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Tips for Maintaining Your New Home (Part 2)

Posted by Sarah Steen on February 25, 2021
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The extraordinarily competitive real estate markets of 2020/21 mean that many buyers didn’t ask sellers to repair items in the inspection reports, or waived contingencies all together. As a new homeowner, it’s more important than ever to start any repairs listed in your inspection report and begin the regular maintenance that comes with homeownership.

This is the second part in our Home Maintenance Series,  so be sure to check out our other posts:
Part 1: Tips for Maintaining Your Home (exterior)
Part 3: Tips for Maintaining Appliances

There’s no need to do everything at once, but regular maintenance is important and won’t be overwhelming if you do a little at a time. YouTube has definitely helped homeowners figure out many basic home repairs and is a great resource when you have a question. Much better than about 20 years ago when you were pretty much on your own figuring out repairs!

Click here to download our Home Buyer Guide

Kitchen

Older Plumbing

If your plumbing is older (and especially if you home was built before 1980), it’s a good idea to test the tap water for lead even if you’re planning to use filtered water from your refrigerator.  If you are fairly sure lead isn’t an issue in your pipes, let the water run for a minute to have any water in the pipes flush out before you use it to cook.

Garbage Disposal

The most common issue with disposals is when they get jammed.

  • Check the cabinet under your sink for a hex key.
  • It should fit into the bottom of the disposal and move it into one direction to free the blades.
  • You might have to push a reset button to get everything synched up again.
  • Do not reach into the disposal. 

Cooking Grease
FOG  (fats, oil and grease) is a huge issue for plumbing. Do not pour it down the drain. Let it cool off in the pan, wipe it out with a paper towel, and throw it into the trash can. Plumbing repairs are costly so taking care of those pipes is important.

Dishwasher

A great tip for cleaning your dishwasher:

  • Simply run the dishwasher using the powdered lemonade mix instead of dishwasher detergent. The ascorbic acid in the lemonade mix aids in cleaning and you’ll have a sparkling clean and fresh smelling dishwasher. Who knew?

Refrigerator

  • Most refrigerators have water filters. We suggest replacing the filter when you move in since you don’t know how old the current one is. Write the date of replacement on the new filter with a Sharpie. That way you’ll always know how old it is.
  • Pull out the fridge to inspect the floor for any leaks and vacuum the back of the refrigerator. Please follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Countertops

There are many types of countertops out there, but it’s especially important to take care of natural stone countertops. Ask your real estate agent if you are not sure what kind of counter you have.

Granite Countertops

Granite countertops are a beautiful and fairly common feature in homes on the market. They are also an expensive investment that you’ll want to maintain with regular care.

  • Granite is a porous stone and it absorbs liquids quickly. You can purchase a spray-on sealant at most hardware stores. Follow the directions provided by the manufacturer for applying the sealant. The sealant will usually need to be reapplied every year.
  • Granite is not heat resistant and heat can cause damage over time.
  • Don’t cut on your gorgeous countertops.
  • Granite stains easily. Always wipe any excess moisture or spills off as soon as you can.

Cultured Marble Countertops

It’s not always the most practical counter top to have in a kitchen because it can scratch and burn easily.

  • Be sure to do additional research to protect your cultured marble counters.
  • Use gentle cleaners and buff with a soft cloth. Abrasive cleaners will damage the surface of cultured marble.

Marble Countertops 

Like granite, marble countertops should be sealed to protect them from water and stains.

  • We recommend that you have professional seal marble countertops at least once every two years. Some marble countertops will not need to be sealed and a professional can determine if your specific marble countertops should be sealed or not.
  • Marble is much more sensitive than granite to spills and stains. You should blot up any spills immediately.

Quartz countertops

Quartz is a great manmade product. It’s actually harder than granite which makes it more durable. It also isn’t porous like granite and will not absorb liquids.

  • Avoid placing hot pans on quartz counters.
  • Quartz is pretty expensive so be gentle with it to extend it’s beauty and life.

Laminate Countertops 

Laminate countertops are the preferred countertop selection of the past. But the newest versions have become so pretty that they are not the counter tops of shame like they used to be. This is a great inexpensive and durable option.

  • Avoid heat and sharp objects
  • Don’t let water stand in the seals as it might seep into it and cause bubbling.

Tile Counter tops

Tile counters are also an option that seems outdated (for now).  Tile is sturdy and lasts for a long time.

  • Regularly  seal the grout in order to protect it from water and discoloration.

