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How to start building your home’s annual maintenance checklist

Wondering how to start building your home’s annual maintenance checklist? There are few experiences more exhilarating than getting the keys to your first-ever home in Northern Virginia. After all, it’s yours. With all that freedom, however, comes a great deal of new responsibility. After all, there’s no more landlord to call when the roof starts leaking, or the furnace stops working. That person is now you. For many first-time homebuyers, the first year of homeownership can be a tough learning experience as they adjust to this new reality.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right care and upkeep for your new home, you’ll prevent many breakdowns and repairs in the first place, and feel more in-control and in-the-know about your home. What you need is a plan.

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The Roof, Gutters, and Downspouts

This past winter in Northern Virginia was fairly mild and we saw little to no snow in most parts of the region. Temperatures were mild and we only saw a bit of precipitation throughout the winter months. Nevertheless, you still need to give your roof a good look and clean out the gutters and downspouts. The good news is that with the mild weather your roof should be in pretty good shape since last year’s inspection and hopefully your gutters and downspouts will be reasonable to clean too. Remember, the primary reason you want to clean the gutters and downspouts is to prevent wood rot around the roof eaves from rotting, which of course will lead to much worse problems.

Inspect, Seal or Paint Exterior Wood

In addition to inspecting the roof, you will want to take a look at all the exterior wood around your home including home trim, decking, and fencing looking for signs of wear and rot. If you see troublesome areas, now is a good time to repaint or reseal areas that look problematic. By sealing up trouble spots you will help prevent wood rot and the inevitable replacement and problems that come along with that.

Check for Bugs, Critters, and Pests

With warmer weather on the horizon, the bugs and critters are coming out of the woodwork, sometimes literally. When it comes to protecting your home against pests, this task falls in line with ensuring there is not any wood rot around your home because those serve as perfect entry points for those pesky invaders. In addition to preventing and/or repairing wood rot, you need to make sure there is not any standing water around your house, because water attracts pests. You will also need to look for signs of termites just to ensure that is not a problem around your home. Generally termites can be seen flying out of holes in wood. If you do see termites, you will likely need professional help to resolve that problem. Finally, if mosquitoes are a problem around your home, consider planting some plants that repel mosquitos such as:

  • Basil

  • Bee Balm

  • Catnip

  • Citronella

  • Floss Flower

  • Garlic

  • Lavender

  • Lemon Balm

  • Lemongrass

  • Marigold

  • Pennyroyal

  • Peppermint

  • Rosemary

  • Sage

  • Scented Geranium


It never fails. The hottest day of the year hits and the A/C goes out. It is Murphy’s Law! Well sort of. Usually that happens because you did not get your air conditioner inspected or you have not maintained the unit very well. Consider this, the HVAC unit runs often and every day, all year long! It needs routine maintenance much like your vehicle needs regular oil changes. It is best to get your A/C inspected before it gets really hot because it will help better protect against bigger problems (and outages) later in the summer.


If you have not done so already, be sure to clean up your yard. This is the time of year where you will want to trim back bushes, get rid of weeds, lay down fresh mulch—and hopefully plant a few flowers. The most important thing to focus on is trimming trees, bushes, and branches that are closest to your home and HVAC unit. You want to keep those direct perimeter areas as clear as possible. Beyond that, since you area already working in the yard, give those faucets and sprinklers and check to make sure they are functioning properly.

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