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Home Maintenance

The National Association of Home Builders suggests ways to keep your home in tiptop shape

Your home may be the biggest investment you’ll make. Regular maintenance is necessary to preserve its value and ensure it will provide comfortable, safe shelter for years to come. Below are the National Association of Home Builders guidelines for routine home maintenance—indoors and out.

Inside the Home

Air Filters—Many types of heating and air conditioning systems contain filters to remove dirt and dust from the air. Change these filters at least every three months.

Sinks—Clean your faucets’ aerators—the spring inside the end of the faucet—every three to four months. • To maintain your garbage disposal, run cold water through it during use.

Fireplaces—Be sure to build the fire atop andirons or a grate, never on the fireplace floor. • To prevent soot and to add color to the fire, throw in a handful of salt. • Store your firewood outside, away from the house and not directly on the ground. • Have a chimney sweep inspect your chimney and fireplace annually, especially if you build a lot of fires in the winter.

Floors—To maintain unpainted concrete floors in your basement or garage, first apply a concrete sealer, which makes them easier to clean. To clean them, use a solution of four to six tablespoons of washing soda in a gallon of hot water. Add scouring powder to the solution for tough jobs. • Be sure hardwood floors have a polyurethane finish before cleaning with water. Hardwood floors that do not have a polyurethane finish will need to be waxed periodically. Use spirit wax in a liquid or paste. • The best polish for vinyl floors is water emulsion wax.

Safety and Security—If you have a home security system, regularly check that the alarms and circuit breakers are in working order. Inspect the sensors one by one. • Check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year to ensure they are operable. Hard-wired and battery-powered detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

Walls—Masonry walls sometimes develop a white, powdery surface. This is called efflorescence, a crystallized soluble salt that can be removed by scrubbing with water and a stiff brush.

Outside the Home

Roof, Gutters and Downspouts—A qualified roofer should inspect your roof every three years. • Skylights should also be inspected each time so leaks don’t develop from cracks or interruptions around the seals, caulking and flashings. • Make sure gutters and downspouts are not clogged with leaves or other objects.

Windows and Doors—Inspect exterior windows and doors yearly to see if the caulking around them has split or cracked. If so, replace the caulk and clean any mildew. • To wash extremely dirty exterior windows, combine equal parts vinegar and water or three tablespoons of denatured alcohol per one quart of warm water. Use newspaper to wash the glass to avoid lint left behind by paper towels. • To help a window slide easily, rub the channel with a piece of paraffin.

Siding—Inspect your siding yearly to determine if your wood-sided home needs to be repainted. Trim shrubbery away so that it does not touch the siding. • The exterior of your house is built to withstand exposure to the elements, but a periodic cleaning will improve the appearance and, in many instances, prolong the life of siding and other exterior products.

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