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  • All American Inspections

10 Maintenance Tips for Your First Year in a New Home....

1. Figure out your lawn and driveway care needs, then arrange to have them met.

Curb appeal can be a competitive thing in neighborhoods. Some people obsess over having the best lawn on the block or street. It’s completely up to you if you want to jump into full-on perfect lawn obsession mode or if you’re happy just raking leaves and mowing the grass. Check if your driveway might need resealing. If there are significant cracks, you’ll probably want to reseal sooner rather than later. Concrete will crack if water permeates it so the more cracks you have, the more cracks you’ll get.

Driveways should be resealed once every three to five years. When deciding when to implement this project, make sure the outside temperature is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the forecast is free from rain for at least two days. Before applying the seal, fix any cracks or potholes. For cracks smaller than a ½ inch, you can use a crack filler. For larger holes, use a driveway patch. After you’ve repaired any cracks and holes (you should allow larger patches to cure for 4 to 6 weeks before adding sealant on top), clear any leaves and dirt from the driveway and mix your sealant. Use a paintbrush to apply sealant along the edges. Next, pour sealant from the buckets they came with across the width of your driveway. Use a squeegee to evenly spread the sealant. Wait 24 hours and apply a second coat. After that, allow it to cure for four to six days before driving on it.

2. Do you need to arrange for snow removal?

Decide whether or not you want to hire someone to take care of your snow removal, or do it yourself. If you’ll be taking care of it yourself, purchase shovels, a snow blower, or, if you have a big driveaway, a plow attachment for your riding lawnmower.

3. Speaking of lawn mowing

Again, decide if you want to take care of this yourself, participate in the strong tradition of having your teenage children do it (if you have some), or pay someone else to do it. Think about what lawn care equipment you need and take yet another trip to the home improvement store (you’ll find you spend a lot of time there during your first year of owning a home).

4. Check the exterior paint on your house and make plans to touch up if needed.

If your house has exterior paint, check to see if there’s a lot of peeling paint. Exterior paint is meant to help protect the wood or other materials it covers so lots of paint peeling can result in damage to whatever is underneath. If your house is especially old, there’s probably multiple layers of paint on it (unless all previous owners were super diligent and scraped all of the old paint off before adding another coat) and the original layers probably have lead in them. If you just have minor paint peeling, you can simply touch up those areas. Most home improvement stores can do paint matching if you bring in a chip of the old paint. If your paint shows a lot of peeling, you may need to repaint. Reassess every year afterward.

5. Check your outdoor caulking and replace it as needed.

Just like you checked the caulking inside your house, do it outside. If you have wood siding, check for any gashes or holes and caulk them. Repeat this inspection again every other year afterward.

6. Test your deck’s seal.

Make sure your deck is repelling water as it should. Water should bead up on the wood, not sink into it. If you need to reseal, begin by cleaning the deck and repairing any damaged boards. Allow the cleaner to soak into the wood. Before applying the sealer, let the deck dry for a couple of days. Apply the sealer per the directions on the can. Don’t forget to cover any surrounding plants or bushes with plastic. Do not apply sealer in direct sunlight, and try to avoid resealing when humidity is high. Check it every year.

7. Test your sump pump.

If your home has a sump pump, test it to make sure it’s working correctly. Sump pumps are typically installed in basements or crawl spaces. Their job is to pump any water that may accumulate there away from the building. Sump pumps eliminate moisture and prevent flooding. You should test your sump pump every year.

8. Drain your water heater.

You should drain your water heater once every year. Sediment collects in the bottom of hot water tanks through normal use of your heater. The more sediment builds up, the less efficient your hot water heater is. You can have a plumber drain your heater or choose to do it yourself.

You’ll need a heat-proof bucket and a garden hose. Remove the side panel on the heater to see whether or not you have a pilot light. If your hot water heater is gas-powered, there will be a pilot light. If not, it is electric. Turn off both the gas and electric sources to the heater. (Remember that some gas heaters also use electricity.) Turn off the cold water and wait for the water in the heater to cool down. Open the hot water tap on a sink in your house to drain any hot water left in the pipes. Attach the garden hose to the drain valve. Open the drain valve. Once everything is done draining, close the valve. Turn on the cold water, then the gas and/or electricity to your heater (relight the pilot light). Keep the sink tap open until the water returns to its normal flow.

9. Service and clean your furnace.

Do this for any HVAC and/or heating and cooling system every year. Many units have service discounts available through the company that installed them. If they’re under warranty, annual service is often a requirement.

10. Inspect and clean chimneys.

All kinds of things can get into your chimney, especially if you don’t use it on a regular basis. Make sure to get a cleaning and inspection every year.

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