19 of the Most Important Home Maintenance Tasks & Savings Tips for American Homeowners to do Before April

Posted by Marie Laurent March 1, 2021

March means getting our homes through the spring and ready for the summer... and saving some money while we're at it.

With spring in full swing there's a lot to do around the home to get prepared for the summer. Here are 19 things you can do right away to prevent costly repairs and save money on bills. Got something to add? Leave a comment on our post!

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1. Check The Insulation in Your Attic – and Install More If Needed.

Important: Proper insulation keeps your home warmer in the winter but also cooler in the summer!

If you have an unfinished attic, pop your head up there and take a look around. You should see insulation up there between the beams, and there should be at least twelve inches of it everywhere (more if you live in the northern part of the United States). Experts suggest an R-Value of R38 to prevent cold/hot air leakage.

If there’s inadequate insulation up there – or the insulation you have appears to be damaged – install new insulation. Many states offer financial incentives, up to a 75% refund for instance, to encourage homeowners to better insulate their homes.

2. Automate Your Thermostat & HVAC system

One of the easiest things you can do to instantly start saving money on your heating and cooling bills is to get an automated thermostat. These smart thermostats will learn when you are home and make sure the home is at a comfortable setting during those hours so you're not cooling the house when no one is around to enjoy it. They also learn when you're going to be home so they can adjust the temperature before you step in the door to ensure your house is always comfortable!

Last year I replaced all of the thermostats in my house with the Nest learning thermostat. It learns your schedule to keep your home comfortable when you are home.

3. Why Are Homeowners Ditching Their Home Insurance For This?

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4. How to Clear a Clogged Drain Using Items From Your Kitchen

Have you ever had a clogged drain? The most embarrassing clog of my life occurred the year we hosted Christmas dinner for my entire family. Somewhere between the liquid turkey fat and potato peels my kitchen drain gave up and began regurgitating murky brown water mixed with bits of food from the disposal.

Watching me frantically plunge the kitchen sink was NOT the most appetizing pre-dinner activity.

The solution? I've got two for you, actually. The first trick: good ol' baking soda and vinegar. The second: a boiling kettle and regular old dish soap. Why two? I'll explain...

Many clogged-sinkers swear by the first solution, baking soda and vinegar. The method is: dissolve a lot of baking soda in a cup or two of hot water, pour down the drain, and follow with a cup or two of vinegar. Just like your fourth grade science experiment, you'll see lots of bubbles. Let them do they're work and follow with fresh water. The bubbling action helps to remove gunk on the walls of your pipes.

But this doesn't always work, and here's why: this combo doesn't actually dissolve the fats and oils that commonly line kitchen pipes, it just helps to break them up and flush them away.

To really help dissolve the stuck-on grease, mix a couple of table spoons of dishwashing fluid into fresh from the kettle water. Pour this mixture in and let it sit for awhile (overnight is best). It may take a few tries, and it can help to use both methods, but you should be able to clear any clogged drain with these simple tactics! Have a trick of your own? Let us know in the comments!

5. If You Owe Less Than $531,760 Do This To Significantly Reduce Your Mortgage Payment

Homeowners can save $309 per month on average, thats $3,708 each year, by refinancing into a historically low rate.

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6. Use Coke To Clear Clogged Drains

A clogged drain can be a nightmare. When a drain clogs, you may not have the necessary chemicals or supplies to fix it immediately. Instead of waiting and hoping for the water to go down the drain, you may be able to unclog your drain with Coke, which contains phosphoric acid that will eat through the clog.

  1. Clean the area around the sink drain to remove any debris. Shine a flashlight down into the drain, and use tweezers to remove any large debris such as hair or food from the drain.
  2. Open a 2-liter bottle of Coke. Pour it steadily into the drain so you can avoid splashing it everywhere.
  3. Allow any foam to subside, then continue pouring the Coke down the drain until you empty the 2-liter bottle.
  4. Allow the Coke to sit in the drain overnight. In the morning, run hot water down the drain for 5 to 10 minutes to rinse it.
  5. Repeat the process if the drain still appears clogged. Allow the Coke to eat away at the clog overnight, then rinse the drain with hot water.

7. Use WD-40 For EVERYTHING

You already use WD-40 to loosen bolts and stop squeaking hinges, but did you know it could do these other amazing things around your house?

