Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Luke Feldbrugge
If you are moving into a new house, the last thing you need is a list of home maintenance tips for new homeowners. You’re tired, you’re overwhelmed, you’re excited and you’re tired. Yes, we said that twice. Nevertheless, there’s more to a new house than just moving all your stuff into it. So a few days after you move in, pick up this new home maintenance checklist and look it over. It could save you some money and expensive repairs down the line.
On second thought, there is one thing on this new home maintenance checklist you need to do before you move in, if you have the time. A lot of first-time home buyers want to start their new home with a clean slate, and that means cleaning the house before you move in. In a lot of cases you will need to move in right away, so you will need to think about how much cleaning you want to do versus how much time you have to do it. If, for example, you have a whole day, that might be the best time to do a very deep clean, sanitizing every surface, mopping, dusting and carpet shampooing.
If you have no time at all for cleaning, let us recommend opening the front and back door and bringing in the leaf blower.
Things You Don’t Have to Do
We always like to start a list of home maintenance tips for new homeowners with things you don’t need to do, mostly to preserve energy and increase efficiency. Chances are, you had an official home inspection done before you finalized the purchase. In that case here are the things the inspector checked that you don’t have to double-check:
- Structural components including your home’s foundation and the house frame
- Exterior features such as siding, porches, balconies, walkways, and driveways
- The roof, including shingles, flashing, and skylights
- Plumbing, including pipes, drains, and water heating equipment (but not septic systems)
- Electrical service panels, breakers, and fuses
- HVAC (heating and cooling) systems
The good news is the inspector will make sure all of these are safe, up to code, and report the lifespan of items that will need replacing, such as a roof. Here’s a good article if you’re not sure how to read an inspection report.
Home Maintenance Tips for New Homeowners
Change the Locks
One common home maintenance tip for new homeowners is to change the locks. You will never know how many people have a key to your new house, and the list grows exponentially when you have multiple previous owners. The question of whether to replace all the locks or simply rekey them is a good one. If the hardware on the locks is rather old, replacement might be a good idea. Rekeying is, however, less expensive. Either way, you’re probably going to need a locksmith to do it properly.
You might also want to change the code on your garage door opener and make sure you locate all the remotes for the garage.
Check the HVAC Filters and Replace If Necessary
When we read that HVAC system air filters should be replaced every 30-60 days, we didn’t believe it. That seemed like too often. We dug deeper. Finally we found out what Bob Villa said on the subject, and that settled it for us.
Bob said to change the filters for your furnace and HVAC systems every 90 days. He cites three reasons for this:
- Clean filters save on energy costs
- Better air quality for the interior of your home
- Reduce wear and tear on the furnace
That’s enough for our peace of mind. Bob qualified his advice a bit, saying that it depends on where you live and how much you run heating and cooling. Whatever the case, this will be an ongoing part of your homeowner maintenance tips checklist, not a one-and-done.
Since we are talking about vents, don’t forget to check your lint trap on your dryer often. The lint and the heat create a fire hazard. Every year, there are 3,000 house fires caused by dryers.
Check the Refrigerator Coils
Now that you are living indoors, the next thing you need is food, and that comes from the refrigerator (kind of). On the back of the refrigerator, there are coils that are typically somewhere between very dirty and absolutely filthy. Let’s clean those off with a brush that is specifically designed to clean fridge coils.
Just like the HVAC filters, keeping your coils clean on a regular basis will help your fridge run better, last longer and be more energy efficient.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Another common home maintenance tip for new homeowners is to test and/or replace the smoke detectors and the carbon monoxide detectors.
Having a safe and healthy home is vitally important. The word “home” itself implies safety and comfort and all the things that go with living in your own place. So one of the first things you should do is replace the batteries in all of the smoke detectors and CO detectors.
You could, of course, just check the batteries, but that won’t tell you how much time is left on the battery. You don’t want it to start the smoke alarm beeping in the middle of the night while you run through the house with a broomstick and barking dog. The best way to do it is by replacing them right up front. Then you can have them on your schedule rather than their own. Then you can change them every 6 months, as recommended, when we change the clocks in the winter and spring (or some other 6-month occurrence like the solstices).
If you have fire extinguishers at your new home, this is a great time to check them to make sure they are charged and in good shape. If you don’t have them, plan to get some.
Locate the Main Water Shut-Off Valve and Circuit Breaker Box
Do this early and get it out of the way. If the power goes out or water pipes begin bursting, you want to project competence and confidence when you declare “I know right where the shutoff valve is” or “I’ll check the circuit breaker.” Also, these things tend to happen in the middle of the night, and you will be dazed and unable to focus. Familiarizing yourself with the exact location can minimize the disruption and destruction.
Finally, if you heat your home with propane or natural gas, learn where that shutoff valve is. You know, just in case.
Drain the Hot Water Heater
This fits under the heading of routine home maintenance, once-a-year maintenance, but it’s a good time to do it once you are moved in. Water heaters tend to build up sediment in the base of the unit, and that can reduce the efficiency of your heater. Worse, it can affect the taste of the water coming out of your faucets, especially if you have high iron content in the water in your area.
This is usually a matter of locating the spigot at the bottom of the water heater and attaching a hose to it. When you open the spigot, make sure someone is holding the other end of the hose close to a drain. The water can come out forcefully and spray all over if the free end isn’t secured. Trust us on this one.
Homes for Heroes
Most ongoing home maintenance checklists come in two flavors: Fall and Spring. We have one of each:
We hope these home maintenance tips will keep you and your new home safe and comfortable (and beautiful) throughout the year.
Homes for Heroes specializes in helping community heroes find and afford their new homes, from the first exploration of the housing market all the way to closing. We connect you with a real estate agent, a mortgage loan officer, title company and home inspector. By working with our local specialists to close on a home or mortgage our heroes can save an average of $3,000 when they buy, sell or refinance.
Be sure to tell the heroes in your life – both current and former teachers and educators, medical healthcare professionals, active military service members, military reserves and veterans, firefighters (full time and volunteer), EMS (paramedics and EMTs) and law enforcement – if they are thinking about entering the housing market or refinancing their mortgage to sign up with Homes for Heroes to speak with our local specialists so they can find out how they can save significant money.