As many of us are now at home, we thought it would be an excellent idea for us to talk with one of our home inspectors about the top 19 Home Maintenance Items (get it... 19?... haha - hint COVID19) we can do to get our homes in tip-top shape for the summer months. Kyle Johnstone of A Buyers Choice Inspections put together this incredible list fo us to work off of, and we created this pdf for you to download and use as your checklist. All the descriptions of what to do are below.
Roof – After the winter months, it is a good idea to take a look at your roof to look for any significant damage. You do not need to climb on your roof for this. Simply get a far enough away and have a look, use binoculars if you have them or even a camera with a good zoom. Look for any missing or damaged shingles, or areas showing signs of wear with curling or missing granules.
Gutters & Downspouts – If you live in an area with large trees, it is a good idea to ensure the gutters are not full of leaves and debris, this can cause them to back up and overflow. Downspouts should have extensions on the end of them to direct all the water away from your foundation. It is a good idea to make sure they are down, especially during rainstorms. If you have some extensions missing, you can get a plastic extension from any hardware store that is flexible and easy to install.
Grading – Take a walk around your entire house and look at the level of the ground against the foundation to ensure it is sloped away. The grade should slope away at least 2% for at least 6’ if possible, to reduce the risk of water penetrating the foundation, especially during spring melt and heavy rains.
Trees & Shrubs – Spring is an excellent time to trim trees & shrubs. Shrubs should be planted at least 18” away from the house, and it is a good practice to trim tree branches back at least that distance. The wind can cause tree branches and shrubs to rub against the house and cause unwanted damage.
Siding – The siding is the first plane of protection for your house, it is a good idea to make sure it is in good shape, and all penetrations are watertight. Look for any damaged or missing siding and inspect all pipe, wire and exhaust penetrations. These should all be watertight, easy to add caulking around any pipes.
Painting/staining – Inspect all exterior woodwork for weathered and missing paint on decks and trim. You can sand/remove old paint and put on a fresh new coat. This helps prevent the wood from weathering and water damage.
Weatherstripping – Check the weatherstripping around all the doors for a tight seal. These should be continuous on the sides and top of the frame; the bottom will have a sweep that should sit tight against the door frame.
Garage opener – There are a few easy steps to ensure the garage door opener is working correctly and safely. There should be an eye beam sensor that will cause the door to reverse if tripped, after pushing the button to close the door then kick your leg in front of this sensor, it should then reverse the door. Also, when the door is up, you can pull the string to test the spring has tension, have someone hold the door if you have a helper around, the door should stay put when you let go. If the door does want to close on its own, the spring is needing to be tightened, and this should be done by a garage door specialist.
Windows – Springtime is for window cleaning. While cleaning this year, make sure to clean the track on all sliding windows & doors. Once clean, these can be lubricated with a silicone spray to not attract dust.
Hot Water Tank – While these don’t require a large amount of maintenance, it is a good practice to drain an ice cream pail of water twice a year off the bottom of the tank. The Calgary area has hard water and sediment can build up at the bottom of the tank. An excellent way to remember for the timing to do this regularly is by doing it at the same time as when you turn your outside taps on/off for the season.
Furnace – The best thing that you can do for your furnace is to change your filter regularly. The best practice is to buy your furnace a Christmas present, a 4 pack of filters, and change it every 3 months.
Humidifier – As noted above, the Calgary area has hard water, and this can cause calcium build up on the humidifier pad. This pad can either be cleaned regularly with a product like CLR or can be replaced for approximately $20.
Electrical – There is not much maintenance required on your electrical system, however, one thing you can do is to test all AFCI(Arc Fault) & GFCI(Ground Fault) breakers and plugs. These all have a test button to cause the plug/breaker to trip and should reset after the test. It is best practice to have GFCI plugs/breakers on all receptacles close to a water source like a bathroom, kitchen or outdoors. Consider updating plugs as needed.
Caulking – Caulking can prevent water from getting behind the subsurface and causing mold or rot. You can check bathrooms and kitchens to ensure caulking is continuous and doing its job. Any caulking that has some mold growth can be cut out and replaced.
Toilets – Check toilets for any continuous water running after flushing, this will help save excess water usage. Also, a good idea to ensure the toilet is secure to the floor, try giving it a little wiggle with your knees. If loose, tighten the bolts until snug, and then the front half can also be siliconed to the floor.
P-Traps – It is common to have a slow draining sink, as hair and debris can get caught up in the drain under the sink. Place a bucket under the p-trap and unscrew the trap and cleanout.
Smoke/CO Detectors – It is a good practice to test at least a couple of times a year. These detectors have a 10-year lifespan and should be replaced if they expired. At a minimum, there should be at least 1 smoke & CO detector on each level on the home. These can be purchased for about $50 each.
Attic – I would guess most people have never even looked up in the attic in their home. Some easy things to look for: - Make sure the attic hatch is insulated. - There should be a foam gasket to seal the attic hatch to the frame, best practice is to be closed-cell foam, costs about $10 to replace - Check for any disturbed insulation, this can be blown around by the wind in exposed areas.
Laundry – If you have a front load washing machine, there is a filter on most units that is to be cleaned every 2 months, a reasonable time to check this. Also, an excellent time to clean out the dryer vent of lint. As lint builds up, this can be a fire hazard in the pipe.
As you work through these items, be sure to check the rest of our Stay at Home blogs at the link below.