Save Time, Effort, And Money With A Monthly Home and Auto Maintenance Checklist

As a new homeowner, I am very interested in gathering advice from other homeowners on regular maintenance tasks that can keep your home and automobiles running smoothly – a bit of time on a regular basis is well worth avoiding a major disaster later on.

While I cast out requests from many of my friends and acquaintances, I was most interested in the list that my father used for maintenance around our house. Once a month, my parents would have a “maintenance day” where they enlisted all of the children and we all worked hard on home maintenance tasks. Generally, my father focused on mechanical issues around the house and things that could present a danger, while my mother took the opportunity for a thorough scrubbing of the house.

I acquired both of their lists of tasks, along with several other similar lists from other homeowners, and prepared a master list of tasks to be done on a monthly basis. Many of these aren’t really relevant to some homeowners, as they deal with both warm climate and cold climate issues as well as the challenges of shifting back and forth each year (Iowa weather ranges from 90-110 in the summer to well below zero in the winter, Fahrenheit).

Why do this? As a homeowner, your home is a tremendous investment, and regular maintenance helps to ensure that there won’t be significant damage down the road that can potentially cost you a lot of money. Consider that this regular maintenance can stop mold infestations before they cost you thousands. Instead, take the time to regularly inspect and repair little things and your house will keep going in tip-top shape for a long time.

I don’t know if I can do all this in a day! Spread them out – do a couple hour’s worth each Saturday or something to that effect. Just be sure to keep a schedule of what you’re doing so they get done regularly.

Home and Auto Maintenance Checklist

You should do all of these things once a month in your home and your automobile. I have double spaced them so that if you choose to print out this entry, there’s plenty of room to make notes. Some of these might apply to you; I also didn’t include seasonal maintenance tasks like waterproofing your deck and so on. Also, if you know of anything I missed, please say so in the comments.

Check the tire pressure on all cars and air them up to the recommended maximum

Check the oil on the lawnmower and sharpen the blades – well-sharpened mower blades drastically reduce mowing time

Check, clean, and perhaps replace the air filter on all automobiles

Check the fluid levels in all automobiles and adjust as needed

Check and fill all gas cans for lawnmowers, etc.

Check for squeaky doors and oil them as needed

Check and clean range hood filters

Check and replace furnace filters

Check and replace other ventilation system filters

Check and replace humidifier filters

Remove grills on forced air system ducts and vacuum inside the ducts

Examine the foundation for any cracks

Examine exposed wood (attic, etc.) for insect damage and do any insect preventative maintenance that needs to happen

Test all ground fault circuit interrupters

Check all vents (inside and outside) and make sure there are no obstructions

Remove screens, clean window wells, and dry them

Examine all outdoor items and see whether any seasonal maintenance needs to be done

Drain off a pan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank (removes sediment and maintains efficiency)

Check your sump pump for any issues

Test all fire/smoke/carbon monoxide detectors in the house

Check all window and door locks to ensure they’re all in working order

Check your fire escape plan and make sure that furniture additions haven’t changed this

Check all faucets for dripping water and change washers if needed

Run all sinks, toilets, baths, and showers to ensure no problems (mostly just the ones not used frequently)

Check the gauge on all fire extinguishers and replace if needed

Use a pipe cleaner and baking soda to clean all drains

Check all gutters for blockage and clean as needed (bird’s nests, leaves, etc.)

Check all visible pipes for leaks (don’t forget under sinks, etc.)

Check and clean refrigerator and freezer coils (we did this about once every six months, if I remember right)

Check all caulking and repair as needed

Monthly Cleaning Checklist

This is the checklist used by my mother during her monthly “cleaning day,” which helped keep the house fresh. It might also be useful to you and, as before, the items are double spaced for printing and note-taking.

Clean all windows – remove the screens, clean the windowsills thoroughly, and also clean the windows thoroughly with Windex

Vacuum under all furniture – and vacuum all furniture, removing the cushions, etc.

Shampoo carpets as needed – this was usually done in a batch every few months

Scrub all non-carpeted floors – soap and brush on your hands and knees

Scour all sinks and tabletops

Sweep the garage floor

Put anything unused into storage (we had an annual “go through the storage” event, too)

Inventory all food staples (pantry, freezer, etc.), throw out what’s old, make a master list, and go to the store to replace what’s needed

Completely clean out refrigerator, thoroughly clean inside, then restock

Take a look at a more complete list of DIY home repairs you can make to lower your home insurance rates.

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  1. Ted Valentine says:

    Damn your house must be clean!

  2. Matt K. says:

    Another thing that my dad and I always did was take the pillows off the couch and bang on them outside. A few good smacks on each side normally did the trick. This got rid of a bunch of dust on and in each pillow and also fluffed them up nicely – the couch always looked like new at the end. We did this probably monthly.

  3. 25 says:

    As a quick note about sharpening lawn mower blades. There are a few other benefits to keeping your blades sharp. The lawn mower uses less gas when it has sharp blades since it doesn’t have to work as hard to cut the grass. Also when you have dull blades the mower tears the grass instead of cutting it which is not good for your grass.

  4. Amanda says:

    Once every year or two you should probably (if you have central air, that is, and you live in a hot climate) clean all the dust out of the ducts, or have it professionally done if you’re really lazy. Your air filters (and the central air unit itself) will function better and more efficiently, and you’ll stop breathing in huge quantities of dust all the time.

    You might also as a one-time thing check the insulation in your attic, especially in older homes that might not have been properly insulated. Saves on heating/cooling costs.

  5. lazy? says:

    If I planned on doing this much maintenance every month, I would never bother getting a house. Seems to me whatever you might save on rent you waste on doing chores. That list would easily take me a whole day to complete, maybe even two with all the cleaning. That’s two days you could have worked overtime or started your own business on the side. Granted, some of it has to be done either way, but still…

  6. Trent Trent says:

    One big advantage (to me) of doing this list is that I’m never embarrassed to have anyone in my home. It’s always quite clean, even in the corners – if someone shows up unexpectedly, it looks great, everything works well, and so on.

  7. Mardee says:

    Wow, your list is giving me a headache – it’s admirable, but there is no way I would have the time to get all that done. And to be honest, I don’t think you need to do all of that just on the off chance that someone might stop by. My house is usually pretty clean – I’m sure not as clean as yours – but I’ve never been embarrassed to have anyone over. I don’t know of too many people who check the corners. And frankly, if they do, they deserve what they get – especially if they stopped by without calling. :)

  8. Jeff says:

    great list. I also found this
    http://www.demesne.info/Home-Maintenance/

    Jeff

  9. Lisak says:

    Did your mother work outside the home full time? I’d love to do all that every month, but there is no way I have the time. My house is usually pretty neat and gets a good dust/vacuum/clean each weekend, so I am always in a position for company to drop by. I can’t imagine being able to do all that is on that list once a month.

  10. Franke says:

    I have to disagree with filling up your tires to the recommended maximum. I have found that filling them to about 90% of the recommended maximum helps the tires wear more evenly.

    The other small item I would add would be to take heavy items out of your trunk, since this can lower your gas milage.

  11. Pam says:

    I disagree on the timing of the monthly maintenance. Some items such as cleaning/changing furnace should be done monthly in the winter.

    Many of the other items such as inspecting the foundation, smoke detectors, insect problems, testing GFCI’s, etc can be done on a semi annual basis, such as spring and fall.

    Enjoy your new home but don’t wear yourself out!

  12. Rikki says:

    Too much work for one month. Most of these chores can be done once a season and be fine … like the lawnmower blades. The only reason for keeping this list as a monthly checklist is if you have some kind of short-term memory disorder and can’t remember the last time you did something. I like a tidy house too, but sometimes it’s just more fun to smell the roses. It’s a good list … to be run through every six months or so.

  13. plus6 says:

    Just to address a topic you stated you did not cover, but should be done seasonally: “waterproofing your deck”. I put on a pressure treated wood deck about four years ago and did not waterproof it correctly at regular intervals. It was the biggest mistake I made. The deck looks extremely worn and dated. If I had to do it over again I would go for the composite decking materials as they have come along way with appearance and are much more comfortable to walk on. The price difference is significant but the long term wear and tear is much less.

  14. Sam Knox says:

    I have to disagree with one item on your list: “Check, clean, and perhaps replace the air filter on all automobiles.” I did maintenance on Class 8 trucks for thirty years, and the only time I opened the air filter housing was to replace the old filter with a new one. Every time you open the housing, a small amount of airborne dust enters the engine, so you should open it as seldom as possible. Attempting to clean the air filter is especially risky because of potential, and for all practical purposes invisible, damage to the filter. (It’s important to keep in mind what small quantities we’re talking about. Less than an ounce of dust will bring a 900 cubic inch diesel engine to a dead stop from lack of compression.) If you want to maximize the life of your air filter you can mount a vacuum gauge on the air intake. Otherwise, follow the recommended change intervals in your owner’s manual.

  15. Rey says:

    Shampoo the carpet every few months? All you will be left with is a whole bunch of shampoo residue. Better to get a steam cleaner, that agitates the fibers and then sucks out the water and detergent.

  16. Ashia says:

    I love this list and I love that you have time to do your computer work and blog work, save money and plan for the future As Well As keep a clean house. It must be because of your tricky sleep schedule because neither my husband nor I feel like we could accomplish all of that every month! What an inspiration. (and hey, when there is a new little baby in tow, there will be all sorts of new things for the list: like cleaning toys, sterilizing bottles, diaper pails etc, cleaning the carseat and high chair etc. whew! thank you

  17. Paige says:

    i love this list
    i love this site
    my motto: “take what
    you like, and leave
    the rest”

  18. Chris says:

    I completely disagree on Sam Knox’s comment. I build performance engines as a hobby, taking out and checking your air filter will not cause any problems, but every month is excessive, every 3 months should be more than fine unless you live in a particularly dusty or sandy climate. An automobile engine is nothing more than a huge air pump, the better the air flows the better off you are.

