Home Maintenance Checklist

As a homeowner, there are many things you must do to maintain your home’s appearance, worth and safety. By keeping a checklist handy, you can properly delegate the tasks needed to be done to keep your home 100% safe, looking its best and clean. These chores must be completed both in the interior and exterior of your home. Prevent problems of tomorrow by staying on top of your home today. Here are some of the most important to remember:

Interior

 Attic: Your attic, if properly insulated, can help maintain your home’s temperature. It is important that if your attic does not have a ridge vent to keep gable vents open all year to ensure it is properly ventilation for you and those who live in your home.

Basement: A dehumidifier is a great addition to a home, clean it regularly to keep it running efficiently. Also, check for any dampness on the walls or floors to keep heat or air inside the home and to keep the foundation secure. This will also prevent any costly repairs in the future.

Faucets: Evaluate each of your home’s faucets checking for leaks. Replace any washers if needed. This prevents water loss and wasted money.

Fireplace: Be sure to always clean your fireplace of ashes and debris. Also, make sure that there is no missing or loose mortar within your chimney. Have your chimney professionally cleaned after each winter season to help maintain its effectiveness. Make sure to close the damper tightly in the spring; however if your home is not air-conditioned leave it open for better ventilation.

Filters: Filters lie all over your home, whether in your dryer, stove hood, room fans or your air conditioner. Clean or replace these filters once a month or as needed (whichever you believe is best for your home). Also, keep all vents away from draperies and furniture.

Heating System: Each cold weather season have your heating system services by a professional HVAC company. They will suggest you change any filters associated with your furnace. Always keep your heating system clean and away from potential fire hazards.

 Hot Water Heater: Each fall season drain your hot water heater and remove any sediment from the bottom of the tank. This will keep it working efficiently and to cut down on energy costs (if your water heater is electric).

Refrigerator: A properly-sealed refrigerator is important to keep energy costs down. The best home test is with a dollar bill – place the bill within the seal, if you can easily remove it, the seal may need to be replaced or adjusted. If you have an older model refrigerator that is coil-back, vacuum the coils at least twice yearly. This will create a more efficient appliance.

 Safety Devices: Most fire departments suggest that each year as you change your clocks (once in spring, once in fall) to change the batteries in your home’s carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Also, ensure you have a working fire extinguisher in your home.

Toilets: Check the seal of the toilet to make sure no water is leaking from the seal. Repair or replace any faulty parts.

Washer / Dryer: Clean all filters and check hoses for any leaking. Repair or replace any leaks. Keep your dryer free from lint both in and around your dryer and in the ducts. This will keep it more energy efficient and save you money.

Exterior

Air Conditioner: If you live in a cold weather climate, each fall remove your window air conditioners or put weatherproof covers on them to keep cold air out. For central air conditioning systems, place a heavy duty cover (and secure in place) and also remove any debris from the surrounding area.

 Downspouts: Keep all downspouts cleaned. Inspect and/or repair any weak areas to prevent replacing them in the future. Also, check to make sure they drain properly.

Gutters: Clean your gutters at least once each year as well as your drain pipes. Also, drain outside faucets to ensure that leaves don’t clog the pipes.

Roof:  Check all interior exterior areas (roof, chimneys, vents and/or skylights) for leaks. Repair any leaks if necessary. Also, check the eaves, flashing and soffits. This will help prevent any costly repairs in the future.

Siding and Paint: Walk the exterior of your home checking for any holes or cracks in the paint or siding. If siding must be repaired or replaced, remove caulk. A fast tip to removing caulk is by using a carpet knife. Slice down the siding (in both direction) and use the knife to lift the old caulk away.

 Storm Windows/Screens: Each fall remove any screens and replace them with storm windows in each exterior doors. Each spring, remove the screens from storage, clean them and replace them with the storm doors. Inspect all screens prior to installation ensuring that all window and door screens have no holes. If there are holes in any screen, use a patching kit to repair them.

 Windows and Doors: Ultimately, windows and doors are the most important openings in one’s house. Ensuring that they are sealed properly can help save you money in energy bills. Seal any drafty windows or doors. Also, replace any seals as any cracks where heat or cooling escapes is essentially just like having a window open in your home. Why let your money go out the window?

