Handyman Wednesday #2: The Maintenance

Kevin here with your second installment of Handyman Wednesdays.

Ok, you spent days, weeks, maybe even months finding that perfect house. Perhaps you low-balled an offer, perhaps you offered asking price, either way it’s yours now. Uh-oh. How do you take care of this thing? It’s not easy like a baby, just food, water, and sleep (just kidding!). Really though, if you don’t take care of your house, it’s not going to remain in good shape for long. Leaks will form, the AC won’t work, and it’s just a matter of time before something goes seriously wrong. Lucky for you, you have my handy little guide to home maintenance. ALL of these (yes, ALL) need to be done routinely. So, let’s just kick off the list.


1. Gutters: You know this. Leaves like to fall on your roof, and rain likes to push said leaves into the gutter. Well, every year you need to get a ladder and clean out those gutters.

If you don’t want to do this, there is a solution!  There are handy little things called gutter guards that can be found at most hardware stores! Never clean your gutters again.

2. Chimney: So you have a great wood burning fireplace in your home. We do too, we love it. However, it requires some maintenance. Every time you use it, you should be removing the ashes in the fireplace. However, once a year (or every two years if you don’t use it a lot), you need to have a professional chimney sweep come out and clean your chimney. It costs around $100 here in Dallas and takes 1 to 2 hours. They’ll also check your flue, cap, and make sure no critters are in there. If you don’t clean your chimney, you run risk of this.

3. A/C and Furnace: Jess and I paid for this one the hard way. We didn’t get our A/C serviced this spring and it died. In order to prevent this situation (95 degrees in your house while the in-laws are in town isn’t so great), have someone come out in the spring a do a yearly service on your A/C and come back out again in the fall and service your furnace. It’s about $50 each time and can save you from a failure.

4. Hoses: Take your hoses off your spigots before the first freeze of the year or you’ll be buying new hoses come spring.

5. Refrigerator: Check the seals on your refrigerator door. If you put a dollar bill in the door when you close it, you shouldn’t be able to easily remove it.  Additionally, if you have a coil-back refrigerator, make sure you pull it out and use a broom or vacuum to remove dust from the condenser coils.  One last thing, if your fridge has a water filter, change it yearly.

6. Windows: Take down screens on your windows and put up storm windows every fall. You’ll appreciate the energy savings, more sunlight, and big winter storm protection.

7. Drafts:  Find them, eliminate them.

8. Roof:  Check roof for signs of wear and tear.  If in doubt, most roofing companies offer a free estimate and they can tell you how long you have before you need to replace your roof.

9. Leaks:  To prevent leaks, the galaxy is on Orion’s belt (MIB reference). Really though, check your grout around all tiled wet areas (Shower, Tub, Sinks). Add caulk if you notice separation. A leak can quickly destroy a part of your house.

10. Ceiling fans:  If you ceiling fan has a reverse switch, flip in the fall when your turn on your heat (clockwise).  This produces and updraft and pushes down the heated air near the ceiling.


1. Washer and Dryer: Check your dryer exhaust. There are 15,600 house fires caused by dryers yearly.  Also check the hoses of your washing machine for cracks and leaks. Again, leaks can cause damage quickly.

2. Detectors: This is very important! Check your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors monthly. Replace those batteries if they need it.  Check to confirm your fire extinguisher is fully charged.  These tips could save your life.

3. Filters: Check your filters on your air return every month.  This can help keep your house cool/hot and will save you money on electricity.  Also, it filters your air.  I use this to remove bacteria, dust, mold, pollen, smoke, and viruses from the air.

4. GFCI:  This stands for ground fault current interrupter (also called a GFI, RCD, RCCB, ALCI, or trips) and are required by code in America  in wet areas.  Their primary function is to detect small leakage currents and disconnect quickly (<30 ms) before you get electrocuted.  They need to be tested to ensure proper operation and it’s done very easily.  Push the black “TEST” button and you should hear a pop signifying it has disconnected.  The push the red “RESET” button to re-activate it.

5. Range Hood:  If you’re lucky enough to have a range hood, you should know that the filters need cleaned.  Here’s a How-To because I’ve never done it.


I really recommend a checklist that you post on your fridge or somewhere you’ll remember it.  I found a couple good ones online you can check out here and here.

By request, I’m going to post about haggling next week.  I know it doesn’t sound like a handyman trait, but you’ll thank me when you have to negotiate with a contractor!

What did I forget? Anything specific to your region that I didn’t mention?  What is your least favorite maintenance item?  Anything specific you want to see from these Handyman posts?


4 thoughts on “Handyman Wednesday #2: The Maintenance

  1. We don’t have to do many of these things since we live in an apartment, but cleaning the range hood filters is always the worst. Thankfully ours can be cleaned in the dishwasher!

  2. Pingback: Handyman Wednesday’s #6: The Art of Destroying | Little House. Big Heart.

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