The Home Inspectors guide to Preventive Maintenance
Years ago, I wrote and published a book called The Home Inspectors Guide to Preventive Maintenance. As a home inspector for over 35 years, I have always felt part of my job is to educate the future homeowner about not only the property condition but also potential life expectancies and maintenance. To me, an educated homeowner becomes empowered to not only maintain their home but also aid in hiring contractors for repairs, updating, and future projects. These are some abbreviated considerations to be aware of.
Exterior: With the exterior maintaining paint and caulk is the first barrier to water intrusion. Keeping the gutters and downspouts clean and serviced and extending away from the structure as much as possible. Keep algae clean and free from growth on the roof and install secondary or updated plumbing vent collars as these are an area at high risk for leaks. Keep any gable or power fan screens in good repair to prevent pest intrusion. Ensure all windows and doors are properly sealing, then clean and service all weather strips and sills. Draft stop and seal off all attic, floor, and ceiling penetrations to help prevent stack effect. Update all insulation to meet current standards for improved energy performance. Check with your state to see if there are any tax credits or energy rebate programs.
Grounds and Grade: Keep the siding from contact with the grade and mulch and have the grade slope away from the structure or install curtain drains where needed. Maintain an annual wood-destroying insect policy to help prevent damage to the structure. Keep all bushes trimmed back from the building and ivy of the building and all trees. Trim all tree branches back from overhanging the building, and have all dead growth removed as falling branches pose a safety hazard.
Remodeling Consideration: For example, during future remodeling consider setting up a containment area and sealing off the HVAC registers to control dust and if the age of the house warrants control asbestos and other contaminants. In some cases, when asbestos is present and mold putting the area under negative air pressure with the use of an air scrubber can help prevent the dust from contaminating the rest of the living area.
Plumbing: One of the main insurance claims is always water, water, and water. Water claims may come from the outside from roof leaks, the building envelope, siding windows, etc., and the foundation. The homeowner can perform routine inspections of the water system throughout the house. Start with the main shut-off for leaks and operation, all faucet fixtures, and drains. Consider updating any older gate valves to ball valves for improper performance and reduction in leaks. Be prepared when operating any shut-off valve for leaks and failures that may occur. Inspect the toilets at the tank bolts, supply line shut-off valve, and fill valves for leaks. These can result in catastrophic leaks. De-energize the water heater and drain a few gallons annually and if you have a tankless water heater it should be routinely descaled. Install anti-burst hoses for the clothes washer and service the dryer vent. If you have a sump pump verify operation and have a backup installed. Keep the pit clean and free from debris and sediment.
HVAC: Routine cleaning of the HVAC system, blower, and ductwork can help control certain allergens and contaminants from being circulated through the home or building. Any fossil fuel system requires routine and annual maintenance. Any older venting system should be inspected for rust corrosion and damaged flue tiles when present. Newer systems such as 90% efficient systems typically utilize PVC vent pipes which are less prone to failure. Keeping the filtration system clean not only helps with optimizing air filtration but a dirty filter could result in damage to the heating or cooling system.
Electrical: Verify that GFCI protection is installed at all required locations. These change during every code update, so you will have to decide which are the higher-risk locations such as near all water sources. GFCI protections help to prevent the chance of electrocution. You should trip these circuits at the devices or breakers annually to ensure they are performing as designed. If your home is older consider having ARC fault breakers installed as these can help reduce the chance of a fire. These breakers trip if arcing occurs at any circuits or connections. There are many more considerations when looking at electrical that a licensed home inspector or electrician should utilize. The homeowner should not open devices or the main panel due to the risk of electrocution. Replace all smoke detectors every 10 years, routinely test operation, and update to the current standard for an older home. Install interconnected carbon monoxide detectors and plug-in ones with digital read-outs that also have a combustible gas leak alarm.
Home Inspectors: Professional home inspectors will commonly use moisture meters and thermal imaging cameras to locate and identify leaks that may not be readily apparent such as toilet wax seals and leaks at ceilings. Consider hiring a professional home inspector to perform routine inspections to help locate and identify some of these issues to help ensure you and your family live in a safe home and environment. The above should be considered a very limited overview of some of the concerns home inspectors run into daily.
Showalter Property Consultants offers preventive maintenance inspections throughout the Maryland area.
Call today! 410-570-6430
Stephen Lee Showalter, NACHI® CMI, ASHI ACI
Home Inspector, Environmental Consultant
Maryland State Home Inspector License #29634
ASHI ACI Certified Membership
NACHI® CMI Certified Master Inspector
InterNACHI® CPI Certified Membership
Certified Commercial Property Inspector Association
FAA Certified UAS Pilot #3987636
CRT Certified Residential Thermographer
Showalter Property Consultants providing quality home inspections and environmental testing throughout Maryland since 1988.