A man performing routine maintenance on his home and checking the pipes underneath the sink.

Home Maintenance Checklist: The Ultimate Plan

Updated June 5, 2021 . AmFam Team

Rest easy with a home maintenance checklist for monthly, annual, and seasonal care needs. We include a homeowners maintenance plan that will keep your property in tip-top shape!

Just like cars, your home needs special care to avoid breakdowns and costly repairs throughout the year. Without regular maintenance, you’ll likely stumble upon various frustrating, expensive surprises in your home that’ll cost you valuable time and drain your bank account. But with regular property preventive maintenance, you’ll hone your handyperson skills and keep your home in tip-top shape.

The key is making a scheduled checklist that you can follow as the seasons change. Here’s what we recommend: 

Monthly Home Maintenance Checklist

Some maintenance items will require more attention than others. These tend to be things in your home that help keep everyone safe, so be sure to check in regularly and make sure they’re working. Here’s what you should do each month:

Test your alarms and detectors

Your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are crucial to the safety of your family. Check them once a month and be sure to have replacement batteries on hand. Fire extinguishers are very important to your family’s safety as well. Inspect them regularly to make sure they’re working.

Want to make this step even easier? Invest in smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You’ll get reminders when they need attention, and notifications of dangerous fumes in your home. Plus, you could qualify for a discount on your home insurance!

Check and replace your filters

Your furnace, oven and vent filters should be checked every month to make sure debris isn’t preventing them from doing their job. Stock up on replacement filters for each appliance so you can swap in a new one at a moment’s notice.

Check pipes for clogs

Your kitchen sink, bathroom drains and garbage disposal might not be running efficiently if there’s even a minor blockage in a connected pipe. Check to see if they’re draining slowly by running hot water for about 30 seconds, then use a natural drain cleaning product to knock away the grime.

Clean your air vents

Air vents can build up a lot of dust. Clear them up by turning off your HVAC system, brushing the walls to loosen any grime and putting your vacuum to work.

Check your sump pump

When it comes to leaky basements, your sump pump can make all the difference. This helpful piece of hardware may be the only defense you have against a full-fledged flood. Prevent a worst-case scenario by testing your sump pump on schedule.

Look for leaks or cracks in your faucets

A leaky faucet can waste water and boost your monthly utility bill without you noticing. Check the spout, the base and under your sink to see if any water is leaking or any moisture is outside the pipes.

While you're at it, inspect grout and caulk to see if any touch-up is needed to prevent seeping water damage.

Back to top

Bi-annual Home Maintenance Checklist

Not every part of your home needs a monthly checkup. Perform these home improvement tasks just twice a year to keep your home healthy:

Inspect your attic and basement

Look for any cracks in the walls, deteriorating insulation, leaks or pests that could be causing harm to your home’s structure.

Clear your gutters and downspouts

A clogged gutter or downspout can lead to water backup, pooling moisture and the deterioration of your home’s siding and structure. Clean your gutters thoroughly with proper safety equipment to keep them functional.

Clean your refrigerator coils

Vacuum the coils on the back and bottom of your refrigerator to remove any buildup. This will allow it to operate more efficiently, leading to savings on your electric bill.

Back to top

Bi-annual Home Maintenance Checklist

Not every part of your home needs a monthly checkup. Perform these home improvement tasks just twice a year to keep your home healthy:

Inspect your attic and basement

Look for any cracks in the walls, deteriorating insulation, leaks or pests that could be causing harm to your home’s structure.

Clear your gutters and downspouts

A clogged gutter or downspout can lead to water backup, pooling moisture and the deterioration of your home’s siding and structure. Clean your gutters thoroughly with proper safety equipment to keep them functional.

Clean your refrigerator coils

Vacuum the coils on the back and bottom of your refrigerator to remove any buildup. This will allow it to operate more efficiently, leading to savings on your electric bill.

Back to top

Annual Home Maintenance Checklist

Small problems in your home can turn into major ones if you wait too long to address them. Complete these home maintenance tasks once per year to save money on down-the-line home repairs.

Clean your dryer vent

Lint that builds up in your dryer not only decreases performance, but can actually be a fire hazard. Keep a brush handy and make cleaning your lint trap and dryer vent an annual routine.

Flush your water heater

Emptying your tank and filling it with fresh water is a great way to figure out your water heater’s health status. Maintaining your water heater might sound like an intimidating task, but by flushing it once a year, you can make that maintenance stress-free.

Inspect for termites

Checking your home for signs of wood damage and termites can help you avoid a major infestation. If you’re not quite sure how to check for termites, call in a professional! Ask about other preventative measures you can take to keep them out.

