Maintaining your new home

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and by simply doing regular maintenance inspections a homeowner will have advanced warning and sufficient time to get several quotes and do comparative shopping as opposed to crisis management when the unexpected happens.

Goslett notes that preventative maintenance inspections should be performed at least twice a year, however certain elements will require more attention, while others will require less. “Not all inspections and maintenance can be done by the homeowners themselves and in these instances it is advisable to hire a professional contractor to perform the necessary repairs required,” he says, “Regular checks and maintenance will ensure that minor issues don’t become larger and more costly problems in the future.”

According to Goslett, areas that should be looked at are:

Doors and windows – Replace broken or cracked panes of glass and apply new putty where applicable. Finishes should be checked for paint deterioration and rot. Homeowners should also ensure that the seals around all the doors and windows keep drafts out. Correct insulation around doors and windows will result in big savings when it comes to heating and cooling costs.  Check door frames to determine whether they are properly fitted. Bent door frames or ones showing some movement during a relatively short period such as six months may indicate structural problems.

Roofs – Tiled roofs should be inspected for damaged, loose or missing tiles which should be repaired or replaced as a leaking roof can cause a lot of water damage. Flat roofs must be checked for any blistering or bubbles. Make sure all debris is cleared from the roof and any trees or branches that make contact with the roof should be cut away.

Chimneys – Check the chimney for loose or damaged bricks or mortar and once a year get the chimney swept professionally. This is because creosote and other flammable byproducts build up inside the chimney flue when you burn wood. This will not apply to gas-burning appliances; however a licensed gas technician should be called to check that the appliance is operating properly.

Gutters – Keep gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris to prevent clogging. They should also be checked for blockage and leaks either from holes or joints. Some areas may need to be re-secured to the wall or re-sloped to ensure they operate correctly. Remember to always make sure that they drain away from the house.

Paint – Paint is not just for the aesthetic appeal of the home - it also acts as a protective layer against the elements. Paint prevents metal areas from rusting and wooden areas from rotting. Repaint sections that have blistered or bubbled, peeled or cracked.

Walls and ceilings - Walls and ceilings should be inspected for cracks in interior finishes and any damp areas. Cracks and voids should be filled as this will allow for easy monitoring of movement between inspections. Any water stains on the interior should be noted and monitored. Moisture or damp within the wall will cause the paint to bubble, while damp in the ceiling could cause it to sag or, in some cases, collapse.

Patios and Decks - If a deck is made from wood it is important that it is sealed properly. If water is poured onto the deck and it beads the sealing is fine, however if the water is absorbed, the wood will need to be sanded down and resealed.  All wooden sections should also be checked for rot and insect infestation. As a safety precaution ensure that steps and railings are secured properly.

Fixtures -  Check for any leaking taps in the kitchen or bathroom, this is normally caused by a washer that will need to be replaced. Make sure toilets are sealed and secured to the floor. Listen for toilets which run continuously. Grouting and sealant around all bathroom fixtures should be checked and renewed as necessary. The smallest amount of water seepage through the grouting can cause major mould and rot behind tiles.Bottom of Form

Garages – As with the house, the walls of the structure should be inspected for cracks, damp and evidence of movement.  All the wooden components should be investigated for evidence of rot or insect infestation and should be painted or treated as necessary.

Driveways and pavements - These areas should be checked for cracks and wear. Hazardous uneven sections should be corrected.  Sections that cause surface water run-off towards the house should be redirected.

Main electrical panel – Make sure there is no rust or water marks in the panel as this will indicate moisture penetration. Turn all breakers off and on to ensure that none have seized. All fuses should be tightened. If the panel is warm to the touch or smells of burned insulation, contact an electrician. Keep the area around the panel clear of storage.

“Although these checks are not all inclusive, they will give new homeowners an idea of where to start and what to look for. Preventative maintenance will protect the both the homeowner and the property’s value in the long run,” Goslett concludes.

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