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April 26, 2010

Moving In: Maintenance Tips

These recommendations are not intended to be all inclusive, but to provide ideas and examples as a starting point for minimal maintenance. We recommend you get specific maintenance recommendations for each item or system in your home from the actual manufacturer as recommendations vary by manufacturer.
Before attempting any inspection, repair or maintenance yourself, be sure you know and understand how and what needs to be done and what safety precautions should be taken. Improper or unsafe use of ladders can result in injuries, be especially carful to avoid contact with electrical wires. If you are not familiar with or are not confident in any of these items we recommend you consult a qualified licensed contractor/professional for that item or system to carry out that task.

Due to the possibility of the water heater temperature pressure relief valve leaking after it has been opened, these valves are not tested during the inspection. Manufacturers suggest regular testing to help assure proper performance. Water heater blankets may void the warranty on some water heaters. Drain the water heater annually to prevent the build up of sediment and help maintain efficient water heating. Be sure to turn the power off when draining the water heater to prevent burning out the heating elements.
All shut-off valves or angle stops should be turned regularly by the homeowner to ensure free movement in case of emergency. These valves are not operated during the inspection because they may leak if they haven’t been properly maintained. After operating these valves they will need to be checked to be sure operating them didn’t cause them to start leaking.
Since leaks can occur at any time, plumbing should be checked just before closing and then regularly during occupancy. We advise that all shower floors, tile edges and tub/shower walls be caulked and sealed to prevent moisture penetration. If tile movement is found, you should have the area checked by a professional for leaks and hidden damage. All leaks should be repaired and missing/damaged grouting and caulk should be replaced at once to help prevent future/further damage. Even tile that appears to be in good shape can take on water, so we suggest that you apply a sealant to tiled surfaces upon occupancy. Periodic reapplications are recommended as needed. If sluggish or noisy drains are noted, the drain waste vent system should be checked for blockage, damage or other restriction. Operating an exterior vented exhaust fan in the bathroom helps to reduce the chances of mold growth and harmful condensation.

We suggest that you clean dryer exhaust vents upon occupancy and then regularly to enhance safety/performance. Water hoses to the washer can also fail and cause flooding of the home in a very short time. We recommend hoses be checked just before closing and then regularly during occupancy.
Regular monitoring and maintenance of all roofs is advised. We suggest checking roof surfaces each spring and fall and after any severe storm. Increasing insulation in the attic is one of the best ways to improve the energy efficiency of a home and to reduce the costs of heating and cooling. Most older homes we view can benefit from additional insulation. The Dept. of Energy website (www.eren.doe.gov/consumerinfo) can help you to determine recommended upgrades and the payback period for insulation improvements in your geographical area.

Check foundation walls, floors, concrete, and masonry for cracking, heaving or deterioration. Check all decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings for loose members and deterioration.

Cut back and trim all vegetation from structures.

Use a blower or rake to remove debris from roofs. Large amounts of granulation on the ground or in the gutter is an indication of roof wear. Do not walk on tile roofs as this may crack the tiles. Look for cracked or broken tile from a ladder. If any of the above conditions exist we recommend consulting a qualified licensed professional to evaluate and perform the appropriate work. Check gutters and down spouts regularly for debris and leaks at joints. Blocked gutters can cause water to overflow or backup onto the soffit and fascia causing them to rot.

Check chimneys for loose, deteriorated, or missing mortar.

Keep the outside AC unit clear of shrubs and obstructions within a 2 foot radius to allow free air movement around it. Keep the outside compressor unit level. Replace the filter monthly or more often if it becomes dirty. Check the drain lines and condensation pan for clogs and/or leaks regularly. Have your AC system inspected by a qualified AC professional annually for needed maintenance, like lubrication, cleaning the coils and cleaning the condensation drain line. Dirty coils can reduce the efficiency of the unit and allow mold to grow.

As a part of a regular maintenance program, the painted surfaces including the joints at doors, trim, and windows and other exterior construction joints should be monitored on an annual basis for settling or cracking or other deterioration.

Periodically check the space between the ground and the siding on frame homes for mud tubes (these may look like a root about 1/8″ in diameter) as this is an indication of the presence wood boring insects.

Look at ceilings and window jambs regularly for stains which may indicate leaks.

Any of the above items found not to be in good working order should be repaired as ongoing maintenance of the home. If you don’t do the little things regularly they will turn into a big expense down the road.

If you have questions about any of the above items, or need more information give our office a call at 941-741-9733 and we will be glad to help you with any further information we may have.

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