Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a new home. This is the place where memories are made. You want to enjoy living in your home and you want to make its beauty last.
In order to keep your home in tip-top shape, you will need to perform regular maintenance tasks. By keeping your home maintained, you will be able to offer your home for sale at top market price in the future. Like any other investment, you want this home to grow in value.
Maintenance tasks covered in this manual fall into three major areas :
- foundation preservation
- interior elements
- exterior elements
Following recommended maintenance procedures in these areas will help maintain the beauty, comfort, and value of your home.
Your foundation supports the load bearing portions of your home. It is critical that it be maintained so that support of your home is not jeopardized.
Many homeowners are unaware that foundation movement is normal. For the first year or more, your home will be settling into the ground. This settling may cause small cracks in your walls. These cracks are normal.
Foundation and Soil
Cracks appear in all foundations to a varying degree as a result of the concrete curing process and the movement of the slab caused by seasonal moisture changes in soil adjacent to the foundation.
The soil around your foundation should be of equal density. This can be accomplished by keeping the moisture level of the soil on all sides of your home approximately equal. Soil in many areas acts like a sponge — it expands and contracts according to the amount of water in it. If you have a leak around your foundation on one side of your house, you need to fix it quickly.
Your builder has graded the lot so that water drains away from the foundation. Do not build planters, raise the flower beds or do anything that disrupts the drainage away from your foundation. Additionally, you need to take care that trees are placed a good distance from your foundation so that they do not suck water from soil adjacent to your foundation.
Consult your builder or a qualified landscaping professional if you have any questions regarding the drainage around your foundation.
Most experts recommend caulking outside your home once per year. The purpose of caulking is to seal the house so that air and water do not come in or go out. A lot of money can be lost if you do not seal open spaces in the walls and around windows and doors. You don’t want to air condition or heat the outside air that comes into your home. Heat travels from hottest to coldest, so that in the summer warm air will infiltrate your house and in the winter heated air will leave your house to the colder outside air. Both situations result in extra work for your air conditioner/heating unit. More work means higher utility bills.
The first place to look for caulking needs is around your doors and windows. These are sealed by the builder at the time your home is built, but environmental conditions may result in spaces that need to be caulked or weatherstripped.
Other places are around outlets inside the house where you can feel a draft of air coming inside. Additionally, there may be places outside between siding panels that may allow air or water penetration.
IMPORTANT: Do not attempt to caulk “weep holes” in your brick. This brick is not connected to the inside of your home and the holes are needed to allow water to escape from behind the brick.
Finally, consult with your local Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc. for the type of caulking or weather stripping to use in your home.
An air conditioner requires regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.
The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal air flow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. Most people recommend changing your air filter once a month during the hottest time of the year and every other month in cooler weather.
One of the most frequent air conditioner maintenance problems is a clogged condensation line. Often, mold or bacterial growth clogs the line. To keep this line flowing freely, pour a 1:9 mixture of household bleach and water through the line every month or so during the cooling season. The condensation line is found on the inside part of your air conditioning unit.
Other Maintenance Items
There are other types of maintenance items that should be performed on your A/C unit, but these should be done by a professional air conditioning service. NEVER open your air conditioning unit. Opening the unit can be hazardous and even fatal without the proper knowledge of the hazards. You may call any air conditioning service to have yearly maintenance done. Consult your owner’s manual supplied by your builder for more information.
The Wood Floor Manufacturers Association states that wood floors are the easiest of all floor types to keep clean and looking new. In order to accomplish this several items must be taken into consideration. These include keeping dirt and grit off the floor, keeping water off the floor, and maintaining the surface finish.
Clean weekly with a dust mop or vacuum. A damp mop may be used for spills, but never for general cleaning. The water can get into crevices in the wood and result in damage to the floor. Do not ever use a dripping mop.
Keep dirt and grit off the floor to prevent scratches. Putting mats or carpets at the doors will reduce the amount of dirt tracked into the room. Dirt and grit cause damage to all types of flooring, including carpet as well as wood.
Put small rugs in areas where spills are likely, for example in front of the kitchen sink and stove. Use a rug that you can easily throw in the washer when it needs cleaning.
Protecting Your Floor
Even the hardest wood flooring will show indentations under certain conditions. Avoid walking on the floor with golf shoes, cleats, or narrow high heeled shoes without a good cap on the heel. Also, if you have pets keep their nails clipped so that they don’t scratch the floor.
Felt protectors should be placed on legs of your furniture to prevent scratches. If you move heavy furniture across the floor, be sure to place a pad or mat on the floor under the furniture to prevent scratches.
Natural Stone may be used in many places in your home. It might be used on countertops and vanities, and interior floors, as well as outdoor patios and walkways. Even though stone has been weathered by the harsh forces of nature, it can still be damaged by spills and certain cleaners. It is important that you care properly for your stone to prolong its life and beauty.
Although your stone product has been weathered by nature over many years, it can be damaged if not protected. Acidic solutions can easily damage the finish. Follow the guidelines below to protect your stone.
- Use coasters under drinking glasses, especially if they contain citric juices or alcohol.
- Use trivets or mats under hot dishes or cookware.
- Blot up spills right away to prevent damage from liquids.
- Use a small rug at outside entryways to prevent dirt and grit from being tracked inside and damaging stone surfaces.
- Do not spray directly or indirectly with cleaning solutions like Windex.
The best way to clean your stone floor is with a dust mop. A vacuum may be used as long as the bottom surfaces and wheels are not rough enough to cause scratches on the floor.
Do not use highly acidic or alkaline cleansers on your stone. This includes bleach ammonia, and vinegar as well as bathroom/tile cleaners.
Please refer to the care manual for your stone that was given to you by your builder. It will have information on cleaning the specific type of stone that is installed in your home.
A Final Note
Read the manufacturer’s instructions that your builder has provided to you. They contain information specific to your systems and finishes and gives information on minor repairs.