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Home Maintenance: 20 Tasks for the New Year

January 12, 2022

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Front of Breathtaking Ocean View Montecito Retreat surrounded by blue sky. The home is currently for sale.

Remember when you bought your house? You noted a million and ten things that needed to be done, and the yearly home maintenance you swore to perform or oversee. Through the years, that list might have somehow disappeared. Take heed: It’s important to stay on top of your yearly home maintenance to-dos by making sure you tackle each of the tasks below. By doing so, you’ll set yourself up to sell your home with little stress when the time comes, like the owners of my Breathtaking Ocean View Montecito Retreat listing pictured above did. Just think of these 20 tasks as vitamins for your home designed to keep it, and your family, healthy and happy all year long.

1) Inspect the exterior

Walk around the house and check for cracks in the foundation, concrete, and your driveway. Check the chimney(s), too, for signs of wear. Does your exterior paint need any touch-ups? Look for signs of chipping or peeling paint and, depending on the scale of work, consider hiring a professional. You may also want to give your house a nice “bath” by hiring someone to power wash the exterior.

2) Drain your hot water heater

Experts warn that sediment can build up overtime at the bottom of the tank and cause corrosion. By partially draining it once a year, you will remove the sediment. This simple act keeps your heater running more efficiently and prevents the possibility of having to replace it. While you’re at it, call your plumber for a boiler tank and radiator checkup to make sure valves are in good shape and haven’t worn out.

3) Inspect for termites

Unfortunately, the warm, wet seasons we experience on the West Coast make it the perfect place for termites to find their home year-round. While other states can expect a little break as these pests move underground in colder months, termites in California continue to damage Santa Barbara homes. That’s why checking your home for signs of wood damage and termites is so important to avoid a major infestation. When your termite inspector arrives, ask about other preventative measures you can take to keep termites out.

4) Schedule the exterminator

Termites are not the only pests that we have to battle throughout the year in the Golden State. Hire a professional pest control company to review your annual pest abatement program, which should include quarterly treatments to safeguard your house from pests all year long. Don’t forget to seal holes where mice and roaches can get in, and wash all clothes as soon as you come back from a trip.

5) Have your gutters cleaned

Over time, your gutters accumulate debris that can obstruct the flow of water and lead to major problems. Clogged gutters give rainwater nowhere to run. That water left unchecked can ruin your roof and/or your foundation.

READ: 7 Ways to Conserve Water in the California Drought

6) Your landscape

As always, you should regularly have your gardener mow your lawn as well as take care of basic groundwork around your yard. A skilled horticulturalist is an absolute necessity when you live here in Santa Barbara, where many properties require customized lawn and garden maintenance. But once a year you should also check up on the sprinkler system and hire a landscaper if needed. You should also plant trees and shrubs and reseed your lawn during the fall.

Living room of beautiful Montecito home with blue couches and a baby grande piano

7) Make an appointment to have your carpets steam cleaned

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that over time, buildup has a way of accumulating in your carpet. These particles will become airborne allergens whenever someone walks across the carpet. Only a thorough cleaning can remove these allergens and restore a healthy living environment. If a family member’s allergies are chronic, frequent cleanings might be necessary to help alleviate recurring symptoms.

The kitchen in this MOntecito home is surrounded by clean windows with amazing views.

8) Hire someone to thoroughly wash your windows

There are many benefits when you use a professional window cleaning service at your Santa Barbara home, not the least of which is they’ll help extend the life of your windows. Plus, they have all the gear to do the job safely. This one task alone will save you time and money since clean windows enhance efficiency. Enjoy the spectacular Santa Barbara summer sunsets with clean windows!

READ: The Junk Drawer: A Montecito Tradition?

9) Clean and empty all your drawers, including the kitchen junk drawer

Ahh, the junk drawer—the place you store all those little odds and ends that don’t quite fit anywhere else or that you rarely use but don’t know where else to stow. As another of your yearly home maintenance tasks, take everything out and get rid of stuff you don’t use. After you purge, scrub it down before filling it again; this time, using organizational tools to put everything away in its proper place.

