Home Maintenance Advice and Tips
You have just purchased your new home. Here are some helpful tips on how to keep your house safe and ensure that it retains its value.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call or e-mail us. We are always here to help. No charge
When you move in
- Change the locks on all exterior doors and change the codes for any automatic garage door opener to ensure your security.
- Check that all windows and doors are working properly and have working locks. You can upgrade any window hardware that may be needed. Security rods should be added to sliding windows and doors. Think about getting a security system if it will make you feel safer. Many of the new systems available are wireless and require no invasive wiring.
- Install smoke detectors on each level of the home, especially at the top and bottom of stairways and in hallways outside of bedrooms. PLEASE NOTE: The actual detecting device in smoke detectors wears out after 5 to 7 years. This means that the test button will work (this button only tests the battery, not the detector), but the detector will not detect smoke. Smoke (and carbon monoxide) detectors should be replaced every 5 years.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors within 5m of each sleeping room. In bedrooms used by small children, or rooms that have ventless modular fireplaces or stoves, a digital readout smoke detector (inexpensive wall plug-in units are available) should be installed. Children are especially susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning and spend a great deal of time in their rooms taking naps. Ventless fireplaces put out a small amount of carbon monoxide and should be operated no more than 2 hours in any 24 hour period, and then only when a window is open.
- Create an escape plan in the event of a fire in your home and teach it to your children. Consult with your local fire department regarding fire safety issues and what to do in the event of fire.
- Make sure that downspouts do not drain onto walkways and driveways. Excessive water can lead to ice formation and cause slipping. Make sure that your downspouts drain at least 2m away from your house's foundation. This is probably the most over looked problem and can lead to basement flooding. Take the water away from the house and it will not come back.
- Check inside the house for trip hazards. Improperly secured carpeting and flooring should be repaired
- Fix problems with all stairways, decks, porches and landings where there is a risk of falling or stumbling. Make sure that all handrails are secure and tight and that there is no more than a 7cm gap between Railing Baluster.
- Review your home inspection report for any items that require immediate improvement or further investigation. Address these areas as required.
- Install rain caps and pest screens on all chimney flues, as necessary.
- Find and tag the location of the main shut-offs for the plumbing, heating and electrical systems. When you attended the home inspection, these items should have been pointed out to you.
- Purchase Type 3 fire extinguishers and mount them in the kitchen, basement and in the bedroom hallways. Check that the fire extinguishers are fully charged. Re-charge if necessary. Spend the extra amount and get quality extinguishers. It's money well spent.
- If the house has circulating hot water heating, bleed the radiator air valves. This ensures that there are no water bubbles or cavities in the system. If you are unsure on how to do this, have a licensed and professional HVAC technician explain it to you.
- Clear gutters and downspouts or leaves and debris. Ensure that downspouts are properly secured to the side of the house and that the downspouts drain at least 2m away from the house. Remove debris from basement window wells.
- Check the condition of shower and bathtub enclosures. Repair or replace deteriorated grout and caulk. Make sure to seal all tile grout with silicone grout sealer (also on tile floors, which makes cleaning much easier!). Sealing the grout of tile floors will also ensure that dirt does not stain the grout. Check below all plumbing fixtures for leaks.
- Repair or replace leaking faucets or shower heads. Check and clean faucet aerators, as necessary. If they are older and clogged, they can be inexpensively replaced.
- Tighten loose toilet and toilet seats, if they are loose, and check the toilet flushing mechanisms in the tank.
Spring and fall
- Inspect the roof for signs of damage to roof covering, flashing and chimney. Check any caulking which may be around the chimney flashing and repair it if it is cracked. Most roof leakage is not from the roof, but from the roof flashings.
- Trim tree branches and bushes to ensure that they are not in contact with the house or roof. There should be at least 1/2 m of clearance between bushes and the house's exterior. This allows the home's building envelope to properly dry.
- Check the outside walls and foundation for evidence of damage, cracking or movement. Watch for bird nests or other vermin or insect activity.
- Check the basement and/or crawl space walls for signs of moisture seepage. If you have a finished basement, check the baseboards for signs of water staining. Seeping or leaking basement foundation cracks can be easily repaired by polyurethane injection. Make sure the foundation contractor injects the sealant under pressure and doesn't just apply sealant paint or epoxy.
- Look at overhead power, phone and cable wires coming to the house. They should be secure and clear of trees or other obstructions.
- Ensure that the slope of the grade of the land around the house takes water to flow away from the foundation. Make sure that downspouts empty at least 2m away from the house.
- Inspect all driveways, sidewalks, decks, porches, and landscape retaining walls for evidence of deterioration, movement or safety hazards.
- Clean windows and make sure they work properly. Use a silicone lubricant (like WD-40) on window frames to ensure smooth operation. Repair or replace caulking and weather-stripping as necessary. Look for evidence of rot in wood window frames. Paint and repair window sills and frames as necessary. Clean any drain holes (located at the bottom sill of the window) of debris.
- Test all ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) devices, as identified in the inspection report.
- Test the Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve on water heaters. Make sure that the pipe that comes out of the TPR valve goes DOWN, is metal and goes to within 6" or the floor. Plastic or PVC TPR drain pipes are NOT safe. Make sure that all water heaters above the basement level are installed in drained pans as a guard against a failed water heater flooding out the floors or your downstairs neighbors.
- Test the garage door opener and its safety features to ensure that the auto-reverse mechanism is adjusted properly. Clean and lubricate hinges, rollers and tracks on overhead doors.
- Replace or clean stove and clothes dryer exhaust filters. Vacuum lint out of the clothes dryer vent piping. Make sure that you use the proper type of dryer vent piping. Plastic or "foil" type piping is not approved for use with clothes dryers and will cause fires.
- Inspect and clean and/or service all appliances per manufacturer's recommendations. Make sure to brush or vacuum out the refrigerator cooling coils.
- Replace smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries twice a year. Completely replace these detectors every 5 years. The detectors deteriorate and they will not work, even though the "test" button says it is OK. The test button ONLY tests the battery, bit the detector.
- Have the heating, cooling and water heater systems checked, cleaned and regular maintenance service done.
- Have chimneys inspected and cleaned. Ensure that rain caps and pest screens on top of chimney flues are secure.
- Check electrical panels, wiring and electrical components for evidence of overheating, rust or physical damage. Ensure that all electrical devices are secure. Flip the breakers on and off to ensure that they are not sticky.
- If the house has water well, have the pump and holding tank inspected and serviced. Have the water quality tested. If the house has a septic system, have the tank inspected (and pumped out, if needed).
- If your home is in an area prone to wood destroying insects (termites, carpenter ants, etc.), have the home inspected by a licensed specialist. Preventative treatments, like perimeter spraying, may be recommended in some cases.