Home Maintenance Tips

Maintenance Advice for Home Owners

UPON TAKING OWNERSHIP
After taking possession of a new home, review your home inspection report for any maintenance and safety issues that have to do with preventing water infiltration (roof, gutter, grading, etc.) and any safety or health issues. Address these items as soon as possible. Prioritize any other maintenance or repair items from your inspection report and set a goal for completing them.

Below are some more helpful tips when first taking ownership of a home:

  • Change the locks on all exterior entrances for improved security.
  • Check that all windows and doors are secure. Improve window hardware as necessary. Security rods can be added to sliding windows and doors. (See this child-proof Patio Door Security Bar for an example)
  • Consider a home security system.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of the home. Ensure that there is a smoke detector outside all sleeping areas. Replace batteries on any existing smoke detectors and test them. Make a note to replace batteries again in one year.
  • Create a plan of action in the event of a fire in your home. Ensure that there is an operable window or door in every room of the house, especially bedrooms. Pay particular attention to the basement – if there isn’t at least one other escape route from the basement besides the stairway, consider installing an egress window (see this article regarding fire safety and basements)
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and damper as well as the area under and around the dryer.
  • Clean under the refrigerator and oven. Vacuum the refrigerator coils.
  • Examine driveways and walkways for trip hazards. Undertake repairs where necessary.
  • Examine the interior of the home for trip hazards. Loose or torn carpeting and flooring should be repaired.
  • Undertake improvements to all stairways, decks, porches and landings where there is a risk of falling or stumbling. Install handrails where necessary.
  • Install rain caps and vermin screens on all chimney flues, as necessary.
  • Investigate the location of the main shut-offs for the plumbing, heating and electrical systems. If you attended the home inspection, these items would have been pointed out to you.
  • Check your sump pump to make sure it’s draining properly. You do not want to wait until a major snow thaw or rainstorm to find out that the pump’s motor is shot.

In addition to the immediate repairs/updates noted above and any specific items pointed out in your inspection report, there are ongoing maintenance and upkeep chores with any home. The following checklists may be helpful to incorporate into your regular maintenance program:

REGULAR MAINTENANCE EVERY MONTH
The following should be completed each month:

  • Check that fire extinguisher(s) are fully charged. Re-charge if necessary.
  • Examine heating/cooling air filters and replace or clean as necessary.
  • Inspect and clean humidifiers and electronic air cleaners.
  • If the house has hot water heating, bleed radiator valves.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts. Ensure that downspouts are secure, and that the discharge of the downspouts is appropriate. Remove debris from window wells.
  • Carefully inspect the condition of shower enclosures. Repair or replace deteriorated grout and caulk. Ensure that water is not escaping the enclosure during showering.
  • Check below all plumbing fixtures for evidence of leakage. Repair or replace leaking faucets or showerheads.
  • Secure loose toilets and repair flush mechanisms that become troublesome.
  • Check your sump pump to make sure it’s draining properly.

SPRING
The following should be completed each spring:

  • Examine the roof for evidence of damage to roof coverings, flashings and chimneys.
  • Check all fascia and trim for deterioration.
  • Look at overhead wires coming to the house. They should be secure and clear of trees or other obstructions.
  • Look in the attic (if accessible) to ensure that roof vents are not obstructed. Check for evidence of leakage, condensation or vermin activity.
  • Trim back tree branches and shrubs to ensure that they are not in contact with the house.
  • Inspect the exterior walls and foundation for evidence of damage, cracking or movement. Watch for bird nests or other vermin or insect activity – places to pay particular attention to are below decks and on top or inside of fireplace and/or appliance vents.
  • Ensure that the grade of the land around the house encourages water to flow away from the foundation.
  • Inspect for evidence of wood boring insect activity. Eliminate any wood/soil contact around the perimeter of the home.
  • Check your wood deck or concrete patio for deterioration.
  • Clean leaves and debris from the condenser of a central air conditioner.
  • Survey the basement and/or crawl space walls for evidence of moisture seepage.
  • Inspect all driveways, walkways, decks, porches, and landscape components for evidence of deterioration, movement or safety hazards.
  • Test the overhead garage door opener, to ensure that the auto-reverse mechanism is responding properly. Clean and lubricate hinges, rollers and tracks on overhead doors.
  • Clean windows and test their operation. Improve caulking and weather-stripping as necessary. Watch for evidence of rot in wood window frames. Paint and repair windowsills and frames as necessary.
  • Test all ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) devices, as identified in the inspection report.
  • Test the Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve on water heaters and check the water heater for leaks or rust.
  • Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter.
  • Clean, inspect and/or service all appliances as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Have an HVAC professional inspect and maintain your air conditioning system.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and damper as well as the area under and around the dryer.
  • Clean under the refrigerator and oven. Vacuum the refrigerator coils.
  • Check kids’ playground equipment.
  • Check your in-ground sprinkler system for any leaks or clogs and proper spray patterns, and check the timers.

FALL
The following should be completed each fall:

  • Replace smoke detector batteries.
  • Examine the electrical panels, wiring and electrical components for evidence of overheating. Ensure that all components are secure. Flip the breakers on and off to ensure that they are not sticky.
  • If the house utilizes a well, check and service the pump and pressure tank. Have the water quality tested. If the property has a septic system, have the tank pumped and inspected.
  • If your home is in an area prone to wood destroying insects (termites, carpenter ants, etc.), have the home inspected by a licensed specialist. Preventative treatments may be recommended in some cases.
  • Have a heating professional inspect and clean your heating system. Make sure the condensation tube is clear of obstructions.
  • Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the flues and check your fireplace damper.
  • Inspect for and remove birds’ nests from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures. Watch for bird nests or other vermin or insect activity – places to pay particular attention to are below decks and on top or inside of fireplace and/or appliance vents.
  • Protect your home from frozen pipes.
  • Make sure caulking around doors and windows is adequate to reduce heating/cooling loss.
  • Winterize all your gas-powered lawn equipment.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts – these can become clogged as leaves star to fall, so be sure to check them frequently this time of year.
  • Shut off isolating valves for exterior hose bibs in the fall, if below freezing temperatures are anticipated.
  • Be sure to store firewood at least 20 feet from your home.
  • Remove window screens and install storm windows.
  • Review the location of the main shut-offs for the plumbing, heating and electrical systems.
  • Blow out and winterize your in-ground sprinkler system. This may be beyond the expertise of many home owners, so don’t be afraid to hire a professional if you can’t do this yourself.
  • Check your snowblower to make sure it’s in running order.

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
Preventative maintenance is the best way to keep your house in great shape. It also reduces the risk of unexpected repairs and helps you to budget for any anticipated upcoming repairs or improvements.
Please feel free to contact Real Estate Insights Inc should you have any questions regarding the operation or maintenance of your home. We look forward to being of assistance to you!

Resources for Home Maintenance

With every home inspection by Real Estate Insights Inc, the client receives a FREE Home Maintenance Booklet.

Home Maintenance Booklet
FREE Home Maintenance Booklet with every Professional Home Inspection

The following resources provide information on home maintenance and repair. Real Estate Insights Inc does not make repairs nor do we endorse or refer to contractors or home repair companies. We maintain the utmost professional ethical standards, and this policy is in place so as to avoid any apparent conflicts of interest. The following resource links are provided as a courtesy only.

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