10) Get the professionals out to trim your trees

See how inviting the patio at my Montecito listing looks with its trimmed tress? These owners knew that maintaining a properly scheduled trim makes strong and sturdy growth, improving the beauty and shape of trees. Hire a tree service professional to care for the health of all your trees. They will know that a fruit tree should be pruned yearly to produce better quality and larger fruit, while some evergreens can go many years without needing a single cut. Your trees will thank you! So will your neighbors.

READ: Hug a Santa Barbara Tree Today

11) Check your ductwork connections

Did you know that ducts in your attic or crawl space can sag over time? That’s a problem since sagging can cause the connections to become loose. And once that happens, your heat or air conditioning could escape from the loose ductwork instead of taking care of the temperature inside your living space.

12) Clean out the dryer vent duct

This is very important, so take note. The back of every dryer has a duct that is connected to a vent that leads outside. Over time, lint gets built up inside the duct causing the dryer to work harder. The result is increased energy costs, but more seriously, it’s also a huge fire risk. Backed up lint is extremely flammable.

13) Update your home inventory

Keeping an updated list of your personal possessions is a crucial annual home maintenance task. Over time, we accumulate more stuff so once a year you need to revisit that list. The bottom line: a detailed home inventory is one of your most powerful tools if you must file a homeowners insurance claim because it proves the condition of your belongings before a loss. Keeping a list of your stuff also helps you verify that you have enough insurance coverage for your property.

READ: Do You Have a Revocable Trust?

14) Review your homeowner’s insurance policy

Homeowner’s insurance is essential. That’s why I suggest you make sure your policy continues to cover all the weather hazards we have here in Santa Barbara. While looking over your policy, be sure to review your deductibles, too. All you have to do is block out an hour of time and call your insurance agent. This will also give you peace of mind.

The backyard of a luxury Monteico hime complete with sparkling swimming pool and lounge chairs.

15) Schedule a roof inspection

The red tile roof of my Montecito Retreat listing on Bella Vista Drive is the perfect example of timeless Spanish Colonial architecture. There’s no denying that Santa Barbara’s skyline, peppered with red-tiled roofs, provides the city with a striking backdrop of style and charm.

They also add a bit of unique charisma that many homebuyers can’t resist. But even more than enhancing curb appeal, your roof should withstand seasonal changes. Think about it. Your roof stands between the interior of your home and the exterior world. And experts will tell you that your roof can erode quickly and cause leaks, stains on walls, and even flood damage. Keep in mind, the normal life of a roof is 20–25 years, while a tile roof can last 50 years – or longer with proper maintenance.

16) Have your foundation checked

As a homeowner, you know that a failing foundation can be a big and costly problem. That’s why Santa Barbara homeowners should hire a professional inspector yearly to protect their home’s structural integrity. By catching the problem early and addressing it at the source, you can prevent widespread cracking, sloping floors, and sticky windows and doors which could require extensive repairs if you don’t.

READ: A Practical Guide to Cleaning Out a Garage

17) Clean out your garage

It may seem overwhelming, but it’s important to include cleaning your garage on your list of yearly home maintenance tasks. I’m suggesting homeowners take everything out and deep-clean the space. Discard any items you no longer need or use. Besides maintaining the longevity of your garage, your efforts will also keep you organized and active.

18) Conduct a home energy audit

According to, homeowners waste money and energy annually due to drafts and air leaks. Consider doing a home energy audit once a year, or better yet, hire a professional to do it. An energy auditor will do a room-by-room examination of the residence to improve the comfort of your home year-round.

READ: Do You Have a Household or Family Disaster Plan?

19) Emergency supply kit prep

The COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing risk of natural disasters have helped us realize that we should be stocked up on basics, essentials, and emergency supplies at all times. Consider items you need regularly, from food to toiletries, first aid to batteries. Make sure you have a few to spare!

20) Check out an open house in the neighborhood

Stay current on what’s happening in real estate in your neighborhood. Real estate is one market in which the going rate fluctuates constantly. Your home is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it, and the sales prices of homes around you help determine this rate. A big sale in your neighborhood could boost your home’s value and put a smile on your face.

If you’re considering implementing these top 20 yearly home maintenance tasks for a new home in Santa Barbara, Montecito or Ojai, please allow me to help. Just take a look at my comprehensive website then call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at I am happy to show you the amazing properties available right now.

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“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch