Regular home safety and maintenance checks to keep your home in top shape

Woman smiling in her kitchen while having a conversation with a man conducting a property inspection

Nicola Dowse

Posted April 19, 2023

Following this home maintenance checklist can help you prevent injuries and save you from expensive repairs down the road.  

Most of us know the importance of taking care of our health. But you may not realise how important it is to take care of your home’s health too. Falling behind in your home maintenance checks can put the safety of your family, home and contents at risk. “Houses age like people, so keeping on top of changes is important,” says Premika Banerjee, Product Manager, Property Inspections at RACV.  

“It’s important to check the health of your home to ensure you can mitigate risks in and around your property that may cause harm, injury or damage.”

Not only can failing to maintain the health of your home result in injuries to yourself or others, but the costs can add up too. “Many issues in the home are quick and cheap to repair early but can result in expensive and timely problems if left for too long,” says Banerjee.  

How often you need to carry out home maintenance checks varies between individual tasks, with many jobs able to be carried out by yourself (so long as you feel safe and comfortable using a ladder). But for other checks, you’ll want to call in the experts for a job done well and safely.

Important home safety checks

Two tradespeople on ladders wearing hi-vis vests and cleaning out roof gutters

If you don't feel safe or comfortable using a ladder, it's best to hire professionals to clean out your gutters. 

Safety maintenance checklist for your home

Smoke Alarms  

How often: test monthly, clean yearly, replace entire unit every ten years.

Ensuring your smoke alarms are working is one of the most important regular checks to carry out. Alarms should be tested every month by pressing the ‘test’ button on the unit – a working unit will beep three times. Rental providers must ensure that smoke alarms are tested at least once every 12 months.

Units should be cleaned using either a duster, vacuum or wipe at least once a year to prevent dust and debris build up that may impact the alarm’s effectiveness. The CFA recommends all alarms in the home be interconnected and powered by a 10-year lithium battery. If your alarms are powered by a 9-volt battery, these should be replaced yearly. All alarm units should be replaced at least once every ten years.  


How often: clean twice yearly, at the start of summer and at the end of autumn.

You probably don’t think about your gutters much...until you start getting water damage marks in your ceiling. Your gutters need to be cleaned of leaves, dirt and debris at least twice a year – autumn is one of the best times due to the increased leaf matter that can accumulate, as well as to be prepared for winter and what are usually the wettest months of the year. Cleaning them out again before summer starts can also help ensure they’re clear following the winter and spring rains.


How often: as soon as mould or a musty smell becomes apparent.

Mould is one of the most unsightly hazards in the home. Those tell-tale black spots are often the first signs of mould, but the spores can also appear blue, green, white, yellow, orange, grey or brown while mould that you can’t see (for example, beneath a carpet or in the ceiling) often exudes a musty smell.  

Preventing mould is much easier than eliminating it. Reducing moisture and increasing ventilation is key, while dehumidifiers can create a less appealing environment for mould spores to grow in. Bathrooms are particularly prone to mould but this can be reduced by keeping the space well-aired, installing and using an exhaust fan, removing soap scum and fixing any leaky plumbing will help minimise your risk.


A locksmith fixing a lock on a front door

Keeping the barrel of your locks clean and maintained can help protect your keys from wearing out or jamming.

Heating and cooling systems 

How often: Yearly, prior to peak usage season.

You don’t want to leave it until the first chilly – or sweltering – day to discover your heating or cooling systems aren’t working. It's recommended that both air conditioners and heaters are serviced at least once a year, ideally prior to their high use season. For heaters, that means April-May, and for air conditioners, October-November.  

Keeping your heating and cooling systems in good order not only improves air quality (mould and bacteria can build up in machines that go too long without a service) but it can also minimise your power bills as well, with poorly maintained units often less energy efficient.

The average aircon unit lasts a decade but you can get even more mileage out of yours by servicing it regularly and cleaning its filters using a vacuum. The same goes for heaters – don’t expect yours to last the average 15-20 years if you’re not servicing it regularly.  

Building and pest inspections 

How often: before purchasing.

If you own property or are in the market, you’ve undoubtedly heard the advice to get a building inspection done prior to you signing on the dotted line. These inspections are vital so you have clarity on what exactly you’re buying and its worth. Even if you’ve scoured the property yourself, there are a number of issues that only a trained professional will be able to highlight. These include potential water damage and moisture, termite damage and risk and any structures that might not be compliant.


How often: locks changed on moving in, service home security systems every 1 to 2 years.  

You’ve probably heard the advice to change your locks upon moving into a new home, and this is something both property owners and renters are able to do. What you might not know is that your locks aren’t set and forget; they require maintenance to prevent keys from jamming in them. If your locks are getting a bit sticky, a bit of graphite powder will help lubricate them – find out more here.

If you have a home security system installed, it’s recommended you have it serviced every 1 to 2 years to make sure it’s still working as it should. You can also quickly review the security arrangements at your home by using Neighbourhood Watch’s How Safe is my Place online tool.  


A tradesperson measuring the height of stairs on an outdoor patio

Child safety or senior safety inspections can give peace of mind that your home is safe for all family members. 

Solar Panels  

How often: cleaned roughly once a year, serviced every 1 to 2 years.

Solar panels are a fantastic way to power your home or vehicle with cleaner energy and save money at the same time. They do need to be cleaned and serviced from time to time, however. Rain will help keep your panels clean to some extent, though it’s still advised you clean them yourself roughly once a year to remove any tough dirt or debris. If you live in a dry climate with less than average rainfall, you may need to clean your panels more often. Use a professional solar panel cleaning service, otherwise, it’s recommended you use a long-handled mop or sponge to clean your panels safely from the ground (use only water and a mild detergent, if necessary).

Your solar panels should be serviced every one to two years if otherwise working well. If you’re moving into a new property with existing solar panels, try to get as much information on the system from the previous owners, including copies of compliance and warranty documents, whether the system has solar systems monitoring, and when the panels were last serviced.  

Child and elderly safety checks 

How often: no requirement, but recommended if you are concerned about the safety of children or elderly family members in the home.

You’d be surprised how many household fittings and furnishings can pose a risk to the youngest and oldest members of your family. If you’re considering starting or growing your family it’s a good idea to get a child safety check to identify potential risks throughout your home. Even innocuous items like bookshelves, power points and curtain cords can pose a risk.

For those who are older but still living independently, a senior safety inspection can likewise highlight any slip or trip hazards, as well as where safety modifications that could potentially improve accessibility (such as handrails).  

Gas and electrical appliance safety checks 

How often: required every two years for rental properties.

In Victoria, it’s mandatory that rental properties have their gas and electrical appliances and fittings checked every two years. This ensures your rental is not only safe and efficient for tenants, but compliant with current legislation as well. An additional minimum rental standards inspection can give you further peace of mind that your investment is compliant and safe for your tenants.


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