Updated on 09.08.14

The One Hour Project: Do Some Preventative Maintenance

Trent Hamm

Preventative mainentance is a phrase that makes many homeowners’ eyes glaze over. For many busy people, there’s nothing more boring than going around your house doing various tasks that seem to not really be fixing anything.

On the other hand, look at the tale of my hot water heater. It’s about ready to go bad years before it should, but if the owner had just put in a few minutes a year, that heater would have kept running for many more years. If you can double the life of a piece of equipment in your house with just a few minutes’ work, that’s extremely cost-effective time.

In fact, not long ago, I compiled an extensive list of many, many possible home and auto maintenance tasks, almost to the point of overkill.

But how does one keep up with all of these tasks – or even remember to do them at all? The most effective way I’ve found to keep up to date with home maintenance tasks is to schedule them.

Scheduling Maintenance Tasks to Save Money

1. Make a giant list of your home and auto maintenance tasks

You might want to use my earlier list for starters. You may have other ones that you find you need to be doing. Obviously, some are more important than others, but it’s always good to keep up maintenance on as much as you can to cut down on long term costs.

2. Figure out how often each task can be done

For example, I have three month air handling filters for my house, so this only needs to happen each season. Go through each item on your list and note how often it needs to be taken care of. Many things on that monthly maintenance list don’t have to happen on a monthly basis – instead, choose a regular basis that works for you, like every other month or every third month for some of the tasks.

3. Take your event calendar and assign days for the tasks

I use Sunbird for my personal scheduler – it’s a free program you can get easily online – and I use it to schedule home and auto maintenance tasks. You might use Outlook instead, or use a planner or a wall calendar. Just mark down all of the days where you’ll do the tasks. I often put one simple task on a weeknight, like changing an air handling filter, and move the more complicated ones and the ones in multiples to the weekends.

It takes a bit of time to get this all set up, but the rewards are worth it. You don’t have to remember to do all of these things any more – instead, just glance at the calendar and then take care of the brief maintenance task. The end result? Your home – and the appliances in it – last a lot longer, and that saves you both headaches and money.

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  1. vh says:

    Great idea to use your computer calendar to signal when it’s time to do these forgettable little tasks. Duh! Why didn’t I think of that??? It’s one of those excellent ideas that’s so obvious you don’t even notice it.

  2. Jamie says:

    Some (perhaps?) helpful hints: I’ve got my family using chorebuster.net. I schedule everything in that. It tells one of us to do the task and makes sure that the distribution of tasks is even. I also use the Days Since gadget in iGoogle to remind me how long it’s been since I did a certain task.

    We tried Outlook, but I have so many darn things in my calendar, that some things get overlooked and forgotten.

  3. steve says:

    yes, scheduling things gets things done much better and makes for a less hectic life because things don’t break down on you when you need them the most.

    Also, and slightly off topic, but i also use a computer calendar (google calendar) almost exclusively to send me reminder emails about billing cycle end dates and due periods. so i get and email that says, “discover card billing cycle ends today (the 18th), payment is due next month on the 13th”)

    In combination with automatic bill pay set up in my checking account, it’s almost unbeatable.

  4. LaVonne says:

    I also use Google calendar to schedule household chores and a lot of other things. It’s great. I have a tasks calendar that I set up automatically to send me an email reminder for each thing I add to that calendar. That way, I don’t have to add a reminder to each task when I schedule it in. It works great. Then I can also add it to my tasks in gmail and that makes it harder to forget to do something.

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