Tips on Maintaining Your Home – Common Mistakes Made by New Homeowners

For most people, a home is the largest purchases they will make in their lifetimes, and an investment in their family’s future. Regrettably, sometimes costly mistakes are made by various parties of the transaction – builders, remodeling contractors, or even the new homeowners, themselves. Knowing a few of the common mistakes homeowners make can prevent future snafus from happening and save you lots of time, headaches and most importantly, money.

Storing Household Goods on Garage and Attic Trusses. Garage and attic trusses are designed to support the weight of the roof and ceiling and nothing else. Unfortunately, many homeowners view the space in the attic and above the garage ceiling as a great place for additional storage. Storing household goods in these areas can result in sagging and even a possible collapse of the roof structure. If a homeowner wishes to use this space for storage, a structural engineer should be consulted to determine if additional reinforcement is necessary.

Altering Finished Grades.  Most single family residences are delivered with a driveway, but without the walkways, patios, landscaping, and drainage systems. Building codes usually require a negative grade away from the house, that is that the surrounding bare lot slopes away from the home so rainwater flows away from the home’s foundation. Unfortunately, the homeowner or an aftermarket contractor will often pour the sidewalks and patios directly on top of the finished grade which allows water to flow between the walkway and the home. Swimming pool contractors have been known to set their decks and coping too high, causing water to flow back toward the home. Water that flows and seeps along the foundation can cause the foundation to shift. If the soils have high clay content the water may not drain readily and the soil can then swell to up to 30% of its dry volume, this can cause the foundation to move upward causing extensive interior and exterior damage.

The bottom line: Alteration of finished grades results in some of the most costly claims made in construction defect disputes.

Improperly attaching a Deck Trellis, Sunscreen, or Lanai Structure to the Home. There are a number of ways to properly create a watertight connection between the home and a deck trellis or lanai structure. Unfortunately, these “add on structures” are often just nailed or bolted directly to the outside wall of the home. Inevitably, rainwater finds its way into the penetrations and the dry rot process begins. It is critical that the deck ledger (the board that is placed up against the side of the home) be flashed with metal flashing in an industry-approved manner.  If bolts are used to attach the ledger board to the home, the bolt holes should be filled with caulk. Local government agencies often require a building permit to construct a trellis or lanai attached to a home because they are considered a structure that could fall and cause injury. Decks which are attached to the homes or which are larger than 200 square feet, or which are over 30 inches above the adjacent grade within three feet, often require a building permit. Patio covers may also require a building permit. Check with the local building department before starting work.

Allowing Irrigation Sprinkler Heads to Spray Against the Home. Irrigation sprinkler heads that spray against the panel or lap siding, masonry, or stucco walls of a home can lead to rotted walls and leaching of color from the siding, masonry or stucco and even movement of the foundation.  It is important that all irrigation spray be directed away from the home rather than towards the home. Spray heads should be checked regularly during the irrigation season to make sure that they have not turned and point toward the home. Posts supporting overhead decks that have shrubbery growing closely around them are particularly vulnerable to irrigation spray.

Disconnecting or Not Using Bathroom and Laundry Vent Fans. Bathrooms and laundries are areas of high humidity. Bathroom and laundry fans should never be disconnected (even though the noise may bother the occupant). The fan should always be turned on during use of the room’s shower or tub. Failure to use the vent fans can result in water vapor getting into the drywall, electrical outlets and even the framing members. Over time, mold, mildew and fungi may grow in these areas. Water vapor that condenses on walls and windows can eventually find its way into the walls of the home and weaken the structure through dry rot. Rooms where humidifiers are used should also be well ventilated.

Walking on the Roof.  Walking on the roof is dangerous. Slips and falls can cause serious injuries. Untrained persons are likely to break or scuff the roof covering and cause roof leaks. Gutter cleaning should be done from a ladder, not by standing on the roof. If an object is thrown on the roof, such as a child’s toy, it should be retrieved using a ladder and a telescoping pole rather than by walking on the roof. Most residential warranties exclude damage resulting from unauthorized persons walking on roofs.

Overloading Upper Cabinets. While lower cabinets rest on the floor, upper cabinets are hung from a wall using screws or nails. By stacking heavy dishes and glassware in an upper cabinet, a homeowner can load the cabinet beyond its capacity. This can result in sagging shelves, or worse yet, detachment of the cabinet from the wall. Heavy china and cookware should always be placed in the lower cabinets. Do not overload cabinet drawers with heavy items and take care to not pull drawers out too far. This action results in the plastic guide being snapped off at the back of the cabinet drawer.

Tinting Dual Pane Windows. Many new homes are constructed with dual pane windows (also known as double-glazed windows or insulating windows). The two panes of glass are separated by a spacer up to 5/8 inch in thickness. The air space between the dual panes is “dead air.” This area is so tightly sealed that air can neither enter nor leave the space. By placing a tinting film on the inside of the window, the sun’s rays are reflected back into the dead air space. The temperature in this space can become so hot that it may cause the elastic seal to rupture, causing the insulating value of the window to be lost.  Windows with broken or ruptured seals are easy to identify: they have moisture between the panes of glass. Homeowners should never tint a dual pane window on the inside unless it is specifically approved by the window manufacturer.

Incorrectly Installing a Security Alarm / Penetration of Windows and Walls. If an after-market alarm is installed by the homeowner or by a contractor who has not been hired by the builder, great care should be taken to seal all penetrations through windows and walls to avoid future dry rot. Never drill into the bottom track of a window or door to install an alarm contact.

HVAC Care and Maintenance Experts recommend that you have your HVAC system professionally inspected every fall and spring, however, you can prolong the life and increase the efficiency of your system if you follow a few simple tips.

(1) Buy high-efficiency pleated air filters and changes these every 3-6 months (this varies based on usage, if you have pets, and if you keep the windows closed or frequently open them which will allow more pollen, bacteria, mold spores, etc. into the home).

(2) Keep AC and heat pump units level and free of leaves, pollen and grass. Clear at least 2 feet of space around outdoor AC and heat pump units.

(3) Inspect refrigerant lines and make sure they are properly insulated.

(4) Never close more than 20% of your home’s registers to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the HVAC system.

Extending the Life of Your Water Heater Giving your plumbing a little regular attention can prolong its life, prevent leaks, and avoid costly repairs. The same applies to your water heater. The life of a water heaters will generally last between eight to 12 years, however, I’ve seen some that have lasted for 17 to 18 years and even had a client who had one for 30! Homeowners should drain their hot water tank once a year to flush out sediments that have settled to the bottom of the tank. Sediment buildup shortens the life of your water heater and adds to your energy bill by reducing its efficiency. Draining 2 or 3 gallons of water is usually enough to flush out sediments, but always let the water flow until you no longer see particles in the bucket. Caution: The water is scalding hot.

Outright damage to your house is just one of the consequences of neglected maintenance and without regular upkeep, overall property value is affected. Proactive maintenance is essential to preserving the value of your home.

If you, or someone you know is considering Buying or Selling a Home in Columbus, Ohio please give us a call and we’d be happy to assist you!

The Opland Group Specializes in Real Estate Sales, Luxury Home Sales, Short Sales in; Bexley 43209 Columbus 43201 43206 43214 43215 Delaware 43015 Dublin 43016 43017 Gahanna 43219 43230 Grandview Heights 43212 Hilliard 43026 Lewis Center 43035 New Albany 43054 Pickerington Powell 43065 Upper Arlington 43220 43221 Westerville 43081 43082 Worthington 43235

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