Owning your first home is a big accomplishment for a lot of people. A home is a very large investment that comes with a large responsibility. There are a lot of things to consider when jumping from renter to first time homeowner. The homeowner is responsible for any maintenance issues now; no more calling the maintenance man everything is own your watch now! It’s very important to recognize key maintenance duties and take care of any issues to prevent problems before they happen. In Part 2, we look at interior tips.
Air Filters - Check your filters and change or clean them. This will provide better air quality and reduce your utility cost. A new furnace filter is a cheap means of keeping your system running at peak efficiency.
Thermostat - Set your thermostat to a set level between 68F-71F for heating and 74F- 76F for cooling. This will help cut the cost of your utility bill. Keep your fan switch to either “on” or “auto”. Changing the setting frequently can cause stress on your system.
Electrical - Don’t overload your electrical system by plugging too many appliances into one outlet. Use surge protector strips to help protect your most valuable appliances like TV’s, computers, DVD players, etc. Always unplug items that are not being used to save energy.
Smoke Detectors - Smoke detectors should have their batteries replaced and be tested twice a year to confirm that they are operating properly.
Kitchen - Clean all countertops and cabinets with a gentle detergent. Be careful using sharp utensils on your counter tops. Secure and tighten all loose doors on your cabinets. Steam from coffer makers or dishwashers can cause the wood to wrap on your cabinets. Dry all water form the back splash, side splash and seams around the sink. This will help to prevent breaking down of the seal that will cause swelling or delaminating of the countertop. Check your seams often and re-caulk if necessary.
Bathroom - Always keep your bathrooms ventilated to prevent moisture build up that may cause mold. Use a safe rust-removing agent to remove rust stains from fixtures. Clean porcelain, cultured marble tubs and sinks, fiberglass showers and tub/shower combinations, and shower stall floors with warm water and non-abrasive cleaner. Make sure to check drains for buildup of hair and remove if necessary. Shower enclosures will contain large amounts of moisture, it is recommended to frequently check all joints because of this. As time goes on cracks and separations between the tub and shower stall, wall surfaces, or bathroom floors will appear. Maintaining these areas is very important as excessive moisture can severely damage the materials that underneath. After showering, check the floor outside of the shower to make sure it is dry. A common problem occurs when small amounts of water splash out onto the floor at the faucet end of the enclosure and causes wood rot if not dried up. Check caulking periodically to ensure against leaking. Remember caulking is part of routine maintenance and is the responsibility of the homeowner! To reduce mildew, turn on the exhaust fan or slightly open a window while showering. Wipe down the showering enclosure when done and then hang up towels and washcloths to dry.
Floors - Floors are made up of either wood or concrete but can be covered by a wide range of material. When cleaning your floors, no matter what type of floor covering you have make sure to lift your furniture when moving it. Do not drag furniture across flooring as it may cause damage. Vacuum carpets regularly and have them professionally cleaned as necessary. Hardwood floors, tile, vinyl or linoleum floors should be mopped regularly making sure not to leave excess water on the floor after cleaning. Check grouting around the tiles and re-grout if needed. The grout may need to be periodically sealed to prevent discoloration. Hardwood floors may require refinishing after several years depending, on the amount of traffic through the household.
Fireplaces - Your fireplace should be inspected and cleaned annually. Before building the first fire of the season, check the flue liner for soot build-up, and inspect the fireplace for loose or cracked firebrick. Always keep your damper closed when not using your fireplace, to stop heat from escaping up the chimney. Do not burn pressure treated wood, scrap lumber, Christmas trees, trash, cardboard, plastic or any flammable material. Burning these materials may cause brick or liners to crack.