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7 Things to Check One Year After Buying a House | PenFed Credit Union

What you'll learn: Know what requires annual maintenance in your home? Learn more here.

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7 Things to Check One Year After Buying a House


One year in and the boxes are unpacked, photographs adorn the walls, and you’ve celebrated the first holidays in your new space. It’s official: Your house has officially become a home!

Now that you’re settled in, it’s time to check in on some of the less glamorous items. After all, it’s likely been over a year since the property was inspected, and you may not yet know the ins and outs of home maintenance.

Review the following items to protect both your family and your biggest financial asset: Your new home.

1.   Air filters

Your home’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system has a job beyond keeping your air at a comfortable temperature in any season. HVAC systems have filters that trap unwanted and unhealthy particles from the air inside your house. Think: dust, pollen, germs, and other contaminants. As these particles build up, they eventually start to interfere with the system’s efficiency. That can lead to higher utility bills, costly repairs, and you and your family breathing unhealthy air.

Professionals recommend checking your home’s air filters every few months. If your filter is reusable, it can be cleaned and reused until it becomes excessively dirty or worn out. Disposable air filters should be replaced with each use.

Air filter best practices:

  • Check air filters every 1 to 3 months.
  • Clean or replace air filters at least annually.
  • Purchase extra filters to have on hand when you need them.

2. Smoke alarms and CO2 detectors

Too often, news outlets tell devastating stories about homeowners who didn’t realize there was a problem with their fire or carbon monoxide detectors until it was too late. We never want that to happen to you.

Smoke alarm and CO2 detector best practices:

  • Test all devices monthly, or at least quarterly, with the changing seasons.
  • Replace batteries every 6 months. If it’s helpful, schedule it to coincide with daylight savings time.
  • Buy extra batteries and devices to have on hand at all times.

3. Fire extinguishers

Your fire extinguishers should be checked to ensure they will work on a moment’s notice during an emergency. Look at the pressure gauges, the condition of the hoses, and the dates of manufacture or certification. 

Fire extinguisher best practices:

  • Check the proper placement and condition of your fire extinguishers monthly.
  • Review instructions on how to use fire extinguishers with members of your household annually.

4. Water heater

Your water heater works hard for you from morning until night – from the time you rise and shine with a hot shower until  you load the dishwasher after dinner. Reciprocate that love by taking time to drain the sediment that builds up at the bottom of the tank. The sediment is made up of minerals and other debris and can eventually lead to malfunction.

Water heater best practice:

  • Drain and refill your water heater every 6 to 12 months.

5. Exhaust fans

Your home likely has exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to reroute steam, smoke, oil, and odors from inside to outside. While this may sound like a mere convenience, a home’s exhaust system actually serves an important function. A buildup of moisture and other particles over time can lead to mold, mildew, rot, and warped furnishings.

To prevent issues, use your exhaust fans regularly and ensure they get periodic maintenance.

Exhaust fans best practices:

  • Clean exhaust fans at least annually.
  • Inspect the vent pipe dampers for damage and debris seasonally.

6. Refrigerator coils

We all know what’s lurking behind the refrigerator when it hasn’t been pulled out in a while. But did you know those dust bunnies and clumps of pet hair may actually be making your fridge less efficient?

Refrigerator coils are the long tubes running along the bottom and back of the appliance. When they get clogged by outside materials, the unit has to work harder to cool the contents inside. That can easily lead to higher energy bills and a shorter lifespan of your appliance.

Refrigerator coils best practice:

  • Clean the fridge coils every 6 to12 months.

7. Your mortgage

We’ve focused on physical safety, but let’s also check in on your financial well-being. Has your household income increased, allowing you to start paying off your loan faster? Is your equity on track to eliminate mortgage insurance? Has a hardship made it difficult to pay your bills?

Take time to consider what has changed in the past year and what, if any, financial action you should take.

Mortgage best practices:

  • Schedule recurring loan payments to save time and ensure you never miss a payment.
  • Pay extra on the principal each month or increase payments to weekly instead of monthly.
  • Review current rate patterns, especially if you’re planning to refinance within the next year.
  • Talk to your lender if you’re struggling to make payments.

To learn more about PenFed loans or what loan is right for you:

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