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Home Maintenance:

The home you live in represents a big investment. It's also where your family spends a lot of time, so keeping it healthy, well tended and safe is important.

A house consists of many different interrelated systems and materials. Consequently a change in one component might have dramatic, even catastrophic, effect on the performance of that assembly or the house as a whole. Basement or crawlspace water entry is the biggest problem. There are of course several conditions that may result in leakage. Houses are not boats, and foundation walls are not hulls. If water collects outside a foundation wall, it will find its way through. The best moisture control strategy is to keep the water away from the outside of the house with good gutters and grading.

What should I do and when?

Spring and fall are the ideal times to check on the condition of your home. Many bigger problems could have been avoided with regular maintenance. No two homes are the same because of their design, type of materials, location, yard features, occupant living habits and weather conditions. This monitoring allows you to shop ahead of time for a component that is at the end of its life. This way you will get the product of your choice at the best price.

You are looking for safety issues that can cause a fire. Faulty fuel combustion appliances can create serious life safety conditions. Do all your smoke alarms work, is the fire extinguisher fully charged. Are there any trip hazards such as uneven steps or walkways Are hand and guard rails secure. Are all covers on electrical outlets. Make sure there is no rot at the bottom of support posts. You are checking for water leaks. It is the slow leak that goes unnoticed that causes the worst damage. To allow the building materials to dry properly all vines, shrubbery, trees must be trimmed back. Check for caulking and weather stripping around all doors and windows.

Hiring a home inspector to do a yearly maintenance check of your investment is a smart idea. At Coastal Inspection Services we have the experience and training.

Exterior

Chimneys should be checked for cracks, deterioration of masonry and mortar. Deteriorated mortar is the number one cause of chimney fires. Look from the top for creosote build up and integrity. Metal chimneys should be checked for rust and missing rain caps. Clean out ash pits and watch for any pieces of brick or mortar.

Roofing should be checked for damage, loose or missing pieces. Flashings around all penetrations, dormers and valleys should be checked for rust. Make sure all attic venting is clear. Trees should be cut back, moss and debris cleaned off. Gutters cleaned and downspouts secure. NOTE: if any moisture in foundation area at all, divert downspouts at least 6 feet away.

Check all exterior for damage, loose or missing pieces. Check for water stains, cracks, caulking and weather stripping. Check decks for rot and guard rail securement. Make sure you have proper surface water run off from driveway and yard.

Electrical

Test all ground fault circuit interrupters. If there is aluminum wiring, get an electrician to do an annual check for loose connections that cause overheating, the number one cause of electrical fires. Check overhead wiring is secure to mast and free of branches. Make sure all electrical outlets, switches, light sockets and junction boxes have covers. Make sure all openings in main and sub panel are filled. Label all circuits.

Heating

Get an annual furnace check up. Servicemen change fuel nozzles, check combustion air, check for incomplete combustion, heat exchanger leakage, check proper exhaust venting and chimneys, change air and oil filters. The main burner flame in a gas furnace should be blue with orange streaks. A bright yellow flame indicates incomplete combustion. Improper air circulation through a furnace will drastically shorten the life of furnace components.

Steam and boiler system safety controls checked by a qualified technician. Heat recovery ventilator settings will be unique to each building and occupant living style. NOTE: Improper functioning of HRVs can cause comfort problems and backdrafting of combustion appliances if they are not adjusted correctly.

Check filters in Heat recovery ventilators and electronic air cleaners. Air conditioner evaporator and condenser coils are clean. Check humidifier for water level and water cleanliness. Check the humidifier damper is closed in summer and open in winter. Circulating pumps lubricated. Radiators bled for air. Check all baseboard heaters for clearances, damage, covers and free of dust.

Attics

Check for water stains, mold or mildew. Insulation evenness and depth as well as rodent or bird activity. Check ventilation vents are clear.

Plumbing

Check floor drain traps for water, a little oil can be put on top so it doesn't evaporate allowing sewer fumes to come into the house. Once a year have a plumber check the temperature pressure relief valve on the hot water tank, shut off and isolating valves, many of these valves leak after testing because of their infrequent use. The pressure relief valve prevents too much pressure building up in your hot water tank. If not tested regularly, minerals in the water can prevent this valve from functioning properly. Drain some water from the bottom of water heater to remove any sludge, shut off power or fuel source first. All expansion tanks drained annually. If you live on a well, test the water quality every six months.

A home inspection is an educational and informative experience. It helps understand the nature of the problem if any and general approach for corrective action. This helps deal with tradespeople from a position of strength and knowledge. Learn regular home maintenance and gain valuable guidance to preserve the property. Helps you recognize components that are functioning now but may wear out and require replacement. Being alert to systems that may be approaching the end of their life and future expenditures.

Additional Resources

Appliance and Lighting Calculator


Conversion Calculator


Fuel Cost Comparisons


Heating System Maintenance


Homeowner Protection Office


Maintenance tips for a brick home


Maintenance tips of the month



Project Calculators - flooring, paint, insulation...


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