Here are some Homeowner Tips to help you maintain your beautiful new home.
Once a Year:
1. Caulk windows and trim. Check for cracks in the trim around windows and siding of your house as well as corners where trim comes together and fill any cracks with caulk. Use Polyurethane caulk as it is better; you can paint over it; and it lasts three or four times longer than latex caulk. Before caulking cracks that are wider than an eighth of an inch or deeper than a half-inch, stuff in flexible foam backer rod (which you can get at hardware stores). Push the foam in with a putty knife, then caulk.
2. Inspect your crawl space for water. Do this about 30 days after the fall rain begins so that if water collects, you’ll see it. Find the opening by walking around the outside of your house. Look for a trapdoor or a boarded opening in the foundation. Just shine a flashlight around to see if there is any accumulated water. If you find water, call a home inspector to figure out where it’s coming from and why.
3. Check any wooden decks for accumulating moisture. Wooden decks should be continually protected from water with a deck treatment or wood stain. (Synthetic decking products needs no treatment and should not be stained.) Not even redwood, cedar or pressure-treated wood will stand up forever. Any deck treatment you use should give an estimate on how long it is good for.
4. Inspect and touch up exterior paint. Most people think of painting as a means to spruce up the appearance of one’s home, but it’s really a means of preventing damage. Paint prevents gutters from rusting and wood from deteriorating. Look for paint that has blistered, bubbled, peeled or cracked. Wash the area first with a garden hose. Then scrape the damaged paint off, sand and fill holes with high-quality exterior-grade patching compound. Brush primer on bare spots, then follow with paint then feather the paint out to blend.
5. Service and clean the furnace. Forced-air furnaces quietly cycle on and off and are easy to take for granted unless something goes wrong. But these are complex pieces of equipment and they consume expensive fuel, so peak efficiency is crucial. And a breakdown can let deadly carbon monoxide escape. Call the company that installed your furnace to service it or to recommend a servicer. Or find a licensed heating, ventilation and air-conditioning specialist in the phone book or by searching online. Servicing involves cleaning the furnace parts and heat exchanger, lubricating bearings and testing for leaking gases.
6. Get the chimney cleaned out if you have burned wood in it. This is because creosote — a flammable, resinous wood byproduct — can build up inside the chimney flue when you burn wood. Gas burning fireplaces need a yearly inspection from a licensed gas technician to remove accumulated dust or debris and check for proper operation, leaks and worn or defective parts. A clogged chimney can cause an explosive fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. We recommend hiring a trained chimney sweep who uses brushes, vacuums, cameras and other tools to remove soot and creosote and inspect for damage.
7. Check bathtub caulk. Inspect the line of caulk that seals the tub to the floor and the tub surround. Repair cracks with polyurethane bathroom caulk. Also, inspect the points where tub faucets emerge from the wall or tub surround.
8. Fix any cracks in asphalt paving. You can extend the life of an asphalt driveway or sidewalk by patching any cracks or fissures with a caulking gun and asphalt patching caulk. Squirt the stuff into cracks. Use a plastic putty knife to smooth it. If you let asphalt cracks go for any length of time, water can soak under the pavement, making it mushy which can then create potholes when you drive on it. We also recommend applying an asphalt sealer every five years. It’s inexpensive and can be applied using a broom or squeegee.
Two or three times a year:
9. If you have gutters, clean them out as soon as leaves and gunk plug them up. How often that is depends on the trees around your house.
10. Clean your roof’s valleys. Water can also accumulate behind debris that has accumulated in the roof’s valleys. If left for any length of time it can start seeping under the roofing material, start rotting wood and seep into the house.
11. Change your ceiling fans from summer to winter when it starts getting cold and back when it starts warming up. Ceiling fans to run clockwise in winter and counterclockwise in summer. The fan will push cool air down in the summer. You should be able to stand under the fan and feel a breeze. In winter, it’s the opposite, by switching it the opposite way, the blades push the air up into the center of the room, which forces heat off the ceiling.
12. Take good car of your garbage disposal. We don’t recommend using caustic and poisonous drain cleaners. A much cheaper, gentler on your pipes and safer for the environment treatment is to freeze vinegar in an ice cube tray, then put all of the vinegar ice cubes into the disposal and turn it on. The cubes scrub the disposal and the vinegar removes the build-up of grease and gunk. Keep fibrous stuff, like eggshells or corn husks, out of disposals. Always run cold water into the disposal when you are ging to use it, then turn it on. Don’t over-jam the disposal with stuff.
13. Change out your AC filters. Letting them get clogged up will make your AC unit work harder and will start filtering allergens into the air.