Owning a home requires a lot of responsibility, most notably regular maintenance to keep everything working great. However, there are a handful of very basic home maintenance tasks that you might be forgetting about.

Maintain Your Water Heater

It’s pretty obvious that larger home appliances require regular maintenance, but the water heater is one that people often overlook. There are a few basic things you need to do (or at least check on) every year or so.

The first bit of water heater maintenance involves draining the tank. All of the sediment and minerals in your water coming from the city (or a well) can build up in the tank, eventually leading to decreased capacity and and inefficient heating. It’s good to flush all this out by draining the tank and refilling it about once a year.

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You should also replace the anode rod every few years. This is a sacrificial metal rod made out of either magnesium, aluminum, or zinc that attracts and captures various minerals that would normally corrode and rust out your water heater. However, that metal rod sacrifices itself by rusting so your water heater doesn’t have to. After a while, it’ll completely disintegrate, and you should replace it before that happens.

Finally, locate the pressure relief valve and give it a good workout every few months by opening and closing it. This is a mechanical device that relieves pressure from the tank if it were to ever build up to excess levels. Over time, crud can build up on the valve and prevent it from opening when or if it needs to, essentially turning your water heater into a bomb. To prevent this, exercise the valve every now and then to break up any of that crud that’s built up.

Inspect Your Roof and Gutters

The roof is the first thing that comes into contact with the outside elements, and it literally keeps a shelter over your head. It takes quite a beating after years of severe weather and it’s not something you want to have major problems with. However, it’s something that many homeowners don’t think about.

A severe storm can rip up roof shingles fairly easily, and when that happens, water can leak into your home. So every couple months, take a few minutes and scan your roof for missing shingles. I usually grab a set of binoculars and look at my house from the edge of the yard so that I can see the entirety of the sloped roof. If you see some missing shingles, make sure to get them replaced.

Gutters are also important to keep an eye on. Make sure they’re cleaned out to prevent water from flooding them up. If that happens, water can seep back into the overhang of the roof and into your attic. Plus, overflowing gutters are just annoying when you have water raining down over your entryways. Also, check to see that all the downspouts are draining properly and aren’t clogging up.

Change Your HVAC Filter

Perhaps the easiest and quickest piece of home maintenance you could ever perform is changing out the filter to your heating and air conditioning unit. However, I still hear about homeowners who don’t know about this.

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This filter is meant to keep the inside of your HVAC unit clear of debris so that it can run efficiently, as well as keep the air in your house free from excess dust particles, allergens, and pet dander (depending on the filter). A dirty and clogged filter can cause your system to run inefficiently, or to malfunction entirely.

You should be changing the filter at least every few months, but depending on the air quality in your house and how often you run the heat or air conditioning, you may need to replace it more often.

Clothes Dryer Maintenance

Most maintenance routines exist to keep appliances lasting for as long as possible with little repair needed. However, some maintenance tasks are crucial for safety purposes, and the clothes dryer is one appliance where this applies.

Mainly, make sure to clean out your dryer’s lint filter after every load. Clothes dryers produce a lot of heat, and lint can catch on fire pretty easily. A large build-up of lint can increase that risk even more. Plus, the dryer won’t run as efficiently and your clothes won’t get dry.

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Furthermore, about once a year, pull the dryer out from the wall, disconnect the dryer duct, and clean out any built-up lint that might have snuck past the lint filter into the duct leading outside. The easiest way to do that is with a dryer duct brush made specifically for the task. This Deflecto Dryer Duct Cleaning Kit, for example, costs about $16.50 and comes with attachable sections so you can extend it up to about 12′. You can find other models that are even longer, if you need them.

Check for Water Leaks

Water damage is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. You can save yourself a lot of headaches and money down the road by periodically checking around your house for water leaks—not just in your kitchen or bathrooms, but all around your house.

At the very least, though, check under the sinks and run your finger over all of the connections to check for moisture. And if you find discoloration or water stains anywhere, that’s a good sign there’s a water leak.

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What I also like to do while I’m checking the connections for leaks is to exercise the shut-off valves to keep them from building up crud. I also make it a habit to shut off the main water valve whenever we’ll be away from the house for a few days.

Furthermore, walk around your house on a rainy day and check for any water intrusion around doors and windows. And if you really want to cover your bases, you can crawl up into the attic during a hard downpour and give everything a good once over.

In the end, there are so many maintenance tasks that are crucial, but these are some very basic ones that I feel like don’t get done often enough in some households.

And with so much maintenance to perform, it helps to prioritize things. Personally, I like to consider any appliances or fixtures that would cost the most to repair or replace and make those my priority on my home maintenance checklist. Of course, this doesn’t mean neglecting other things around the house, but if I simply had to choose one, it’d be the things that would cost me the most money down the road.

Profile Photo for Craig Lloyd Craig Lloyd
Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile.
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