  19. lori says:

    My parents did very little maintenance on their home over the last 20 years. They both worked, raised 4 kids, transported us to all of our various after school and summer activities, etc. In short, maintenance fell by the way side and boy are the paying for it now. The house and yard are both in bad shape. While it may not be feasible to do all of these things every month, it is a great idea to get into the habit of some kind of schedule. I personally do not think the list is that bad since many of the items can be checked off without a lot of time or effort. Let’s be honest – one less Sunday afternoon in front of the TV to do home maintenance isn’t going to hurt anyone. Homes are investments, and like any investment they require some tweaking now and again.

  20. Brian says:

    There seems to be two schools of thought within these comments, school one agrees with the article, spend time now but not as much money long term versus school two spend money, at a later time, but save time now. It ultimately comes down to personal choice.

  21. Ron Malinowski says:

    You should not inflate your tires to the maximum pressure… that is very dangerous…

  22. Chris says:

    The easiest thing to do with the most impact on cost including energy bill and repairs to the furnace is to regularly clean and change your furnace filters. This also keeps your sinus’ and lungs happy all year long.

  23. JenK says:

    Ron Malinowski – I read that to be the maximum recommended tire pressure, not maximum.

    Re: cleaning under furniture, consider a Roomba! Our king-size bed is too low for a normal vacuum, so I’d only vacuum underneath once or twice a year while flipping the mattress.

    The Roomba slides under with no problem. And, gee, I don’t need as much asthma meds!

  24. Mark Hagan says:

    Almost daily wipe phone down with antiseptic(listerine,lysol etc.)or plain rubbing alcohol to kill nasty little illness causing germs!

  25. TomK says:

    Great list! Here is a source that can help you keep track of doing many of these things. Lets you know exactly when you did it last and when it’s due again. http://www.myhomechannel.org

  26. Lenore says:

    There is mold growing in the crack of the door of my refrigerator, I have at least 7 loads of laundry to do, and there are piles of STUFF all over the place. Still, I’m further along than I was a week ago. Just thought a confession might strengthen my resolve to get caught up. Wish I could afford and trust a housekeeper.

  27. Sam says:

    Lenore – I hear ya on the house keeper.

    As we get rid of more stuff we don’t need it is getting easier to clean at our place. We have a small house so this might be feasible – if we had a “normal” sized house with 3+ bedrooms, basement, etc then I’d have a stroke trying to accomplish his.

    The roomba is great however, if you have kids then any toys & such that get under there will block/deflect the roomba. Hopefully that can be a feature included in newer models (toy herding feature?) since I’ve noticed they keep getting better & better with every model.
    In the mean time I’ve cut a piece of scrap baseboard the length of my couch & nailed it to the legs ( under the skirt thingy on the front & both sides) – dog hair, stray post-it notes & dust still get under there but not a whole lot else. Oh, & the cats go behind the couch (by passing the baseboard I nailed on) to hide underneath it from the kids & dogs :)

  28. Very comprehensive list. I started to think this over in my mind and then realized that it would represent a large number of hours each month – would I really do this.

    Also there are some items eg check foundations for cracks – how can I do this, would I need specialist equipment and what size of crack is an issue, small fissure, 1/4″ crack

    So I suppose the great list left me seeking a great deal more info so I know how to do the what to do list you created. Hmm..

  29. megan says:

    Okay, let’s add a few more things. Most of these are annual tasks, except for the first. American houses may not have the same systems, so just adapt what I’ve suggested to your situation.

    Check your gulley traps (the place the grey water goes to from your sinks and bathroom basin). Take the grill out and clean it. You’ll soon get a sense of how often you have to do this – I’ve got one that needs to be done every four months and another than can be done every 6-8 months.

    Wash your wooden house down if you live near the sea. The salt (and to a lesser extent dirt/mould) aren’t good for the paint. The rain does a bit of this cleaning, but a quick water and brush down is more effective.

    Check any wooden posts (holding verandahs and the like) at the base for rot.

    Check putty around window glass – is it cracking badly? Is it painted properly?

    As a one-off, take out any weeds growing at the base of your house and have a look at what the water does when it rains – is any of it sitting against the house? It’ll cause dampness and rot.

    Air your mattresses – get them out in the sun if possible. Between times, pull them away from wall or headboard so air can get to the usually closed in sides. Put your pillows and bedding out on the line for a couple of hours of sun and wind.

    I’m overloaded, and do these jobs (and some of the ones on the list) intermittantly. Even that makes a huge difference to our place.

  30. james says:

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