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We just built a new home, and I'm wondering what routine things need to be done to keep everything working, well maintained, and happy. I can think of a lot of things, but the problem with any question like this is you never know what you don't know. So... I'm thinking a community wiki would be a helpful resource for everyone, and a good way to find things I may have missed.

To that end, I'm not going to explain features that went into our home. Our home may not have features which other people would need to ask about, and I may forget a feature which needs maintenance anyway. Please try to keep answers in roughly the form of "Home Feature, Maintenance Required, Frequency." Then a brief description of what might be helpful to know about performing that maintenance. I'd like to encourage links to other questions, and if a particular piece of maintenance needs deep discussion, creating a new question and linking to it.

Now... How do I flag this as CW?

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I think the question can be confined slightly by asking about preventative maintenance. That is, the work that if you don't do you, will cause more damage down the road. Also, I suggest confining further to the kinds of things you won't notice day-to-day. So, a sink P-trap that leaks is likely to get noticed because you'll see that things are wet, but if you don't know to clean the air filter on a furnace you'll be surprised when the furnace fails early. Similarly, caulking around windows isn't preventative and so wouldn't go on this list. –  Jay Bazuzi Feb 19 '11 at 2:07
    
@Jay: I completely agree. Now that you describe what I intended to ask, I see how I was a bit more vague than I intended. Yes, I am after preventative routine, rather than things that would be noticed as they break. I'll ponder better wording, and try to update the question... –  Scivitri Feb 22 '11 at 3:45
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5 Answers

This would be a really long list...

- repaint/stain outdoor wood regularly
- clean and inspect gutters
- check caulk around all window and door frames
- retuck brick when needed
- inspect roof yearly
- clean chimney
- clean furnace
- drain water from hydronic heating systems
- inspect all plumbing
- replace HW heater each decade and/or replace anode rods 
- yard maintenance (whole other list)
- seal asphalt
- patch concrete
- check fire alarms/smoke alarms/CO2 alarms
- charge/replace extinguishers
- replace bad switches
- update inefficient appliances
- check for insect intrusion/damage
- clean siding
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I'll also add "reverse ceiling fans" - Every summer and winter. –  anon Dec 18 '11 at 20:12
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  • Change your furnace air filter regularly (frequency depends on filter type).
  • Check for water leaks regularly. This means checking the attic for roof leaks, the basement/first floor for flooding from outside, the water heater, sinks, etc. Not all water damage happens with a major failure. A lot of damage can happen from a small leak that goes unnoticed for a long period of time.
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+1 for filters. Many homeowners seem to replace their car's engine oil and air filter at recommended intervals but don't even open their furnace room door more often than to get out their Christmas decorations. –  msanford Feb 21 '11 at 15:05
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Smoke Alarms and their batteries. The most recent advice I've seen is to check them every six months. Do it when you shift the clocks for Daylight Saving, as that happens roughly every six months.

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I remember fire departments complaining about Bush's changes to Daylight Savings Time because it made the interval closer to 3/9 months, and kinda devalued the "check the batteries when you change your clocks" advice. Although I've not heard good replacement tips, yet. I also remember installing battery-operated detectors in a previous apartment, and the detectors themselves wanted to be replaced every 5 years. I'm curious how much of this holds true for wired detectors (with battery backups) and where to get appropriate info. –  Scivitri Feb 18 '11 at 18:00
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I charge $250 for a complete home maintenance inspection and use a 6 page checklist to do it. There are so many different needs and specifics to each house, that it would be difficult to answer your question here. Each house is somewhat unique in its subsystems, age, and state of repair. I suggest you browse the shelves of your local book store and find a good reference text that better meets your specific needs. I have several books that help me deal with the many different situations I find. Many of these books will guide you through the inspection process and also give you good instructions on the maintenance you will need to do, and the best time and intervals to do them. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" Good Luck

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Can you share some of the book titles with us? –  aphoria Feb 18 '11 at 12:19
    
I agree with aphoria, can you recommend any books? Or describe what to look for in a good reference? Most "handy-person" books I've seen are either more focused (how to perform specific construction/repair tasks) or more general (generic books of plans/ideas). –  Scivitri Feb 18 '11 at 18:04
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The complete Book of Home Inspection, 3rd edition, by Norman Becker, PE is my favorite. It is simply written and has good illustrations. Another good one is Real Estate Home Inspection, 5th edition, by Russell W. Burgess. You will get an education on home maintenance and inspections with them. Good Luck –  shirlock homes Feb 18 '11 at 19:42
    
The inspection is a good idea when buying a house, so you know what you're getting, but do you think owners should get a regular inspection, say every year or 5? –  Jay Bazuzi Feb 19 '11 at 2:09
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There is a big difference between a preventative maintenance inspection and a buyers inspection. A prevent inspection is good every two or three years, assuming you got an inspector like me. LOLOLOLOLOL –  shirlock homes Feb 19 '11 at 3:19
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Here's a good one: air conditioning condensation lines. These are drainage tubes that lead from your central A/C unit(s) in the attic to somewhere outside your house (mine are on the side of the house, just under the eaves). Make sure they are not clogged-- if you don't see any water dripping out when your A/C is running, you might have a problem. Also, you can check the overflow pan under your A/C unit. You've also got to pour a little bleach in those lines from time to time to keep stuff from growing. If you have never heard any of this before, you should probably call your local A/C place to come by for a checkup and see what he does.

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