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A simple home maintenance checklist

Use this simple checklist to keep your home well-maintained and help prevent unnecessary damage from severe weather events.

Get on top of home maintenance with a simple seasonal checklist

Are you a DIY guru? Or do you struggle to work out which type of screwdriver to use? Either way, keeping on top of general home repairs and maintenance is an important part of owning a home.

It may also be a necessary part of any home and contents insurance cover as, while the cover can provide a level of protection against the damage caused by certain events such as storms, fires and floods, it may not cover damage caused by general wear and tear or neglect. So if your home isn’t in a good state of repair, you may encounter problems when making a claim as the damage has occurred from poor maintenance and upkeep, which could have been prevented. 

So, if you're not sure what routine maintenance is required for your home, we've put together some tips that could help you create a home repairs and maintenance checklist.

Develop a maintenance plan

Whatever the season, there’s always something to do when it comes to looking after your home. Regularly maintaining your property could help avoid any unexpected breakdowns or an expensive repair due to unnecessary neglect.

What should be included on a maintenance checklist

1. Maintain your home’s roof and gutters to avoid water damage

Keeping on top of potential sources of water damage is important, as your home insurance may not cover all types of water leaks and damage. Whether it's a small damp patch or a large area of mould, both indicate a potential problem that might be resolved if it's detected early. Here are some things you might want to consider as a starting point:

  • Make a point of cleaning gutters, downpipes and plumbing/drainage systems to keep them clear from falling debris, especially in autumn when trees shed their leaves.
  • You may need to enlist the help of a professional to check for missing, loose or cracked roof tiles/sheets, including any missing or loose nails. 
  • Regularly inspect skylights and solar panels for signs of damage, particularly after long periods of bad weather in winter or severe summer storms.
  • Look inside the roof for signs of dampness. You might see damp patches on the ceiling or mould growing on items stored in the roof. While you might not be able to see the source of the water ingress, stains are a good indication there's water leaking somewhere.

2. Look after walls and entry points to keep your home secure

You have a responsibility to ensure your home remains safe and secure. Your home insurance is unlikely to cover damage or theft that's caused by neglect.

  • Check for gaps and holes around windows and doors. Not only do these let cold draughts in and warm heat out, but it's also inevitable that water will eventually start to find its way through. Enlist the help of a professional where you think work might be required.
  • Depending on the issue, you may need to engage a builder to inspect your home's foundations, joints and walls for any cracks and water leaks. These may be easily re-sealed if the cracks are small and detected early.
  • Treat and repair rotting woodwork. This will protect the timber and ensure its longevity, as well as maintain its structural integrity.
  • Keep locks operational and free from rust. Malfunctioning locks are an easy target for thieves and if a home isn't secure, your insurance policy may not cover any loss.       

3. Ensure electrical equipment and appliances are in good working order

It's a surprising statistic, but electrical appliances and faults cause almost 40% of house fires. By making frequent checks of your appliances and equipment to look for signs of wear and tear, you could minimise the risk of this happening to you.

  • Regularly serviced air conditioners and cooling systems should run efficiently (particularly in summer) and may prevent issues like overheating.
  • Heating appliances, including fireplaces and chimneys, can go for long periods without use which can result in blockages and result in unsafe operating conditions.
  • Create a plan for regular testing of safety equipment like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Having these in your home is an early warning signal, to help keep you and your family safe, as well as prevent damage to your property.

4. Deter ‘pests’ from getting comfortable

Damage caused to your home by insects like termites is generally considered “preventable damage” by insurers. This means it's your responsibility to monitor and treat your home to avoid infestations from pests and insects.

  • Cleaning air vents and ceiling fans will remove dust, debris and insects and avoid them from building up over time.
  • Clean off mould and mildew as soon as you see it. You can expect to find it in bathrooms, basements and garages, where it thrives in the dark, damp conditions.
  • Check walls, ceilings, roofs and basements for pest damage, including nests, holes or bite marks. It could also be a good idea to get a professional to conduct an annual pest treatment too.

5. Keep outside areas tidy and secure

Don’t forget to look after the external parts of your home too. Your building insurance policy typically covers your home, garage and other lockable buildings on the property, so it’s up to you to ensure they are appropriately maintained and secure.

