Purchasing a property for the first time is an amazing milestone, but several new responsibilities come with the title 'homeowner’.
“Aside from the financial commitment, owning a home means that the responsibility of maintaining that home fall on your shoulders,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“While a property might be in good condition when you purchase it, without regular maintenance, it won’t stay that way. It is important to get into a routine of doing regular maintenance checks, rather than being reactive and only seeing to issues when something goes wrong. If you are proactive, it will ensure that everything gets the required attention before it turns into a major problem and financial burden.”
He adds that in an ideal situation, preventative maintenance inspections should be done every six months. However, there are elements of the home that require slightly more attention and others that require less. While homeowners can carry out most of the maintenance checks themselves, some aspects of the home may require the services of a professional contractor.
Here are a few elements in the home that will need to be checked and maintained regularly:
- Main electrical panel
When checking the main electrical panel, look for signs of water penetration as this could be potentially dangerous. Some clues would include watermarks or rust. Also, turn off all the circuit breaker switches and then turn them back on to ensure that they are all working and none have seized. If the panel is warm to the touch or smells of burnt insulation, contact a professional electrician.
Bad weather can shift and damage tiles, so roofs should regularly be inspected. Replace missing or damaged roof tiles as they could result in leaks and interior water damage.
Don’t neglect sections of a flat roof. Look for any areas that are starting to blister or bubble.
Debris on roofs can cause damage, so should regularly be cleared away and also cut back any branches that make contact with the roof.
While on the roof, check the chimney. Make sure that there are no loose or damaged bricks and that the mortar is in good repair. Also, check that the waterproofing elements around the base of the chimney are in a suitable condition.
The chimney should be professionally swept at least once a year to clear away any built-up creosote and other flammable materials inside the chimney flue. Gas fireplaces should be serviced by a licensed gas technician.
Clogged gutters will cause water to flow into unwanted areas and could cause leaks and water damage. Avoid this by removing debris and checking them for leaks or holes that may require some repair. Also, check that the gutters are securely attached to the wall and that they are positioned to drain water away from the house.
- Windows and doors
Replace any broken or cracked window panes because they can be a potential safety hazard. Old, cracking, sun-damaged window putty should also be reapplied. Check window and door finishes for any paint deterioration or rot. Ensuring that the windows and doors seal properly will assist in reducing utility costs as it will be easier to heat or cool the home.
Look out for doorframes that have shifted over the last six months, as this could indicate a problem with the foundation or structure of the home.
- Walls and ceilings
Narrow vertical cracks in walls are often caused by minor settlement or shrinkage, which is normal. However, if the vertical crack is around 3mm wide or wider, it could be a result of major settlement problems and should be evaluated by an engineer.
Damp within the wall will cause the paint to bubble and flake, while damp in the ceiling could cause it to sag or in severe causes - collapse. Watermarks on the ceiling are often a sign of a leaking roof.
It makes a home look good, but the primary function of paint is to provide the home with a protective layer against the elements. It provides a waterproofing layer to walls, protects metal from rust and wooden fixtures from sun-damage, insects and rot. Painted areas that are bubbling, peeling, cracked or blistered should be inspected, repaired and repainted.
- Patios and decks
Varnish or sealant also acts as a protective layer for wooden features such as decks. Wooden patios and decks need to be sealed properly to avoid warping or water damage. If the deck is sealed correctly, water should bead on the surface, however, if the water is absorbed, it is ineffective, and the deck should be sanded and resealed.
- General fixtures
Look out for toilets that run continuously and leaking taps as these elements will eat into utility costs and waste water. Ensure that toilets are sealed and secured to the floor and check that the sealant and grouting around all kitchen and bathroom fixtures are in good repair.
“Regular preventative measures will ensure that you are not caught unaware. Taking good care of a home will help keep the occupants safe, while ensuring its capital appreciation over the long term,” says Goslet.