California Home Maintenance Checklist 

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INDEX

 

Arbory - Schedule arborist to evaluate health of trees, pruning and treatments (most arbory work should happen during the damp months) - here is a guide from California Native Plant Society. For your safety and the health of your trees we don’t recommend you do this yourself!

 

Bathroom Exhaust Fans - Exhaust fans are meant to remove moisture, odors and contaminants from the bathroom air. Remove dust and other debris to make sure these fans continue to work efficiently and quietly. Be sure to take safety precautions when working with anything electrical in a bathroom and follow this guide.

 

Batteries - Why wait until a smoke detector is beeping in the middle of the night? Proactively change batteries once a year for - smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fireplace remotes and starters, garage keypads, and check any device or system that has a backup battery.

 

Dryer Vent - Dirty and clogged dryer vents are a leading cause of house fires and totally preventable. There are services that will charge you to do this based on the length of your exhaust duct. But if your duct goes directly to an outside wall then this is probably something you can do yourself.

 

Exterior Walls - Homes can have a variety of exterior surfaces and we recommend you seek the advice of a professional before trying to clean any of the surfaces below:

  • Stucco - popular for its appearance and texture it is very common in CA. Stucco can be quite variable so we recommend consulting an expert. Integral stucco is applied with the pigment or desired color. This stucco can be more difficult to match if there is a repair needed. We recommend that you clean frequently but with caution to remove any efflorescence that is caused by the minerals in the stucco leaching out. If left on the stucco too long it can cause permanent discoloration. For painted stucco we also recommend cleaning frequently but with caution! Exterior paint can also be hard to match after being subjected to the elements.

  • Cedar Shake or Shingle Siding - It is not easy to maintain the original look and color of cedar siding. The sun and sea air will wreak havoc on the shape and color pretty rapidly and although we recommend cleaning frequently to extend the lifespan we do not recommend doing it yourself!

  • Painted Wood Siding - Although wood siding can last a really long time it won’t last without a lot of TLC. Clean 2X a year and make sure to address peeling paint immediately. Proper prepping for both touch ups and full repaint is critically important to the appearance, performance and longevity of your wood siding. 

  • Stone Siding - This is a relatively low maintenance material and should just be inspected periodically for cracks in the mortar or damaged stones. Because there is such variability in stone we don’t like to recommend a universal cleaning method. Different stones can be susceptible to damage from cleaners or water pressure. For this reason we recommend you get advice from a professional.

 

Fireplace - It is important to clean and maintain your fireplace whether it is gas or wood burning. Here is a good basic guide for both. For woodburning fireplaces here are some more detailed tips. We recommend that you have your fireplace and chimney professionally inspected and cleaned every 1-2 years depending on how actively you use it. It is also recommended to turn on your gas fireplace at least 1-2X a month during the warmer months to ensure the gas line stays clear of obstructions and doesn’t clog. Make sure to change the remote ignitor batteries every year too! If you are having issues getting your gas fireplace to start here are some reasons why.

 

Garage Opener -  Avoid malfunction or loud opening and closing by cleaning the track and lubricating the moving parts - follow this guideline from Bob Villa.

 

Garden and Hardscapes - Spring is a good time to take a look at your garden and establish what you would like to plant and adjust irrigation for summer months. We also recommend you do the same in the fall and adjust your irrigation for wetter conditions.

 

HVAC (Heating and Cooling Systems) - Depending on how complicated your system is we recommend you have an expert come do an HVAC inspection and tune up every 1-2 years. We are recommending everyone change their HVAC filters 3-4X a year.  Make sure you refer to your user manual on how to do this and what filter to use. TIP - sometimes the manufacturers filter sizes can vary by even just ¼” even when they say it is a standard size. So don’t try to save $ and buy a generic one when possible!

 

Foundation - It is important to check the integrity of your foundation to make sure there is no shifting, bulging or excessive cracking. These can be signs of the ground shifting, stress on the foundation or water damage.

 

Fridge Coils- Dust and debris on your refrigerator coils can hinder the cooling and lead to increased energy costs and an early death! Extend the lifespan of your fridges and freezers by following these easy steps.

 

Oven - You'll want to check your owner manual for specific dos and don’ts for your appliance. Some ovens can be lined with porcelain enamel or steel depending on the brand and model. While Easy Off is a tried and true solution it is also pretty toxic and should be used with caution. A lot of homeowners are looking for greener solutions to heavy duty cleaning. Checkout this awesome article by BrenDid on testing the best at home cleaner.

 

Plumbing Inspection - We recommend you have an experienced plumber perform one of these every two years. Avoid costly plumbing issues or damage to your home by catching small problems before they become big ones! The years you don’t have a professional inspection you can follow this simple checklist. We also encourage swapping out your toilets’ fill valves and flappers every 3-5 years. These aren’t meant to last the lifespan of your toilet and waiting for one to fail can lead to an extremely costly water bill. Always have an extra assembly on hand that is specific to the make and model of your toilet just in case there is a problem. Sometimes those universal replacement parts aren’t really universal! 

 

Power Wash and Window Cleaning - Removing dirt and grime from your home and windows will not only improve the look of your home but it will also help reveal any cracks or failures that you need to address. It is important to know what surfaces and cleaning techniques are best for the surfaces of your home, hardscapes and windows. If you have never used a power washer we recommend hiring a professional.

 

Radiant Heat - This maintenance is not something you should try to do yourself! Hire a professional service that specializes in servicing and repairing radiant heat systems. Not all HVAC companies or plumbers are equipped to do this. But if you can combine this service with your HVAC or plumbing inspection we recommend it! 

 

Range Hood - This is a dirty greasy job but somebody has to do it! Improve the appearance and performance of your range hood exhaust and avoid disgusting and dangerous grease drips. Its pretty easy to do yourself!

 

Roof and Gutters - Your roof is the most important barrier between you and the elements. We don’t recommend putting off service or repair work under any circumstances because the cost can be so great. If you have a flat roof, have it inspected annually and make sure all the drains are clear and flashing is in good condition. The gutters and downspouts are also critical to making sure you have proper water run off down and away from the house. Make sure to look these over and flush them out as recommended by your roofer. If you live in a particularly dry place that is prone to wildfires we are now recommending you clear your gutters in the spring and not just the fall. All of that dry debris can become a tinderbox for any floating embers. 

 

Rugs and Upholstery - Revive the look of your furniture and rugs by having them cleaned at least once a year. This will also remove allergens and dust that can cause health issues and host mold. Regular cleaning can expand the lifetime of your furnishings by removing materials that can become permanently embedded and cause fibers to deteriorate. Make sure to get cleaning instructions from the manufacturers and we strongly urge you leave the cleaning to the professionals.

 

Spring Cleaning -  Decrease the allergens in your home and reduce the chance of mold by deep cleaning and cleaning dust in hard to reach or obstructed spaces. Learn more about mold and dust from the CDC.  We love this checklist by Martha Stewart as well as this list from The Happier Homemaker. This is also a great time to purge old or unused items and schedule a run to the dump or donations (We love using Lugg for tasks like this)

 

Sump Pump - If you have a basement sump pump, make sure the switch is on and pour a little water in the crock to ensure it starts. If there is a backup battery check that too. Guide courtesy of The Spruce

 

Windows & Doors - Drafty windows and doors can lead to costly energy bills and water intrusion. With drier California winters and extended droughts we are seeing 100 year old houses settle and shift. Address misaligned doors and drafty windows with weather stripping. If you are noticing serious shifting this could be evidence of foundation damage and you should reach out to a professional immediately. Learn more about droughts and foundations by reading this article.