  1. Waterproof your shoes and boots. WD-40 works by displacing water (WD stands for Water Displacement) so it can be a great waterproofer in a pinch if it's wet or snowy out! For a longer lasting treatment, try beeswax.
  2. Wipe away stains on shower glass. Spray and rub away stains from circular saw and hacksaw blades. Honestly I'm not entirely sure if the stains are still there and the WD-40 makes them invisible, or if it actually dissolves them — all I know is that my glass door looks great after a light rub down!
  3. Get rid of sticky goos. WD-40 dissolves tough sticky and gluey materials with ease (sap, price tags, soft glue, duct tape)
  4. Remove floor scuff marks and oil spots. If mopping is not doing the trick, try WD-40 to remove tough scuffs and stains. Make sure you wipe it up good though, no one wants to trip on an invisible patch of lubricated flooring!
  5. Clean the toilet. Remove lime stains from the toilet bowl by spraying in some WD-40, then just scrub with a toilet brush and flush. Note: there is conflicting evidence on the environmental impacts of this method. For an absolutely sure-fire, eco-friendly, cost-effective method, grab a pumice stone from your favorite home improvement store and give it a good scrub (gloves recommended). Hard water stains are no match for pumice, and it wont harm the porcelain. You may already have one in the bathroom cabinet for scrubbing feet — though we can't in good faith recommend using the same one for both!

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8. Change ALL Your Air Filters

Replace the air filter(s) in your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, to keep it running more efficiently.

Old filters have reduced air flow forcing your equipment to work harder. This causes parts like fans and blowers to wear faster, especially after a cold winter. A $10 filter can save you thousands on repair costs!

9. How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

If the sound of a dripping faucet, and the thought of how much water you’re wasting, keeps you up at night, you’re in luck. Fixing leaky faucets is quick and inexpensive; even the most amateur DIYer can tackle this task.

First, shut off the water: twist the valve under your sink to turn off the water supply valve or valves. If there aren’t individual shutoff valves under the sink, shut off the water supply for the house.

Next up, remove the handle. If there is a set screw behind the handle, insert a hex key or Allen wrench into the screw and turn it to remove. If the handle has a top screw cover, pry it off with a flat screwdriver and set aside. Then, use a Phillips head screwdriver to loosen the screw underneath the cover, then pull the handle free.

Now remove the cartridge and install a new one:

  1. Using a crescent wrench, loosen the packing nut in the handle assembly, then remove and set aside.
  2. Gently pull the cartridge straight up and out of the assembly.
  3. On some models of faucet you may have to remove the cartridge with a specialized tool, which will be indicated on manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Clean and dry the area around the handle and all the parts with a cloth.
  5. Inspect the O-rings around the housing. Replace any that look damaged or worn.
  6. Cartridges come in many shapes and sizes, and the easiest way to find the right replacement part is to know the name of the faucet’s manufacturer and the faucet’s model number. If you’re not sure, take the old cartridge you’re replacing to the store so you can use a reference guide to match it to the exact cartridge you need.
  7. Insert a new cartridge, making sure it is aligned correctly.

Now follow the steps in reverse starting with re-attaching the handle. If it's still leaking, you may need to call somebody, but should work for you just fine!

10. Never Pay Out-of-Pocket For Home Repairs Again

Warning: Not Having a Home Warranty Leaves You at Risk...

Homeowners know better than anybody: if it can go wrong it will go wrong. When purchasing new construction, buyers are often given an option to purchase a home warranty that covers home repairs on everything from microwaves to roofs. What many people don't know is that almost any homeowner is eligible to get a home warranty for their existing homes. Think of it as insurance for the things that break all the time in your home.

When homeowners get the best price on a home warranty many are shocked that the cost is so low compared to the many thousands of dollars homeowners spend on repairs and contractors. Home warranties give you peace of mind AND can save you thousands of dollars on covered expensive repairs. Next time something covered breaks or needs repair you'll be able to get it fixed immediately by a qualified professional contractor, regardless of what's in your bank account.

Get A Free Home Warranty Quote »

11. Clean Your Refrigerator Coils!

You can eliminate more than 70 percent of service calls with this simple cleaning step. Skip this chore and you’ll be contributing to your appliance repair technician’s retirement fund. Not to mention handing over $5 to $10 a month extra to your utility company because the fridge isn’t running efficiently.

Do it twice a year or more often if you have shedding pets. Their fur clogs up the coils fast.

Condenser coils are located on the back of the fridge or across the bottom. These coils cool and condense the refrigerant. When the coils are clogged with dirt and dust, they can’t efficiently release heat. The result is your compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to, using more energy and shortening the life of your fridge.

Clean the coils with a coil cleaning brush and vacuum. A coil cleaning brush does a thorough job and will easily pay for itself. The refrigerator coil brush is bendable to fit in tight areas. They can be used for cleaning your dehumidifier and air conditioner coils too.

