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Helpful Home Maintenance Tips

UPON TAKING OWNERSHIP OF THE HOUSE

Upon taking possession of your new home, here are some suggestions for both safety and maintenance that should be performed immediately after taking ownership:

* Consider changing or re-keying (it's less expensive) the exterior locks.

* Replace the batteries in the smoke detectors - there is no telling when they were last replaced.

* If the smoke detectors look like they have some age on them, consider replacing them.

* Make sure you know where the main shut offs are for the plumbing, electrical and heating systems.

* Inspect the exterior and interior of the home for tripping hazards - this includes decking, sidewalks, driveways, steps, loose  carpeting, etc.

* Develop an escape procedure from the house in case of a fire.

* If the house has gas heating and/or a gas fireplace and there is no carbon monoxide detector, get one - it's a smart thing to do and a cheap piece of mind.

* If the house does not have a security system, consider getting one.

REGULAR MAINTENANCE TIPS

MONTHLY

* Replace or clean the air filters as needed.

* Check that the fire extinguishers are fully charged.

* Inspect and clean out if necessary the gutters and downspouts.

* Inspect all plumbing connectors (faucets, shower heads, etc.) for leaks.

* Check the shower pan  (if applicable) - replace grout or caulk as needed.

* Keep flashlights handy and in good operating condition.

SPRING, SUMMER, AND FALL

* Review fire escape plan with your family at least once a year.

* Check for damage to your roof - look at shingles, flashing, chimney, and vents. When looking at the shingles - look for loose, damaged, missing or curled shingles.

* Check the fascia and trim work for deterioration.

* Check the hot water heater- look for leaks or rust. Open the pressure relief valve to see that it is working.

* Clean out the clothes dryer exhaust duct.

* Inspect and clean dust from covers of fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

* Clean kitchen exhaust hood and air filter.

* Trim back bushes and limbs from the house. As a general rule, you want 16 -18 inches clearance between the house and the landscaping. This helps air circulation and keeps the ground dry.

* Make sure the exterior grade slopes away from the house, and check for insect activity.

* Check the exterior siding for deterioration.

* Make sure the caulking around exterior doors and windows are adequate.

* Make sure the caulking, around bathroom fixtures, is adequate to help prevent water from seeping into the sub flooring.

* Look in the attic to check ventilation - make sure attic vents are not obstructed. Check for evidence of leakage or animal activity.

* Inspect the exterior decking for deterioration. Apply deck sealer if needed.

* After the last mowing, run the gas out of the gas powered lawn equipment.

* Check the emergency generator, if applicable.

WINTER

* Disconnect hoses from exterior faucets. If the outside faucets have a shut off valve - cut them off.

* Store firewood at least 30 feet from the house.

* Check the hoses on the washing machine, the refrigerator, ice maker and the dishwasher for cracks and bubbles.

* Test the GFCI outlets - located in kitchen, baths, and exterior receptacles.

* Clean out the gutters and downspouts.

* Make sure the weather stripping on exterior doors is in good condition.

ANNUALLY

* Replace the smoke detector batteries.

* If the house is in an area prone to wood destroying insects - have the house inspected by a licensed specialist.

* Clean the refrigerator condenser coils (under the front door), as well as the evaporator coil or plate at least once a year. Unplug the refrigerator first. The location of the evaporator coil or plate can vary. In older units, the evaporator coil is next to the compressor on the back side behind an access panel. In newer units, they usually have an exposed coil in the form of a large metal grill on the back side. Vacuum these and plug unit back in.

* Have the chimneys inspected and cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep.

* Have a licensed mechanical contractor inspect and service the heating and air conditioning systems.

VACATION

* Have the newspaper and the mail stopped, or have a trusted neighbor pick it up.

* Ask a trusted neighbor or family member to check on the house.

* Make sure your trusted neighbor knows where the water cut off is on your home.

* Set timers on interior lights to help deter burglars.

* Unplug TV, computer and other equipment susceptible to lightening and power surges.

* Take valuables and important papers to a bank safety deposit box.

* Turn off water valves to the dishwasher, the ice maker, and washing machine.

* Turn the hot water heater to the vacation setting, if applicable.

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