Your Yearly Home Maintenance Checklist

Keeping your house in good shape is like keeping yourself in good shape. If you stay on top of it, nothing gets out of control. If you let things slide, well, we’ve all found ourselves on the couch binging Netflix and wondering if ice cream can be delivered.

But here’s the good news: if you do some routine home maintenance twice a year, you’ll be in pretty good shape. Just twice a year! Imagine how great life would be if we only had to exercise twice a year.

Depending on your experience and comfort with home maintenance projects, there are likely a few things on this checklist for which you’ll need to hire a professional.

Atlas Butler’s Spring & Fall Ultimate Precision Tune-Up and Cleaning are comprehensive inspections that will keep your heating and cooling system running at peak, trouble-free efficiency and find potential issues before they occur, ultimately saving you money and a major headache.

And there’s no bigger headache than plumbing issues. Our Plumbing & Drain Cleaning services will keep your system in tip-top shape, and we’ll have you back up and running as fast as possible if you do experience a problem.

Spring

Exterior

  • Clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure water is draining away from the house.
  • Turn outside faucets on and check for damage.
  • Inspect roof for damaged shingles. Repair as needed.
  • Check the exterior of the house, garage, and deck for rotting wood, cracks in concrete, peeling paint, or signs of water damage. Repair as needed.
  • Check siding, trim boards, and deck boards and re-nail anything that’s loose.
  • Check caulking around windows, doors, siding joints, etc. Replace as needed.
  • Clean windows, frames, and screens, repairing if needed.

Interior

  • Schedule spring HVAC inspection, cleaning, and tune-up.
  • Make sure cooling vents are open and unobstructed.
  • Replace air conditioner and dehumidifier filters monthly.
  • Check sump pump to make sure it’s draining properly.
  • Clean dryer vents and screens, attic vents, bathroom vents, and exhaust fan outlets and screens.
  • Inspect chimney for damage (even if you don’t regularly use the fireplace).
  • Check attic, ceilings, under sinks, basement, and garage for signs of leaks or water damage.
  • Check smoke and CO alarms.
  • Check for signs of rodents, bats, roaches, and termites.

Fall

Exterior

  • Clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure water is draining away from the house.
  • Drain and shut off outdoor faucets, hoses, and sprinkler systems before first freeze.
  • Inspect roof for damaged shingles. Repair as needed.
  • Check weatherstripping on doors and windows. Repair as needed.
  • Install storm windows and glass panel on storm doors.
  • Reseal decks, fences, and other wooden structures.
  • Check driveway for cracks or damage. Patch and seal as needed.

Interior

  • Schedule fall HVAC inspection, cleaning, and tune-up.
  • Make sure heating vents are open and unobstructed.
  • Replace furnace filter monthly.
  • Check sump pump to make sure it’s draining properly.
  • Check water meter or well pump for leaks or sweating.
  • Clean dryer vents and screens, attic vents, bathroom vents, and exhaust fan outlets and screens.
  • Schedule chimney cleaning.
  • Check insulation for damage.
  • Check attic, ceilings, under sinks, basement, and garage for signs of leaks or water damage.
  • Check windows and doors for drafts. Caulk door and window frames as necessary.
  • Check smoke and CO detectors.
  • Check for signs of rodents, bats, roaches, and termites.

Before You Call

Sometimes there is a simple solution to fixing a heating or cooling system. If your air conditioner or heat isn’t working, use the checklist below to troubleshoot common problems. If your system still isn’t working, or if you’re unsure or uncomfortable troubleshooting, give us a call!

Atlas Butler is the home of the Same-Day Comfort Pledge. Call us anytime, day or night, weekends or holidays, and a technician will be out to get you up and running the same day without any after-hours or overtime service fees.

My air conditioner isn’t working.

  • Check the thermostat. Make sure it is set to “cooling” or “auto” and set to the desired temperature.
  • Check the air filter. A dirty air filter can reduce the airflow coming out of the register. Replace with a new, clean filter.
  • Are all registers open and unobstructed?
  • Check the power switch near each unit. For an indoor unit, the switch should be near the unit. It should be clearly marked, but it may look like a regular light switch. If it’s off, turn it on.
  • Check the fuse in the circuit breaker.

My heat isn’t working.