Trim tree branches

Cutting branches close to your home's roof can help you avoid major storm damage the next time heavy rain and strong winds roll through.

Back to top

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

As seasons change, so should the focus of your home maintenance efforts. Since not all seasons are created equal, there are some key maintenance items you need to focus on during different times of the year.

So, as the cold weather begins to dissipate and flowers begin to flourish, your home maintenance list will begin anew too. Protecting your home from wintry conditions segues to ensuring your home is ready for warmer weather. If you’ve  noticed your trees beginning to bud, then it’s time to start your spring cleaning initiatives with these important upkeep tasks.

Check and clean your window screens

Winter weather can be harsh on your screens. Check them for rips, cracks or other damage and install new ones if necessary.

Reseal fences and decks

Help your home’s woodwork defend itself against the spring rain and extra moisture by resealing and finishing.

Check your driveway and walkways for cracks

Spring is considered pothole season, as the winter’s snow and ice can be particularly damaging to roadways. The same goes for your driveway and walkways — check them for cracks and patch them as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Inspect your air conditioning unit

Checking your AC unit long before summer arrives gives you plenty of time to have it fixed should there be any problems. Don’t be afraid to call a professional!

Check your paint and siding

Freshening up your home’s paint job or replacing damaged siding after the winter can do wonders for its curb appeal. Plus, your siding is a crucial part of your home’s defenses against moisture and other damage, so keeping it intact is a must.

Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Summer is the perfect season to unwind. But before you hop into your hammock, there’s some routine home maintenance items that need your attention.

Once you’ve worked your way down this checklist, then it’s time to kick your summer relaxation time into full gear.

Clean your air conditioner filter

You had your system tuned up in the spring, so it’d be ready to go for the summer. But, to keep things running smoothly, you should still check and clean your filter at least twice a month.

Prepare your grill

Cleaning your grates, airing it out and making sure it’s working properly will help you avoid disappointment when you fire it up for the first hot dogs of the summer.

Control bugs and mosquitoes

Removing stagnant, pooled water and using natural solutions to keep bugs and mosquitoes from bothering you while you're outside will make for a much more enjoyable summer for your family.

Check and replace storm windows

Your storm windows help insulate your home — keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter. Check your storm windows for cracks or damage in case they need to be replaced.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Depending on what part of the nation you live in, you may not need to pack up that hammock as Autumn rolls in. But once the leaves begin to fall, and the air begins to cool, it’s time to begin preparing for colder weather. Here are some tips to help you stay ahead of the curve so you can be worry-free as Fall’s cooler climate comes to town.

Schedule heating system maintenance

Unless you’re an HVAC professional, you’re better off leaving this one to the techs. Get ahead of the curve and schedule a maintenance visit.

Rake leaves

Unraked leaves and debris can keep the sunlight from reaching your grass, inhibiting growth for next spring, and providing a fertile ground for harmful mold to grow.

Seal cracks in your windows and doors

Keep the cold air out when fall and winter temperatures drop. Check the caulk around your windows and invest in door stoppers to keep your home warm and toasty.

Check your pipes’ insulation

A frozen pipe can lead to a disaster if it’s not cared for immediately. Prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place by insulating them and keeping your home’s temperatures up.

Drain and turn off sprinklers

If your home’s sprinklers freeze, they’re likely to break. Save yourself a trip to the hardware store by draining and storing them in a warmer area for the colder months.

Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Winterizing your home ahead of time is essential but responding to issues quickly is even more important. Winter can really wreak havoc on your home, but your wintry  home maintenance can prevent issues before they become a serious (and expensive) problem. Here are some tips to keep your winter stress-free:

Inspect your pipes

Keeping an eye on the pipes you insulated in the fall will help you avoid a cold, wet basement disaster. If you think your pipes are frozen, turn off your water and carefully thaw them to prevent them from bursting.

Prepare for snow

Get your snow blower, shovels and sidewalk salt out and have them ready to go when the first snowstorm hits.

Prevent ice dams and prep your roof

Heavy snowfall can cause damage to your roof. Take proactive steps to prevent your roof from collapsing due to snow by getting it inspected and ensuring there’s proper ventilation installed. This can help prevent ice dams from forming.

Protect your outdoor furniture

Moving your patio furniture and other outdoor leisure items inside will protect them from the wind, snow and ice that winter brings.