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12. Put a Bowl of Vinegar in Your Dishwasher

Isn't it frustrating to open your dishwaher and find your "clean" dishes not so clean?

The culprit is hard water and soap scum. Both leave spots on dishes and leave glasses cloudy. And I'm sure you like telling your guests "it's just hard water stains" when pouring their wine into a cloudy glass...

The solution? Vinegar. This magical liquid is the answer again and again.

Some people put vinegar in the rinse aid compartment, but we advise against that as to not run the vinegar through the internal components (it is acid, after all). Rather, fill a bowl partially with vinegar and put it on the top rack of your dishwasher.

When the machine is running, the vinegar will mix in and dissolve those stains from your glasses, dishes, and even the dishwasher itself. What a relief!

13. Give Your Garbage Disposal a Deep Clean Without Getting Your Hands Dirty

Garbage disposals aren't called garbage disposals because they smell like flowers... And cleaning them can be a daunting task (I'm not sticking my hand in that death-blender!) But here's a little trick I use to keep ours on the straight and narrow:

These machines turn whole food scraps into a nice paste that mostly flushes down and out your pipes. But some food waste is left lining the walls and parts of your disposal, and that food can rot and smell (horrible).

You'll need three ingredients for this cleaning cocktail: Lemons, ice, and salt.

Cut up lemons into small-ish wedges. Pour ice (cubed is fine) into the disposal mouth. Follow with salt, and finally put the lemons in. Turn on a slow stream of water (pencil width) and flip that switch! It will sound bad -- that's normal, the ice provides some (but not too much) resistance as it breaks into small shards that agitate and scrape on the inner workings of the disposal, clearing the stuck on old food. The salt helps scrape the film of oils and grease off, and the lemons leave your sink smelling better than new. Here's a bonus: ice also sharpens the blades!

It will take about a minute or two to blend everything down (depending on how many HP's you're running under the hood) and you can do this as often as you like. We use lemons in our cooking frequently (a little acidity makes everything taste better) and so I always save a couple slices to toss in the drain after all the dishes are cleaned up.

IMPORTANT: Deduct Your Mortgage Interest & Property Taxes On Your Tax Return

A report from Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation estimates some $70 billion in mortgage interest deductions annually among American taxpayers. While the Mortgage Insurance (PMI/MIP) deductions were removed last year, you can still deduct money paid to mortgage interest and property taxes.

Make sure you get your fair share — not just because mortgage interest can be substantial, but this tax break alone opens the door for many taxpayers to itemize other, smaller breaks instead of settling for the standard deduction. Simply use Form 1098 if you have paid more than $600 in mortgage interest in the tax year.

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14. Winter Checklist

Seeing as most of the country in blanketed in winter weather, here are some tasks to be done before the season changes.

  • Regularly check for ice dams and icicles. De-icing cables that sit at the front of the roof work well. Don’t let icicles grow, as much as the kids may want you to. They’re not only a danger to people standing beneath them, but they’re incredibly heavy and can cause damage to your home. They also can cause water damage to your foundation when they  melt.
  • Test your electricity to the extent that you can. Always, always be extra careful when working with electricity. You can do a couple things on your own, though. Check that all outlets work; if they don’t, you can re-wire them on your own. Also, test your GFCI outlets. There are wildly varying opinions on how often to test this. Some say monthly, others say annually.
  • Tighten any handles, knobs, racks, etc. Go through the house and inspect anything that could have a loose screw.
  • Check all locks and deadbolts on your doors and windows. If anything doesn’t work right, replace.
  • Check caulking around showers and bathtubs; repair as needed.
  • Remove showerheads and clean sediment. This prolongs its life and helps with water pressure as well.
  • Deep clean and inspect the basement. Basements are notoriously overlooked, especially if they’re primarily just storage areas. Dust ‘em up, clean any windows, make sure there isn’t mold anywhere, etc. Give your basement a good inspection at least once a year.

15. Utilize New Policies & Discounts to Save $796 On Average Per Year on Car Insurance

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16. Caulk, Paint, and Seal Exterior Wood

Exterior trim can be vulnerable to rot and deterioration. Pre-empt this expensive fix by making sure exposed wood has been treated with correct weatherproof supplies.

Trim around doors and windows is especially susceptible to winter weathering. Most of this painting can be done yourself with some supplies from the hardware store. First identify areas where paint is chipped or flaking away. You’ll need to scrape off this chipped paint and put on a fresh coat. Same with caulking, if there are any areas where you can see it is wearing off, remove damaged caulk and apply a new coat. Given all the moisture that’s bound to come over winter you’ll be glad you did.

