Twin Oaks Home Inspection

PROPERTY MAINTENANCE TIPS

For the New Home Owner

 

Most of these “chores” are scheduled in the Fall Season:

Send other suggestions and tips to gerrycarrier@msn.com (I’ll give you the credit on the newest list).

 

Disclaimer: The intent of this list is to provide some informative general house maintenance tips to a new home owner.  It by no means is all inclusive and it is definitely not the last word when it comes to recommended time intervals.  These items are only a list of suggestions that I provide to my clients based on my personal experience in property management, ownership and renovation.

 

Heating:

Oil Burners should be tuned up and checked by a professional each year before heating season.

Propane or Natural gas furnaces / boilers should be tuned and checked by a professional every one or two years.  If gas odors are detected, leave the house immediately and contact a gas company.  Do not turn on any electrical devices including lights or use anything with an open flame.

Check for leaks in pipes, clean radiators of dust and cobwebs

Lubricate circulation motors (if equipped) twice during heating season

Check for proper ventilation and air source (about 150 cubic feet of air per 10,000 BTU rating on burner).Do not enclose furnace unit without sufficient work space for maintenance (min 30 inches in front of unit) and proper vents to allow combustion air to unit burner.  Improper ventilation may result in combustion gases entering the living space.

Check electric baseboard heaters annually to ensure an adequate clearance from combustible materials / curtains.  Any signs of damage to heater should be repaired or replaced.  No electrical cords / outlets are allowed over baseboard electric elements.

 

Forced hot air systems:

Change filters every month during heating season at furnace air return

Clear vents / registers of furniture or decorations for proper air passage and circulation

Check for mold and mildew in vents

Check water humidifier container for lime and mineral buildup.

Clean water lines and drains in humidifier

Check water valve / pump in humidifier for proper operation

 

Water Heater:

If oil or gas / propane, have the unit checked at the same time as the furnace / boiler

Check for leaks and rust on pipes and tank

Check vent fan motor for proper operation (gas models)

Check for proper ventilation and traces of CO leakage at vent hood on gas models

Electric heaters: check for leaks and rust on tank and around heater element screws

  

Check Sump Pump in basement: 

If equipped, check for proper operation, drainage pipe operation / slope, proper float adjustments

Check drainage tiles / pipes around foundation for obstructions

 

Chimney:

Check outside of chimney for cracks, loose bricks or mortar, signs of black seepage (creosote) and any settling that may cause damage to the inside flue liners

A white powder/salt substance (efflorescence) on the brick means that moisture is within the chimney and should be investigated further

Seal exterior bricks with “water seal” products at least every 3 years

Check chimney cap or screen to insure that it is securely fastened and not damaged

All metal chimneys should have rain caps and all joints should be secured with screws

Check chimney flashing for cracks or leaks

Check operation of damper in fireplaces

Check flue for creosote build-up and nests

Have flue professionally cleaned before each heating season

Clean ash pit at base of chimney.  Insure that cleaning access door closes properly

 

Smoke / CO monitors:

Change batteries when you change clocks from EDT to EST each year. 

Check all smoke detectors for proper operation by pushing on test button

Clean around units if dusty or blocked

 

Septic Systems:

Have the septic system professionally pumped and inspected every 2 years. Older systems may require annual cleaning and inspection.

Watch for signs of failure, wet spots on lawn, soggy ground, odor / gasses

Some companies recommend adding bacteria to your septic system on a regular basis.  Contact your dealer for their specific recommendations.

 

Wood Stoves:

Check fire box for cracked / broken fire bricks, grates, fire box

Check damper for proper operation

Check all pipe connections for secure fittings / leaks

Check area around stove for flammable materials and proper separations (typical 30-36 inches or check with local fire protection agencies)

First fire of season should always be a small controlled fire to allow inspection of system.

  

Outside of house:

Walk around house checking for;

Areas needing painting, window ledges, door thresholds, siding, etc.

Damaged siding or loose siding with nails sticking out.  Predominant on South facing walls due to sun’s heat.

Broken windows, vents, etc.

Signs of mold (usually on North side).  If a black mold is growing on painted surfaces, a mixture of bleach or other commercial products can be used to wash off mold and restore color to affected areas.   Wear old clothes and safety glasses if doing yourself.  Use plenty of water and cover shrubs to protect from chemicals.

