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Home Maintenance Checklist for First-Time Home Buyers

Your home is an investment that needs regular upkeep to protect you and your finances. Household maintenance is a skill many first-time home buyers learn after moving out for the first time, and a home maintenance checklist helps keep you on track. 

Homes require internal and external maintenance with regular cleanings and inspections to ensure everything is safe and functional. Seasonal maintenance tends to weather and usage needs, like raking leaves and closing the pool. Appliances and utilities need to be inspected and repaired throughout your home’s life. 

Our home maintenance checklist spreadsheet and advice will keep you up-to-date on your home’s care and help you make the most of your investment

Table of Contents:

Move-In Maintenance

Taking time to update your home and tend to any maintenance needs before you move in can save you time and money later on. It also provides a better idea of your home’s condition so you can customize your inspection timelines by need. Tour your home, deep clean, and plan your ongoing maintenance from the start. 

Include your kids with this home helper wheel and rewards chart. Print and assemble the home helper wheel to track weekly and monthly maintenance your kids can help with and teach valuable life skills as you go. 

Photo of a kids home maintenance checklist printable with rewards chart.

Click to download kids maintenance checklist wheel.

These home maintenance tasks will prepare your home for moving day so you can enjoy a clean and happy home. 

Deep clean your home

Clean and disinfect all surfaces so your home is ready for move-in day. Scrub walls and baseboards, scrub appliances thoroughly, and rent a carpet cleaner to get all of the dust and dander out. 

A clean home is easier to maintain and saves you time and energy after moving so you can relax and enjoy your home. 

Time required: 8 hours

Replace your home’s filters

Replace your home’s air filters for cleaner, healthier air. Air filters should be changed every 30-60 days afterward. 

Time required: 5 minutes

Find your water and electric controls

Each utility has a control panel or shut-off valve in your home. Learn how to control your water and electricity so you can quickly turn them on or off for maintenance or in an emergency.

Main water shut-off valves are typically found around the exterior perimeter of your home, often facing the street. Your home inspection should include the location and a photo of the valve. Your home may also have a curb valve located near the street or sidewalk at your property line. 

Your electric panel will be a large gray box installed on a wall — typically in your garage, laundry room, closet, outside wall, or another low-traffic area. Check to see if your panel is a fuse box or circuit breaker and learn how to control it. 

Time required: 30+ minutes 

Check your safety devices

Ensure your home is secure and all safety devices are working before moving your family and valuables into the house. Change the locks and install any additional security systems you’d like for your home. 

Test all existing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Replace the alarms or batteries as needed, and stock up on extra batteries. 

Time required: 5+ minutes

Click to download home maintenance checklist spreadsheet.

Monthly Home Maintenance Checklist

Home maintenance continues on a monthly, seasonal, and annual basis after you move into your home. Repeat the tasks below every month of the year. 

Check your HVAC filters

HVAC filters should be replaced every 30-60 days, depending on your system and the season. Heavy use in the winter and summer means you should change your filters more often. 

Clean filters improve your appliance’s efficiency, extend its lifespan, and keep your air cleaner. 

Time required: 5 minutes

Check your water softener and heater

Water softeners and heaters are pretty low-maintenance, though it’s good to check on them monthly. Check your water softener for salt bridges and mushing, and replenish salt as needed. 

Water heaters should have their temperatures and pressure relief valves inspected monthly. Just lift the pressure relief valve and if water doesn’t release, replace your valve. Look for cracks and leaks as you inspect the water heater. 

Time required: 5+ minutes 

Clean your garbage disposal

Clean your garbage disposal to eliminate odors and prevent bacteria or mold build-up. Always turn power to your disposal off before performing maintenance to avoid accidents. Follow these steps to clean your disposal:

  1. Remove and clean the rubber splash guard
  2. Remove remaining food particles
  3. Pour in half a cup of baking soda and set for 30 minutes
  4. Pour in a cup of vinegar and set five minutes
  5. Rinse with hot water
  6. Grind two cups of ice and one cup of salt until crushed

The baking soda and vinegar power through slime, while the ice and salt clean the blades. 

Time required: 45 minutes

Test your home’s safety devices

Your home’s safety alarms should be tested every month to ensure they function properly and the batteries are in good condition. Replace batteries or alarms as necessary

Time required: 5 minutes

Inspect and clean vents and heat registers

Remove dirt, dust, and debris from your air vents and heat registers each month. Ensure that vents aren’t blocked by furniture and clutter, and vacuum dirt from hard-to-reach areas. Clean vents keep your appliances efficient and remove circulating dust and dander from the air. 

Time required: 20+ minutes

Fall Seasonal Home Maintenance Checklist

Fall is your chance to prepare for winter weather before snow is in the forecast. Below are all of your seasonal maintenance to-dos to winterize your home and garden. Print out the appliance maintenance checklist to ensure your HVAC systems and other appliances are working properly.

Photo of an appliance maintenance checklist with wire stripper and cable.

