It is wonderful to be a home owner. You don’t have to ask a landlord when you want to paint. You’re investing your money in property, rather than seeing it disappear in rent. But on the downside, you are totally responsible for the maintenance of your home. Where do you begin? How often should you be checking things?
Michael Zegarra, of Zegarra Residential Inspections, has provided several maintenance schedules. As the owner of a house, condo, or town house, you can follow these schedules to make sure your home is safe and properly maintained. Keep in mind, your home insurance does not cover damage caused by wear and tear, so if your shingles are getting old, and starting to lift, you’d better get them replaced before a heavy rain causes water to pour into your house.
Here is a list of items that should be checked every month:
Test all ground fault circuit interrupter breakers and outlets.
Test smoke detectors.
Test carbon monoxide detectors.
Test garage door closer safety circuit.
Test door/window latches and hardware for proper operation and security, particularly those used for emergency exits.
Perform a general inspection of heating/cooling units, clean or replace filters. Follow manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. Clean snow and/or debris from exterior units.
Perform a visual inspection of hot water heater(s) for signs of leaks or rusting. Unless you are proficient and knowledgeable with hot water tanks, testing the T&P valve and draining any sediment build-up on the bottom of the tank is better left to a qualified professional.
Check all fire extinguishers’ charge.
Add water to floor drains to keep the trap seal intact.
Flush garbage disposal with baking soda and hot water.
You own your own home, and you’re doing all the monthly maintenance checks we recommended. But there’s more! There are some things that need checking only twice a year. All of these tips apply to house owners, but condo, townhouse, and co-op home owners will recognize some things they should do, as well.
Inspect masonry chimneys for loose mortar, cracked or broken pieces. Inspect metal chimneys for rust, missing rain caps. Check that storm collars are properly caulked. Check metal flashings for leaks. Signs of moisture penetration should be further investigated by a qualified professional.
Clean and service fireplace or wood stove and chimney as needed.
Inspect the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Check high wear areas (valleys, heavy weather side) for missing granules. Check flashings and caulking for damage or leaks. If you have a flat roof, check for shifting, or missing gravel, blistering, cracks, and standing water. Keep trees and branches back from roof.
Clean debris from gutters and down spouts. Flush with water. Disconnect down spouts from the perimeter drainage first. Ensure gutters and down spouts are securely fastened and properly connected.
Inspect soffits and fascia for damage, and signs of birds, rodents or insects.
Check exterior walls for signs of damage or rot. Note any signs of settlement.
Check fences and retaining walls for rot, insects, or shifting.
Check toilets for leaks. Ensure they are well secured to the floor.
Clean all faucet aerators and shower heads.
Clean debris from drains (floor drains, exterior catch basins, sumps), and replace seals if necessary.
Flush all fixtures with baking soda and hot water.
Check all accessible supply side plumbing for leaks.
Check all accessible DWV (drain/waste/vent) plumbing for leaks.
Inspect foundation walls, basements & crawl spaces for moisture penetration and or cracks.
Service hot water heating systems.
Clean or replace range hood filters.
Check all windows for cracks, loose glazing compound, failed sealed units (condensation between panes).
Check all doors for ease of operation and proper seals on all exterior doors.
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We’ve listed the monthly and semi-annual maintenance checks you should be performing on your home. Now, there are a number of things that need checking only once a year. Again, these tips apply to house owners, but condo and town house owners will recognize some things they should do, as well.
Here is a list of items that should be checked annually:
Test and recharge fire extinguishers as necessary.
Clean smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (vacuum).
Vacuum heating ducts, registers, and radiators.
Have qualified professionals check mechanical systems (heating, plumbing, hot water and electrical service) on an annual basis for any signs of failure or necessary repair/maintenance.
Have septic tanks and fields checked and cleaned if necessary.
Cut back trees and shrubs from the siding and roof of the house.
Check all caulking on exterior windows, doors, vents.
Have all chimneys and flues checked and cleaned as needed.
Re-caulk and reseal bathtub surrounds.
Congratulations! You’ve performed the monthly, semi-annual, and annual maintenance checks on your home. There’s just one part left. Michael Zegarra, of Zegarra Residential Inspections, has provided us with the following maintenance schedule for every five years:
Inspect and/or replace the supply hoses to the washing machine. Remember to use braided hoses, for extra protection.
Have the perimeter drainage system cleaned and inspected.
The intent of the above suggestions is to impart but a few of the many duties and responsibilities of a homeowner to maintain a house in safe and comfortable condition. Some of the suggestions may not apply to specific regions and others may be missing. There are several books and agencies available to the home owner that can give more in depth details of the proper maintenance for your specific region or area of concern, the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation is a good starting point for any reference materials, as are the Internet and Public Libraries.
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Even when you take precautions, accidents can happen. Home insurance is one way to protect your family against financial losses from accidents. And, home insurance can start from as little as $12/month.