Home Maintenance General Advice

Home Maintenance Around the Home

For most people their home is something to be proud of so make sure you can say the same

 

In a large majority of cases the most expensive purchase a person will make is their home. In fact, this purchase is so big that 99% of people will have to obtain a mortgage in order to obtain one. A person’s home is an extremely important investment that will need to be maintained correctly in order to get the best from it. This is a task that is easier said than done as there are so many aspects that need regular attention. However, if your property is maintained correctly, then a great deal of time, money and effort could be saved.

To save time, money and effort, preventative work should be started from the day you move into a new property. Carrying out this work will allow you to avoid repairs, reduce energy consumption and ultimately extend your properties life span. While it is always a good idea to enlist the services of a building contractor if there is an immediate problem, there are a few general maintenance checks that can be done to save you problems in the future. This article will look at these tried and tested methods, and will give you step by step advice as to how these maintenance checks should be undertaken.

Before any  home maintenance checks are preformed, it is a good idea to make a note of where any building work has been carried out in the past. That way, you can see if there is one area that keeps on having problems. If this is the case, it would be advisable to contact a professional. For instance, any recurring issues with damp will require waterproofing advice. To carry out a basic inspection on the exterior of your home, you may want to examine the following areas of your property:

The roof

The roof is a hard area of a property to examine as it involves a number of dangers. Ideally it would be best if you could get on top of your roof for closer inspection, but at the same time it’s extremely hazardous. Binoculars can be used to minimise these health and safety risks, whilst also allowing you to identify a few common problems. Obvious damage will include missing roof tiles and excessive debris, but you will also want to make sure that electrical cables are well insulated and TV aerials are strongly supported.

If you are concerned or need specialist advice on any roofing problem, use the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Guttering and Downpipes

If you have noticed water spilling out of the side of your guttering during heavy rain, this could indicate a build-up of debris or a blockage in the guttering. If left unattended the side walls of your property can become affected by mould, or even worse, could experience structural issues. To amend this problem, simply clean out any hoppers that are part of your guttering system. To do this you may need to use a trowel or a rolled-up piece of cardboard, but make sure that you scoop the debris out and avoid pushing any further into the down pipe as this could make the situation worse. After you have cleaned the hoppers, you can use a hose to flush any loose debris that may remain.

Keep gutters and down pipes clean

Keep gutters and down pipes clean

External Walls

Home maintenance- External walls are always against the elements so problems can appear at any time.  Walls that are continually wet from leaking gutters or roofs are prone to damage by freeze thaw action over the winter. Damp walls will usually be visible as they appear darker. Its better to deal with this as often a lack of a minor repair can lead to bigger costs down the line.

Spalling Brickwork

Spalling Brickwork

Foundations

Foundations are arguably the most important part of any home as they provide the base of the property. Check for cracks and severe defects that may need additional attention, but be warned this is not something that can usually be solved alone. Fortunately, foundations tend to be resilient to damage, but if you do feel that you have a problem you need to contact a professional as soon as possible. This is not something you want to leave.

If you have a crack like this its possible you have defective foundations

If you have a crack like this its possible you have defective foundations

Doors and Windows

The methods used in home maintenance for maintaining your doors and windows will depend on the type of material that has been used, but there are a few universal techniques that can be applied. Often just opening the door or window and giving it a good clean with detergent and a soft brush will remove any dirt and grirt out of sliding channesl or rebates that often cause them to stick. In the majority of cases, stiff locks can be fixed with WD40. Make sure you also clean the sills. Any cracks or rot found in wooden windows will need repairing. With upvc or alloy windows check the rubber sealing strips are not corroded and in need of replacement. There are various procedures for keeping your doors and windows in good condition. keep an eye out for mildew forming internally this often happens over winter months due to condensation. Furthermore, it is a good idea to avoid using abrasive cleaning products on upvc as these could cause scratching to the shiny surface.

These maintenance checks are extremely basic and easy to carry out by anybody, but we have only touched on a few of the most obvious areas to check. To keep your property fully maintained make regular home maintenance checks.

Often older properties require more home maintenance.  There are so many factors and variables that need to be accounted for, that mentioning them all is almost impossible. You can make use of all the knowledge provided here, but it is sensible to seek construction advice when the issue looks to be serious. Doing this will ensure against more costly repairs in the future.

Keep windows well painted to protect from the elementsKeep windows well painted to protect from the elements

Keep windows well painted to protect from the elements

Cleaning Guttering and Downpipes

Your properties guttering system is responsible for channelling rainwater away from the roof. Without it your property would be exposed to a wide range of problems including damp, damaged brickwork and even core structural issues. We can see then that a well functioning guttering system is an essential part of any home, but there may be times when it doesn’t work as well as it should. It may be prone to overflowing or leakages, both of which could have a knock-on effect to other parts of your property.

