater should be drained once a year. This will keep it from malfunctioning during your daily routine and especially the winter months when you least want to have a cold shower. If you aren’t comfortable doing a water heater drain yourself, call a professional plumber to carry it out for you.
It’s also a good idea to inspect the pressure and temperature of your water heater every other month. The lifespan of a water heater is only about six to 12 years, so take note of its age, and ask your plumber if it needs a replacement or repair.
Maintenance priority: Clean your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning)
Your HVAC controls and affects the air you breathe, so it’s important to ensure routine maintenance. Poor care of your HVAC system can lead to health problems.
1. Change out your HVAC air filters (Frequency: at least once a month)
Chartrand regards this as the number one thing a homeowner can do to maintain their home. He says, “Change your air filters often — if you have a pet, even more often. I change my air filters every 30 days. If you’ve ever looked at a filter that hasn’t been changed in a while — I mean, that’s the air you breathe.”
HouseLogic.com, a NAR site offering expert tips and tools for homeowners, provides an HVAC maintenance checklist that will prolong its life and keep it running for the next set of homeowners.
You don’t want to drop thousands for a new unit just to pass the home inspection. Instead, regularly check your HVAC system, change the filter, and hire a technician to fix issues that you can’t handle.
“Everyone who has an HVAC for a couple of years needs an inspection,” says Chartrand. Call an HVAC technician who knows what to clean and repair for a thorough inspection of your home’s heating and cooling systems.
Keep tabs on the big-ticket items all year
Cleaning the sink and checking your caulk for mold sounds like the worst weekend plan ever, but a home requires a lot of TLC, and if you don’t keep up with it, who will? Your procrastination will show up all over the home inspector’s report when the time comes to sell.
Remembering all these details isn’t easy, so our year-long home maintenance schedule will keep you on track. Simply add the calendar to your personal calendar and you’ll never miss a beat.
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