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Maintenance Plan

Maintenance Plan

Regular home maintenance, including periodic condition inspections, means that potential problems can be identified early and their repair (or replacement) planned for. Houses do not wear out, but you need to have an emergency fund in case your roof leaks or the water heater needs to be replaced. Budget 1-2% of the purchase price of the home for annual maintenance and repairs.

If your home or the appliances are older, you may need to save an even bigger amount. Plan ahead for major purchases, estimating when you might have to make the replacements. According to industry officials, the average life span for common appliances is as follows:

Appliance

Average Life Span

Roof

20-25 years

Heating System

25 years

Fridge/Freezer

20 Years

Clothes Dryer

18 years

Range/Oven

18 years

Washing Machine

13 years

Water Heater

13 years

Dishwasher

12 years

For a recently purchased home, start by putting together information on when the house was built, materials used, alterations and major repairs, location of power and water lines, location of sanitary and storm water drains. Drawing a graph plan showing the arrangement of the home, the boundaries, significant features (bath, toilet, bench units), services and the position of the building on the site can also be helpful.

Information on your home may be obtained from:

  • Local council, which should hold copies of plumbing and drainage layouts and original plans and specification
  • Original builder or designer (if known)
  • Original and/or previous owners

Maintenance Checklist

If you have never owned or maintained your own home before (or even if you have), here is a list of things you may wish to check and keep maintained, along with some suggestions on how to do it.

This is not an exhaustive list. For more information on home maintenance, including immediate fixes for common problems in the home and a do-it-yourself guide to a number of major maintenance tasks, BRANZ publishes an excellent book called Maintaining Your Home.

Exterior

Foundations/Basements

  • Ensure water does not pool around foundation – any drainpipes and guttering should direct water away
  • Ensure plants and shrubs are trimmed around foundation walls
  • Check masonry foundation walls for cracks or crumbling mortar
  • Examine main support beams and columns to ensure they are not bowing or warping
  • Examine wood beams, joists and columns to ensure the wood is not decaying
  • Ensure the inside basement walls are free from dampness or water stains
  • Trim back all shrubs that may block air movement around the house
  • Ensure all storm drains are clear of debris and leaves
  • Check driveways and paths for any cracks, breaks or erosion – repair cracks as if they remain unattended it will cause further damage
  • Septic tanks need periodic attention
  • Fences, gates and retaining walls need to be checked to ensure they are all working and in good order
  • Check your garage door and opener to make sure the hinges, rollers and tracks stay lubricated – doing this will extend the life of the garage door and opener

Exterior Walls, Windows and Doors

  • Check brick work for cracked mortar or loose joints
  • Check painted surfaces for peeling, chipping, blistering, cracking, chalking, water damage, or mildew
  • Check all caulking is in good condition
  • Check windows for cracked glass, loose putty, evidence of water damage
  • Check weather stripping on windows and doors for any damage
  • Ensure all windows and doors close properly, lubricate all moving parts and ensure that locks work properly

Roof

  • Ensure you trim all branches that scrape or overhang on the roof – ensure branches are well clear of the chimney to avoid fire hazards
  • Check for curled, damaged, loose or missing shingles
  • Check the lower edge of roof for water damage
  • Ensure vents and louvers are free for air movement – clear gable vents of birds’ nests and other obstructions
  • Check for damage to gutters and downpipes

Interior Surfaces

  • Ensure there are no cracks or loose plaster, signs of leaks, stains or dirt on all ceilings and walls
  • Check for cracks where ceilings join the walls and mouldings attach to ceilings and walls
  • Check for odour or visible evidence of mildew or mould
  • Examine all joints in ceramic tiles and laminated plastics for adequate caulking
  • Check caulking around baths, sinks and showers as some become brittle with age
  • Check all floors for wear and damage, check stairs for loose treads, handrails or carpet
  • Have your carpet and drapes cleaned at least every 12-18 months, this will help them last longer

House Systems & Utilities

Electrical and Fixtures

  • Check all appliance, lamp and extension cords to ensure they are intact and not fraying or split
  • Check for exposed wires or signs of wear where wiring is exposed such as in the roof – contact an electrician to replace if in poor condition
  • Check the fridge and freezer to ensure they are running efficiently – check the seals and clean the coils on the back of your fridge with a vacuum cleaner and brush attachment
  • Inspect the dishwasher for any leaks
  • Clean kitchen exhaust fan filters

Heating/Cooling

  • On heating and cooling systems, clean and replace filters – check your owner’s manual for recommended procedures as some filters need to be replaced frequently
  • Have your chimney checked before you use it

Plumbing

  • Check tap and hose connections under sinks and toilets, look for leaks
  • Check the drains to ensure they are running freely – you can pour a mixture of baking soda, white vinegar, and boiling water down drains to clear them
  • Grind ice cubes in your garbage disposal to keep the cutting blades clean and cut down on smells
  • Check the caulking around all bathtubs and showers, if it is cracking or peeling, have it repaired or replaced – repairing caulk will prevent water from leaking into walls or baseboards which could cause mould and mildew
  • Replace any shower heads – showerheads can get a lime build up over time and cause the nozzles to clog up
  • Check your lawn and garden sprinklers (if applicable) for any leaky valves to ensure you are not wasting water

Preventing Common Problems

The most important thing you will achieve with ongoing checks and maintenance is not only the preservation of the value of your home but also assurance of its ongoing health and soundness.

Certain environmental factors can affect the life of the materials your home is built from, causing problems that may become serious if not fixed. High internal and subfloor moisture levels and the resultant mould and mildew growth are the most serious of these.

Other common problems are:

  • poor ventilation
  • lack of lateral support to pile foundations
  • corrosion of galvanized steel
  • leaks
  • heat loss or draughts
  • bouncy or vibrating floors
  • insect and borer infestation
  • rot in timber

For more information on the causes and solutions for these problems, check out the 8 principles of FPB and related FPB product partners. There is also a book called Maintaining Your Home produced by BRANZ which addresses these common problems and their solutions in depth.

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