Year-round Protection Built for You

With these checklists, you now have the know-how to keep your home safe and in great condition any time of the year. But if the unexpected does happen, you’ll need to make sure your home is protected. Get in touch with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to make sure you’ve got even more protection with a customizable homeowners insurance policy. Your agent can help make sure your coverage limits, deductible and add-on coverages are giving you the peace of mind you deserve. Looking for even more home maintenance tips? Our home maintenance hub has all the resources you’ll need to keep your home in great shape throughout the year.

Related Articles

  • a couple looking at paperwork
    20 Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

    Choosing your new apartment isn’t an impulse decision. The choice you make will have an impact for a long time. There are many different things to consider as you tour one possible home after another. On top of that, landlords and management companies work hard to make them all seem perfect.

    How can you tell which one’s the right fit for you? Here are 20 key questions to ask when renting an apartment. The answers can give you a better idea of what you’d get from each one.

    How Much is Rent & the Security Deposit?

    Any apartment hunter should ask themself this crucial question: “How much should I spend on rent?” Setting a budget ahead of the search helps narrow the possibilities. You’ll save time by eliminating options that are too expensive.

    Still, relying on online listings alone may not be enough. It’s better to personally ask the landlord, whether by calling, emailing, or visiting. Make sure to also bring up the security deposit, as well as any other upfront costs they may ask of you. This will save you from unpleasant surprises before you sign anything.

    How Much are Utilities and What Do I Cover?

    Every apartment complex handles utilities differently. Water, electricity, air conditioning, heating, gas, and more may be split between landlord and tenant. Then there is the matter of which ones you’ll need to get yourself. Your apartment may come with cable and wi-fi, but you may be responsible for them on your own.

    Only your landlord will know for sure, and they should be clear about what’s expected of you. Before leasing an apartment, you should ask what utilities are available and which ones are covered. Record the answers, factor the costs into your budget, and look for the place that offers the most for the least.

    How Does Parking Work?

    Some apartment complexes have their own parking lots, with many spaces reserved for tenants and a few set aside for guests. Others may give residents access to a dedicated structure, providing greater security — but possibly at a higher cost. Others still may only offer street parking, which can be expensive to maintain.

    In short, parking may be a complex situation involving specific locations and extra costs. If you have a car, don’t just ask if parking is available. Get the details. As you weigh your options, consider what’s best for your car as well.

    What’s the Pet Policy & Is There a Deposit or Fee?

    The pet policy won’t matter to every apartment hunter. If you have a furry friend or might want one someday, make this one of their first questions to ask when touring an apartment. A “no” answer is no deal, no matter how great the other perks may be.

    Some landlords may allow pets if you pay a one-time deposit or additional monthly fees. Make sure to keep that in mind during your search.

    What Amenities are Included?

    Utilities cover the most vital parts of a home — the things that make living there comfortable. Amenities are the complex’s welcome bonuses — the things that make living there enjoyable. Common examples include clubhouses, swimming pools, public kitchens, communal laundry machines, and fitness rooms.

    Amenities are great for those who use them, but their presence can justify higher rent. As your landlord takes you through each selling point on your tour, ask them whether these perks are included with your price. Also, make sure to consider if you’ll even use them.

    Do I Need Renters Insurance?

    Home insurance is for houses. If you live in an apartment, you look for renters insurance instead. In fact, some places make it mandatory for all residents. Be sure to ask your landlord in advance so you can make any arrangements you need.

    This practice is all about liability. Landlords have their own insurance, but it’s based on their duties and would only cover their share of the damages. Renters insurance offers protection for your living space and your belongings. Even if it’s not required, getting your own policy could bring you peace of mind.

    Can You Describe the Application Process?

    Applying for an apartment can be complicated and time-consuming. You might have to pay fees, undergo background checks and other screenings, and more just to see if you qualify. This may be preferable to the alternative: apartment listings that promise no credit check may be scams.

    You could always learn about each step of the application process as you go. Still, it never hurts to know ahead of time, especially if there are any fees and risks. If anything is unclear, the landlord should explain it to you.

    What Should I Know About Rent Increases?

    A variety of factors can change the value of an apartment. Examples include market shifts, new installations, repairs and replacements of fixtures. Your rent will likely not change for the duration of your lease. Once the time comes to sign again, though, your monthly payments may very well go up.

    This may not seem like a pertinent question when starting a lease. Still, making it one of your questions to ask when touring an apartment could be useful. How your potential future landlord approaches the matter can tell you what to expect. At the very least, it can help you choose whether to look for a new place well before your lease ends.

    What are the Lease Length Options?

    How long are you looking to stay at your next apartment? One year, two years, longer, less? Not everyone has a plan in mind, which means the apartment’s available options may give you an idea of what to expect in the future.

