Twin Oaks Home Inspection
PROPERTY MAINTENANCE TIPS
For the New Home Owner
Most of these “chores” are scheduled in the Fall Season:
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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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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