Related Reading: Update your home without major renovations

Bathrooms

Jetted Tubs

Jetted tubs or hot tubs can be petri dishes for bacteria. Clean the jets prior to use to remove dirt and buildup sitting in the jets:

  • Fill the tub to at least 2 inches above the highest jets.
  • Add powder or liquid dishwasher detergent and two cups of distilled white vinegar OR one-half cup of liquid chlorine bleach to the water (careful: dish-WASHING soap causes too many bubbles and will make a mess). If you only have dishwasher tablets, dissolve them first before adding them to the tub.
  • Run the jets on high for 10-15 minutes.
  • Drain the tub and wipe out all the dirt.
  • Fill the tub again with warm or cold water and let it run another 10-15 minutes.
  • Drain tub and clean.

Mildew 

Mildew is an indication that there is so much moisture that mold can form and can many times be found in bathrooms. Most of the time this is not a big deal in Colorado because of our dry weather, but it still happens. Great ventilation and meticulous caulking are necessary.

If you find mildew in the bathroom:

  • Wash the affected area with a solution of ½ Ib. trisodium phosphate (TSP) and 1 gallon water.
  • Use a scouring pad wrapped around a putty knife or an old toothbrush to get into narrow crevices.
  • Rinse the surface with warm water and then let dry.
  • You might have to reapply caulk depending on where you find the mildew.

To prevent mildew:

  • Open a window or run the fan when you shower.
  • Replace your fan if the current one is weak. There is a chance you’ll have to have your fan vented to the outside to comply with new building codes. Get an estimate and see if the venting to the outside is included in the offer.

Related Reading: Steps to Buy a Home

Wobbly Ceiling Fan

The sound of a wobbly ceiling fan might drive you nuts but can be remedied.

  • Make sure that there are no loose blades and the connection between the rod and fan body are secure. If these are secure, verify the connections between the ceiling and the mounting.
  • In most cases, a wobbly ceiling fan means the fan is not properly balanced. You can purchase a ceiling fan balancing kit at most hardware stores. The kit will include a clip and a number of weights. Follow the directions on the kit to balance your ceiling fan.

Doors and Latches

Latch Issues

If the interior doors installed in your home are wood products, they are subject to the natural shrinking and warping characteristics of wood. Outdoor humidity changes and showers and dishwashers contribute to these changes. In many new homes, there are strike plates (particularly on exterior doors) that can be easily adjusted with a screw driver.

Sticking Doors

The most common cause of a sticking door is the natural expansion of lumber due to changes in humidity.

  • When sticking is due to swelling during a damp season, do not plane (shave the wood on the side of the door) or sand the door unless it continues to stick when drier conditions persist.
  • Before you sand a door, you can try rubbing some candle wax or a bar of soap on the part of the door that is sticking. Then tighten the screws that hold the door in the door frame to see if that helps.

Flooring

Carpet

Carpet is still a favorite floor covering. It usually has a shorter lifespan than wood floors or other materials, but its life can be extended with proper care. If you are in a new construction home, make sure you follow the instructions from the builder and manufacturer so you don’t accidentally void your warranty.

  • Carpet in bathroom: you’ll see it in older homes and it can be quite gross. We always recommend removing bathroom carpet and replacing it with some inexpensive laminate flooring until you decide what to do next with the bathroom. The cost should be not outrageous since most bathrooms are fairly small.
  • Buckling carpet: you’ll see this even in newer carpet installations. Buckles can pose a tripping hazard, be unsightly, and make a carpet wear unevenly. Unfortunately, the only thing to do is to bring a carpet contractor in to stretch the carpet. Cost will depend on the size of the room.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring responds noticeably to changes in the humidity level in the home, especially in the winter. The response varies depending on your particular climate. If only specific areas are affected, make sure that there are no leaks that could cause the change in the wood floor.

You might see the following in wood floors:

  • Seasonal cupping.
  • Dimples or scratches caused by moving furniture, high heels, pet claws and dropping heavy or sharp objects.
  • Some shrinking or wrapping, especially around heat vents.
  • Warping if the floor becomes wet repeatedly or is thoroughly soaked even one time.
  • Dulling finish in high traffic areas
  • White, filmy appearance caused by standing moisture (standing moisture is always an issue to investigate).

Wood Floor Care

  • Dry mop or sweep your floors regularly. A vacuum cleaner with special attachments is great. For larger surfaces, purchase an extra wide drymop from the home improvement store.
  • Use a great floor cleaner like ZAP or BONA for your floors. They won’t leave buildup or dull the finish. The BONA polish is great for an additional shine.
  • Don’t use a steam cleaner or all-purpose cleaners on your wood floors.
  • Remove any spills promptly using a clean, soft cloth. This is especially important for times when you have snow and ice. If you don’t have a rug next to exterior doors that lead to wood flooring, opt for old towels just until the worst of the weather is over. Keep in mind that anything that is rubber backed could cause damage to your wood floors.

If you have questions about or need recommendations for professionals who can help with this maintenance, call us 719-219-9739 or email info@co-regroup.com. Our team is always here to help!

 

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