 This list is just a checklist/reference for you as a homeowner to follow each year. While there may be other obligations or responsibility, this list serves as a basis to inspecting and maintaining your home so it is safe, functional, energy efficient and clean.   The BrickKicker would can help provide an unbiased and professional look at all of these items.  We call it our Home Maintenance Review.  Give us a call and we can talk about it.  Good luck!

What is and EASEMENT Anyway?

Recently Nicor Gas Company notified me that it would be installing a new gas main and a new gas service line at my home. I did not think much about it at the time, nor after JULIE located the buried cable, gas and water lines. But then a few weeks later I was surprised to see a large machine tearing up my yard one morning. I knew there was little to be done, since Nicor was operating within its easement over my property.

An easement is the right of another to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specified purpose. In my case, public utilities have an easement over my property for the purpose of installing and maintaining overhead electric and television lines along with underground electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines.

When adjacent landowners are feuding over easement rights, usually it occurs when one is claiming an easement by prescription or by operation of law. These are usually not recorded in the county recorder’s office. In claiming one of these easements over another’s property, how the claimant has used the neighbor’s property, or how it needs to use the other’s property is driving theme behind the claimant’s desire for an easement.

Recorded easements on the other hand, are typically uncovered when a title search is performed on a parcel of property. This most often occurs in connection with the purchase and sale of land.

Public utility easements are created and defined when the property was originally platted. This is true for many properties connected to a city power grid, sewer and water system. Without such easements, your favorite cable company would not have the right to come upon your property to make repairs or improvements to its equipment.

 

The above article appeared in Positively Naperville, written by Chuck Keough, an attorney practicing community association law and civil litigation. Contact Chuck at cmk@kmlegal.com or (630) 369-2700 ext. 211

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

Before we talk about sump pumps we need to describe what it is supposed to do.  The purpose of a sump pump is to remove storm water or flood water from your home.   A sump is a low space that collects liquids.  It is also referred to as an infiltration basin used to manage surface runoff water.   The most common location of all sumps is the lowest point in a basement or crawl space, into which flows water that seeps or is piped in from the outside.  If water is regularly flowing into this sump a pump is added to move water outside and away from the foundation.

Perimeter Drainage

In areas where homes are more subject to heavy amounts of hydration or in jurisdictions where required, a perimeter drain tile is added underground around the foundation.  This drain tile is directed into the sump pit or crock.  The drain tile is, in most cases, perforated and will allow excess water at the foundation to enter the system before it has the opportunity to seep in through the foundation.

Sump Pit or Crock

The sump pit is a basin at the lowest part of the basement or crawl space where the perimeter tiles terminate into.  This basin is placed deep enough to allow the drainage pipe to fully evacuate all of the collected water and to not allow water to hold in the pipes.  Allowing water to hold in the pipes will keep unnecessary moisture against the foundation and provide for a damp feeling space and a potential for mold growth.  These drain pipes are extended into the pit far enough to create a well-sealed union.  If the drainage pipe do not extend into the pit there will be a high likelihood or opportunity to have the extra hydration erode under the foundation or not be fully collected.

The Sump Pump

A pump is placed in the pit.  There are two basic types of sump pumps; submersible and pedestal.  The submersible pump is a fully contained electric pump placed at the bottom of the pit.  The pedestal pump has the impeller or pump placed at the bottom of the pit while the motor is above the pit and up in the air.  Both pumps should operate or activate automatically.   The system should operate without fail and without any human contact.  If the system has to be manually operated the risk of failure will be very high.  In order to operate automatically there has to be some form of switch.  The two most common switches or float activated and pressure activated.  The float is a very common method.  Within the pit there is a floating device this has a tilt sensor.  If the float rises to pre-set level it will activate the pump and allow it to remove all of the water from the pit.  If it is a pressure system the level of water above the sensor causes the switch to activate the pump.  Regardless of which type of pump and which type of sensor is used there should always be a back-flow or check valve installed in the discharge pipe above the unit.  This prevents any discharge water from dropping back into the pump at the conclusion of the pumping cycle.

Common Issues and Failures with Sump Pumps

The sump pumps do fail.  The most common life span of a sump pump is seven years.  The drain tiles can become clogged with debris or root intrusion.  The float activation should be monitored.  Water in the pit should never be allowed to become high enough to enter back into the drain tiles.  But, the most common issue with a sump pump is the easiest to predict.  Without power the pump is not operate.  To fully protect your foundation or your home consider installing some form of alternative power to operate you sump pump.