NURTURING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR HOME SWEET HOME
The relationship we have with our homes can be likened to the important connections we cherish with our partners, family and friends: they need nurturing to remain healthy. Some people might compare their relationship with their first home to adopting a puppy: there is a gradual realization of just how much work and attention is required. In hindsight, some people will acknowledge that they had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
Wouldn't it be great if there was a course in high school that taught all the important tasks required to maintain a home?
Some household maintenance is simply regular routine, whereas other tasks may require more intensive inspection, investigation, and planning.
Let’s start with the simple stuff. The first thing to confirm to ensure you get a good night’s sleep in your new home is the proper functioning of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. Also of significant importance is knowing how to shut off your main water valve and which breakers to flip in your electrical panel for major appliances.
Here is a priorities list (by no means exhaustive… but pretty extensive) to help you understand what needs to be done to your home and when.
Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is an important function of any home and requires routine maintenance. It’s recommended to have a technician inspect your HVAC system at least once a year, especially if you have a fuel combustion furnace, like oil or natural gas. Filters should be changed every three to six months, depending on the size of the home, the quality of the filters, and the amount of ‘traffic” in your home. A retired couple living alone will generate far less dust and particulate in their home than a busy family of six with two cats and a dog. Air exchangers are another component of an HVAC system that also require regular cleaning and maintenance.
Besides the obvious yard maintenance requirements such as mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, trimming hedges, and tending to your garden, you may also need to treat outdoor surfaces, like adding sealant to your patio or deck or staining your fence every few years to protect them from the elements. Bear in mind that neighbours often consider the appearance of your property as a component in the value of their home and community. This is not about keeping up with the Joneses, but about understanding that your property represents a portion of the value of the community as a whole. The neighbours will appreciate your efforts, just as you will appreciate theirs.
Keeping unwanted guests in their environment and out of yours is another important part of home maintenance. Sealing tiny access points will prevent critters like mice, bats, birds, ants, and wasps from finding their way into your basement, venting ducts, walls, and attic.
Preparing for winter
October and November are the time to shut down your yard and detach and empty hoses, which can freeze and split over the winter. You also need to shut off the water valves to all exterior plumbing fixtures. As well, rake fallen leaves and be sure to clean your gutters and downspouts. Drainage is one of the most overlooked household concerns. When it's raining, we typically stay cozy inside and don’t notice where the water is going after it leaves our downspouts. It is critical to control where downspouts are directed and to confirm they are not sending water towards your foundation.
Seal doors and windows for drafts with weatherstripping and caulking where required. Drafts will often go unnoticed during warmer months, but become a serious challenge to keeping your house warm and energy bills low when frigid temperatures hit. Sealing around doors and windows is not difficult to do yourself. However, this work should be done before the extreme cold strikes, to ensure that the caulking or other weatherstripping material adheres properly.
Keeping your driveway and walkways clear of snow and ice is important for ease of access as well as for safety reasons. However, some properties present unique challenges when it comes to managing snow and ice. Certain types of roofs with peaks and valleys can become problematic for snow accumulation and ice damming. Some homeowners install heating cables on their roofs, or hire experts to shovel snow from their rooftops after heavy snowfalls. These are all things that are easy to overlook, but that are a crucial part of good home maintenance. In some communities it is common to witness a “snow angel” shovelling a neighbour’s walkway or even clearing a sidewalk halfway down the street. Many seniors and frail individuals need help with the “Great Canadian Workout” of shovelling, especially when the snow is heavy and wet.
For the real “newbies"
Set your thermostat properly and consider getting a “smart” thermostat. This will lower your energy bills and keep you comfortable. As well, remember to clean the grills of your heating vents and baseboards and the bathroom exhaust fan. Another task that’s often overlooked is cleaning your dryer vent. A buildup of lint can reduce the efficiency of your dryer, and also become a fire hazard if left to accumulate for too long.
Final thoughts and considerations
Among larger concerns, you should test for radon, a dangerous, odourless gas that leaks up from the ground and can potentially seep into your home through the foundation. Testing kits are reasonably priced and readily available.
Many longer-term jobs will need to be done eventually, like cleaning your stove range hood and filter, lubricating garage door springs, caulking cracks in the exterior cladding, and sealing around tubs and showers to avoid water damage. As well, your HVAC ducts will need a cleaning every couple of years, which will make a noticeable improvement in the quality of air circulating through your home. It’s also a good idea to poke your head up in your attic spaces every so often, just in case any problems may have occurred that you weren’t aware of. Lastly, get to know your neighbours! In times of emergency, as well as for protecting your property and assets, the people living next door can be your most important allies. At TEAM BROADY, we believe a healthy relationship with our home is an important aspect of our well-being. It should be a safe, clean and ideally, a sound financial investment. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us about any real estate questions or for help with your home buying / selling needs. We can be reached at 514-613-2988 or by email at email@example.com.