10 Home Maintenance Tasks You Typically Put Off or Ignore

by Ron Haynes

Castel Nuovo, Naples
Far too many times, we “defer” maintenance on what is typically our largest asset. You know, the old castle? Well, your home needs some TLC just like your car needs it. You know you should perform these little maintenance tasks, but for some reason, you don’t. If you’re a first time home buyer, You especially need to make sure you know what to do to properly maintain your new home.

Chances are that at some point, you’re going to want to sell your home. My real estate agent told me that people generally stay in their homes seven years or less, so proper home maintenance will help you keep your home’s value at its maximum. Everyone knows they should periodically wash the windows and clean out the gutters and most people do at some point, but there are some other important home maintenance tasks that tend to get overlooked:

1. Drain your hot water heater. Draining your hot water heater is an easy way to remove any sediment that may be accumulating. Too much sediment and your lower heating element may not work efficiently. While you’re at it, make sure you have a water heater blanket to insulate the tank and prevent heat loss.

2. Clean out your dryer vent. A clear exhaust is a must for a properly functioning dryer. Too much lint build up can cause the premature failure of the bearings, elements, ignitors and other critical parts.

3. Clean your refrigerator coils. Those coils need to be kept free of dust so that the fridge operates efficiently. Clean out under the refrigerator while you’re at it.

4. Clean out your tub and shower drains with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Hair and soap scum can accumulate over time and make the drain very slow.

5. Clean and seal your deck and outdoor wood furniture. The constant exposure to UV rays, rain, and temperature extremes can cause neglected decks to fade, crack, split and warp. Not only does a properly-maintained deck look better, but it also lasts longer. This is a multi-day project, because there is a waiting time between the cleaning and the sealing (you’ll need to allow the wood dry completely before applying the sealer).

6. Replace the water supply lines to your washing machine with braided stainless-steel, burst-proof washing machine water supply hoses. State Farm estimates that bursting hoses cause $150 million in annual damages to homes in Canada and the US. One of my hoses burst, but thankfully we were at home when it happened and were able to turn the water off before there was any damage.

7. Replace your air filter monthly. When you’re running your AC or heater, it’s important to replace the air filter so that dust isn’t recycled throughout the home and the HVAC system.

8. Test all of your ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets monthly. If the GFCI doesn’t trip or reset, have the outlet changed by a professional electrician. These types of outlets are required around wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens to offer protection against shock should water come in contact with electricity.

9. Clear insulation from soffit vents. Check that insulation or other material is not blocking free air flow through soffit vents, gable vents, or other attic vents. If light from the outside shines through each vent into your darkened attic, then the vents are clear. Free flowing air insures that the temperature in your attic doesn’t reach oven levels and doesn’t cook your shingles from underneath.

10. Your septic tank needs annual attention. Have your septic system checked for sludge and scum accumulation in the tank, and have solids pumped out of the tank as needed. It will insure that you don’t get “back up” surprises when company comes over.

The most frugal thing you can do is take care of what you already have. Use these ideas to help you take care of your home and enjoy it even more. Many of these ideas can be inexpensive, yet provide real value.

What other tips can you think of that get ignored?

photo credit: jimmyharris

This post was included in The Carnival of Personal Finance #166 at Everyday Finance.

[tags]home, home maintenance, tips[/tags]

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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Ron – Did my wife call you and ask you to write this? I am 100% guilty of trying my best to put off or ignore these things. I’m terrible about replacing my air conditioning filters. I know I’m supposed to, but I just never seem to get around to it.

I need to drain my hot water tank? I’ve never heard this. I guess I’m just not that much of a handy man.

Sounds like a lot of good suggestions. Thanks for the additional guilt! :wink:


Hey Jeff, if you look at your HW heater, there is a hose connection near the bottom of it. A standard garden hose will usually fit right on it and you can run the other end out of the house, preferably into the street. Hot water will kill plants, grass, and shrubs!

Sorry for the guilt… ;)

Richard @ Student Scrooge

Great list — It certainly is tough to find the will power to do these things regularly — house maintenance is kind of like personal health — there is a sort of delayed gratification in that you don’t really see the cost of not being diligent until down the road. When it comes to house stuff, I think that having a set Saturday once or twice a year where you take the time to perform maintenance tasks helps quite a bit.


#Richard @ Student Scrooge→
That’s really a great idea. We typically pick a day in the Spring and another in the Fall to blitz a lot of stuff around the house. We pressure wash, clean gutters, drain the HW tank, clean the garage, and do general fix up maintenance. Thanks for the reminder!

