Your Home Maintenance Checklist Organized by Months of the Year

This home maintenance checklist, organized by months of the year, can help you stay ahead of problems that will otherwise snowball into those code-red issues, like a roof leak or basement flood. Rather than try to cram everything into the spring or fall, you can spread out the work evenly and tackle issues most urgent for the season.

For every month, we’ve surveyed a pool of experts including inspection professionals and experienced real estate agents across the country to give you one meaty project to take on and a few additional maintenance items to check off your list.

“Regularly checking your home for maintenance needs throughout the year is the best way to keep your home safe and prevent the need for costly emergency repairs,” echoes Kathleen Kuhn, president and CEO of HouseMaster Home Inspections, an inspection franchise system founded in 1979. Your work will also pay off in the form of a 1% value increase for every year you adhere to a good maintenance schedule.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Landscaping in front of a house that has been well maintained.
Source: (Canna Curious Club / Unsplash)

January

Big project: Landscaping

It might seem counterintuitive to call your landscaper before anything blooms, but doing so in January vs. March will save you money. According to one HomeLight Top Agent Insights Survey, 91% of agents believe builders and contractors are busiest in spring and summer, so yard care costs less in winter. “If the sun’s out, the temperature really doesn’t matter,” says Nick Pontarelli, a top-selling Chicago real estate agent. Winter is a great time to get a jump start on weed control, examine tree damage after any storms, and plan your mulching for the spring.

Additional maintenance items:

  • Trim all trees and shrubs, particularly any too close to the house or blocking any air intake or exhaust vents.
  • Check window sills for signs of water damage.
  • Look for any signs of insect or pest activity, particularly at the foundation areas and any wood components close to the ground.
  • Keep an eye on the water levels in your boiler to make sure they don’t fall too low.
  • Check and change the heating system filters. Most HVAC and furnace filters need to be changed at least every three months, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Change them more often if you have a large family, pets, occasionally use a fireplace, or have allergies.

February

Big project: Paint

Now’s the time to touch up those chips and dings in your interior trim, cabinetry, and walls that you’ve noticed while you’ve been in the house more. Manufacturers offer the best deals on paint during the late fall and winter. Professional painters also have fewer clients in winter, meaning lower prices. Because of less moisture and humidity in the air during this season, paint bonds to surfaces better and dries faster.

Additional maintenance items:

  • Clean your kitchen sink disposal and your range hood filters.
  • Remove any dead or dying trees. The colder ground can keep nearby vegetation in place, making tree removal less disruptive to the surroundings (though you may need to wait until the ground thaws to complete the stump removal).
  • Inspect and clean your interior doors.
  • Give your garage door a tune-up in about 10 minutes.
  • Replace locksets, door handles, and old cabinet hardware.

March

Big project: Power wash

Remove the winter grime by renting a power-washer or hiring someone to power-wash your exterior and driveway (the average cost nationwide is about $287). Algae or mold tends to grow on homes with a lot of shade, which may take an added treatment with moldicide, says Wade Wostal, a top selling agent of 15 years serving Topeka, Kansas. Either way, you’ll want to take “spring cleaning” to heart and start on the outside. Consumer Reports recommends a 40° angle or a low-pressure nozzle for easily-damaged surfaces like wood or stucco.

Additional maintenance items: 

  • Got a deck and features such as seating in an outdoor kitchen? Power-wash those too. “Backyard kitchens and that sort of thing are extremely popular right now,” Wostal says.
  • Inspect your roof for rotting wood, missing shingles, and any gaps that might have appeared because of winter weather. You’ll want to hire a roofer for a thorough inspection, but you can use a pair of binoculars from the ground to get started, Kuhn says.
  • Test your sump pump. Pour water into the pit and see if that triggers the pump.
  • Add mulch to your flower beds, along with spring plantings, and remove weeds, Wostal adds. About 69% of top HomeLight agents say that prospective buyers care more about landscaping and backyard space during the spring. Bright plants and fresh mulch boost curb appeal, 83% of top agents agree.
  • Change the battery in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. The International Association of Fire Chiefs uses the reminder “Change your clock, change your battery” to encourage residents to update the batteries in these life-saving devices twice a year. (Replace any unit over seven years old, Kuhn says.)
An AC condensor that is maintained each month.
Source: (RF-2020 / Shutterstock)

April 

Big project: Clean your AC condenser

As buds and foliage return, so do problems with your air condenser and air filters. “We have a lot of cottonseed and things floating in the air. The air condensers outside fill up really quickly,” says Wostal, noting that this causes your HVAC unit to run less efficiently. To clean your condenser, follow Family Handyman’s guide to turn off the power, vacuum away grass clippings and other debris with a soft brush attachment, and straighten up the fins with a dinner knife.

