Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors should be on each level of your home, especially where you sleep.  Smoke detectors should be tested regularly and batteries should be replaced once per year.

Carbon Monoxide

Most carbon monoxide problems are caused by poor maintenance or improper use of fuel-burning equipment.  In addition to proper maintenance and use of this equipment, you should install a carbon monoxide detector.  It is similar to a smoke detector, and the best ones have loud alarms.  One should be placed in each of your sleeping areas.

Heating and Air Conditioning

There are several things you should do to get the most from your heating and air conditioning system:

  • Understand how it works and have the name of a service person readily available in case of a problem
  • Learn how to operate your thermostat properly
  • Change your filter regularly
  • Schedule regular maintenance by a professional
  • Identify the locations and operation of all shutoffs for electricity, gas, oil, and water systems in your home

Water Heaters

Water heaters should be set at 120 degrees, to prevent serious burns.  You should also check it regularly for any leaks.  If your water heater has a flue, check it routinely - it should be free of rust and securely fastened.  If you have a water heater that uses oil, it should be serviced annually.  Typically whoever is servicing your furnace could check your water heater, too.

Water Softener

Water softeners remove minerals like calcium and magnesium from your water.  To maintain a softener, you need to keep a supply of salt in the brine tank.  Use the type of salt that is recommended by the manufacturer to keep your system operating at its best.  You should check it for leaks regularly.  If you begin seeing spots on your dishes or the water feels slippery, check your salt level.

Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a convenient appliance in any home, but use it sparingly.  Remember that it is not a garbage can and large quantities of food should not go in a disposal.  You should not use a garbage disposal if you have your own septic system, unless you plan to have your system pumped more often.

Before using a disposal, run cold water into the sink.  Slowly add the food, and keep running the water until all of the grinding has stopped.  If you hear a loud noise, it usually means something is caught in it, like a utensil or dish towel.  Turn it off and remove it with tongs, not your hand!

If it doesn't turn on, you may be able to easily reset it by pressing a button under the sink.  If that doesn't work, look inside for any clogged items like mentioned above, but remember to turn it off first.

Home Maintenance Checklist

For a bi-annual checklist, check out Bob Vila's Checklist