HOME MAINTENANCE TIPS
Home ownership is the American Dream; a home you can call your own and a place where you can experience life with your family and friends. While there are many benefits to owning a home such as building equity and the ability to personalize your home, home ownership requires regular maintenance and effort. Our goal is to provide you some useful information to assist you in maintaining, improving, and enjoying your home.
Homeowners Maintenance Tips
Many of the products that were used to construct your home require homeowner care. The following resources are provided for your convenience to assist you in caring for your new home:
How to Train Your Lawn to Withstand the Winter Drought
When rainfall is inadequate, grasses will require supplemental irrigation to remain green. Save money, time and conserve water by following these easy steps to train your lawn to use less water and stay healthier during times of drought.
Mow your lawn at the highest setting and don’t remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at each mowing. Mowing high results in deeper roots, which is important in developing drought tolerance.
Keep your mower blades sharp. Leaves cut by a dull blade will require more water.
Apply the same amount of water at each application but adjust irrigation frequencies by season
and weather conditions. Don’t irrigate until you see signs of wilt.
Train the grass roots to grow deep by applying infrequent, deeper watering; in most cases ½” to ¾” per application.
The drought conditioning can be undone by applying too much nitrogen fertilizer Apply just enough for a small but continuous amount of growth.
Keep stress down by spot-treating pest problems only as needed. Minimize chemical use during drought stress.
The popularity of granite as a choice for kitchen countertops in the home has increased tremendously over the last decade. This trend is due to several factors, beginning with the stone's natural beauty and uniqueness. Since it is not man-made, granite's patterns and colors are never completely consistent, which, in a way, makes an individual piece of granite like a work of art. Aside from its aesthetic appeal, granite's primary claim to fame is its unmatched durability, making it the most practical surface for preparing food. It will not chip or crack easily and is harder than a stainless steel knife blade. Granite can also withstand high temperatures. Finally, granite is easy to clean and maintain because of its solid, smooth surface.
Proper granite care can keep your granite or marble countertop new-looking for years. Stone is one of the easiest surfaces to maintain. And granite, being 7 on the Mohs hardness scale of 1 to 10, is virtually unscratchable. (A stainless steel knife blade is a 6 on the scale.)
STEP 1: Blot up spills immediately, before they penetrate the surface.
STEP 2: Clean stone surfaces with a few drops of neutral cleaner, stone soap (available in hardware stores or from a stone dealer), or mild dishwashing liquid and warm water.
STEP 3: Use a soft, clean cloth to clean the granite. Rinse after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft, clean cloth.
STEP 4: Remove a stain on granite, basing the method on the type of stain. Mix a cup of flour, 1-2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with water to make a thick paste. Put it on the stain, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit overnight.
STEP 5: Scrape away the mixture with a wooden utensil and rinse. If the stain is oil-based (e.g. grease, oil, milk), use hydrogen peroxide in the paste instead of dishwashing liquid – or try ammonia on it.
STEP 6: Try a mixture of 12 percent hydrogen peroxide mixed with a couple drops of ammonia for an organic stain (e.g. coffee, tea, fruit).
STEP 7: Use a lacquer thinner or acetone to remove ink or marker stains from darker stone. On light-colored granite, use hydrogen peroxide to these stains. This also works for wine stains.
STEP 8: Mix molding plaster and pure bleach into a paste and spread over a wine, ink or other non-oil stain. Leave on for 30 minutes, then remove and rinse.
STEP 9: Paste a mix of molding plaster and water over an oil-based or fat-based stain. Mold it into a bird's-nest shape and allow to stand for 3 hours. Remove and rinse.
STEP 10: Reseal the countertop every year or two years. Check with the installer for recommendations. Use a non-toxic sealer on food preparation areas.
STEP 11: Consider using a new disinfectant cleaner made specifically for granite.
STEP 12: Call your professional stone supplier, installer, or restoration specialist for problems that appear too difficult to treat.
TIPS & WARNINGS
Ask a professional to remove or repair a scratch in granite.
Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that will etch or dull the stone surface.
Do not place hot items directly on the stone surface. Use trivets or mats under hot dishes and placemats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that could scratch the surface.
Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or limestone. Strong detergents or corrosive liquids can dull the polished marble/granite surface and should not be used.
