New Year Home Maintenance and Safety Checklist

Posted by Ed DePrato on Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 at 2:57pm.

It's almost a new year and now is a great time to take stock of your household to make sure everything is functioning properly, make necessary repairs, and plan for upgrades or improvements. Not only can it help to boost your home value but it can also help to prevent any emergencies. We've listed some areas you'll want to check in the new year so you can have peace of mind.

Your home's HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) gets heavy use during winter and summer months. You need to replace disposable filters or wash permanent ones on a regular basis during peak seasons. Now is also a good time to inspect and vacuum all heat vents, especially vents that are located on the floor, because they are susceptible to collecting dirt, dust, pet hair, pollen, mold, and indoor pollutants. Vacuuming the vents and ducts will help people who are sensitive to airborne allergens.

Also, inspect your heating ducts for any leaks. Leaks can end up costing you money by making your HVAC unit run longer since all the heat isn't being put into the rooms. If you find a leak, seal it up with duct tape. (Yes, that's how it is actually intended to be used! Notwithstanding the thousands of crafty uses for it.)

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can save your family's lives so make sure you're testing them monthly. You should have several smoke alarms throughout your home, especially in and near bedrooms. If you don't have carbon monoxide detectors, buy and install one within three meters of every bedroom. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that is extremely toxic so a carbon monoxide detector is as valuable as a smoke detector.

This is a perfect time to inspect and clean all detectors and replace any that are faulty. If your detectors are battery powered, do a test to make sure they beep and replace any batteries that have died.

Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are rarely ever used by homeowners so it's easy to forget that they need maintenance too. Every year they should be inspected and recharged to make sure they are still operational. Don't have a fire extinguisher? It may be rare to need one but you don't want to get caught without one. You need a fire extinguisher in the areas where fires are more likely to occur such as the kitchen and garage. Get a safe start to the new year, buy a couple of fire extinguishers and make sure you understand how to use them.

Fire Evacuation Plan
Has your family created a fire evacuation plan? Just like they teach kids in school what to do in case of an emergency and hold drills for practice, your family should also have a plan in case of emergency in your home and hold a drill. It may seem silly but many families' lives have been saved by having a plan and practicing. As part of the plan, designate a place you will meet if you become separated. If your family's bedrooms are on the second floor, invest in a fire escape ladder which can be found at your local home improvement store.

Test GFCI Outlets
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are a necessity in your home, especially near any water source such as a kitchen or bathroom sink. These special outlets prevent possible deadly shock by monitoring the amount of current flowing through the outlet. If there is a sudden imbalance of current, the outlet trips and cuts off the electricity to the appliance. GFCI outlets do wear out eventually (their lifespan is about 10 years) and you can test them by plugging in an appliance and then pressing the test button to make sure it trips. Replace GFCI outlets that are not working properly.

It's important to keep up with home maintenance not just for safety reasons but it also relates to home value. Homeowners that neglect standard maintenance can lose 10% or more of their home's value in a future sale if there are a lot of maintenance issues. The tips here are a good place to start but also check out our related blogs to get a start on your new year home improvement:

Updating Your Home On A Budget
5 Surprising "Must Have" Trends for Canadian Home Buyers
4 Tips for Remodeling Your Kitchen
8 Ways to Make A Good Impression

Happy New Year! May it be a safe and prosperous one for you and your family.

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