Home Maintenance Tips for New Homeowners

One of the things we focus on heavily for our new homeowners at Habitat for Humanity is basic maintenance skills. Many of our homeowners have spent their whole lives in rentals and never needed to learn how to check their HVAC filters, clean their gutters, or do landscaping work.

We help them grasp and master these basics, not just for their gratification, but to help them hold and improve the value of their home. If a home is allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, it loses value and becomes difficult to sell in the future. We want these homes to be the foundation of a solid financial future for our homeowners, which means retaining and increasing the value of their homes is key.

Check Your Filters Regularly

It is important to check and change your HVAC, furnace, and air filters regularly. Clogged filters make your air conditioning and heating systems work harder, which means an increase in your utility bills. Overwork can also cause your system to overheat and wear out sooner which means costly repairs and replacements much sooner than expected.

Most models have very clearly marked filter sections. Just turn your system off, pull out the filter and check for dirt and grime. If it’s dark or filled with debris, replace it with a new one. You can purchase these at your local hardware store. Just make sure you take the old one with you to ensure you get the right size and brand for your system!

You should check your HVAC and furnace system filters once a year. The air filters in your home you should replace every three months to ensure maximum airflow and clean, breathable air.

Check Your Crawlspace

Whether you have a crawlspace or a full basement, it’s important to check in regularly. Water damage and mold growth can happen quickly and mean costly repairs, so make sure you check at least once a year–preferably in the fall before heavy rains start.

Just grab a flashlight, crawl into the crawlspace and examine it carefully. Check the corners and edges for discoloration or obvious signs of leaks or water. If you do find water leaking or dripping under your house, call a home inspector immediately so they can help you figure out where the water is coming from.

Touch Up the Paint Job

You should also regularly inspect the outside of your home for any signs of discoloration or peeling paint. Chips in the paint can lead to rusting in metal gutters, roofs, and siding. Discoloration can mean rotting wood or damaged vinyl. Paint and stain act as a sealant of sorts that protects the outside of your house. It also increases your curb appeal and resale value!

Walk around your home once a month and inspect the exterior visually. Touching up can be as easy as sanding, priming, and painting! But if you find large areas of damage, make sure it’s not an indication of a larger problem. If there are signs of rust or water damage, contact a home inspector for more information.

Depending on the level of damage, you may need to have the entire side, or your whole home, repainted. While you can do this on your own it is time-consuming and difficult. We suggest getting professional quotes for exterior painting.

Clean Your Gutters

Your gutters are your roof’s first line of defense. If debris and water back up into your gutters, it can cause significant damage to your roof, which is one of the most expensive components of your home. You do not want to replace your roof before it is necessary to do so. The good news is that brand new roofs should last up to 20 years with proper maintenance (barring any unforeseen events like falling tree limbs or tornadoes).

The best way to ensure your gutters are in good shape is to clean them out–or have them cleaned out if you cannot do it yourself–at least once per season. If you visibly notice clogs, leaking water, or piles of debris, clear them out as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

For more information on home maintenance, check out our on-demand webinars and Pocketwise–a free digital education library.

Contact the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity for more information on applying for homeownership.