Colorado Association of REALTORS | Maintaining Your Home
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Maintaining Your Home

Care, Maintenance, Energy Efficiency, and Weatherproofing

The health of a home is a lot like our own personal health. If it is regularly checked and maintained, the chances of problems arising are less. With proper maintenance, if and when problems do occur, there is less chance that they will blossom into major problems.

Exterior

 

Asphalt and concrete driveways: Repair any cracks or buckling.

 

Heating and cooling: Make sure outside unit is unobstructed. Clean unit with garden hose.

 

House exterior: If your house is wood, check that the paint hasn’t worn away so much that the primer paint is showing. If the primer also wears down, you can do damage to the wood. Brick houses should be inspected for damaged bricks or masonry.

 

Lawn and garden: Watch for accumulation of tree limbs, branches, debris that can attract wood eating insects.

 

Roof: Note if any shingles have fallen off or if gutters or downspouts appear clogged or damaged. You can always hire a reliable roofing company to get on the roof and take a look. Reputable roofing companies won’t try to sell you a new one unless you really need it. You can simply pay them for an inspection.

 

Windows and doors: Check caulking around doors and windows, glazing around window panes.

Interior

 

Air conditioning system: Change all filters monthly or as recommended by the filter manufacturer.

 

Attic: Check for signs of water leakage from the roof. Also look for any sign of termites or rodents. Squirrels or rats that nest in your attic can chew electrical wiring, which can lead to fires.

 

Basement: Check for cracks in the foundation and leaks. Buildings settle over time and even after decades of having a dry basement leaks may suddenly occur.

 

Bathrooms: Check for plumbing leaks and check grout on tiles. If the grout gets worn away water will start getting into the walls behind the bathroom, causing damage.
Heating system: If yours has a filter, change it annually.

 

Kitchen: Check for leaks under and around the sink. Plumbing leaks can damage cabinetry and floors. Check and repair grout and caulking on tile countertops and around the sink. Also check wear and tear on wood floors, which periodically need to be refinished.

 

Carbon Monoxide/Smoke alarms: Check to make sure they are working properly. Batteries need to be changed annually.

 

Water Heater: Check for signs of leaks. Drain to remove any sediment. In areas with hard water, drain every 3 months.

Preparing your home for winter is a smart way to cut energy costs and make sure your home is safe. It is a job well worth the time and effort. A few simple, precautionary steps can save money and add to the value of your home.

 

Heating systems: Heating systems vary, but in general, industry standards advise a professional check-up every year for oil-powered units and every three years for those powered by gas. However, do-it-yourself maintenance also is advisable. With the furnace off, you should replace air filters, and vacuum dust from the blower, fan blades grills and air intakes. Replace any cracked or frayed belts.

If your furnace supplies heat using hot water in pipes or radiators, you may need to lubricate the motor that pushes water through the system. Remember: the efficiency of hot-water systems can be impaired if air is caught within the systems, because air takes the place of hot water. Make sure the valve that lets air escape is working properly.

 

Chimney flues: Checking your chimney is another important weatherproofing task. If you are uncertain about the condition of a furnace or chimney flue, it’s best to hire a chimney sweep to clear out creosote, the flammable oily residue that accumulates when wood is burned. If left uncleaned, creosote could be re- ignited, causing a chimney fire. If you decide to clean out the furnace flue yourself, take apart exposed pipe sections and brush them outdoors. To clean a chimney flue, pull a sand-filled canvas bag back and forth through the opening, working from the roof. Make certain the flue is closed to keep soot from filtering inside the house.

 

Smoke detectors: Although battery-powered smoke detectors should be tested year round, it is crucial to test them in the winter, because sources of fire, such as fireplaces, wood stoves and portable heaters are used. Testing battery- powered units is simple — make sure the batteries work. A unit connected to the electrical system should also be tested, but probably does not need any maintenance except, perhaps, a light dusting.

