HOME MAINTENANCE TIPS

General maintenance items are tasks which you need to perform on your home periodically on a regular basis at certain times throughout the year. Maintaining your home on a regular basis is something we all must do to prolong the life of the components of the house. In the long run it saves you money. This is a good list of items, however there are others which you may want to add to the list on your own which are somewhat specific to your house.

Professional Services is a Full Service General Contracting Firm who specializes in all types of Home and Apartment Renovations. Should you desire to renovate your home or apartment please take a look at our List of Services that we provide to our clients or Contact Us with any questions you may have. 

 

#1.Clean all Gutters and Downspouts

 

This task should be performed in the Spring and Again in the Fall. Gutters or downspouts which are clogged with leaves or debris can lead to several types of problems concerning water damage to your home such as ice damming or water penetration into your basement.

Faulty gutters which leak at seams can also cause problems. We recommend inspecting the seams of all gutters and downspouts for leaks and cleaning them twice a year as stated above. You can also install gutter screens which will keep the debris out of the gutters and prevent gutters from getting clogged.

 

#2. Check Your Roof

 

Flat Roofs - Inspect your flat roof for open seams at each seam on the roof. Check for blisters, depressions which will cause puddles to form on roof, and bubbles. Check all flashing at chimney, vent stacks and walls. If you have a flat tar and gravel roof check for missing or eroding gravel. Make sure there are no tree branches scraping against the roof surface from trees which may be on your property and hang over your roof. Remove all debris from roof and trim tree branches if necessary.

Shingle Roofs - Inspect your roof for ripped, torn, or damaged shingles. Also check for loose or missing roof shingle. Check for excessive wear in areas that are walked on constantly if any and especially in spots where a downspout from an upper roof empties water onto a lower roof. Check all valleys and flashings. Make sure all flashing material is in tact and secure at chimney and vent stacks. Check all areas that may have television antennas or satellite dishes mounted to the roof deck. Check your roof twice a year. Spring and Fall.

Slate & Clay Roofs - Check your roof for cracked broken or damaged tiles. Check for displacement of tiles and missing tiles as well. Check all flashings. Slate and clay roofs are very expensive to repair and usually require the expertise of a true professional with the proper work experience and training in regards to repairing these types of roofs. 

 

#3. Eaves

 

Check all soffit material. Some soffits are aluminum, some vinyl, and some wood. Check to see that all aluminum and vinyl are tightly secured. In the case of wood soffits check the overall condition of wood. Is it rotted, is the paint peeling, does it need to be sanded and repainted, etc. Also check all wooden fascia boards on the house. Are they rotted, do they need re painting, are they secure, etc. Check your eaves twice a year. Spring and Fall.

 

#4. Exterior Walls

 

Masonry walls need to be checked for deteriorated mortar (Pointing). Check stucco walls for cracking and the stucco itself pulling off the exterior walls. Wooden shingle or clapboards must be checked for rot or insect infestation. Also check to see if they are secured tightly to the underlayment sheathing. Painted shingle should be checked for signs of weathering or flaking paint. Wooden trim at soffits and roof line is usually painted, check the finish on this trim if paint is peeling or has deteriorated repainting is needed. Check all aluminum and vinyl siding for any type of damage, loose courses, or loose trim. Check exterior walls twice a year. Spring and Fall.

 

#5. Grading of Property

 

Check the grading of the soil at all perimeter exterior walls and planters. Make sure the soil slopes away from the structure. The slope of the soil should be 1 inch per foot for the first 8 feet away from the house. Clean out all drywells, and window wells where possible. Install crushed stone at window wells, perimeter walls, or planters if needed to help with drainage. Check periodically.

 

#6. Windows & Doors

 

Check the weatherstripping and caulking at all windows and doors. Recaulk or replace damaged weather stripping where needed. Replace any broken glass in windows if necessary. Test and operate all storm windows if you have them in your house. Replace glass in storms with screens in springtime and visa versa at winter time. Clean all tracks at windows and sliding glass doors. If windows and window trim is wood, check for rot and insect infestation. Repaint window and door trim on the exterior side if needed. Check windows and doors twice a year. Spring and Fall.

 

#7. Wooden Decks & Porches

 

Check all wooden components for rot and insect infestation. Check the stability of steps and railings. Resecure or tighten if necessary. Restain, Repaint, or Re-Waterseal your deck at least every 2 years. Check Decks and Porches twice a year. Spring and Fall.