Check outside water spigots.  Some may not be anti freezing type and may need to be turned off in cellar and drained before winter every year.

Rake leaves away from house

Cut back landscaping shrubs away from building to reduce moisture and rubbing

Fertilize lawns in fall

Drain lawn sprinkler systems with compressor or have professionally done before freezing

Clean gutters and downspouts.  Direct runoff away from home at least six feet to reduce water build-up near foundation

Check gaskets / weather stripping and hardware on doors and windows / storm windows.  Caulk gaps or cracks as required. 

Check windows for missing or dried putty holding window panes.  Replace/paint as required.

Clear opening in perimeter drain tiles or pipes for proper water flow away from foundation

 

Porches and Decks:

Check wood components for rot or insect infestation (ants)

Eliminate wood piling to earth contact

Check for loose steps and hand railings

Railing openings on walls should be less than 5 inches to reduce hazards with small children

 

Roof:

Check for missing or loose shingles.

Check for wear and burn out between tabs

Insure that flashing is secure

Check for cracks in flashing near chimney, skylights and vent pipe

Supports for antenna or satellite dishes should be checked

Flat roofs should be checked for blisters, bubbles and proper flashing

 

Eaves: Soffits and fascia should be inspected for loose and rotted areas.  Paint areas showing fading or damage from sun / water / drying out.  Replace damaged sections.

Do not over paint soffit vents.  Keep vents open for attic cooling

  

Garage:

Check safety features on garage doors monthly. (auto reverse, etc)  Adjust accordingly.

Check rollers for wear and springs / cables for cracks or signs of damage. 

Replace roll up door springs with safety cabled springs

Have sand / salt ready for winter weather

 

Water Softeners / Water Treatment Filters:

Replace filters as required (discolored) or at least 3 times per year

Keep Brine tank supplied with salts

 

Artesian and Shallow Well Water Tests:

Refer to the N.H. Department of Environmental Services http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/dwgb/well_testing/index.htm  for updates.

As of June 2004 the recommendations are:

Basic Water Test every 3-5 years

Radon every 3-5 years

Bacteria and Nitrate Yearly

 

Attics:

Check for signs of pests and nests in the insulation

Check for water stains, mildew, mold, fungus, etc.

Check rafters for cracks or bending from over spanning or heavy snow load

Check to insure proper air circulation through gable vents and eaves

Improper ventilation will cause heat to rise to roof and melt snow.  This will freeze and create ice dams and icicles on the roof edge.  This can cause serious damage to the roof shingle as well as a safety hazard to people and animals walking below the ice build-ups.

 

Air Conditioning Units:

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper winter preparation.   Do not operate after outside air temperature is below 65 degrees.   Turn on power at least 12-24 hours before initial start in spring (air temp over 65 degrees) to allow oil in system to heat up.  Damage to unit can occur if the oil is not allowed to warm up before operation.

Keep area around outside unit free of shrubs and debris.  Maintain proper clearances from walls and other items that will decrease air flow onto cooling fins.   Listen for a noisy fan sound. This could indicate a bad bearing.

Check condensate drain tube (near furnace air handler) for obstruction and mineral (gunk) build-up.

Most manufacturers recommend keeping outside unit uncovered to minimize moisture and rust.  Covers may be required in areas with pine needles and other debris that could clog fins and reduce cooling abilities.  Use best judgment on this or talk to local dealers in your area.

Remove and store window AC units in dry location.

 

Misc.

Check out ResourceWebSites and WinterizeyourHome for more helpful information and tips.

 

Check snow blower for oil, proper plug gap and auger operation.   Do not insert hands in any area around auger when engine is running.  Check for shear pin condition. Keep a few spares handy, never use bolts or nails as pins.

 

Check all handrails for secure attachment.  Handrails should not be 2X4’s but a rail that the hand can wrap around in the event someone falls backwards.

 

Clean tracks on sliding windows and doors and insure that drain holes are clear

 

Test all GFCI outlets to check for proper operation (monthly)

 

Check bathtub and sink caulking and replace / clean as required

 

Install driveway markers for snow plowing, as required

 

Clean behind refrigerator and stove