You just moved into your first house, unpacked the boxes, and are settling in. You know a house needs routine maintenance, but as a first-time owner, you don’t know where to start. Here is a list of do-it-yourself maintenance items to keep your home in working order.

Air Conditioner and Heater

If your air filter looks like this, you just might be a first time home owner

Image via Flickr by Ivy Dawned

As the air moves through your HVAC unit and heads to the ducts, it passes through a filter to catch dust, pollen, and other debris. Clogged filters keep your system from running efficiently, so check your air filter monthly. If it is dark and dirty looking, replace it. A small home without pets probably doesn’t need monthly changing, but get into the habit of inspecting the filter every 30 days.

Water Leaks

Prevent future damage and check pipes, faucets, and toilets for leaking water. Also, check the water hose connections on the back of the washing machine. Leaks often go unnoticed behind washers. If you detect water seepage around tubs, sinks, or toilets, re-caulk those areas making for a stronger seal or caulk around spots where hoses attach. While you have the caulking gun out, check windows and doors for problems, and fill any small cracks with caulk or use weather stripping to fill any gaps.

Vents

Dryer vents need frequent inspection. A buildup of dust and lint clog the vent and make it a fire hazard. Don’t confuse the vent and the lint trap. Duct work connects the vent to the outside, the lint trap is part of the dryer. Along these lines, check your vent hood over the stove and your bathroom exhaust fan too. These areas clog with grease and dirt, so wipe them down at least bi-annually. Buy a degreaser from an auto parts store for cleaning that greasy stove hood.

Kitchen

While you are cleaning the kitchen stove vent hood, clean your garbage disposal too. Freeze vinegar in an ice cube tray then run the vinegar ice cubes through the disposal. The vinegar gets rid of any odors and the ice sharpens the blades.

Another often neglected place is the back of the refrigerator. Vacuum the coils on the back of the refrigerator when you clean your vent hood. This helps prevent future repairs and keeps the fridge running efficiently.

Outside

Clean out autumn leaves from your gutters and again after winter ends to wash away grime and sediment from snow and ice. While outside, look carefully at your home to detect any paint chipping or siding damaged by weather. Look for holes in bricks and cracks in foundations. Small cracks or gaps only need caulking and touch-up the paint too. Also, check window screens for holes before spring arrives.

In the excitement of buying your first home, many new homeowners don’t think about the everyday upkeep a house needs. Keep a calendar on your phone or computer to remind you when to inspect areas in your home. The more you inspect, the easier it is to prevent major problems.