Click to download appliance maintenance checklist.

Seasonal home maintenance both inside and outside is vital for your home’s health as weather changes over time, so be prepared. 

Fall exterior maintenance

Clean your yard and close down seasonal features you won’t be using to maintain their condition before temperatures drop. 

Rake leaves and yard debris

Clear leaves and other yard debris from your grass to prevent lawn damage and mold. Toss leaves in the trash or break them down and apply them to garden beds as mulch to warm shrubs and landscaping. 

Mow your lawn weekly to keep leaves broken down and save time on raking. 

Time required: 1+ hours

Clean and inspect your roof and gutters

Falling leaves and other debris can clog your gutters and cause long-term roof and water damage. Clean your roof and gutters to ensure water is flowing properly and exits away from your home’s foundation. 

While cleaning gutters, inspect your roof and gutters for damage and make any necessary repairs before winter.

Time required: 1-3 hours

Shut off exterior sprinklers and valves

Shut off all exterior water valves and sprinklers before the season’s first freeze to prevent burst pipes and damage. Turn off sprinkler timers and drain the remaining water from the system. 

Once external water sources are off, add insulating covers to keep the pipes from freezing. 

Time required: 1-2 hours

Close down your pool

Once summer swim weather passes, it’s time to close your pool for the season. Clean your pool thoroughly, test the water, and add winterizing chemicals. Then drain and remove the pump and hoses, and cover the pool. 

Time required: 2 hours

Fall interior maintenance

Clean and inspect your home so it’s ready for heating. 

Inspect your home’s heating

Your home’s HVAC system, furnace, or boiler and air ducts should be serviced annually, and calling a professional in the fall means you won’t be caught in the cold if it needs repairs. Clean the exterior of your heating units and any vents to remove any blockages and prevent fires. 

Time required: 1-2 hours

Inspect and insulate windows and doors

Walk around your home’s exterior and ensure all windows and doors open and close smoothly. Check for air leaks, drafts, or damage and repair as necessary. Add weatherstripping or insulation to prevent heat loss. 

Time required: 1 hour

Clean your dryer vent

Laundry dryer vents should be inspected and cleaned by a professional each year. Clogged dryer vents are a fire risk, but they can also damage your machine and reduce efficiency. 

Time required: 1 hour

Clean and inspect your fireplace

Wood-burning fireplaces produce tar and creosote build-up in the chimney, which is a fire hazard. Have a professional inspect and clean chimneys and fireplaces each year. Treated chimney cleaning logs may reduce creosote build-up, but it’s not a substitute for a professional cleaning. 

Time required: 1 hour

Winter Seasonal Maintenance Checklist

Most necessary maintenance will be wrapped up in the fall, but there are still a few seasonal maintenance to-dos to prevent winter damage to your home. 

Winter exterior maintenance

Snow and ice can damage your home. Avert damage with these preventative maintenance tasks.

Prepare your snow blower, shovel, and salt

Make sure you have all the necessary snow supplies before the first winter storm. This may include salt, a snow shovel, an ice scraper, and a snowblower. 

Time required: 10+ minutes

Cover your air conditioner

Cover your air conditioning unit to prevent winter damage. You may choose to remove window units, though you can leave them installed with a cover if they’re properly installed without drafts. 

Time required: 10 minutes

Check for icicles and ice dams

Regularly inspect your roof for icicles or ice dams that can damage your roof or melt into your home and cause water damage. If your roof tends to collect icicles or ice dams, purchase a roof rake and clear snow before it can melt or freeze into ice.

Time required: 10+ minutes

Winter interior maintenance

Insulate your pipes

There are several ways you can protect your pipes from freezing as temperatures drop. Install extra insulation by wrapping Styrofoam around accessible pipes — particularly those in basements and attics that have less insulation overall. 

Keep your thermostat at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to prevent the home from getting too cold. Open cabinet doors to let heat in where the pipes are and let the faucet drip to protect pipes.

Time required: 10+ minutes

Inspect and tighten hardware

Inspect hardware in your doors and cabinets and tighten screws to secure loose doorknobs, hinges, and more. Replace broken or damaged hardware as necessary.

Time required: 10+ minutes

Clean your drains

Grime, hair, and dirt build up in drain pipes and need regular cleaning. Remove any clogs with a plunger, drain auger, or barbed Zip-It. Then pour baking soda and vinegar in your drain, cover for 15 minutes, and flush with hot water to clean and deodorize. 

Time required: 15-30 minutes

Reverse your ceiling fans

Ceiling fans can be reversed to push air up or down to cool or warm your home. Fans should spin counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. Find the direction switch on the motor body of your ceiling fan. 

Time required: 5 minutes

Spring Seasonal Maintenance Checklist

Spring is the time to tend to any winter damage and deep clean for a fresh start. Print out the deep clean checklist below to work through your spring cleaning or add a few tasks to your daily chores and keep your home sparkling. 

