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Home Inspections in Kitsap, King, and Pierce Counties

Strategies for Northwest Home Maintenance

The Evergreen State stays green for one reason… water and lots of it! As a homeowner, it is that same water which is the largest enemy of your home. Water can speed deterioration, lead to rot damage, create a favorable environment for insects and molds and cause erosion and settling. Proper management of water is the single most important thing you can do to protect and preserve your home and it is the common theme behind many maintenance tasks.

Water Management

1. Keep your gutters clean, in good repair and make sure they drain properly. Depending on how many surrounding trees you have, cleaning may need to occur as often as every other month.

2. Make sure the downspouts effectively drain roof runoff away from the house. Ponding water next to the house can cause settling and/or water intrusion into the crawl space and is a serious conducive condition for wood destroying organism infestation. Use splash blocks or drain line to direct the water away. If using buried drain lines, consider screening the top of the drain line to prevent it from becoming plugged with debris.

3. Always keep the soil sloped away from the structure.

Preserving the Exterior Finish of Your Home

1. Make sure there is at least 4 to 6 inches of clearance from soil to the bottom of your exterior

2. Keep foliage cut back 10 to 12 inches from the structure.

3. Keep up on caulking and painting. As wood finishes and the wood itself shrinks and expands with temperature and moisture, re-caulking at seams, siding butt joints and around doors and windows becomes an ongoing issue as does painting.

4. Never stack firewood, or anything else, against the structure.

Protecting the Crawl Space

1. Make sure the crawl space vents are always clear and never cover them for any reason. If they become blocked by landscaping materials or dirt, install vent wells to keep them clear.

2. Make sure crawl space vents are undamaged so your crawl space remains uninhabited. Code calls for non-louvered ¼ inch wire mesh screen.

3. Don’t store any wood, cardboard, or paper debris in crawl space.

4. Inspect the crawl space periodically, particularly during wet weather when water may be noticed. Look for signs of plumbing leaks, fallen insulation and heat ducts which may have come apart. Also look for signs of wood destroying insects such as sawdust-like residue. It is always recommended to have regular pest inspections.

5. Keep the crawl space cover in good repair so animals and water cannot enter the crawl space.

About Your Roof

Due to its obvious importance, proper care of your roof is paramount. The lifespan of any roofing product can be adversely affected by the effects of sun, rain, wind, improper installation, debris and moss buildup, cleaning practices, and even walking on the roof surface. Cedar roofs and tile roofs in particular can be easily damaged when walked on. Wet or steep roofs, particularly cedar, should be left to professionals as they also pose a great risk for falling. Improper cleaning practices can remove surface material, cause actual damage and greatly reduce the life span of a roof. In particular, avoid pressure washing on any roof. A reputable roofing company can provide invaluable information and advice about proper care and maintenance.

Caring for Your Roof

1. Keep trees and branches from touching the roof surface.

2. Keep moss and debris from accumulating on the roof. Use the least aggressive method possible to remove buildup. Pay close attention to areas where debris gets trapped such as in valleys, next to walls, behind vents and behind chimneys. A blower is the least aggressive approach. A pressure washer is very aggressive and can be damaging both immediately and over time. Talk to a roofing supply company about products to inhibit moss growth.

3. Inspect your roof periodically to ensure it has not received damage from storms, high winds, hail and falling debris. For flat, or low pitch roofs, where the material is Built Up, (hot mop), or Torch Down, periodic applications of reflective roof coatings such as, “Silvercoat”, can help protect the material from the sun’s effects and greatly improve lifespan. Again, a roofing company, or roofing supplier can help recommend the best product and give advice about application.

4. If you have a tile roof it may be necessary to periodically disassemble, clean, and reassemble the valleys

The Interior

A lot of times, maintenance is taken to mean some sort of proactive measure, such as caulking, painting and so on. And while such measures are certainly important, the simple act of just looking is also a very important part of the home maintenance program. It’s a good idea to take time and just look every few months, perhaps more often if items such as plumbing fixtures are used heavily.

1. Flush toilets and feel around the base for leaking. Feel the supply line to see if it’s leaking. Look at the toilet base and tank to see if any hair line cracks have developed.

2. Operate the sinks and look for leaking from drain lines and supply lines. Look at connections to dishwashers and garbage disposals for signs of leaking.

3. If your refrigerator has an ice maker, look behind the refrigerator for signs of leaking at the plumbing connection.

4. Keep floor in front of tubs and showers well caulked to prevent floor damage. The same goes for tub and shower surrounds, especially tile. Grouted tile will need periodic re-grouting and sealing of the grout. Countertops will require periodic re-caulking where they meet the wall, around sinks and sometimes around faucets.

5. Observe ceilings and walls for staining which could indicate leaks.

6. Check the water heater for signs of leaks. Ask a plumbing service about recommendations for periodic draining of the water heater to remove sludge deposits, especially if you are on a well. (Make sure power or gas is off to heater first)

7. If you have other plumbing related equipment inside, such as a water filtering system, hot water dispenser, etc., check these for leaks as well. Ask a plumber about specific maintenance items for well related and water filtering equipment.

Heating, Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

1. Check furnace filters as often as monthly during the heating season and change when needed. Dirty filters put undue strain on blowers and can cause premature failure.

2. Be sure to keep furnaces free from dirt, dust, and debris, but use caution as exposed wires may be live.

3. Avoid blocking furnace registers, particularly those for combustion air intake.

4. Regular servicing by a professional is always recommended.

5. Inspect fireplace and wood stove chimneys frequently for creosote buildup according to the recommendations from a licensed installer or chimney sweep. If you are unfamiliar with wood burning, have a chimney sweep do an evaluation and help you establish a regular cleaning schedule. In particular, learn how to burn correctly to reduce the risk of chimney fires. Your local fire department should also have some valuable information.

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