So now you are the proud owner of a home! Now you can sit back, relax, and simply enjoy the home, right? Well, maybe. If you want to keep the value, soundness, and overall appearance, the house has to be maintained. If you had an inspection prior to purchasing, hopefully the inspector took the time to show you some areas that will need to be maintained. Even on "maintenance free" homes that are wrapped in vinyl siding or brick, with trim features of aluminum or vinyl will still need at least annual maintenance. Many of the issues I see during a home inspection were caused by a lack of maintenance. Most, if not all, of those were simple maintenance items that any homeowner can handle, depending on your comfort level with tools and possibly ladders.
So, just what has to be done to keep your house in great condition? Much of this depends on the type, style, and location of the house. You should receive a maintenance manual from your inspector. If not, ask!
These offer great tips and information on the whole house, how it works, and how to keep it in great shape, much like the scheduled maintenance for your car or truck.
Nspect offers a home maintenance check up to help you take the guess work out of it. Inspections can be scheduled annually or as a one time event to help you stay on track. A full report or a simple work list, the choice is yours.
Here are few key areas that left unattended can lead to much costlier repairs.
Caulking. This small bead of silicone or latex is what prevents water from penetrating in the joints and cracks in your home's exterior can prevent major repairs in the future. Always purchase caulking that is right for the job. Don't be lured by a lower cost. You will get what you pay for. Some areas to watch:
Around window and door trim
Beneath the threshold of doors that are ground level. Basement entrance doors are a good example.
Cracks in foundations. Left unattended, water penetration, combined with freezing temperatures can cause more damage. Also, once sealed, monitoring for future movement is possible.
Water and drainage control. The issues regarding water and moisture beneath a home are often the result of poor management and control of surface water, either from downspouts or poor grading around the home.
Grading; The general consensus for proper grading is about 6 inches for about 10 feet. This will help protect the foundation from excessive rain and runoff water. On some homes, however, this is not always possible. Quite often, the siding is too close to the ground to allow extra fill. These situations should be addressed by a professional for the best solution.
Gutters and downspouts; An amazing amount of water is shed by your roof. The gutters and downspouts are designed to direct water to the ends of the house where the downspouts carry it down and hopefully away from your house. Generally, the downspout terminates below the siding, with a small elbow to turn it away from the house. So all that water is effectively being directed away, right? Simply put, NO it is not. The water has no place to go but in the ground at that point, and almost always collects at the foundation where it can penetrate the foundation and give you that nice water stain, and possibly wet wall and floor that you so often see in the corners of the basement or crawlspace. So, the concerned homeowner purchases the splash blocks and installs them beneath the downspout, moving the water two feet or so. Problem solved, right? Not necessarily. If there is sufficient grade for the water to follow, then possibly the issue is resolved. Quite often though the water runs to the end and off the splash block, where it can, and frequently does, flow back under the splash block to find it's way back to your foundation. Sounds like a conspiracy, doesn't it? So what is the best solution? The best solution is whatever it takes to effectively move the water away, based on grading around the home, the type of soil and other factors. The following article has some great information and is a great starting place.Check this out.
While controlling the water from runoff and downspouts can eliminate some water issues beneath your home, this may not always be the answer. Severe water penetration issues should be analyzed by a professional. However, keep in mind, that controlling the water penetration in your basement or crawlspace should be performed on the exterior of the foundation. Coatings and treatments on the inside may control the issue on the interior for a period of time, it does not prevent the water from penetrating and damaging the foundation. They only help prevent water on the interior. Proper damp/water proofing and foundation drainage on the exterior is generally the best solution. Do your homework when dealing with moisture and water penetration. Much information is available to help you!
Keeping your gutters clean is important. Not only can your gutters become full of debris, but often causes the downspouts to clog. This condition can cause several issues. Water not flowing to the downspouts causes the gutters to become full, placing additional weight on the support system. Water can overflow the gutter which allows water closer access to the foundation. In winter, water can back up, prevent snow and ice melt to properly drain away, leaving the possibility of refreezing and expansion and water damage to the components behind and above the gutter.
Check back often for more tips!