Additional maintenance items:

  • Arrange for regular AC service with a licensed technician before the temperatures get hotter. A simple tune-up costs about $75 to $200.
  • Own a pool? Before anyone takes the plunge, take off the cover, clean out the leaves, and make sure that all the pump systems are operating correctly. Having your pool cleaned upon opening it costs about $400 on average nationwide; monthly maintenance runs about $115.
  • Touch up or repaint your home’s exterior, which costs about $1,700 to $4,000, depending on the number of stories and square footage.
  • Replace any weathered siding or refresh worn shutters.
  • Fertilize your lawn and fix any bare spots in the yard with a product such as Scott’s PatchMaster from Lowe’s.

May

Big project: Tidy up the yard

Clean out any remaining debris from winter and help your home look bright and beautiful with added lawn care and landscaping. One Remodeling Impact Survey from the National Association of Realtors says that the biggest returns on cost for outdoor upgrades are upgrading with seed lawn at 417%, standard lawn care at 303%, and upgrading with sod lawn at 143%.

Additional maintenance items:

  • Clean out the rain gutters and downspouts. The average cost for this nationwide is about $160, depending on their condition and the height of your house. (It’s a maintenance must that pops up again in the fall.)
  • Stain your deck, stairs, and other exterior wooden features.
  • Check your sprinkler system and make needed repairs.
  • Need a new refrigerator? Manufacturers tend to roll out their new models for the summer, so you can find a good previous year’s model at a discount, Money Crashers says.

June

Big project: Bug control

Warmer weather means it’s time to guard against mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks, which will keep you from enjoying the yard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that vector-borne illnesses carried by these pests have doubled in the United States since 2004, so check the exterior for any leaky pipes, pour out stagnant water from pots and planters, and talk to a pest professional.

Additional maintenance items:

  • Fix any holes, rotting boards, loose nails or screws, or other damage in your fence. Paint or stain it if necessary.
  • Fill cracks in your concrete driveway, sidewalk, and/or patio. Use concrete caulk or liquid filler for smaller holes. For wider cracks, seal with a concrete patching compound.
  • Stage your outdoor space with new patio chairs or simple decorations such as potted plants.
A bathtub that has been well maintained.
Source: (Erik Mclean / Unsplash)

July 

Big project: Remove bathroom mold

Your bathroom experiences humidity year-round, making it a prime spot for unsightly mold to grow. Take advantage of the opportunity to send your family outside more (or use facilities at a health club or a friend’s) and repair any grout or replace any caulk that needs it.

Additional maintenance items: 

  • Wash your windows and repair any weather-stripping or window caulking before it gets cold.
  • Clean your exterior doors.
  • Cut down any overgrown landscaping.
  • Use those summer rainstorms to check your drainage. All rainwater should drain away from the foundation, Kuhn says.

August 

Big project: Clean your carpets

After a summer full of sand and flip-flops, this is a good time to clean your carpets in advance of the fall and winter (when your family may be more mindful of leaving their shoes by the door). You can hire a local professional to clean four rooms for $100-$300 or rent a Rug Doctor from Home Depot for $32 per day.

Additional maintenance items:

  • Clean the refrigerator and freezer coils, and clean and empty the drip trays.
  • Replace the washers in any exterior and interior faucets if needed.
  • Remove lint from dryer vents.
  • Oil all door hinges, including those on the garage door.
A fireplace that has been maintained each month.
Source: (Charles Deluvio / Unsplash)

September

Big project: Clean your fireplace

If you have a fireplace or a wood stove, get it checked and professionally cleaned before you want to cuddle in front of it or toast S’mores, says Todd Bartusek, a top-selling real estate agent in Omaha, Nebraska, with more than 20 years of experience. The National Fire Protection Association recommends homeowners do a chimney sweep once a year to check for deposits and correct clearance, which will cost $244 on average.

