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Preventive Maintenance


A preventive, systematic approach to health, safety and comfort is a homeowner’s best defense against poor air quality, unexpected breakdowns and expensive repairs.


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So, where does one start? Health House, a program sponsored by the American Lung Association to promote healthier indoor environments, has compiled the following helpful checklists that can be consulted at regular intervals:

Once a Month

[ ]   Test the function of all ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFI) electrical outlets. Press “Test” buttons on all GFI-equipped outlets, and then press the “Reset” button. GFIs are functioning normally if resetting restores power to protected outlets.

[ ]   Press test buttons on all smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. The alarm should sound within a few seconds, which indicates proper function. If so equipped, check CO alarms for peak levels detected during the past month.

[ ]   Look at fire-extinguisher gauges to verify proper pressure; replace any extinguisher showing insufficient pressure or which is past its expiration date.

[ ]   Inspect plumbing fittings and connections for leaks. Pay close attention to hot and cold supply pipes, which are under constant water pressure.

[ ]   Check salt level in water-softening systems, adding salt if necessary.

[ ]   Inspect specialty water filters and replace as necessary.

During Each Season (Four Times a Year)

[ ]   Clean or replace the filter in a heating/air conditioning air handler; do this more often if it’s recommended by the manufacturer.

[ ]   Clean or replace ventilation system filters. (This service should be performed monthly during peak months of the heating and cooling seasons.)

[ ]   Clean exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms. Vacuum dust out of bathroom exhausts; grease may be cleaned from certain range-hood filters by washing the filter in an automatic dishwasher.

[ ]   Inspect rain gutters, downspouts and gutter fascia boards for proper function or damage. Clean or repair gutters as necessary.


[ ]   Hire a certified HVAC professional to inspect and clean heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

[ ]   Inspect all outside ventilation hoods and clear away debris or blockage as necessary. Some examples include furnace/water heater combustion-air inlets; dryer vents; ventilation-system intakes; and central-vacuum exhaust ports.

[ ]   Replace batteries in all smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.

[ ]   Round up paints, cleaners, chemicals, batteries, used auto fluids and other hazardous materials in basements, garages and storage sheds for proper disposal. Some local governments sponsor regular hazardous-waste collections that will accept these materials; others may sponsor annual collection events. Check with local officials for dates and times.

[ ]   Inspect caulking around windows, doors and trim. Remove cracked caulk and replace as necessary.

[ ]   Inspect roof, flashing and shingles for damage or missing components.

[ ]   Inspect interior and exterior surfaces for signs of possible moisture intrusion. Hire a qualified contractor to look into moisture problems if you can’t track down the source or don’t know how to correct the situation.

Every Spring

[ ]   Clean and inspect dehumidifiers to prepare for summer use.

[ ]   Remove window screens and wash them outdoors. Repair torn or broken screens as necessary.

[ ]   Open the outdoor spigot supply valve, usually located in the basement. (Homes equipped with “frost-free” spigots don’t have a secondary valve.)

[ ]   Remove the cover, if applicable, from the outdoor central air-conditioning compressor; clean the unit if necessary.

Every Summer

[ ]   Clean the moisture pad in the central humidifier; replace the pad if necessary. Inspect the central humidifier for mildew, and clean it if needed. Change the unit’s damper position to the “off” or “summer” position.

[ ]   Use a dehumidifier to keep interior relative humidity under 50 percent. Adjust the humidistat control on the unit to maintain this level throughout the summer.

[ ]   Check for “positive” soil slope around the foundation; a 5-percent slope allows for proper drainage of rainwater away from the home. Bring in additional soil or fill to correct any soil settlement problems noted.

Every Fall

[ ]   Have a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect wood and natural-gas log fireplaces, flues and chimneys for safe operation.

[ ]   Remove debris from, and clean, the grill of an outdoor air-conditioning compressor; securely cover unit for the winter.

[ ]   Inspect and clean the central-air condenser’s drain line and drain pan (if equipped) to remove any built-up mildew. Condensers are mounted near furnaces.

[ ]   Inspect weather stripping on doors and windows. Check the garage door, too, if the garage is attached to your home.

[ ]   Close the valve to the outside spigot, usually located in the basement. (Homes equipped with “frost-free” spigots don’t have a secondary valve.) Detach all hoses from outdoor spigots.



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HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


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Preventive Maintenance:  Created on June 4th, 2009.  Last Modified on November 5th, 2009


References listed above credit sources The Healthy House Institute consulted for background or additional information.

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