17. Use Colored Dye to Check for Toilet Leaks

Water leaking from your toilet tank will not only cost you money when it comes to your utility bill, but it can also cause water damage to your bathroom floor and premature wear of your toilet’s internal workings.

To check if your tank is leaking drop some food coloring in the water tank and check an hour later. If the bowl shows signs of coloring (like turns pink if you use red dye) you have a bad flapper.

If you find that your toilet is leaking from the tank to the bowl, the flapper needs to be replaced. Grab yourself a new flapper kit from Lowe's or Home Depot and check out YouTube for some great instructional videos!

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Qualification Requirements:

  1. Current loan balance more than $150K
  2. Current rate above 3.0% APR
  3. Credit rating 640+

Rates have dropped in 2021 but they won't stay down forever. Click below to calculate payment. 100% Online.

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18. Clean Out Your Dryer Lint Vent

Corral those lint bunnies. Those deceptively harmless looking little fluffs love to snuggle down in your dryer vents and lint traps. Before you know it, they multiply like, well, rabbits. Dryer lint is extremely flammable if you let it build up in the vents. You can hire someone to do this for you, or you can do it yourself and buy a vacuum attachment made specifically for cleaning out dryer vents.

Chances are this task has not been done in years. It's okay! You know what you have to do, and you'll feel better and more safe once it's done. This will not only save you money, it will protect you, your family, and your valuables.

19. Maintain Your Sump Pump

Most sump pumps are equipped with water level or flood alarms, usually battery powered, that alert you if the pump isn't working properly and water is backing up. More sophisticated systems can notify your alarm company or call your cell phone if the water starts to rise. Fortunately, this shouldn't happen often. Sump pumps on the whole are quite reliable. But as with any other important piece of equipment, regular maintenance is always a good idea. Spend a few minutes every couple of months, when heavy rains are forecast and in early spring to ensure reliable sump pump operation. Basic sump pump maintenance is usually as simple as doing these few jobs.

  1. Make sure the pump is plugged in to a working ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet and the cord is in good shape. In damp areas, GFCI ­breakers may trip, effectively shutting off the sump pump. Check in on your sump pump periodically so you can reset the GFCI if necessary.
  2. Ensure the pump itself is standing upright. Vibrations during operation can cause it to fall or tilt onto one side. This can jam the float arm so it can't activate the pump.
  3. Periodically pour a bucket of water into the pit to make sure the pump starts automatically and the water drains quickly once the pump is on. If the pump doesn't start, have it serviced.
  4. Physically remove a submersible pump from the pit and clean the grate on the bottom. The sucking action of the pump can pull small stones into the grate, blocking the inlet or damaging the pump over time.
  5. Ensure the outlet pipes are tightly joined together and draining out at least 20 feet (6 meters) away from your foundation.
  6. Make sure the vent hole in the discharge pipe is clear.

20. Save Money on New Windows, and Benefit from Greater Energy Efficiency

Many people opt to replace old drafty windows at home with new energy-efficient ones. Replacing old windows can also lower your utility bill by 40% per month and increase your home’s curb appeal.

You may also qualify to save $100s in seasonal discounts from manufacturers like Pella, Champion, and Andersen. Make sure you find the best price you can get by shopping around to compare pricing from local professionals.

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21. Flush Your Water Heater To Extend Its Life

Regularly flushing out your water heater is an important task. Getting rid of the gunk and mineral deposits that accumulate will help your water heater run more efficiently as well as prolong its life, saving you money in the long run.

Depending on your model, aim to flush your water heater every one to three years. Really, the job is so easy, it wouldn’t be a bother to do it at least once a year.

However, if your heater is old and has never been flushed, it may be better to call a professional to get advice specific to your situation. On the same note, if you're not comfortable with the follow steps, always err on the side of caution.

  1. Turn the knob on your water heater’s thermostat to “Off”
  2. Turn off the gas line or electricity to the unit.
  3. Turn off the cold water supply (usually a blue knob similar to an outdoor hose spigot).
  4. Important: turn on a hot water tap in a sink or tub. This prevents a vacuum from forming in the system while draining the tank.
  5. Connect a garden hose to the drainage spigot. Then turn on the spigot and drain the entire tank.
  6. Once drained, turn back on the cold water supply to flush the tank. Look for water coming out the hose to be clear and free of sediment.

That's it! Simple right? Once completed, just follow the steps in reverse order to get the system back up and running.

22. Protect Your Gutters (and Entire Home) With America's #1 Gutter Guard

Leaky & Clogged Gutters Could Cost Tens of Thousands of Dollars! Get This Done ASAP.

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