- Check for cracks and offsets in exterior walkway and driveway areas that could be a trip hazard. Lifted areas of more than a ½” are considered to be tripping hazards and should be corrected.
- Make sure the soil grading drains away from the structure. There should be a high point at the base of the wall and the slope needs to exist from the structure for at least 5 feet.
- Make sure the soil/landscaping rock is not placed above the base metal on a stucco wall. There is a drainage path for the wall that must not be blocked and you need to see at least 4” of concrete below the stucco in order to inspect for termites.
- Inspect the entire lower perimeter of the structure for termite shelter tubes. Treat the home if any mud tubes are found.
- Check the lower perimeter concrete areas of the structure wall for any cracks or loose sections. Repair/seal as required.
- Correct any areas on the exterior walls that could be an entry point for water. Pay particular attention to window and door perimeters, boxes, cover plates, light fixtures, penetrations, etc.
- Look for stains at the walls, eaves and soffits that indicate abnormal moisture. Source the problem and correct as required.
- Make sure you have no irrigation saturating the soil within 5 feet of the structure.
- Check fences for any loose components that can fall and cause injury or damage.
- Check all gates to make sure they are fully functional and if self-closers are present, make sure they self-close every time. Lubricate and adjust parts as needed.
- Examine the roofing from a safe location; use binoculars from the ground if necessary. Look carefully at metal flashing areas, penetrations through the roof, etc. for areas that water can enter the structure. When in doubt, contact a licensed roofing contractor for a complete review. In order to get the full design life of your roof, it must be maintained regularly. Pay a little as you go or pay for complete replacement earlier than expected.
- Consider operating your shut-off valves once a year at minimum. Valves with a round handle are older and less reliable. If you want reliability, change out all valves in the house to ball valves.
- Look for signs of leaking below every sink, at the base of faucet handles, around the water heater, behind the clothes washer, etc. – DO NOT tolerate leaks of any kind, have them repaired immediately.
- Check drains for the speed of drainage with multiple fixtures in the immediate area flowing at once. Slow draining can indicate blockage in the drain or vent lines and requires a call to a plumber. Don’t simply poor chemicals down the drain expecting this to be a solution. You can, however, check the stopper areas at sinks and tubs for hair build-up that can often be removed yourself with needle-nose pliers.
- Listen and watch for signs that toilet components are leaking. Open the lid on the tank to see if the flapper is warped or if the water is running continuously into the tall fill tube. Repair these maintenance items as needed. Don’t forget to look around the perimeter at the floor and below the tank in the back for any cracks or evidence of leaking. Also, make sure the toilet does not rock back and forth at the base.
- Once a year you should consider draining your water heater to remove sediment that builds up inside. You can hire a plumber for this service or, if you have home maintenance skills, do a Google search for the proper procedures.
- Caulk or grout all cracks and separations that might exist in tubs and showers. Check for loose tile at wall surrounds and fix as necessary.
- Make sure the operation of shower enclosure doors is smooth and the alignment is straight.
- Clean-out the aerators at faucet and shower head ends with vinegar or by removal and manual cleaning whenever flow becomes blocked with sediment.
- Make sure you have braided-metal clothes washer lines and inspect their condition annually.
- Have dryer vents professionally cleaned every year for fire safety and efficient dryer operation.
- If you have an overhead electrical service, make sure that trees are always trimmed away from the lines by professionals.
- If you have an underground electrical service, make sure the metal conduit pipe that comes up from the ground is not decayed.
- Open the electrical panel cover and look for any signs of scorching. Do not remove the interior flat dead-front cover.
- Any outlets that are worn to the point where the plug tilts or is not firmly gripped by the outlet need to be replaced. Consult a licensed electrician.
- Have any loose outlets and switches fixed.
- Test all GFCI outlets by hitting the TEST button and going to all “wet locations” to see if the power is off. Then push the RESET button and re-check the same outlets to confirm that the outlets are back on. Multiple outlets wired downstream can be tripped by a single GFCI outlet so check all of the wet locations to be sure the outlets in these locations are protected (outdoors, kitchen, bathrooms, garage, laundry sink, etc.).
- Never tolerate any irregularity with electrical system components. When in doubt, hire an electrician for further review.
HEATING & COOLING
- Change your filters every month (except during months when the weather moderates and the unit is not running). This is the single most important action item to preserve the life of your unit and lower your energy costs. We recommend buying a medium type filter (MERV 8) instead of the extreme pollen filtration types. The pollen filters are too restrictive and will cause too much back-pressure on the system. Heating and cooling system filters are designed to keep the unit interior components clean, not filter your house air. If you have allergies and need extra filtration, buy a stand-alone room filtration system.
- Have annual service performed on the unit(s) – that means every year never fail. This is actually a tie for the most important thing you can do to preserve the life of your unit and lower your energy costs. Have the service done when the weather is nice outside because that is when the service companies will be less busy and will do their best work. Watch out for service companies trying to convince you to replace your unit if it is less than 10 to 15 years old. Replace versus repair is a cost-benefit analysis situation and you need to decide for yourself what makes the most sense – don’t be pressured by sales folks, they definitely have a huge incentive to sell you a new system. Get multiple opinions with highly rated repair companies that give you bids for both repairing and replacing.
- Find out where the condensate water flows (coming from when the air conditioner removes moisture from the air). Make sure the line flows well during the humid summer months and if you have an upper secondary line up high on the wall, it should never have water flowing. Correct any irregularities if found.
- Repair any doors that are sticking, not sealed or rubbing on the flooring. Tighten loose doorknobs and hinges.
- Adjust and lubricate windows for proper operation.
- Repair wall cracks as they develop and watch for cracks that open wider than the width of a quarter that might indicate structure movement.
- Watch for staining on wall and ceiling surfaces and always locate the source and repair the cause of the moisture.
- Make sure any railings are secure and repair if needed.
- Make sure your ceiling fans are balanced, secured and not wobbling. Fix if necessary.
- Make sure the fireplace damper operates properly and is in the proper position for the season.
- Test all smoke detectors and replace units or batteries as needed. Replace any smoke detector older than 10 years old and make sure you have them on each floor of the house in each bedroom and hallways leading to the bedrooms.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector and test it periodically.
- Adjust all loose cabinet doors and drawers.
- Make sure the garbage disposal operates quietly and replace when necessary.
- Turn on all stove burners, if gas, looking for a quick start-up, no sparking or bursts of flame and make sure all flames burn with an even blue color.
- Make sure the gasket at the perimeter of the oven door is in good condition and replace when needed.
- Make sure the drain line from the dishwasher to the disposal under the kitchen sink is routed in a high loop to prevent debris from backing up from the disposal to the dishwasher.
- Looking for any evidence of leaks below the dishwasher.
- Make sure the garage door operates smoothly without jerking motions. Inspect the long springs to make sure they are not broken. Lubricate the moving parts. Make sure there are no cracks or bends in the door panels. Garage doors can be dangerous, never delay on repairs and have them adjusted by a professional annually.