Friday, October 15, 2010

Your Annual Guide to Home Maintenance

Follow these helpful seasonal maintenance tips and keep any potential issues in your home at bay.

• It's planting season and this could be your first chance to get into your garden. You should
consult a nursery first because what starts out as a small tree will grow! The height of a mature tree is the distance it should be planted from your home.
• Make sure your drainage is right. Grade your garden soil away from the home by at least a 50mm drop over the first metre. Don't let water flood anywhere near your home's exterior.
• If you have agricultural drains it's a good time to flush them. Just use a garden hose down the inspection pipe to get rid of any sediment.
• Dust and dirt will settle on window sills, so make sure drain holes are cleaned and window tracks are occasionally lubricated.
• Collect leaves from your gutters rather than hose them into storm water drains. Consider installing a leaf guard.
• Check waste pipes inside cupboards for leaks. A simple tighten by hand is enough. Don't use a spanner to tighten as you may crack the pipes. Replace any leaking tap washers but remember to turn off the mains water first. If you're unsure, contact a licensed plumber.
• If you have a pest control system for termites, contact the pest control company for an annual check. If they uncover any problems, it makes sense to follow their recommendations. Termites are not to be trifled with.
• When the clocks change for daylight saving, change your smoke alarm battery. Even though they are hard-wired into your home, a battery is required as a back-up.

• It's time to organise your end of season service on evaporative coolers. Regular servicing may extend the life of the unit, saving you a lot of money.
• Check with your manufacturer for their recommendations. Also, a cover for the winter will keep birds from nesting in the unit!
• If you have a coloured concrete or paved driveway, look at whether it needs resealing. These materials fade in the sun and keeping them in good condition maintains the value of your home.
• A lot of people have touch-up paints left from construction. Keep them out of harm's way in a cool, dry place. Stored correctly, they'll last for a couple of years at least.
• For brand new homes please don't stand on window sills while you fit curtains. They're not designed to bear that sort of weight.
• If you've noticed any leaks, take action straight away to minimize damage. 'Leave it until the winter rains and you'll be very sorry!
• Dust and dirt are a big factor over the drier months so don't forget to clean drain holes and lubricate window tracks.
• Outside ledges, vertical planes, mouldings and sills also need a good dusting.
• Rainfall is always an issue so be smart about using water around the home. It's not only good for our water storages, but good for your pocket. Remember, if you get a pool or spa for your deck, you need permission from the relevant authorities to fill it. Don't water the garden, even by hand, during the day. You'll lose most of the benefit through evaporation. Early morning or in the cool of the evening is by far the best time. If you make one New Year's Resolution to keep, commit to using water wisely.

Leaves, leaves and more leaves. The trees turning golden may be a beautiful sight but when the leaves fall, they fill up gutters, go into stormwater pits and drains in your garage. Any external drains are at risk from leaves and other organic matter, particularly when the rain starts. They can cause blockages in pipes causing water to back up and do potentially a lot of damage inside your home.
• Autumn is a dormant period in the garden and it's a good time to look at re-doing the mulch on your garden beds.
• In early autumn, when the temperatures can still be quite mild, it's a good time to clean the ducts in your ducted heating system to get ready for the first chilly night. Consult your instruction manual for the frequency of service required. This is routine maintenance that can avoid nasty clouds of dust blowing into your home after a prolonged period of disuse. It's also a good idea to clean out your window tracks and ledges of dust.
• If you're moving in now, it's probably not the best time to be looking at your garden beds. The key is to make sure no water puddles next to the home. This can be achieved by grading the soil away from the home. Don't try to stockpile soil for the spring — weeds will grow in it. It's best to buy fresh topsoil from a nursery when you're ready to start planting.
• This is the time when you should install weather seals to external doors, to keep out draughts and water during the wetter months. Homes that were built under five star energy provisions will have these as standard features.
• If you've had light curtains up during the summer, swapping them for a heavier weight fabric, will give you a greater insulation benefit.

• Everyone hates doing work around the home in winter, so you'll be very sorry now if you haven't followed our tips for the other seasons. Winter brings its share of hazards and the last thing you want is a blocked pipe. It's a messy job to clear leaves and other matter, especially during winter rains.
• If you haven't serviced your heater you could find it is not as efficient as it could be, resulting in higher energy bills.
• All those weather seals now come into their own. Draughts are not only bad for your health, but your pocket as well, with all that lovely heat literally flowing out of your home. Make a quick check in your ceiling to see if any duct work has come loose or fallen.
• If you are using open fire places, always use a fireguard to protect your kids and stop embers popping out to scorch your floors. Any flames need your constant vigilance, especially around children.
• If you're moving into a home in winter and don't have your driveway finished, there is help to stop you dragging mud into your pristine new home. A couple of metres of crushed rock, sourced from your local nursery, makes an effectively and inexpensive temporary path.
• In the garden, check for weeds and keep lawns under control. Look for areas in the garden that seem "over wet". This could be because of a blocked pipe, sprinkler fittings that are leaking or just a low spot that may require an agricultural drain to be fitted.
• If you bring your washing indoors, make sure your dryer is adequately vented. Wipe down any condensation from the inside of windows or in your laundry. This is an issue with new homes in particular, where moisture is still coming out of the natural products that make up your home.

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