How Often to Test/Change

In this article, I’ll review how often you should test or change some of the most common pieces of equipment in your home to ensure safety and good maintenance. It’s easy to forget about these items or to become neglectful, so hopefully this post will serve as a helpful reference tool.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested monthly. Most detectors can be tested by simply holding the test button for a few seconds; and while the batteries in battery powered units typically last quite a while, they can go bad before expected. Defective detectors pose a major safety risk, and periodically testing them (as well as ensuring they are located in all necessary areas) should be a “must” for every homeowner.

GFCI receptacles should also be tested monthly, and this is something many homeowners don’t think of doing. A GFCI outlet trips (shuts off) when a difference in current is detected, but they occasionally malfunction and fail to trip. To test your GFCI outlets, simply press the test button and make sure the outlet trips. After testing, simply press the reset button to reset the outlet. If an outlet malfunctions it should be replaced by a qualified electrician.

If you have a whole house water filter, it should generally be changed every three to six months. However, the manufcturer’s recommendation should be referenced, and other signs like darkening of the water or reduced water flow will indicate if the filter needs changed earlier than expected.

HVAC filters come in many types and sizes, and numerous factors – especially whether the home contains pets – will affect how often the filter needs cleaned or changed. However, checking the furnace filter every month is a good idea. If a thin layer of dirt/debris is present on the filter, it is time for maintenance.

Dryer lint traps should be cleaned after every load of laundry. Some homeowners do a great job with this, while others don’t clean the trap nearly as often as necessary. Dirty lint traps can easily cause fires, and getting in the habit of cleaning lint after every use is crucial. Besides the actual lint trap, it’s a good idea to also periodically check the exterior dryer vent cover to make sure no lint is trapped in the louvered opening.

It is a good idea to drain tank water heaters once a year if your water supply is public and twice a year if your water supply is a private well. Doing so removes sediment that settles at the bottom of the tank and will help ensure the water heater’s longevity.

Heating systems should be professionally serviced (cleaned and repaired if needed) every year by a qualified HVAC technician. This is all the more important for older systems. A good time for this servicing is in the fall, right before the heating season begins. Likewise, if you have a wood-burning fireplace it should be serviced each year by a qualified chimney sweep. In either case, be sure you keep a record of work performed that includes the date, the work done, and the professional’s name and contact information.

Last but not least, it is a good idea to have an annual home maintenance inspection performed by a certified home inspector. This inspection is comprehensive and invaluable because it provides you with a thorough overview as well as guidance for maintenance, repairs and possible upcoming issues that you would likely not know about on your own. And these inspections are often offered at a discounted rate as they are with companies like ours.

Be diligent about testing and changing these important components of your home as often as necessary to keep your home in a good state of repair and your family safe. Set reminders as needed, and perform the maintenance at the scheduled time rather than putting it off and risk forgetting.

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Author: hillinspections

I am a Certified Master Inspector (CMI) and the owner and operator of Hill Property Inspections LLC, the top-rated inspection company in the greater Johnstown, PA area, based out of western Pennsylvania. I specialize in property inspections and environmental testing services and have a passion for helping my own clients and other families in learning to properly maintain their homes. I’m also the owner of Hill Pest Control, LLC and a pest management professional committed to helping our clients rid their homes and businesses of unwanted pests. I am an Army veteran, former State Farm Insurance Agent, and real estate investor with experience in all facets of real estate construction, transaction and insurance. I am also the founder and President of the Southwestern PA Chapter of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and an affiliate member of the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors (CSAR).

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