Buying a home is a significant investment. With financial commitments of this magnitude, you want to do all you can to protect them. So, it only makes sense that new homeowners should take great care to maintain that all-important investment.
Taking Care of Your New Home
It takes proper maintenance to keep your home in tip-top condition for the long run. To protect your statutory warranty rights, adequate upkeep is, essential. Warranties do not cover damage that has occurred because of improper maintenance practices. When in doubt as to what kind of maintenance you should be executing, refer to your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for all systems and materials in your home. Additionally, feel free to discuss with your builder any ongoing maintenance.
Your Home and Moisture
This is, by far, one of the most important aspects of ongoing maintenance. In your home, the humidity level should never be too low or too high. A hygrometer will help you to monitor your home’s humidity level. In winter, between 30 and 45% is a reasonable level of humidity for the interior of your home. In the summer, never let the humidity exceed 60%.
Windowsills and windows are favorite places for condensation to collect. Surrounding walls can be damaged when this happens. Interior finishes, wood products, etc. can be affected by humidity that is too low. So how can we control moisture levels? Controlling Humidity.
• Fixtures and plumbing pipes should always be in good repair. Clean up any leaks quickly.
• Ventilation is critical when it comes to keeping your home’s humidity at the proper level. Your home’s ventilation system should always be used. Principal exhaust fans and furnace fans should always be running. When using the shower, use the bathroom fan as well. When you cook, use the kitchen fan to vent out steam and smoke.
• If you have an aquarium, a large number of plants, or a hot tub, that can raise your home’s moisture level. In those cases, be sure to ventilate accordingly.
• At least 150 mm from the top of the foundation, keep your flowerbeds and landscaping from affecting your home’s exterior. Additionally, grading should slope away from your home.
• Regular inspections should be done on your roof.
• Regularly clear debris from gutters and extend sump pump discharges and gutter downspouts away from the building. For homes with septic systems, the area surrounding it should be checked regularly for standing water or erosion.
One of the best ways to control moisture is through proper housekeeping. Tidy storage areas to assure adequate circulation. Store clothing, magazines, and newspapers in a dry area. If you notice a musty odor, be sure to investigate ASAP.
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are additional ways of controlling atmospheric moisture in your home for proper levels of humidity. (See below.)
Regular Home Maintenance Tasks
Your air conditioning and heating systems should be inspected on a regular basis by certified and qualified technicians. Be sure to clean or replace filters as needed. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors should be checked regularly as well. Throughout your home, every other month, ground fault circuit interrupters should be tested and reset. And every year, air ducts should be cleaned.
Seasonal Maintenance Tasks
Winter: As referenced earlier, dryness is a problem in many homes during winter. Stay on top of the humidity level in your home. If you have difficulty maintaining the proper humidity level in winter months, consider the use of a humidifier. Also, during winter, be sure to shut off outdoor water supplies from the inside, and open outdoor faucets.
After storms, and only if it’s safe, clear excess snow from overhangs.
Spring: In spring, inspect all exhausts and air intakes for nests and other debris. For homes with a sump pump, especially considering the wet conditions during this season, make sure that your sump pump is operating correctly. Check discharge and flow lines for proper operation. Look around the bottom of your water heater to make sure that no leaks have developed.
It’s also time to remove that cover from your air conditioner in preparation for warm weather. Wash or clean the filter, brush the outdoor coil, vacuum, and generally inspect your air conditioning unit (follow manufacturer’s guidelines).
Around doors and windows, check, replace and fix caulking and weather stripping as necessary.
Summer: Again, moisture can be a problem in homes during summer so keep an eye on the humidity level in your home. A dehumidifier may be necessary. Outside the house, check out surfaces to see if refinishing or painting is required.
Fall: Autumn is the perfect time to have your furnace serviced in preparation for cold weather. The sump pump should be rechecked (as above) to ensure proper operation during winter.
All year round: No matter the season, ventilation is essential. All meters, exhausts, and air intakes should be looked at regularly. (In winter, they should be cleared of snow.) Clean and test, and if necessary, lubricate all exhaust fans inside your home. When needed, replace the filter on your heat recovery ventilator (if applicable).
Though there are many maintenance tasks that can be executed throughout a season, year-round, and throughout the life of your home, these are the high points. By paying attention to the tasks above, you stand a better chance of enjoying your home for years to come.