  • Overgrown gardens can cause problems during high winds. In particular, focus on pruning large trees and hedges to prevent overhanging branches.
  • Rotting timber decks could lead to structural issues if they’re attached to your main building, creating far bigger problems than just an unsightly deck.
  • Stay alert to puddles or pooling water that isn’t draining properly. This could be the sign of a blocked drain. If you're concerned, get a plumber to come and check the area.
  • Keep track of anticipated weather conditions and always secure loose outdoor items, including furniture, boats or vehicles, before any predicted storms.

Take particular notice of water leaks and damage

No one wants to see water running through their home, whether it's from a flood or defective plumbing. But water damage is, unfortunately, a frequent reason for claims made on home and contents insurance policies. Often accidental or sudden in nature, water damage can occur from liquid that bursts, leaks or overflows from an appliance or plumbing in your home.

As a homeowner, you’re responsible for maintaining appliances, plumbing pipes and hoses around your home. Plumbing issues in the form of cracked or leaking pipes can also cause water damage. If a water leak is due to damage that's gradually occurred over time, your insurer may consider this is neglect and consequently not cover it under your home insurance policy. You should always read the Product Disclosure Statement for your home and contents insurance policies to see what's covered and what's not. 

How can you prevent water leaks?

  • You use your kitchen and bathroom every day so it shouldn’t be hard to notice water leaks around taps and pipes. If you see them, don’t ignore them. Speak to a plumber straight away and prevent a small problem from becoming a big issue.
  • Flexi hoses are a growing problem in homes. These plastic tubes covered in a steel braid are attached to common household items like washing machines and dishwashers, and with some regular checks, damage caused by flooding and water from flexi hoses can be avoided.
  • Don't be tempted to buy a cheap substitute. Invest in a good quality flexi hose and have it installed correctly by a licensed plumber.
  • Look out for corrosion, rust marks, fraying and kinks. 
  • If you're unsure how old a flexi hose is, you can check the collar for the warranty period. It’s not recommended to use a flexi hose past its warranty date.

Proving damage to your home

If you suffer damage to your property, your first thought is probably to clear up any mess as soon as possible. However, if you think you'll need to make a claim on your home insurance, make sure you take photos of the damage and its source (if you know it) before you start cleaning.

This could help you prove the extent of the damage to your insurer. It may also make it easier for your insurer to validate your claim and get the claims process underway.

Depending on the extent and scope of the damage, a claim may involve an assessor or repairer visiting your house. Based on their assessment, if your damage claim is accepted by the insurer, they will work with you to discuss the relevant repairs, replacement goods or payment.

Peace of mind with a maintenance checklist

Even with the best preparation, you can’t prevent insurable events from occurring, especially if they're due to extreme weather. But keeping up with a regular maintenance schedule may provide some comfort that, if you do experience an event where your home is damaged, or your belongings are stolen, it's less likely that your home and contents insurance claim may be declined due to neglect.

We suggest you always read the PDS from your home and contents insurance provider to understand your level of insurance cover and your responsibilities under the policy.

Looking to review your home insurance?

Take a look to see if Westpac offers a home insurance product, issued by Allianz, that could be a good choice for your situation. 

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Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. The information is not advice, recommendation or opinion on any products or services provided by Westpac or third parties.  For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. For more information on any specific products or services distributed or provided by Westpac, you may wish to read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement. To see some of the events covered and not covered, please refer to our Key Fact Sheets (KFS).

3Online discount: When you quote and buy a new Home Insurance policy or Comprehensive Car Insurance policy online a discount of up to 10% is applied to your first year’s premium. This discount is not applied on renewal.

5Minimum premiums: If you are eligible for more than one discount, Allianz applies them in a predetermined order. This means any subsequent discount will be applied to the reduced premium amount after applying any prior discounts and the effect of the subsequent discount will be reduced. For example, the aggregate effect of applying two 10% discounts consecutively means that you will not see the full benefit of both these discounts. Discounts do not apply to taxes or government charges. Discounts do not apply to optional covers for Domestic/Landlord workers’ compensation (if available and selected). Any discounts/entitlements may be subject to rounding and may only apply to the extent that any minimum premium is not reached. 

Home and Contents Insurance is issued by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL 234708 (Allianz). Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL 233714 (the Bank) arranges the initial issue of the insurance under a distribution agreement with Allianz, but does not guarantee the insurance. This information does not take into account your personal circumstances. Before making a decision, please consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement. For more information call 1300 650 255.

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