 

#8. Garages

 

Check all wooden components for insect infestation. Termites are found in garages quite often. Check condition of roof shingle. Trim any trees or branches that are near or touch the structure. Trim all shrubs away from garage walls. Test your automatic garage door openers auto reverse feature. This feature should be tested at least once a month and adjustments should be made to unit if needed. Clean floor drains if present and if necessary.

 

#9. Concrete Walkways & Driveways

 

Inspect concrete sidewalks, driveways, and walkways for lifting or excessive settlement conditions. Check grading of asphalt or cement areas at the perimeter of the house. If these areas are damaged or excessive settlement or lifting has occurred it may create a grading problem. If these areas are sloped towards the structure and water run off flows and sits at your foundation walls it could lead to water problems in your basement if your home has one. Correct any grading problems or trip hazards due to excessive lifting or settlement. Check all concrete and asphalt surfaces twice a year. Spring and Fall.

 

#10. Chimneys

 

Check your chimney for deteriorated mortar joints, loose brick, or cracked and deteriorated cement cappings. Chimneys covered with stucco should be examined for signs of bulging (parging) of the stucco. Look for loose sections of stucco and major cracks as well. Make sure your clay flue pipe is in tact and you have a spark arrestor and rain cap on top of your flue pipe. Check all chimney flashing for deterioration. Whit salt deposits on the face of your chimney brick could indicate a moisture problem within the chimney. This condition should be examined more closely by a professional. Check your chimney twice a year. Spring and Fall.

 

#11. Fencing & Retaining Walls

 

Wooden fencing and posts should be checked for rot and insect infestation. All posts should also be checked for stability and security where they are set into the ground. Re-stain, Re-paint, or Re-Waterseal all wooden fencing as necessary. ( At least every 2 years) Check chan link or any type of metal fencing for rust or corrosion. Check stability of all fence posts. Check retaining walls made from wood, stone, masonry, concrete, concrete block, etc. for movement. Note any type of shifting or cracking. If shifting or cracking is noted, the wall should be monitored for future movement. Check fencing and retaining walls twice a year. Spring and Fall.

 

#12. Plants, Trees, Shrubs

 

Remove all vines which are growing on the structure if any. Trim all trees which are touching or near the structure. Trim all shrubs back away from the house. Remove any tree or shrub which is planted to close to the house and creates a problem. Trim all trees and shrubs as needed at the beginning of spring.

 

#13. Concrete or Block Foundation Walls

 

Check all concrete, concrete block, and masonry foundation walls for cracking or bulging. Large cracks should be monitored for future movement.  Check all mortar joints. Re-point walls if needed in affected areas. Seal all cracks and monitor them to see if movement is present. If the crack opens again there is movement. Check your foundation walls twice a year. Spring and Fall.

 

#14. Wooden Framing in Basement

 

Check all ceiling joists in basement. Look for broken, cracked or sagging joists. Check the main center beam as well. Check all lally columns. Check for signs of rot or insect infestation at all wooden framing members. Check all framing once a year. You should also have your home inspected for wood destroying insects once a year as well.

 

#15. Wall and Ceiling Surfaces

 

Check all walls and ceilings for cracks. Small cracks are common. Crack of 1/4 inch or more are not. Should you find cracks this size monitor the crack for future movement . Check all walls and ceilings twice a year.

 

#16. Plumbness of Door Frames

 

Check all door frames to determine if they are square. If you notice that your doorways are slightly slanted you should monitor them for future movement. If the condition worsens significantly over a 4-6 month period it may indicate a serious problem. A professional should be called in to examine the situation. Check all door frames for plumb twice a year.

 

#17. Electrical Wiring & Equipment

 

If your house has overhead service wires check them periodically (6 months) for damage or to see if they show signs of fraying, especially if the service wires run through trees and scrape against branches. Check mast head and drip loops. Make sure drip loops are present. Check any overhead lines which may feed your garage or shed as well. Check all exterior receptacle covers. If there are no covers present over the exterior outlets the should be installed. Also all exterior receptacles (outlets) should be GFI's (Ground Fault Interrupters).

If  your house has aluminum wiring you should check connections at the junction boxes, switches or outlets on the interior of the house to ensure they are tight. You may want to call in a licensed electrician for this if you are not familiar with the electrical system in your home or are afraid to attempt this on your own for what ever reason. We recommend calling in an electrician. Aluminum wiring has a tendency to loosen at the terminal screws of outlets and switches causing short circuits at times. A qualified licensed electrician can correct these problems for you by several methods depending on the materials which exist in the house.

