Buying a property is an incredible milestone to achieve and an exciting time, especially if it's your first home. However, there are several new responsibilities that come with the title homeowner.
Apart from the financial commitment, there are also some other necessary home maintenance responsibilities that need to be addressed on a regular basis. It is far better to ensure that everything gets the required attention before it turns into a major problem and financial burden. Advanced warning will also allow you to do some comparative shopping and find the best person for the job, instead of rushing around in an emergency situation.
Ideally, preventative maintenance inspections should be carried out at least twice a year, although certain areas of the home may require slightly more attention and others less. Most checks and maintenance are easy enough to do yourself. However, there are certain aspects of the home that should be left to the professionals.
Here are some areas in the home that will need to be checked and maintained regularly:
Main electrical panel
Check the electrical panel for signs of water penetration as this could be potentially dangerous. Look for water marks or sections of the panel that show signs of rust. The circuit breaker switches should all be turned off and back on to ensure that they are all working and none have seized. If the panel is warm to the touch or smells of burnt insulation, it is advisable to call an electrician.
Windy, stormy weather can shift or damage roofing tiles, so check them regularly. Roof tiles that are missing or damaged should be replaced as they could lead to leaks and water damage inside the home. Debris should be cleared off the roof, and any trees or branches that make contact with the roof should be cut back.
While on the roof, have a look at the chimney. Make sure that there are no loose or damaged bricks and that the mortar is in good repair. Also, check that the waterproofing elements around the base of the chimney are in a suitable condition. The chimney should be professionally swept as least once a year to clear away any built up creosote and other flammable materials inside the chimney flue. While this will not apply to gas fireplaces, it is important to have them serviced and have a licensed gas technician ensure that everything is operating correctly.
Foliage and other foreign objects can cause gutters and downpipes to clog, causing the water to overflow into unwanted areas, which could cause water damage inside the ceiling space or walls of the home. Avoid this by cleaning the gutters regularly, ensuring that there are no leaks or holes that may require some repair. Also, check that the gutters are securely attached to the wall and that they are positioned to drain water away from the house.
Windows and doors
Replace broken, or cracked windows as the can be a potential safety hazard. Old, cracking, sun-damaged window putty should also be reapplied. Window and door finishes should be checked for any paint deterioration or rot. Ensuring that the windows and doors seal properly will assist in reducing utility costs, as it will be easier to heat or cool down the inside of the home. It is vital to check whether any door frames have shifted over the last six months as this could point to an issue with the foundation or structure of the home.
Walls and ceilings
Important aspects to look for when inspecting walls and ceilings are cracks and damp spots. Narrow vertical cracks are often caused by minor settlement or normal shrinkage and not much cause for concern. However, if the vertical crack is around 3mm wide or wider, it could be a result of major settlement problems and should be checked and evaluated by an engineer.
Monitor any watermarks that appear on either the walls or the ceiling. Damp within the wall will cause the paint to bubble and flake, while damp in the ceiling could cause it to sag or in severe cases collapse. Watermarks on the ceiling are normally a symptom of a leaking roof.
Paint is used to change the look and feel of a home, but its primary function is to provide a protective layer against the elements. It provides a waterproofing layer to walls, protects metal from rust and wooden fixtures from sun-damage, insects and rot. Painted areas that are bubbling, peeling, cracked or blistered should be inspected, repaired and repainted.
Patios and decks
Much like paint, varnish or sealant acts as a protective layer for wooden features such as decks. Wooden patios and decks need to be sealed properly to avoid warping or water damage. If the deck is sealed correctly, water should bead on the surface, however, if the water is absorbed, it is ineffective. Another concern is insect infestation, so wooden features should be inspected and fumigated if necessary.
Once all the major elements have been inspected, check for things such as toilets that run continuously and leaking taps as these elements will waste water and eat into utility costs.