    Landlords always inform apartment hunters about the duration of their lease. However, you might need to probe them for other available options. Be sure to make this one of your questions to ask before leasing an apartment, even if they only mention one length that sounds good. They might have something better.

    Can I Make Changes to the Rental Unit?

    Your apartment may come pre-furnished, but it’s unlikely to be pre-decorated. Few people are content with blank walls and sparse spaces. Most prefer to personalize and beautify their home with art, decorations and other belongings.

    Unlike houses, apartments usually only have temporary residents. The building’s owner may not allow certain kinds of changes, believing they may hurt the unit’s future value. Take the time to go over policies. That way, you can get a better idea of how you’ll make your space feel like a home.

    How Do Maintenance Requests Work?

    Besides rent, tenants might only interact with their landlord through maintenance requests. After all, it’s the complex owner’s duty to keep everything in their apartments running smoothly. If your shower stops pumping heated water or your lock gets sticky, maintenance will get it fixed.

    Asking about the process of filing maintenance requests can give insights to how landlords view this responsibility. Does the process seem straightforward or complicated? Are approvals easy, or do they require a great deal of evidence and demonstration? The answers may reveal how long this landlord will let you live with inconvenience. Few questions to ask about apartments are more revealing than this.

    What’s the Guest Policy?

    In most cases, a guest policy doesn’t apply to someone who’s just visiting for a few hours. It covers situations where someone might want to stay at a tenant’s apartment for a few days or longer. Depending on the terms of the policy, you might even need permission for someone to spend the night.

    Don’t just assume that any landlord would be okay with your best friend crashing on your couch for a while. Get the details on the guest policy before moving in. They’ll tell you what permissions they’d grant and how you can get them granted.

    What’s the Neighborhood Like?

    The oldest real estate myth holds that three factors must guide where you choose to live: “location, location, location.” There’s more to it than that, as this list of questions to ask when renting an apartment should make clear. Still, the area around the complex is important to consider.

    Getting info on the neighborhood is valuable to any apartment hunt. Try to get your landlord’s perspective about any areas of concern. We also recommend exploring on your own, both by car and on foot. See if any useful places are close by, such as grocery stores.

    How Soon are You Looking to Fill the Unit?

    In most cases, you won’t be the only person viewing an apartment. Others have likely received a grand tour, and others may be waiting in line to see the place as well. Landlords might be screening you as much as you’re screening them.

    Landlords are also usually interested in starting a new lease as soon as the current one ends. One way to get noticed is to strike quickly: ask when they’d want you to move in. You should still weigh your options, but don’t procrastinate.

    Do I Need a Cosigner?

    People with rental history have a record that landlords can review. If this is your first time paying rent, they won’t know if they can trust you to make payments on time and consistently. Adding a cosigner to the contract can make it easier. Their signature promises that even if you can’t pay rent, someone else can pay for you.

    Many renters with no history may worry about background checks and credit checks. However, there are some landlords who won’t ask for them. While the answer will likely be a yes, it doesn’t hurt to have it on a list of first-time renter questions.

    What Payment Methods are Accepted?

    Rent payments can take a variety of forms. Before you make any assumptions, though, you should double-check what’s allowed. Each place will have its own policies. Some offer more payment method options than others.

    You might be able to set up a regular automatic withdrawal from your bank account. You might have to do it online. The landlord might accept checks or cards (warning: anyone who only takes cash is likely a scammer). There’s only one way to know for sure.

    What Furnishings & Appliances are Included?

    Preparing for the big move is a big task. It’s not just deciding what to take, but also figuring out what you need to get. Each apartment is different: some come fully furnished with appliances, while others only have a bed.

    Asking this question is important because the answer can impact your budget. It can even make or break your apartment options. Ask about beds and bedding, chairs, sofas, tables, kitchen appliances, TV sets and anything else that matters to you in a home.

    How Much Notice Do You Give Before You or a Representative Shows Up at the Property?

    An interesting agreement comes with living in an apartment. It’s your home, and you pay to stay there. But someone else owns it and covers many responsibilities related to it. Technically, they have at least some right to enter at any time for any reason.

    Even so, many building owners respect their tenants by giving them advance notice. Depending on the person and situation, you may have days or hours or minutes to prepare. We recommend asking how much notice they usually give. It could save you some major headaches.

    What’s Your Late Fee Policy?

    Accidents can happen. Paychecks can come late. You might have temporary money problems. Most apartment contracts provide some leeway for late rent payments. But they might charge a late fee.