Don't use abrasive cleaners such as dry cleansers, scouring powders, or 'soft' cleansers.
Do not mix cleaning products such as ammonia and bleach together – the result is toxic.
There is an endless selection of carpets out there. Whether your setting is formal or informal, quiet or high-traffic, an empty nest or a house full of kids, there is a carpet style for you.
The following are the main carpet categories—texture, twist, loop, and pattern—one of which is sure to add spice to your space:
• Texture—The velvety look and feel of smoothly cut yarns. May be deeply or lightly textured to create a fresh, easy-care surface.
• Twist—The twist is back in this lighthearted carpet trend. It’s relaxed but elegant and sumptuous to the touch.
• Loop—Modern interpretation of handcrafted styling. For active areas, where you want sass and sophistication without worry.
• Pattern—Almost an art form. Cut and uncut loops form distinctive designs, for decorating with originality and flair.
Once you have picked out the perfect carpet for you, the trick is caring for your carpet and doing some preventative maintenance. Carpet may be one of the easiest types of flooring to take care of. Learn how to keep yours looking great over time with a simple care program:
Preventive Maintenance – protect your investment before problems occur.
Don't track dirt inside– Placing walk-off mats outside all entrances will help?absorb soil and moisture and trap excessive dirt, sand, grit, oil, asphalt, or driveway sealer that might otherwise be tracked into the home. Clean mats on a regular basis (or sooner, when they need it) so they don't become sources of soil themselves.
Occasionally move heavy furniture– Moving your furniture on occasion won't just renew the feel of your room, it will also help avoid excessive pile crushing. Also consider using carpet protectors under the legs of tables, chairs, and other furniture to help distribute the weight. Damage can occur if you use chairs or appliances with rollers or casters without a chair pad designed specifically for carpet.
Protect carpet when moving furniture-When moving heavy wheeled furniture (pianos, buffets, etc.), prevent damage by placing a protective barrier of heavy cardboard or plywood between the wheels and the carpet.
Clean your area rugs-If you use area rugs on your carpet, be sure to clean them regularly, and make sure you clean and restore the pile of the carpet underneath as well. Also, be sure to check area rugs for colorfastness before placing them on carpet because the color in some rugs may bleed through. After cleaning your carpet, allow it to dry completely before replacing rugs.
Reduce periods of direct sunlight– Protect your carpet from prolonged periods of direct sunlight with blinds, shades, or awnings.
Vacuuming – prolong the life and beauty of your floor.
Vacuum frequently for long-term beauty– The most important step in caring for your carpet is vacuuming it thoroughly and frequently, particularly in high-traffic areas. Walking on soiled carpet allows the soil particles to work their way below the surface of the pile where they are far more difficult to remove and can damage the carpet fibers
Extend the life of your carpet with a quality vacuum– An inexpensive machine may remove surface dirt but will not effectively remove the hidden dirt and particles embedded in the pile. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner to get the dirt you can't see and prolong the beauty and life of your carpet.
Spot and Spill Removal – be prepared for the unavoidable.
No carpet is absolutely stain proof– Some carpets have stain resistant treatments that improve your ability to clean stains, but not prevent them. Similarly, carpets with soil resistant treatments reduce the rate of soiling, but all carpets require regular care and maintenance.
Stains and soil– The majority of stain complaints are actually soil related. For example, many sugar-based spills, such as soft drinks and coffee, leave a sugar residue after removal. This sticky residue readily attracts soil from ordinary shoe traffic, and the resulting discolored area appears to be a stain. The same thing happens when spills are cleaned with a detergent solution and the area is not sufficiently rinsed with plain water, leaving a sticky detergent residue. It is important to rinse thoroughly with water and blot dry after removing any spill.
Overall Cleaning – get regular care with cleaning systems.
Protect your carpet color- In addition to frequent vacuuming, its important to clean your carpet on a regular basis. Cleaning systems will remove the oily, sticky soil that vacuums can't take out, and will help keep your carpet looking great over time.
Cleaning systems target the soils that result from cooking vapors, air pollution, and tracked-in dirt. The particles of oily soil deposited on carpet fibers can cause gradual but significant dulling of colors. The color isn't lost, but is hidden under the film. If this type of soil is allowed to accumulate, it begins to attract and hold the dry soil.
