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Preventative Home Maintenance

November 1, 2009

P R O P E R T Y   S E A R C H

R E S T I V O – H E C H T M A N    T E A M



Early detection of a potential home maintenance problem can potentially save you thousands of dollars.  I highly recommend that every prospective buyer get a professional inspection done before purchasing a home.  Here are a handful of suggestions for maintaining your property (gained from traipsing behind a local inspector) .  Buyers  can use  this list to ‘eyeball’ a property before putting an offer in on it…. and ….  Sellers can use it to get the house ready to sell.    Want an “inkling” as to how well a property is being maintained ?


Rain gutters:  Remove leaves and debris  so the water doesn’t overflow back onto the soffits and fascia. (Snake out the elbows with a wire).  Tighten loose mountings. Caulk holes.  If  gutters tend to fill with debris, install mesh over them to prevent clogging.

Roofs:  Check for missing shingles (and inspect  ridge areas)… check for blisters, bubbles, open seams … gravel erosion… loose or broken tiles… damaged flashings… tighten antennas and supports to avoid leaks.  Cut back tree branches to avoid damage to the roof  (and rodents infestation).  

Eaves:  Check soffits and fascia for loose and rotted areas and/or water stains. 

Foundation:  Check for evidence of deterioration, movement, dampness or cracking. Fill in crack and voids with mortar mix or other sealants. 

Grading:  Check grading to ensure drainage flows away from the house (Recommended drop= 1 inch per foot for the the first 6 feet away from the structure). Inspect for signs of termites or other pest infestation.

Exterior Walls:  Check for cracking, separating,  rot,  settling, buckling, or other evidence of movement…loose or damaged wood, caulking, or wood/soil contact.  If the paint is blistering or bubbling, the cause should be determined (because it may result from moisture migrating from the interior to exterior surfaces).  Keep vegetation clear of the wall surfaces by 6 inches. Crushed rock can be used around the exterior of the house for drainage.

Windows and Doors:  Check for finish condition… broken glass or screens… loose putty or gaping caulking… weatherstipping … signs of unsealed spaces… functionality of hardware (and lubricate with WD40). Remove debris from foundation wells & shutter tracks. Window tinting can reduce energy penetration by up to 75%, protecting window treatments and furnishings from harmful UV rays… and simultaneously reducing energy costs.

Garage Doors:  Check to make sure they run smoothly and quietly… (In the down position, you can lubricate the hinges, rollers, tracks, WD-40, oil or powdered graphite).

Porches and decks:  Check for insect infestation… loose steps… railing stability.

Grounds and Yard:  Check driveways and sidewalks for cracks, settling, and uplifting (which could be a safety hazard)… and caused by  erosion, direct surface water or  root infiltration. Check retaining  walls, fences for stability, rotting, or insect infestation.

Interior Foundation: Check for evidence of  deterioration, movement or dampness (Note:  minor foundation wall dampness may be fairly normal in older foundations). Any indication of excess humidity or evidence of mold (in areas where there ought not be)  might warrant further inspection.

Wall and Ceiling Cracks:  Settling can occur even with brand new construction, causing minor surface cracks.  Larger cracks & bulges which increase over time can be indicative of more significant movement.  Check for water stains, mildew, mold, condensation, powdery substance on the walls or floor adjacent to the walls which may indicate high humidity levels or moisture penetration.

Attic: Check for water stains on the underside of the roof sheeting… rot, mildew,fungus on the wood.. make sure the insulation is not wet and that the roof vents are free of bird nests, and that the vent screens are in good condition.

Electrical Panel:  Flip the breakers on and off (and when you first move in, label the breakers so they correspond to the rooms and appliances to which they correspond).  If the circuit breaker trips frequently, have an electrician determine the cause and make repairs. Any slots without circuit breakers should be covered.

Indoor Wiring &  Circuits:  If you experince the slightest tingling shock from handling or touching any appliance, disconnect  and repair immediately. Test the ground fault interrupter outlets (GFI’s) periodically by pushing the test button on the GFI receptical.

Outdoor wiring:  Make sure the wiring coming into the house is not frayed or worn, that exterior outlets have weathertight protective covers, and that tree branches and vegetation is not in contact with the wiring system

Plumbing/Septic:  Have well water checked for safety. Check exposed plumbing and supply lines for evidence of leaking.  Toilets which run continuously should be repaired.  Check for leakage around or under toilet bowl, sinks, showers, tubs (and check caulking).  Clean drains and snake if they are slow to empty. Pump septic tank every 5 years (or as needed).  Check lawn sprinkler system for leaky or broken valves/heads and cover exposed lines.

Water heaters:  Check the pressure relief valve to ensure proper function (and drain the water heater annually to remove accumulated sludge and sediment (shutting off the electrical or gas power prior… and draining it through a garden hose attached to the draincock). Refill the tank with water and turn on the power again.

Air conditioners:  Clean filters  and coils monthly… and remove debris, dust and pet hair. Flush the evaporator drain line.  Add 1/2 cup of bleach to the drain line every other month.  If you’re going to be away from home, set your AC to a higher ambient temperature, but do NOT shut the system off completely (This will help prevent the growth of mold and mildew.)

Ceiling fans:  Clean fan blades. Lubricate  motor and pulley bearings with a drop of oil on each pivot and oil port.

Smoke alarms: Test by pressing test button (the alarm should sound). Replace batteries twice a year.

Dryer:  Remove and clean the dryer vent to prevent lint build up. (Vacuum lint from vents and tubing). Clean the lint trap between loads to dry more efficiently and save energy.

Washer: Clean drain pipe with 1/2 cup of bleach. Replace old lines to reduce the possibility of leaks. (Life expectancy of a washing machine 8-12 years)

Garbage disposal:  Grind lemon peels, Dawn Direct Foam… or ice cubes made from a mixture of water and baking soda to clean.

For tips on staging, decorating and getting your property ready to sell, read more here.

Looking to buy or sell property in South Florida?  We can help with all your real estate needs!

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