Preventive maintenance protects a homeowner’s investment and increases his pride of ownership. Home inspections that are completed on a regular schedule will catch minor problems before they have a chance to grow into big expensive problems. Spring is an especially good time for a thorough home inspection since winter weather is sometimes damaging to a home’s exterior. But anytime is better than no time at all.
Preventing Water Damage at the Home’s Foundation
Providing adequate grading adjacent to the foundation is a critical factor in preventing water damage to a home. A slope that drops three inches per foot for about three feet, or at a 15 degree slope, will discourage potentially damaging water from seeping into crawl spaces, basements, garages or a house’s lower level. During a home inspection, the foundation should be carefully inspected for cracks, damage or signs of water accumulation.
Gutters and downspouts must be efficient in directing rain water away from a house. Gutters should be inspected periodically for rust, leaks, clogs or sagging sections and repaired as needed. Downspouts should be kept in good repair and should lead water to a lower level on the property.
Exterior Inspection: Roof, Siding, Doors and Windows
The condition of a roof should be evaluated during a home inspection by looking for signs of sagging or deterioration and by checking for proper functioning of all flashings around vents, chimneys, skylights and valleys. Any concerns must be addressed quickly to maintain the water-tightness of the roofing system. The integrity of a chimney or vents should be checked at least annually as a precautionary measure.
Wood siding is susceptible to decay and insect damage and needs to be inspected periodically and repaired when necessary. Soil and mulch are conducive to decay and should be kept at least six inches away from any wood components of a house. Other types of siding should be inspected for damage or deterioration and repaired as needed.
Windows and doors should be checked annually for water-tightness and repaired or replaced as needed. Glass surfaces should be inspected for damage and replaced as necessary. Damaged or missing storm windows or screens can be repaired or replaced as desired.
Garage, Attic and General Interior Home Inspection
A garage inspection will focus on the floor, walls and ceiling, looking for signs of staining, leaking, decay or insect damage. Any concerns should be addressed immediately.
An attic inspection includes an energy assessment of existing insulation, with a goal of bringing insulation levels up to present day standards. (Insulation should not be disturbed, as some types may release potentially hazardous materials.) The homeowner should ensure that there is adequate clearance between combustible materials and chimneys and vents; he should also ensure that there is adequate ventilation to avoid heat and moisture buildup in the attic.
Homeowners should conduct annual house inspections of heating and air conditioning systems, electrical systems, water heaters, ducts, fireplaces and chimney flues. Smoke alarms should be tested to ensure that they are in good working order.
All interior surfaces should be checked periodically for signs of mold and mildew. Problems with these pollutants require immediate attention or could lead to severe damage. Houses with poor ventilation and high humidity are particularly susceptible to mold and mildew; improving ventilation and keeping indoor relative humidity below 70 percent will help minimize the likelihood of mold and mildew damage.
Homeowner’s Bathroom and Kitchen Inspection
A bathroom inspection includes checking toilets, tubs, showers, sinks, faucets and drains for proper functioning. Water-tightness of tub and shower enclosures should also be evaluated. A reasonable water temperature (no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit) should be provided at all fixtures. A homeowner should ensure adequate ventilation in a bathroom to avoid moisture and mildew buildup.
The kitchen area also requires good ventilation. A carbon monoxide monitor is suggested for a home with a gas range. Kitchen appliances should be evaluated and repaired or replaced as needed. The homeowner should check kitchen sinks and faucets for proper flow and drainage.
Home Inspections and Preventive Maintenance Save a Homeowner Money
If a homeowner invests the necessary time in performing an annual home inspection, he can keep his house in good condition, from top to bottom and inside to outside, saving money in costly repairs.