Photo of a deep clean checklist for your home.

Click to download deep clean checklist.

A deep clean is just one part of your yearly spring maintenance. 

Spring exterior maintenance

Spring lawn and garden maintenance is the most time intensive seasonal maintenance, but you get to celebrate with a beautiful garden when you’re done.

Inspect your roof for damage

Check your roof for loose or damaged shingles, damaged gutters, or leaks. Repair as needed. 

Time required: 30 minutes

Clear your yard and mulch flower beds

Clear any leftover fall and winter debris from your yard to prepare for new growth. Add mulch to flower beds and hedges.

Time required: 30+ minutes

Prepare your lawn and garden

Seed your lawn and plant seasonal flowers once the threat of frost has passed. If you garden, start planning your layout and preparing the space and soil. 

Time required: 1+ hours

Tune up your lawnmower

Give your mower an annual tune-up to ensure the motor is running properly. The air filter, spark plug, and oil should be changed. Mower blades should be sharpened every 20-25 hours of use. 

Time required: 1-2 hours

Repair your driveway and sidewalk

Check for cracks in your concrete sidewalk or driveway and repair as necessary. Small cracks can be repaired with crack filler; damage wider than half an inch needs a driveway patch. Reseal your driveway as needed every three years.

Time required: 1+ hours

Clean your gutters

Gutters should be cleaned twice a year — typically in the fall and spring months. Remove leaves and debris and inspect gutters and downspouts for damage.

Time required: 1-3 hours

Deep clean your home’s exterior

Clean siding, windows, and decks to finish your spring cleaning and boost your curb appeal. Consider a pressure washer for your siding, bricks, and deck, or scrub with a firm brush, soap, and water. Rinse window screens throughout and wash the outside window glass and frames. 

Time required: 1+ hours

Refinish the deck and patio

Your deck and patio should be refinished every two to three years to maintain its appearance and extend its life. Inspect for cracks and damage annually. 

Time required: 2+ days

Turn on exterior water features and sprinkles

Turn on your external water features once the weather warms. Reset your sprinkler timers based on landscaping needs.

Time required: 15 minutes

Spring interior maintenance

Repair any winter damage and scrub your home clean to enjoy spring weather. 

Have your HVAC serviced

Biannual HVAC servicing is recommended. Spring and fall maintenance prepare your home for summer and winter weather. 

Time required: 1-2 hours

Inspect and repair caulking

Inspect your windows for damaged caulking or weatherstripping and repair as needed. Check your bathroom for deteriorated caulking and repair. 

Time required: 1+ hours

Start spring cleaning

Make a spring cleaning checklist and clean hard-to-reach or seldom cleaned areas. Deep clean your carpets, flooring, baseboards, and moulding. Clean behind appliances, ceiling fans, and other fixtures. 

Time required: 2+ hours

Summer Seasonal Maintenance Checklist

Prepare for the summer heat and outdoor entertainment to enjoy fun in the sun without stress. 

Summer exterior maintenance

Summer sun means barbecues and pool parties, so ready your backyard for entertaining. 

Inspect and repair your sprinklers

Inspect your sprinkler system to ensure all heads are functioning properly. Clean debris away and replace valves as necessary. 

Time required: 1-2 hours

Prevent insects from entering your home

Walk your home’s perimeter to look for and repair any insect entrances in windows and doors. Apply a repellent or poison to prevent bugs from entering your home. 

Time required: 30+ minutes

Clean and open your pool

Open your pool and prepare a weekly maintenance checklist. Skim the pool and add necessary chemicals weekly. Scrub the pool walls once a month to prevent algae growth. 

Time required: 30+ minutes

Summer interior maintenance

A slow summer means time to tend to the infrequently used areas of your home, including your basement and garage.

Clean your garage

Clean and organize your garage, tools, and storage. Inspect garage doors and garage door openers, and oil as needed. 

Time required: 30+ minutes

Reverse your ceiling fan

Reverse your ceiling fan to spin counterclockwise and circulate cool air. 

Time required: 5 minutes

Inspect your basement

Clean and inspect your basement for moisture leaks or cracks. Test your sump pump to ensure it runs properly. Call a basement repair expert to fix any damage. 

Time required: 30+ minutes

Clean your kitchen exhaust fan filter

Remove your kitchen exhaust or range filter and de-grease with boiling water and dish soap. Clean more frequently depending on how regularly you cook. 

Time required: 30+ minutes

Follow a proper home maintenance checklist to keep clean and extend the life of your new home and appliances. Schedule time for monthly and seasonal maintenance tasks to keep your home sparkling and avoid first-time homeowner mistakes and damage. 

Dan Green

Dan Green

Dan Green is a former mortgage loan officer and an industry expert. He's appeared on NPR and CNBC, and in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and dozens of local newspapers. Dan has helped millions of first-time home buyers get educated on mortgages, real estate, and personal finance. Have mortgage questions? Ask Dan in the chat.

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