Additional maintenance items:

  • Check and clean the exhaust fans in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room to eliminate mold and provide good airflow.
  • Need any new appliances? September and October are the best months to purchase major appliances because that’s when manufacturers unveil their latest models. (You might find a good deal on older inventory later in the year, but the selection will be thinner.)
  • Give your roof a good checkup — and repair or replace what’s needed. Roofers say that fall is the ideal time to replace a roof because temperatures fall between 45 and 85 degrees (warm enough for shingles to adhere, but not so hot that the roofers become overheated easily). Our top agents also estimate that you’ll recoup 94% of your roof investment at resale.

October

Big project: Replace worn materials

If you’ve found a few things during the year that need major repairs, or you have renovations on your mind, now’s the time to schedule them. Labor and building materials tend to be most affordable from October through December, 35% of top HomeLight agents say, so pencil in new flooring, new countertops, and other projects that could boost your home’s marketability rather than waiting until the spring or summer.

Additional maintenance items:

  • Prepare your sprinkler system for winter by hiring a plumber to blow out any residual water in the valves or sprinkler heads with an air compressor. Any water that freezes over the winter can break the valves in the spring, Bartusek says. Expect to pay about $80 for this service.
  • Check and clean the gutters and downspouts. Falling leaves can hamper your drainage and lead to moisture problems along your roof and in your basement.
  • Spray for insects around the foundation of your home, as well as the door openings and windows. People tend to think of pests during the warmer months, but in the winter, “The bugs are looking for heat,” Bartusek says. “That’s when you start to see an influx of insects inside your house.”

November

Big project: Scope your sewer line

Just like insects look for a cozy hideout as the temperatures drop, trees look for water when it’s cold and dry. Have a plumber scope your main sewer line for about $100 to $1,000 (depending on the length of your plumbing and any additional services), especially if there are large trees close to your home. “The tree roots get into those hairline cracks of a home’s sewer system. It’ll back your main line up,” Bartusek says. “I had one [home] just last week where they had to scope it and … they had just a big ball of roots.”

Additional maintenance items: 

  • Clean your siding (again) to clear away any pollen or dirt from the spring and summer, plus check for rot or mildew.
  • Plant trees, if you need to replace any or fill out your landscape. One of the best times to plant trees is in the fall after the leaves drop, arborists say.
  • Have your furnace or central heating system inspected and cleaned for about $130 to $470 (prices vary by gas versus electric) to reduce your energy bills over the winter and prevent any health or safety risks during frigid temperatures.
An outlet that was replaced in a home.
Source: (Charles Deluvio / Unsplash)

December

Big project: Improve your energy efficiency

As you get ready for the holidays and count down toward a new year, you can wrap up your home like a gift to prevent moisture and heat loss. Sealing leaks in the siding, plus around windows and doors, and adding insulation can save homeowners an average of 15 percent on heating and cooling costs, or an average of 11% on total energy costs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.

Also:

  • Inspect your lighting fixtures. Test outlets with Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters, or GFCIs, using the built-in button.
  • Winterize your water pipes to prevent freezing. Also, unless you have a frost-free faucet, drain and store any garden hoses, and shut off and drain hose bibs.
  • Check the weather tightness of all exterior surfaces and components. Seal any foundation cracks. Experts say that foundation problems can reduce your home value by as much as 15%.
  • Inspect your attic ventilation and insulation for position and condition to ensure uniform coverage.
  • Check for roof leaks, particularly at chimneys, vents and valley areas.

Keeping your home in good working order can seem exhausting, if not overwhelming. If you have other questions about home maintenance, talk with a trusted contractor or real estate professional about your home’s size and needs, then hammer out a timeline and a checklist that works best for your budget and your lifestyle. When you’re ready to sell one day, you’ll be excited to see how your hard work has paid off.

Note: We understand that your climate impacts many of your home maintenance decisions, so some recommendations might not apply if you live somewhere that, say, snowfall is rare. Be sure to check out our seasonal home maintenance checklist divided by region (the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and Northeast, Southwest, and Coastal areas) as a companion guide.

Header Image Source: (Taylor Simpson / Unsplash)