DIY Cleaning – get the right equipment to do it yourself.
Tips and Tricks
Consider installing exterior or interior storm windows, which can reduce heat loss through the windows by 25% to 50%.
For gliding window frame or single and double-hung side covers, use a dry lubricant as needed.
Remove window screens in the winter months when the windows are not typically being operated to reduce condensation behind the insect screen by increasing air flow.
Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
Clean tracks and weep-holes.
Clean your windows and doors on a regular basis.
Clean your windows in direct sunlight, to minimize glass cleaner residue.
On casement or awning frames windows do not use wet lubricants or harsh abrasive cleaners that will collect dirt or other corrosive particles.
Use a razor blade, putty knife, or abrasive pad.
Use petroleum-based cleaners or solvents.
Use oil-based lubricants or damage weep-hole covers/baffles.
Skip annual maintenance
Want cool summers, warm winters and low power bills? Keep your cool and take a little time to get to know your home’s heating, venting and air conditioning system. (HVAC)
HVAC, SEER, you’ve heard the terms but what does it all mean? Here is a quick glossary with a few terms to help you get started:
Duct work: These are insulated round tubes in your ceiling that carry and distribute heated or cool air to each room.
Filter: Located near the air handler or in the return air grill, the filter helps reduce the flow of dust into the air. This is usually square or rectangular in shape and should be cleaned or replaced monthly. Disposable filters usually cost less and are about a dollar.
Mastic: Mastic works to seal metal, flexible, and fibrous ductwork.
Register (also called grills): The registers/grills are the metal rectangle shaped inserts you see in the ceiling in each room. Some registers are supply registers; they deliver air into the room. Others could be return air registers that return air from the room back into the air handler to be re-heated or re-cooled.
SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, this says how efficient your system will operate in your space.
Thermostat: This is a small rectangle shaped box that is mounted on a wall and controls the entire heating and cooling system.
Now that you know the HVAC lingo, here are some tips to keep your system in good working condition.
First, review your warranty. Our new homes come with a workmanship warranty and a manufacturer warranty.
Next, get to know your system. The air handlers in the new homes we build are usually located in an interior space of the home which allows them to work less and operate in a more energy efficient manner.
Some of the materials used in the installation are: sheet metal, dampers, louvers, grills, flexible duct, duct board, mastic, copper refrigerant lines, control wiring, overflow pan switch and plywood.
While annual professional inspection and maintenance is recommended, a little homeowner upkeep will keep your unit running at optimum levels.
Maintaining your HVAC system can seem like a daunting task. However, it does not need to be confusing, frustrating or problematic. The most important thing to do is inspect and either clean or replace your filter each month. When the filter becomes clogged with dust, allergens and pollutants it will restrict the airflow causing the system to work harder.
Imagine what it would be like trying to breathe through a straw while jogging, this is the type of strain you want to prevent with your ac unit. The harder the system works, the more energy is required. This will shorten the lifespan of the system and increase your cost to operate the system.
Perhaps the most important thing to do is to actually have your HVAC system inspected once a year by a professional.
Don’t wait until it is hot and you need your A/C, getting an appointment in the peak of the season may take longer and will be costly. Be proactive and keep your HVAC system in top working order.
Here are some tips and tricks from our warranty team:
1. Outside you home, the A/C condenser coil should be kept clean. Vacuum out any debris that may have fallen in or around the unit. If your coil requires a chemical cleaning allow a trained technician to do it.
2. Always trim any bushes or trees around your condensing unit and maintain two feet of clearance around the unit.
3. Keep your coil clean inside the home as well. If your coils are not easy to get to, they may need to be cleaned by a professional.
4. Check your condensate drain pans and clean them of any mold or growth. This should be killed using a 10:1 solution of bleach. 10 parts water to one part bleach as the strongest solution.
5. Check your condensate drain lines outside to make sure they are clean and flow water freely without backing up.
6. It is important to make sure lawn sprinklers are not spraying on the condensing unit.
7. This is especially important if you have well water. Well water will make the condenser rust faster which is not covered under your warranty. Rinse the outside unit with city water once a month to help maintain it cleanliness.