Home Maintenance: Prevention and Protection
As school break is coming, many families are most likely preparing for a much awaited vacation. Flight bookings, hotel reservations, attractions to go to, things to buy, what to pack, and the sheer excitement of going away make it easy to miss other important things – one of them is preparing the home for extended absence.
This month is about home care, Snag & Inspect gives some tips on how to prepare the house in case the entire family goes on vacation. Enjoy the trip more without fretting over unplugged appliances or possibly going home to water leaks.
Here are also some maintenance reminders for keeping the home in good order year-round. Keeping a well-maintained house is not as difficult as it sounds but it definitely needs attention. Proper maintenance prolongs the life of the property, leads to savings and ultimately promotes efficiency, health and safety.
Additionally, take an inspection sneak peek at infrared imaging, a highly specialized method used in property inspection. Get an example of how IR imaging helps accurately identify snags helping resolve issues in the property.
Pre-vacation Home Preparation
It is best to get back to a clean and relaxing home after hours of exhausting travel from vacation.
It is best to get back to a clean and relaxing home after hours of exhausting travel from vacation. Proper home preparation will add to your peace of mind while you’re out of the country. For both short-term vacations and extended ones, it pays to spend some time preparing the house for your absence.
Here are some tips on what to do before vacation:
1. Don’t forget to switch off lights and unplug appliances and electronics before you go. Extension cords and chargers should also be removed as these use electricity even without gadgets plugged into them. If you’re going to unplug the fridge, empty it and prop the door open to avoid growth of mould and mildew. Do the same with the dishwasher.
2. Instead of turning off the AC, consider leaving it set at a higher temperature – like 30 °C. Especially during the summer, extreme heat might damage parts of the house, furniture, and appliances. The water heater can be set to vacation mode or turned off.
3. Unless water is needed for the pool and the water sprinklers, it is a good idea to turn off the main water supply valve in case there are unknown leaks or bursting pipes.
4. Make sure that windows and doors are locked and sealed shut. This is not only to prevent trespassing but also because of the weather.
5. It is best if there is a trusted friend who can look after the house a few times a week, someone to take care and notify you of emergencies, and look after the plants or the pet fish.
- Turn off the main water supply
- Unplug appliances and electronics
- Turn off the AC or set it on a higher temperature
- Turn off the water heater or set it to vacation mode
- Pre-pay utility bills
- Ensure that doors and windows are locked
- Set a timer on your pool pump so it runs for a few hours daily
- Remove perishables from the fridge and cupboards
- Throw out all the thrash
Ever checked the area above your ceiling? If you’re using chillers to run the AC system, you might see something like these.
The Cold Water Supply (CWS) Pipes for the AC system run above the ceiling. As cold water runs through these pipes, its temperature can get much lower relative to the air temperature around it. Proper insulation prevents condensation around the CWS pipes – condensation may lead to leaks through the ceiling or moisture promoting mould growth.
On inspection, these CWS pipes had unrepaired insulation (image 1), the blue area in image 2 shows that the temperature there is much lower than ambient temperature – in fact, water was dripping there. Image 3 shows mould growth under the paint and the last infrared image confirms that insulation there had already failed and mould will continue to grow.
Having the identified areas of the pipe insulation repaired and replaced addresses these existing issues and prevents further mould and moisture problems.
Home Care Essentials
A well maintained home is comfort-table, relaxing, and without unpleasant surprises. Many components of the house are continuously exposed to harsh elements and frequently used but often overlooked. Regularly checking the house for maintenance needs will minimize glitches like malfunctioning ACs, bursting pipes and roof leaks. Regular maintenance reduces spending in the long-term – repairing walls or pipes while the problems are still small; preventing damage to appliances; and running on electricity efficiently.
Some parts of the house need frequent attention. While others can go with once or twice yearly maintenance, often, these are what’s central to a well-functioning home. Make a schedule for monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual tasks to ensure that nothing is overlooked.
The following are some of essential maintenance reminders to put on the calendar:
1. Check the Air-Conditioner filters monthly and change them at least every three months. Depending on use and the environment, the filters may have to be replaced more often. Aside from accumulated dirt, look over the filter for signs of damage, mould growth and dampness.
2. Get the AC system serviced at least once a year especially because it is used continuously. Schedule this before the summer as this is when the AC system works hardest. It is important to get worn-out parts replaced immediately. Coils and fans should be clog free and sufficiently lubricated.
3. Regularly check the plumbing for leaks. Examine the caulking on sinks, bathtubs, and toilets. Proper water-proofing prevents moisture problems which can damage furniture and fixtures, as well as cause health hazards.
4. Cut back trees and shrubs which are growing towards buildings and walls. Also ensure that there is a clear space around the HVAC outdoor units.
5. Tightly sealed windows and doors are essential for keeping a cozy home and making it energy efficient. Check the sealants and caulking around them for signs of weathering and proper fitting. Have these replaced or repaired as needed.
6. Replace batteries of smoke detectors twice a year and test if they are functioning properly, the smoke detectors should have a test button. The fire extinguishers should also be kept in good condition. Ensure that it is accessible at all times and without leakage, dents or other signs of damage. Have the fire extinguishers inspected annually.
Regular inspection means protection and prevention. It gives the occupants confidence personally knowing that there is no shock just waiting to happen eventually. In cases of uncertainty, do not hesitate to get professional recommendations on how to maintain you home.