sink aeratorHome maintenance is often overlook aspect of owning a home. Home improvement and remodeling is so much more exciting, but it is important to protect one of your biggest investments. A good place to start is with the monthly maintenance tasks. They are typically easier DIY type projects and take up minimal time. Below you’ll find the basic elements that might make up a monthly home maintenance plan.

Gutter Cleaning

Keeping gutters clean not only allows water to drain properly but also helps prevents ice damming. Steady a ladder and position a wheelbarrow just to the side for collection. While wearing gloves, use your hands to pull out debris and drop it to the wheelbarrow below. Pull out the strainer in the downspout and clean it off with a screwdriver and water. Put it back in place after it is clean. Then use a hose to flush away any tiny bits of debris remaining.

Be extra cautious about using a ladder after it has rained or during colder times. It is not recommended you perform this task after temperatures drop below the freezing point due to ice.

Water Heater

Water heater maintenance consists of draining the sediment, cleaning the burners, and testing the safety valve. While the first two are often yearly tasks, only the safety valve test needs to be done monthly. All water heaters should have a TPR (Temperature Pressure Relief) valve on the top of the tank to prevent an explosion. Test it for proper function. Testing frequently also helps keep the mechanics from freezing in place from corrosion.

Look for a little lever on the top of the tank with the word “Test” on it. Activate it. Water should rush out of the tank down the tube mounted on the side to the drain or drip pan. If no water rushes out, or very little, it is possible that this part needs to be replaced by a professional.

pleated air filterFurnace Filters

This is one task most homeowners are good about keeping on top of monthly. A good air filter cleans up the air in the house and keeps the furnace heat exchanger clean and energy efficient. Replace the furnace filter monthly if you use the cheaper fiberglass types or if you have pets. Otherwise, pleated air filters can be replaced every 2-3 months.

Water Filters

Some homes have carbon filtration systems for drinking water under the sink or in a refrigerator. The carbon reacts with organic material in the water to neutralize bad smells. Over time the carbon gets used up and needs to be replaced.

The particulate filters won’t use up any elements, but still need to be replaced. As particles collect in the filter water flow is inhibited.

smoke detectorSmoke Detector

The smoke detector is a true safety device that no home should be without. The smoke (and carbon monoxide) detector should be kept clean and clear from dust. Photoelectric eye versions can give off false alarms if too much dust gathers in the housing. Dust off the surrounding area and inside the housing.

If you hear a sporadic beeping from a unit, replace the battery. While code dictates and most smoke detectors operate off of power from the house, the battery serves as a backup for power outages.

gfci outletGFCI Outlets

Test all GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets in your house for functionality. Plug in a light and turn on the light. Hit the “Test” button and the light should shut off. Hit the “Reset” button and the light should turn back on. That’s all there is to it, but it is important for protecting against short circuits and overheating of wires.

Clean Drains and Sinks

Most of us wait until there is a clog to clean a drain. Minerals from hard water, coffee grounds, hair, and other items slowly clot up pipes and spell problems for later. Dumping a 1-2 cups of pure vinegar down each drain every month helps to prevent this problem.

For sink faucets it is the minerals that cause the problems with water flow. Remove the end cap from the faucet and pull out the aerator (little mesh object). Use a nylon brush and vinegar to clean. Then put it back in place and turn the water on to flush away the vinegar.

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This guest post is brought to you by HomeSpot HQ, an easy to use online tool for managing maintenance, projects, and information for your home.

All images via HomeSpot.