No Debt Plan

Anyone know how long the washer connections last? We have brand new equipment (1 year old) and obviously don’t want to risk anything, but don’t want to spend extra money if we can avoid it.

Also, our HVAC air filters say to replace every 3 months, not every month.


#No Debt Plan→
Not sure on the new hoses, but when you have one burst, it’s awful. People typically keep the pressure on so they can use the washing machine at any time without having to turn on the water. As a result, if they burst while you’re on vacation, out of the house for a few hours, or during the night, you have a HUGE water damage problem.

Ours burst while I was at home and I heard something strange so I went into the kitchen and saw water pouring from under the bifold doors. I was able to turn it off within 60 seconds, but it still damaged our computer which was located on the floor just beneath the laundry. I bought those hoses the very next day.

On the air filters, some of them are better than others. If yours says three months, then I would check it once a month while you’re running the AC and change it accordingly.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

No Debt Plan

Ron, found this article and wanted to get your thoughts on it: http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/infxtra/infwas.html

Says that braided stainless steel still may not be the best. Just wanted to share with everyone.


#No Debt Plan→
Of course, everything can break, especially if not maintained and checked and if installed incorrectly or abused. They are still the best insurance and like the article says, should be changed out every three to five years….which means I need to change mine!!!

The only sure way to keep them from bursting while you’re gone is to turn off the water at the source. I do that anytime we go on vacation.


Thanks for the tips. I think maintenance on a regular basis is much better than piling up for a single day.


Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

I like your list, but you asked if there is anything else, so I would add one simple task: caulking. Roof nails which are not caulked will rust and then leak. Caulking around doors, windows, expansion joints, or exterior walls where two different sidings meet need to be caulked or recaulked whenever the caulk wears off or begins to crack.

This prevents water from penetrating into the house, but it also helps a bit with keeping the house tight to improve air conditioning efficiency.


If to many people read this I will be out of a job. I got alot of calls on the items that you mentioned. Most are after they have been neglected for to long. Great post.


Informative tips. I think regular maintenance will ensure your house is in tip-top shape.



Informative tips and a great list you have here and i tink il try to do this thing regulary

Clean Mid West

Great info and tips here! Super resource for getting things done around the house. I think one of the most important is proper maintenance of decks etc. It is so important to realize that you should use a pressure washer to prepare and properly clean outdoor wood but the “Wash” in pressure wash is so much more important than the “Pressure” in Pressure wash. Cleaning the deck of loose dirt and debris with light pressure, followed by proper application of cleaning agents and neutralizers finished with proper rinsing is extremely essential in doing the job properly. Whenever wood is cleaned of old stain, the cleaning agent has a high PH and needs to be followed up with a proper acid (low PH) that will neutralize and bring the PH of the wood back to around 7. If not neutralized the wood will get very dark and not show its true beauty. Very important before applying new stain. And always use an oil based stain not a latex product if you want to be able to do future cleanings.


We often ignore cleaning the stagnant water at the various places which helps in the growth of certain harmful insects and worms and we often have heard that it helps in the growth of different species of mosquitoes, that causes several decrease like malaria, dengue fever, etc. Thus, we should check out those places in our house which can result in inviting health related problems.

Carpet Cleaning Plano TX

Did we forget about carpet cleaning or did I just miss it? lol. It is what we like to call a “necessary inconvenience” in my industry. Anyway, I thought I would bring it up because most will try to do it themselves and do more harm than good. Over saturation of the carpet, too much “soap” and really inferior equipment. Call a pro and you won’t be sorry. Of course depending on your area you will need to get a referall from someone or at least do your homework and check out the company. I know carpet cleaners all over the nation so if you need a good carpet cleaning…..everyone does….just give me a call and let me know where you are located.


Excellent addition to the list! Sorry I missed that one.

I second your recommendation to call in a professional. DIY’ers can do it themselves, but if they get the carpet too wet it will void their warranty and potentially damage the carpet’s backing.


Septic tank is one of those areas, which need continuous attention but we tend to ignore it most of the time. Cleaning stagnant water is also important or it gets infested with pests which can raise several health issues in the long run. I’ve found that it helps to use a mild pesticide in areas which need special attention. You can check out some great tips online.


I actually started a website on home maintenance (www.homemaintenancetracker.com) because my excel sheets and post-it notes just weren’t hacking it. It is something that most people, including past me, neglect.

Great article.

acting auditions

to no debt paln, the HVAC air filters should be changed every month to get the best.

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