    Given that it’s so common, there’s no problem with asking about late fee policies. You’ll want to know the terms just in case anything happens. You’ll also want to know the limits according to state law, so you can see if the fee is fair. Just try not to seem too eager, and don’t count on being able to do it often.

    What’s Your Subletting Policy?

    Subletting is when a renter temporarily moves out and lets someone else cover their lease. A landlord may refuse to rent to your candidate if they don’t meet their requirements.

    Even if you don’t plan to leave during your lease, you may still want to know your apartment’s subletting policy. Life may surprise you. Being aware can save you some time and trouble in looking for someone to take over.

    Know the Best Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

    Any of these questions to ask when renting an apartment can help decide your future home. Having so many factors to consider may seem intimidating at first. As you gather information, though, you may find that each new detail narrows down the options. Soon enough, a few apartments will rise above the rest. No matter which of them you pick, you benefit. Ask away.

    Renters Insurance from American Family Insurance

    Even while you’re still apartment-hunting, it’s never too early to start thinking about renters insurance. If you have any questions about that, feel free to contact an American Family Insurance agent. Once you’ve learned what we have to offer, you can get a quote online and get protection for your next home.

  • Woman sitting at table writing a home inventory for homeowners insurance.
    Woman sitting at table writing a home inventory for homeowners insurance.
    9 Steps to Create a Home Inventory for Insurance Claims

    Your home is more than a roof over your head. It’s where your dreams grow, your family thrives and memories are made. But the possessions you keep inside are important, too.

    Whether you’re renting an apartment or own your home, you’ve most likely got an insurance policy designed to protect your dwelling and the things inside. Should the unthinkable happen and you have to use that insurance policy, it’s important to have a plan in place. And a home inventory list is a great way to get started!

    We’ll walk you through how to create a home inventory so — in the event of the unexpected — you’ll be more prepared and have a streamlined recovery.

    What Is a Home Inventory?

    Quite simply, a home inventory is a complete list of all the items, especially valuables, in and around your home. The best home inventories include photos, descriptions and dollar values of each of your belongings. The more detail, the better! It’ll help you provide a comprehensive list to your agent of items lost in the event your home is damaged or destroyed, allowing you to get the most out of your coverage.

    When your describing the items in your list, remember that the more information, the better. Here’s a quick reference list of the type of information you should include in your home inventory list:

    • An in-depth description of the items. For example, rather than writing down “diamond ring,” be more descriptive, such as: “an emerald cut diamond ring, with white gold shank, accent stones and initials inscribed below the bridge.”
    • Make, model, and/or serial number of the items.
    • Date of purchase, receipts and photos.
    • Estimated replacement cost if you bought it today. Do note that the value of the items might be different today than it was when you first bought them. This is especially true with jewelry, and other valuables.
    • Appraisals at time of purchase. Especially if your items were appraised for insurance purposes.

    Why Do I Need a Home Inventory?

    Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, everyone can benefit from a home inventory!

    If you ever have to make a claim, a home inventory is a great asset to have, especially after stressful events like theft, storm damage or a fire (take a look at how one renter used their home inventory after facing an apartment fire).

    When you make a claim, you typically submit information on everything that was lost — which can be difficult to do off the top of your head for all your possessions. Remembering to replace your TV or computer are no-brainers, but when it comes to remembering each piece of jewelry in your jewelry box, things tend to get overlooked. Having a personal property inventory will help, along with knowing how to properly insure your jewelry.

    When you have your home inventory checklist, you know exactly what needs to be replaced, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your entire household is protected.

  • A row of houses in a neighborhood with storm clouds that will bring strong rain and roof leaks behind it.
    A row of houses in a neighborhood with storm clouds that will bring strong rain and roof leaks behind it.
    Reasons Why a Roof Leaks

    You’re admiring the rain from the comfort of your home when you notice a sound — the unmistakable drip of water dropping onto your floor. The first and hardest step is figuring out why your roof is leaking. And with these tips, you’ll find the culprit in no time!

    Here’s Why Your Roof Is Leaking

    The list of reasons why your roof is leaking may seem long, but don’t worry — when it comes to finding the leak and fixing it, the finding is the hardest part. And the good thing about these problems? They can all be fixed. Check out the list and see what’s troubling your roof:

    Your roof is old

    Roofs don’t last forever. Protecting your home and everything inside it from the elements comes with a cost. And with all that rain, snow, ice, wind and even sunlight wearing down your roof, it becomes more susceptible to leaks. Every roof will eventually need to be replaced, so learn more about how long your roof should last based on what it’s made of.