“I’m going to the hardware store!”
Home Work 101
Congratulations on your new home! You’re all moved in and getting settled. So what's next? In all the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to carve out some time for handling some of the routine maintenance items every homeowner deals with on a regular basis. Just as a car needs a tune-up, regular oil changes, new tires, etc., your home also needs routine care. Protect your investment!
Here’s a sample of things to do:
- Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries immediately and make note of the date. Batteries must be replaced on a regular basis. Also press that test button once a month. Yes, it’s very loud and annoying. Babies will cry, cats will freak out, your ears will hurt. But remember Safety First! Sometimes the hardest part of this is being able to reach them up on the ceiling. Do some research and find a sturdy and safe ladder of the appropriate size if you don’t have one already. On a related note, get some fire extinguishers. Stop by your local fire department in person or online and ask for some advice about all of this. Do exactly as they say.
- Clean that dryer vent. This a reminder from your inspection report. There are companies who do this all day, it’s a thing. Also clean the lint trap inside the dryer to help keep it running efficiently.
- Get a chimney sweep. Here’s another inspection report reminder. If your home has a fireplace or stove that has signs of being used just once, Kensa always recommends getting a chimney sweep service to clean the flu and check its lining, and make sure everything is safe and ready to use. Please make sure you understand all the how-to's and do’s and don’ts of using a fireplace, pellet stove, or wood stove in advance. It’s another thing to ask about at your local fire department.
- Replace that air filter. This is also a line item in your inspection report, and will be mentioned by your inspector on site if it's relevant. It's a regular task that goes on the Honey-Do List. The filters are typically bright white when new. If yours is dark grey then it’s past due for replacement. Start with what the manufacturer tells you to do – size, type, and how often to replace it – and stay on top of it. In many cases this does not require any tools.
- Look under every sink. Most people never look under their sinks. I mean, really look closely. Your Kensa inspector does! We want to know if anything is leaking, among other things. Remember the focus on “water water water” from your home inspection? We have seen situations where a leak is not noticed and causes extensive damage. Once there was bathroom sink with a small plastic container under the drain that was overflowing. It has been leaking for so long that the cabinet floor below the drain was rotted, there was suspected mold (aka microbial growth) all over, and extensive water staining and damage on the ceiling below! A small drip can do BIG damage over time. So, just have a quick look on a regular basis, and if you find a leak call a plumber.
- Check window screens. This one is not covered by a typical home inspection. screen with a big rip in it isn’t really a screen. so your Kensa inspector will mention any damaged screens as a side note for you to follow up on. If you don’t notice and leave the window open at night, you might be scratching mosquito bites in the morning. Little things make a big difference… Most hardware stores offer repair services if needed.
- Clean those gutters! These simple devices are covered in detail during your inspection. Gutters transmit a ton of water every year, and they are vital to helping direct water away from the house. If you’re not a fan of ladders or heights, play it safe and pay someone to do it for you. This is another niche field, like dryer vents. There are companies who clean, repair, and install gutters all day.
- Look in the attic! This is one of those things that is often neglected until it’s too late. Most people don’t pay any attention to the attic until they see a water stain on a bedroom ceiling upstairs. Figure out how to safely access your attic, grab a flashlight, and have a look. There is no guarantee that you’ll spot a problem, particularly if access is limited to poking your head through a hatch (which is common), and you can’t see the other end of the space. Even so, it’s wise to at least see what you can see and take a look once in a while. Your Kensa home inspection report has an entire section devoted to the attic.
- Water Bad! The rule of thumb for a house is Water Bad. Go outside when the first rain happens to see where water is going. It is flowing out of the gutter downspouts, or are any clogged? Are there pools of water near the foundation, or in walkways? Your Kensa inspector will spot many of these whether it is raining or not, but some things like gutter functionality cannot be confirmed when there is no water present. The best way to know what happens with water is to see it in real time.
- Test Your Sump! If you have a sump pump in your basement, test it regularly to make sure it’s working. Use a bucket to fill the basin with water, or drag a garden hose in there and turn it on. Be careful to check that water isn’t leaking somewhere you can’t see. Obviously you don’t want to cause a new problem with your test. Don’t forget to make sure that the water at the drainpipe outside is actually draining away from the house, rather than just pooling up nearby. A common recommendation is to add battery backup because it’s usually missing. Picture a heavy rainstorm and you lose power – at that point you have no pump! A sump pump is simple device that can save you thousands in water damage (ask company founder Ken how he knows), and is yet another water-related item in your Kensa home inspection report.
That’s just a short sample list of free or low-cost things you should do to help keep your home Warm, Safe, and Dry. There are countless resources online to help you with many other things, such as seasonal or annual items, and more advanced maintenance work that require knowledge, tools and skill. Start small, build up your confidence and your toolkit, and you will become an experienced homeowner taking care of your biggest investment in the best possible way.
Get help when you need it
On a related note, get help when you need it, and leave things to the licensed professionals where it makes sense, such as electrical or plumbing repairs. As with anything else, there’s good advice and there’s not-so-good advice floating around. For example, there’s a maintenance checklist out there that says to clean the chimney yourself. Um… no. Another one says to just rewire that faulty electrical outlet on your own. Um… also no. It may be stating the obvious, but use your common sense and don’t attempt things that you’re not properly trained to do that could be unsafe in any way.
Read your inspection report again
Lastly, a reminder that your inspection report will contain detailed information about things that are known to require attention throughout the home, such as flaking paint, boiler or furnace maintenance, and a lot more. You can easily create a custom list of those items from your online report. Check out the Report Tools available in the sample report, where you can create a repair request estimate, extract just the deficient items and paste into a new document, or just the maintenance items, all with just a few clicks!