  • Check the thermostat. Make sure it is set to “heating” or “auto” and set to the desired temperature.
  • Check the air filter. A dirty air filter can reduce the airflow coming out of the register. Replace with a new, clean filter.
  • Are all registers open and unobstructed?
  • Check the power switch near each unit. For an indoor unit, the switch should be near the unit. It should be clearly marked, but it may look like a regular light switch. If it’s off, turn it on.
  • Check the fuse in the circuit breaker.
  • If you have a gas furnace, check that the gas service has not been terminated. Gas companies will turn off service if a leak is detected, sometimes without notice.
  • If you have a gas furnace, make sure the gas control valve to the furnace is open.
  • If you have an older gas furnace with a pilot light, make sure it is lit.
  • If you have a newer gas furnace with electric ignition, check the display. The panel should have an explanation of the codes on the display.

Are You Using The Right Filter?

The air quality inside your home can play a large role in the health of your family, and better air quality starts with a better filter. Over the last decade, technology has made filters better and more efficient, but it’s also made choosing the right one even more confusing. Read on for a brief primer on the different types of filters available.

Fiberglass filter. While fiberglass filters are the most common, they’re not the best choice. Sure, they’re cheap, but they remove less than 10 percent of pollutants—they’re throwaway filters that mostly just throw your money away.

Polyester and pleated filters. Both of these filters work similarly to fiberglass filters, but they remove much more debris for just a little more money.

Washable filters. Most pros will tell you not to bother with these types of filters. They’re expensive, they require a lot of work to keep them functioning, and they don’t do a great job of keeping your air clean.

High-efficiency filters. Known as HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance), these filters are great at trapping mold, dust, and other particulates. They’re most commonly found in commercial buildings.

Atlas Butler offers indoor air quality assessments and a wide range of solutions for every budget. Click here to schedule an assessment of your home today.

What’s Your Home Efficient At, Saving Energy Or Wasting Money?

Who doesn’t want more efficiency in their life? More efficiency at the gym, more efficiency with email, more efficiency with your to-do list. But there’s one thing that you physically can feel the efficiency, or lack thereof—your home’s energy consumption.

An inefficient house leaves you sweltering in the summer and shivering in the winter, and it leaves your wallet drained all year long. Fortunately, there are four steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient.

Go green, literally. Plant trees around your home, particularly on the west-facing side. During the warmer months, leafy branches will block the heat-producing infrared radiation, and during the colder months, the bare branches will let that heat in.

Screw in a new light bulb. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can save 75 percent of the electricity used by incandescent lights. These new energy-saving light bulbs cost just a little more, but they’ll save you much more money than the extra cost.

Do laundry smarter. Does your laundry machine have a medium setting? While it seems like an energy saver, in reality it’s not. The medium setting uses more than half the energy and water as the full setting. Wait until you have a full load. And when you do wash the laundry, don’t use the high temperature setting unless your clothes are very soiled. Water at that temperature is not much better at cleaning clothes, but it’s much better at sapping energy.

Schedule an energy audit. Professionals have specialized tools and skills to show you exactly where and how your home is losing its energy, and they’ll provide the solutions that make the most sense for your house and budget. Contact Atlas Butler and schedule an energy audit today.

Getting Ready To Turn Your A/C On? Wait Just A Minute!

The first day that heat gets turned off and the air gets switched on really should be a national holiday—the true last day of cold weather. But before you run to the thermostat to celebrate the arrival of summer, there are few things you need to do beforehand to ensure that your A/C unit works all summer long.

Check The Condenser. Walk outside and look at your air conditioning system’s outside unit, called the condenser. Did you put a cover on it for the winter? If so, take it off. Next, move any nearby objects at least 18 inches away. Finally, remove debris by using a hose with a nozzle to spray the coils at a 45-degree angle.

Change The Filter. Walk back inside and change the filter. You should install a new filter before you first turn on your cooling system, and filters should be changed monthly during the summer. Regularly changing the filters is one of the best things you can do for your A/C. It can save you a lot of money and hassle down the road.

Close The Basement Vents. It’s not crucial, but it’s a good idea to close the vents in the basement and concentrate the cool air on the warmer upper levels of your home.

Turn It On. This is it, the moment we’ve been waiting for! Gather the kids around the thermostat, regale them with fond childhood memories about grandpa turning on the A/C for the first time every year, and as soon as the anticipation reaches a fever pitch, turn that sucker on!

Check For Abnormal Noises. As every parent knows, there’s just as much work after Santa comes as before. Fortunately, you’re not staring down drifts of wrapping paper and a mountain of dishes today. All you have to do is walk outside and make sure the fan is spinning, and then walk back in and make sure everything sounds normal. If it doesn’t, turn the system off and call a professional.

An annual tune-up and cleaning can go a long way in keeping your system running worry-free all summer, and it can save you in future repair costs as well. Contact Atlas Butler to schedule your tune-up today.