 

Air or water leaks: Look for air cracks around windows, doors, pipes, ducts and other openings. It is important to seal these leaks with flexible caulk. Seams where siding meets windows and doors should also be caulked. On brick siding, fill in eroded joints with mortar, to keep out air, water and snow.

 

Insulation: Check the attic to see if insulation needs to be added or replaced. This is the most significant area of heat loss in many homes, so it is also important to see that it has proper ventilation. Inadequate ventilation could lead to premature deterioration of the insulation materials. It may be necessary to check insulation in exterior walls, crawl spaces and along foundation walls, as well.

 

Gutter cleaning: Clean the leaves from all gutters. Then, make sure the drainage system works by running water through them.

An energy-efficient home-with such features as proper insulation, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, and energy-efficient windows-can lower your utility bills by 10 to 50 percent.

 

It’s easier than you think to enjoy the savings and comfort of an energy-efficient home. Since an energy-efficient home is cost-effective, there are financing programs available from mortgages to home improvement loans, which allow more people the opportunity to live in such a home. You can benefit from energy- efficient financing whether you’re buying, selling, refinancing, or remodeling a home.

An energy-efficient home-with such features as proper insulation, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, and energy-efficient windows-can lower your utility bills by 10 to 50 percent.

Where Do I Start?
Most energy-efficient financing programs will encourage you to have an energy rating for your new or existing home, which will tell you and the lender how energy efficient it is. A rating typically involves an inspection by a professional energy rater who is certified under a nationally or state accredited home energy rating system (HERS), such as E-Star of Colorado.

 

To help qualify for most energy-efficient financing, the report usually must show that the home is energy-efficient or that recommended improvements are cost- effective and will save you more money than you’d be borrowing to install them. When it comes to energy-efficient financing-whether you want to purchase, refinance, or remodel a home-it’s best to work with lenders and/or real estate professionals who are familiar with home energy ratings and program requirements.

Am I required to install a carbon monoxide detector in my home when I sell it?

A new law concerning carbon monoxide detectors went into effect in Colorado on July 1, 2009 which applies to sales, rentals or remodeling of any new or existing single or multi-family residence. It requires that any residential property with fuel-fired appliances (e.g., gas or oil heat, a gas clothes dryer or stove), a fireplace or an attached garage which changes hands through a sale or rental or which has a remodeling that requires a permit, must have a properly installed carbon monoxide detector.

Ironically, our efforts to insulate our homes, sealing any openings or gaps to improve comfort and reduce monthly energy bills, can create an environment where the effects of carbon monoxide are even more pronounced.

The responsibility for installing the detector rests with the seller or owner/manager of the property. Affordable detectors are available at many retail locations and do not require special training to install.

 

What motivated the State Legislature and the Governor to enact this new law? Each year in the United States, dozens of people die needlessly from exposure to carbon monoxide. In 2008 and 2009, Colorado experienced the tragic loss of several lives due to carbon monoxide poisoning and the individual cases sparked a discussion that ultimately led to the enactment of new laws.

 

A deadly gas that has no odor and can only be detected by the proper device, carbon monoxide in homes usually comes from heating devices that are not properly installed or maintained, fumes from automobile engines or gases produced by a fireplace not properly ventilated. Victims are typically unaware of the danger and deaths often occur while victims are sleeping.

 

As we approach winter, it’s a good time to have your heating system professionally inspected and the fireplace cleaned. Whether you are planning to sell or rent your residence or continue living in the property, this would also be an excellent time to purchase one or more carbon monoxide detectors. The law requires that one be placed within 15 feet of any room used for sleeping. Some experts also suggest placing one near the area of a furnace or other fuel-driven appliance.

 

The seasons can change pretty quickly in Colorado and now is the right time to start getting your home ready for winter. While we often focus our winter preparations on conserving energy, safety should also be a priority.

 

Ironically, our efforts to insulate our homes, sealing any openings or gaps to improve comfort and reduce monthly energy bills, can create an environment where the effects of carbon monoxide are even more pronounced.

 

Help protect yourself and your loved ones by putting a carbon monoxide detector in your home today.