Problems associated with a poorly a functioning guttering system should be avoided at any cost for obvious reasons. In most cases, these problems are caused by simple blockages. To clear these blockages you will want to follow the steps outlined below:

  • First, you will need to find a safe way to get access to the roof. This can be done by using a ladder, but it should not lean against a downspout or gutter. This is really dangerous, and positioning the ladder incorrectly could lead to disastrous consequences.
  • Immediate debris can be removed by hand or with a special tool called a gutter scoop. It is advisable to purchase one of these as they have been designed for this task
  • Dirt that is stuck on the guttering will have to be washed. To do this wash it and scrape off the remains with the gutter scoop
  • Next you will want to make sure that all the downspouts have no blockages. To check to see if there are clear, put your hose into the top of the downspout and turn on the water. However, be careful not to apply too much pressure, as your guttering system will not be as strong as regular drains
  • If this technique does not remove the blockage, then use a plumbers snake. This tool is essentially a flexible auger that will loosen and disperse just about every blockage. When this is done you will want to use the hose again to flush out the debris

If you spot an area of your guttering that is overflowing or you have noticed an area that is prone to leakages, then it is a good idea to carry out all the points above. This technique will also prevent there being any issues in the future, including damage from water running down your external walls.

Repairing a Window or Frame

Window frames will be exposed to harsh conditions all year round. Therefore, they have been designed to withstand a great deal of force. However, this built in resilience can only withstand so much pressure before years of poor maintenance and neglect eventually take its toll. While some materials are tougher than others, all of them will need special attention. No material is immune to damage whether you have wooden, aluminium or vinyl frames, and regardless of what type you have, it is likely that they will be subjected to a number of similar problems. These problems and methods used to solve them will be outlined in this article.

The outside of your home is the first thing people will see so keep it in shape

The outside of your home is the first thing people will see so keep it in shape

Rot

All window and frames are vulnerable to damage from the elements, but perhaps the frames at the greatest risk are wooden. This is a shame because they are often the most attractive option, but nevertheless, they are more prone to rot more than upvc or aluminium. Rot can cause water to leak into your property, and if left untreated it will eventually render it useless. There are ways of stopping this problem before it gets out of hand:

Firstly check the window frame and analyse the level of damage . If you regularly inspect then hopefully you have caught it early. If only small areas have been affected you can repair it using two part filler. If the rot is beyond repair you may need to consider having a new section of wood fitted to match the existing profile. However, if you have been told you can repair it this is something you can do alone, to do this:

  • Use a sharp chisel to cut out the section
  • Apply wood hardener to the area
  • The next step is to wait for the wood treatment to dry before applying the 2 part filler to the affected area only. Leave slightly raised above the required level. Then wait for it to dry, normally an hour is enough
  • When it has fully dried the area will need sanding. To do this use 80 git sandpaper to start, and finish using 120 grit sandpaper. After you have done this prime and repaint the frame to complete

Applying this technique to all wooden window frames will not only improve their appearance, but it will also dramatically increase their lifespan. However, prevention is better than cure, and to avoid carrying out this procedure you need to maintain your frames regularly. This will remove a lot of the fungal spores that are responsible for causing wood to rot.

Fixing Sash Windows

Most windows are surprisingly tough as they are built to withstand natural forces like wind, rain, sleet, hail and snow. This punishment comes in two different ways; harsh weather and general lack of home maintenance, there will be times when problems start to show. A typical problem experienced by many is when a window simply refuses to open or shut. Needless to say that this is infuriating, but by applying a bit of effort this is a problem that can be easily solved.

Components of a timber sash window

Components of a timber sash window

A sash window is a window that splits into two halves (a top and bottom section). Typically these are operated by the aid of a counter weight attached by chords to the sashes. These windows are usually quite robust, but they do stick together and become difficult to open and close after a while. If this is a problem you are experiencing here is some home maintenance advice:

  • First, check to see if the window is painted shut. If this is the case simply use a broad width sharp chisel and gently tap the affected area with a mallet. This will break up any paint, which will allow you to open the sash. Once it is open use 80 grit sand paper to smooth the affected areas. This process is much easier if you remove the timber beads holding the sashes. They are usually nailed in place, but they are easily removed with a small pry bar
  • If the window is not painted shut, this probably indicates a more serious problem. It is possible that the sash itself or the channels that it runs on may have become warped or swollen. The sash chords may also be broken. If this is the problem, you should contact a professional to assist you
  • Assuming that you have now removed the sash completely, check it to see if there is any paint or swollen wood in the side channels. Paint will be easy to remove as this can just be scraped out, but swollen wood presents more of an issue. Where the wood is inflamed, it needs to dry. Once it has, sand it down. After this has been carried out, put the window back in place, and it should function smoothly
  • If none of these techniques work, you should call a contractor for home maintenance advice. In any case they will probably need to carry out the work

As we can see, sash windows are usually very durable, but there may be times when they do not perform as well as they can. To fix this problem try the techniques listed above, but be careful not to damage your window. If you are still having problems make sure you seek professional help as having a window that does not open or close essentially means it is pointless.

Making sure you keep your house in good shape should be important to you

Making sure you keep your house in good shape should be important to you

Draught Proofing

Many properties in the UK are well insulated, but this does not necessarily mean that they have good levels of draught proofing. Like insulation, draught proofing is a great way to keep heat in, which ultimately means you spend less on energy bills. However, having a property that is well insulated is almost pointless if it is not sufficiently draught proofed. Cold air will seep through the gaps in your property, whilst warm air will escape through the same crevices. In addition to higher-energy bills, more strain will be placed on your heating system. On top of all of this, your home will be responsible for higher carbon emission levels, but this does not have to be the case. Your home can be sufficiently draught proofed for a small amount of money, but before this article tells you how this can be achieved, we need to explore more about draught proofing.

Draught proofing is a method used to ensure that hot air stays in your property, while cold air stays out. To achieve this goal, small gaps have to be sealed around your doors, windows, and floors, and any small crevice that may be susceptible to draughts.

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