During your inspection of the wiring, any wiring that you notice which is frayed should be replaced right away by a qualified electrician. This also goes for damaged extension cords or appliance plugs and wiring. Test all GFI receptacles throughout the house as well to ensure that they are in proper working order.

 

#18. Heating System

 

A general furnace/boiler inspection should be done twice a year. The inspections should be done just prior to the start of both the heating and cooling seasons. Look for rust, scaling on heat exchanger, proper flame color, note odd sounds or smells and check condition of venting. Test for proper drafting at furnace and/or water heater diverter, examine flue for leaks, rust, damage. Examine pressure-temperature relief valve for leaking, and test, if desired. Arrange for appropriate regular servicing and cleaning of combustion appliances. Drain hot water system expansion tank Check hot water system water level (pressure). Bleed hot water system radiators.

Check all convectors or radiators for leaks. Especially at air valves and shut off valves. Replace defective valves if needed.

If your heating system is a forced air type you will need to replace filters as needed. If you have an electronic filter it will need cleaning on a regular monthly basis. Follow the manufacturers recommendations for cleaning these types of filters. Check the water level of your humidifier. Adjust as needed. Replace the pad on the drum at least once a year. (If your system has a drum)  

 

#19. Plumbing System

 

Supply Lines - Check main line as it enters building from street. Make sure main piping is insulated. Check your main shutoff valve. If the valve is a gate type and looks corroded it should be replaced with a ball valve type. The main valve is important and must achieve 100% shut down in case of emergency. Testing old valves could cause problems. If valve looks rusted or corroded call in a plumber to replace it. Do not try and shut it down to see if it is working. Check all valves under all sinks. Open and close them once a year to check operation.

During winter months drain down all exterior hose hook ups to prevent water freeze ups in the pipe which could cause your piping to burst in your basement. There should be a valve inside the house to shut down the water supply to your exterior hose cocks. If not have a plumber install one so you can shut the line down in the winter and drain it from out side.

Replace washers in any leaking faucets and clean faucet areators. Adjust floats in toilets which continually run or replace flapper as necessary. Replace interior guts of tank as necessary as well.

If your home has well water check the quality of the water at least once a year. An outside company can perform the test for you.   

Waste Lines - Check functional flow of wastewater at all fixtures and exterior floor drains. Snake out all lines which appear to drain waste water slowly. Check all visible waste piping under sinks and in basements for leaks. Have your septic tank cleaned annually. If you have a sump pump in your basement check the operation of the pump to ensure that it is working properly.

 

#20. Attic

 

Check your attic at least once a year to ensure that it is dry. Look for water stains on the underside of your roof deck which indicates a roof leak. Check insulation to ensure that it is dry. Look for signs of mildew or rot. Check the roof vents make sure the are clear to allow proper venting. Test your attic fan if you have one.

 

Safety Checks ( Inspect and test these items on a monthly basis) 

  • Auto reverse feature on automatic garage door opener.

  • All ground fault interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers.

  • All smoke alarms .

  • Inspect all windows to be used for emergency exits.

  • Carbon monoxide detectors.

  • General inspection of heating unit and water heater. (Just a simple check) 

 

Things to Know About Your House

 

If you can't find or operate any of the items below, ask someone knowledgeable to help. All adults in the home should know where these items are and how to shut them off: It would be a good idea to identify and tag these items with name tags of some sort. Also you should write down the locations and operating procedures of each of the items below. Keep the information accessible in case of an emergency. 

  • Heating fuel main shutoff

  • Main electrical shutoff (Main Service Panel)

  • Main water shutoff

  • Fire extinguishers

  • Main drain line cleanout

 

Some General Tools to Keep Around the House

 

The majority of most home maintenance projects will require only a few basic tools. Here's a simple list which you should keep around the house. Keep in mind that there are many others you may want or eventually need, however the list below is a good start.

  

  • adjustable wrench

  • slip-joint pliers

  • utility knife

  • regular screwdriver

  • phillips head screwdriver

  • drain auger (plumber's snake)

  • flashlight

  • shop-grade vacuum cleaner

  • power washer/sprayer

  • buckets & heavy-duty sponges

  • hammer and hand saw

  • caulk gun & caulk

  • 6' step ladder & extension ladder

  • work gloves & rubber gloves

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