Whether you’re moving into your first home or you’ve been living there for a while, it’s important to think about maintenance. Like a car, a home that’s not routinely maintained will break down and cost more money in the long run.

Maintenance can be costly and time-consuming, but with such an expensive purchase, you can’t afford to skip it. It’s vital that you put a few things on your routine maintenance list, including the following:

1. Clean the Gutters

Clogged gutters can be a disaster for your roof, siding, and foundation. They prevent proper drainage from snow run-off and rain. Water can build up and cause very expensive damage to your property. Unfortunately, some insurance policies won’t pay for the repairs if you haven’t kept up with gutter maintenance.

You can clean your gutters on your own but be careful. Each year, more than 630,000 Americans are injured in ladder-related accidents. If you don’t have someone to hold the ladder, or you aren’t good with heights, you can usually hire someone to clean the gutters on an average-sized house for less than $100.

2. Inspect Your HVAC System

HVAC systems won’t last forever, but you can extend your system’s life with routine maintenance. Most of the time, you’ll have a simple inspection and/or cleaning. If there’s need for repairs, the inspection will bring that up, and you can handle it before the problem gets worse.

Look into your HVAC system warranty to see if they cover annual inspections. If not, read reviews and ask around to find an HVAC company that will provide quality service at an affordable price.

3. Clean the Chimney

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, regular chimney sweeping is an absolute must. Without regular maintenance and inspections, your fireplace becomes a huge safety hazard. A clogged chimney will fill your home with smoke and could start a fire.

Chimney cleaning isn’t something most people want to handle themselves, but professional chimney sweeps are pretty affordable. For less than $100, someone can clean, inspect, and prepare your chimney for your next fire.

4. Power Wash Exterior Surfaces

You might think that your house needs repainted, but a wash might take care of the problem. A quick power wash can make a home’s exterior look brand new while eliminating buildup of dirt and grime that can cause damage in the long run.

If you don’t have a power washer on hand, most hardware stores have them for rent. While you have it, you might as well wash your deck, sidewalks, and other exterior surfaces to revitalize your home.

5. Repaint Your Deck

Deck stain or paint not only provides a beautiful finish, but also offers essential protection for the wood underneath. Deck stain will last for a maximum of two years, but if you live in wet or humid climates, it will probably need repainted every year. You can usually tell it’s time to repaint your deck when it’s chipping, peeling, or faded.

Most people can handle repainting their own decks. Start by using stain remover and a pressure washer to remove the stain. Then, apply a new coat or two following the directions on the back of the stain or paint can. You might also consider an outdoor sealant designed to resist the elements a little longer.

6. Spray for Bugs

Unfortunately, there’s no permanent guard against pests. Each year, usually in the spring and fall when the seasons are changing, you’ll want to apply new pest repellant around your home. There are over-the-counter chemicals that can be sprayed along the foundation and openings of the home, but it’s often safer and more effective to leave this up to a professional.

You’ll also want to have a pest control professional inspect for things like termites and wood ants. These insects can get inside your walls without you knowing; then, it’s too late to prevent the damage. A trained professional can help you to spot the signs and apply treatment before your home literally crumbles.

7. Test Detectors

As a safety precaution, you should test smoke detectors, carbon dioxide alarms, and other dangerous fume detectors around your house. Simply press the button and if the alarm sounds, you’re good to go. If not, replace the battery and try again. If it still doesn’t work, you might need a new unit.

While you’re at it, test other gadgets and features around your house, such as your alarm system, garage door auto-reverse, water softener, dehumidifier, water pressure relief valve, and other systems around your house. When an emergency hits, you’ll be glad that everything is in tip-top shape!