The start of a new year is a good time to set different goals. And one of yours may be keeping your home in good shape. To that end, here are some homeowner resolutions you can put on your list for 2023.
1. Carry out a home assessment
Your home has many different facets. A good way to organize yourself for 2023 and know which topics need to be addressed first is to do a thorough home assessment. Angie Hicks, chief customer officer at home improvement network Angi, says the best way to do this is to pretend you’re a home buyer evaluating a property you want to buy.
Go through your home room by room and make a list of the problems you see, she says. Then you group them into different categories.
Hicks says mechanical and structural issues should be grouped into one bucket, cosmetic issues into another and wish list items into a third. That way, if you have a limited budget, you can prioritize where your money should go.
2. Build an emergency fund for home repairs
When you own a home, a lot can go wrong. And it is important to prepare financially.
Hicks says most people should expect to spend 1% to 3% of their home’s value on annual maintenance and repairs. If you want to avoid nasty financial surprises, you might want to err on the higher end of that range.
“You don’t want the home to be stressful,” says Hicks. Knowing that you are equipped to pay for repairs can help you enjoy your home more.
3. Have your heating and cooling systems maintained
“HVAC is one of those things you shouldn’t ignore,” says Hicks. That’s because a minor problem can escalate into a major problem with these complex systems.
It is important to have your heating and cooling systems serviced at least once a year, and ideally before their respective seasons start. For example, if you get your air conditioner serviced in April or May, you may run into a problem that could leave you without cool air in July.
Regular HVAC maintenance can also help you better budget for major repairs that may be in your future. “A surprise expense will not be well received,” says Hicks. If you find a problem under a maintenance contract, you at least have a chance to save up for a repair.
4. Change your HVAC filters regularly
Dirty HVAC filters can compromise the quality of your indoor air and cause your heating and cooling systems to operate less efficiently. In general, you should change your filters every 90 days.
Hicks advises all homeowners to keep extra filters on hand, especially during a time of continued supply shortages. “You can usually order three or four of them at a time,” Hicks says. And that way, when you get a calendar reminder that it’s time to change your filter, it becomes a five-minute task—as opposed to running out to the hardware store to get a replacement filter.
5. Have your dryer vent cleaned
A clogged dryer can make your dryer work less efficiently. If you’ve noticed that your clothes aren’t drying as quickly as they once did, a dirty vent could be the culprit.
Plus, a clogged dryer can pose a fire hazard. So it’s best to get a professional to clean it out once a year, according to Angi, or more often in some homes with heavy use. In addition to having your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, you can take proactive steps to prevent dirt build-up and keep your dryer running efficiently while reducing the risk of it catching fire.
6. Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
Every homeowner needs smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. But it’s not enough to just equip your home with these security devices – it’s also important to make sure they work properly.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are commonly equipped with test buttons. Simply hold down the buttons and wait for the beeps to ensure your devices are working properly. And while you’re testing, take a minute to remove any accumulated dust that could compromise your devices’ performance. And remember to replace the batteries regularly.
7. Clean your gutters
Clogged gutters can lead to improper drainage, which can lead to water damage inside and outside your home.
Aim to carry out a thorough gutter cleaning at least once a year. Hicks says you might want to hire a professional for that. Anytime you do work that involves balancing on a tall ladder, there is a risk of injury. You may be better off outsourcing your gutter cleaning and avoid that problem.
8. Make sure your home is sealed well
Adding insulation around doors and windows is fairly easy. Doing so can not only provide a more comfortable indoor environment, but also save you money on heating and cooling bills. Hicks says you should check for air leaks once a year, and she has an easy system to do it.
“Take a lit candle and walk by your window indoors,” she says. “If it starts to flicker, you know too much draft is coming through.”
9. Clean your appliances
Debris that accumulates under, on, and around your appliances can cause them to work less efficiently. Hicks suggests giving your appliances a thorough cleaning a few times a year, especially if you have pets. In particular, pet hair can collect under your refrigerator and compromise its performance.
10. Inspect your roof
A solid roof can protect your home from weather events and keep water out. Hicks says you should inspect your roof once a year, but you don’t necessarily have to climb up there and risk injury. Instead, she says, walk around and look for things like curling shingles, which will tell you that your roof needs work.
11. Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and serviced
Your fireplace and chimney can be a major fire hazard if you do not maintain them properly. Have yours cleaned and serviced at least once a year – and possibly twice if you use your fireplace frequently.
12. Trim your trees
Trimming your trees is a good thing to do at least once a year. And in fact, Hicks says winter is your best time to do it.
Trees tend to be bare during the winter months, so it’s easier to spot hanging limbs you should cut. In addition, hanging tree limbs can be a problem in winter. They can buckle under the weight of snow and cause damage to your property, and they can give squirrels and other critters direct access to your nice, warm attic. That’s not a good thing either.