We don’t think much about our heat, electrical, or plumbing until they stop working…
Like a regular health checkup, a home system checkup includes routine maintenance that can help prevent costly repairs and future emergencies.
Homeowners, follow our checklist to keep your home systems running smoothly all season long.
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) System
The HVAC system is responsible for heating and cooling your home. Regular maintenance can help lower your utility bills, increase your system’s lifespan, and ensure you are breathing healthy air.
- Check the air filter. If it’s dirty, it will make your furnace work harder. Clean or replace the filter every three months.
- Clean the air vents. You can vacuum the vents to help prevent blockages. If you suspect there’s a buildup of dirt and grime, consider scheduling an air duct cleaning.
- Vacuum lint from the clothes dryer vent that leads to the outside of your house.
- Adjust your programable thermostat for heat rather than air conditioning. If your thermostat takes batteries, replace them at this time.
- Cover the outdoor air conditioning unit once you no longer are using it for the season. That will protect it from the weather, dirt, and debris.
- Rotate your ceiling fans’ blades clockwise in cool months and counterclockwise in warm months to keep heat moving in a direction that minimizes the effort of your HVAC system.
- If you haven’t done so this year, schedule an annual professional checkup to make sure your HVAC system is in good working order.
- Even the best furnaces don’t last forever. You may need to replace your furnace after 10-25 years.
A plumbing system delivers fresh water to your sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and other fixtures. It also takes away water and waste to a sewer or septic tank. Regular maintenance will help prevent issues such as leaks, clogs, and frozen pipes, which can be disruptive and costly.
- Clean drains in your sinks and tubs by pouring half a cup of baking soda followed by half a cup of white vinegar.
- Remove mineral deposits from your showerheads by filling a plastic bag with vinegar. Secure it with a rubber band over the showerhead and leave it overnight. In the morning, you should be able to wipe any buildup away.
- Clean your garbage disposal to prevent it from hosting harmful bacteria or growing mold. This Old House suggests this approach: Pour a half cup of baking soda in the disposal. Wait 30 minutes, then pour in one cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture foam for 3 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Finally, grind up two cups of ice and a cup of salt while running cold water. You also can grind lemon peels at the end for a fresh scent.
- Flush your water heater to remove any mineral buildup. You can find instructions online or call a professional.
- Check your faucets inside and outside to make sure they are not dripping or leaking.
- Check under the sink for any leaks or stains, which could signal water damage or mold.
- Check any exposed pipes in your home for leaks and seal them. Insulate pipes in places that aren’t heated.
- Disconnect outside water hoses to prevent them from freezing. Turn off underground sprinkler systems.
- Clear debris from your
- Call a plumber if there are issues.
An electrical system powers your lights, appliances, and more. Working around electricity requires knowledge and skill to take the proper safety precautions. If you’re unsure of how to do something, consult a trained professional.
- Inspect your breaker panel. Check for signs of corrosion. Flip the breakers on and off to make sure they move easily and do not stick. (Make sure first to alert members of your household that you are switching off electricity so they can prepare accordingly.)
- Test your outlets. You can buy a cube or block tester at any hardware store. You simply plug it in, and it lights up to indicate common issues. Also, test each outlet for tightness. Outlets may wear out over time. Finally, consider installing tamper-resistant outlets in any areas where children may be able to reach.
- Place your hand on outlets and light switches to check for excessive heat. Also be aware of any “hot wire” smell when a light is on or an appliance is plugged in, or popping and cracking sounds. These indicate that you may need to replace that outlet or switch.
- Look at exposed wires and cables in your basement and other areas of your home. If you notice damage, replace them.
- Make sure exterior outlets are covered so that they are not damaged by the weather and animals.
Your home security system protects you from threats. No matter what system you have, a semi-annual check can keep it in top working order.
- Inspect your sensors. Make sure they are firmly attached to windows or doors. Try to set off a motion sensor to ensure it is working properly.
- Replace batteries if your system uses them.
- Check lighting and replace bulbs as needed.
- Make any adjustments needed to the camera angles. This is a good time to clean the lens.
- Trim bushes that have overgrown and might provide cover for a thief.
- Tighten loose screws in gates, door hinges, knobs, and locks.
- Check your warranty or contract to see if you qualify for an upgrade.
Home Fire Safety Systems
Home fires spike in the fall and winter. Being prepared is key and could save your life if you are the victim of an unexpected house fire.
- If you have not done so already, purchase smoke alarms that also function as carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous, odorless gas that claims over 400 lives each year.
- Install detectors on every level of your home, including inside of bedrooms and in common rooms.
- Test and change batteries in older detectors or alarms.
- Replace them after 10 years.
- Have a disaster plan in case of a home fire and keep all other fire safety materials, like fire extinguishers, in well-working condition.
Take the proper precautions to avoid winter home hazards and keep your home in good working order this season.
For more fall maintenance tips click here.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.