Exterior finishes - upkeep and maintenance
All exterior finishes need to be checked regularly. Homeowners should look for signs of moisture penetration in wood siding and blistering or peeling paint. If overlooked, these problems could lead to water seeping into the interior.
Window wells must be kept free of leaves and debris that can interfere with the flow of water to the drainage systems around the foundation. Lot drainage systems such as swales and catch basins are designed to direct water away from your house. These systems must be maintained.
When landscaping flowerbeds, ensure that the height of the bed is not higher than the dampproofing material installed on the foundation wall. Dampproofing usually stops six inches below the first row of bricks or four inches below other types of exterior cladding. If flowerbeds are above this height, water can penetrate through the foundation wall possibly causing cracks and/or leakage.
In the spring, check for loose, broken, or missing shingles that may have been damaged during the winter. Repairs should be made immediately to prevent leakage that can lead to costly interior damage.
On warm days, asphalt shingles are easily damaged by people walking on them. When installing television aerials, be careful not to damage shingles while inserting screws and guy wires. These attachments require sealing to prevent leaks.
Manufacturers cannot avoid the slight colour variances found in asphalt shingles. They are normal and don’t affect the roof’s durability. Sometimes, minor variations in the roof’s level may be observed. Puckering roof sheathing or raised shingles can occur between the nails during normal expansion.
With proper maintenance, your roof should last for many years. Watch for loose, broken, or missing shingles after heavy winds. Storm damage is not the responsibility of a builder.
Maintaining Gutters, Eavestroughs, and Downspouts
Debris such as leaves, branches, and paper can accumulate in your eavestroughs and downspouts during the winter months. Small particles from asphalt shingles, washed down by rains, often settle in gutters and reduce their efficiency. You must clear out any obstructions to ensure proper drainage otherwise water can back up under the shingles and cause leakage into your interior. Spring and fall checks are essential.
Ensure that downspouts and the rain water leaders carry water as far away from your foundation as possible to avoid water ponding near the foundation wall. As water freezes in a concentrated area it expands – which may lead to problems with the grading of the landscaping around your home. Never drain the eavestroughs to the weeping tiles.
It is a good idea to check all windows in the spring and fall. Inspect the caulking on exterior windows for signs of deterioration. If it is cracked or peeling, remove and recaulk with a quality caulking compound to protect against moisture and cold air entering your home.
If you have casement windows, check the crank operation and lubricate with a silicone spray if required. If you find more serious problems, contact the manufacturer.
Windows that slide horizontally and include weep holes to the outside at the bottom track or frame must be kept clean to allow drainage. Use a piece of wire to remove dust and debris as part of your regular maintenance program.
Never paint the areas where wood meets wood when a window is closed. The window is factory treated with a clear wood preservative ensuring a precise fit. Paint build-up will cause the seal to deteriorate and make the window difficult to open and close.
Changes In Your Doors
All doors are exposed to a variety of climatic changes including diverse outdoor weather conditions and indoor humidity variations from summer to winter. These can result in dimensional changes and warping.
Exterior doors must withstand the differences of heat and moisture on the inside and cold, dry air on the outside, and in summer, this situation may be reversed or equalized.
Doors tend to swell during the summer and shrink in the winter, so never be quick to adjust your door by cutting its size. With some types of wood doors, warping is to be expected – variations of up to 6mm (¼ inch) out of plane in any direction is considered normal. If carpeting is installed, sufficient clearance must be left at the bottom of interior doors to permit the proper return of air circulation between rooms or from all the rooms to a central return air duct if so designed. Some types of interior doors are difficult to trim and should be done by a carpenter using the proper tools.
Examine windows and doors annually to reduce air infiltration in winter and dust penetration in the summer. Stop drafts from entering the house by applying weather-stripping around doors and windows creating a tight seal.
Many types of weather-stripping are available, some of which are adjustable. The seal should be snug and free of paint. To keep it pliable, lubricate rubber or vinyl products with petroleum jelly.
Maintaining Walks and Driveways
Examine your driveway and walkways for cracks that occurred during the winter. Seasonal weather conditions, such as frost penetration, can cause walkways and driveways to crack or rise, changing the direction of surface drainage. The affected areas may return to their original position in warm weather. In most cases, these changes are beyond a builder’s control. Repair cracks immediately before water penetrates and causes expensive problems.
A concrete driveway is subjected to freezing and thawing changes due to road salt. Concrete sealers are available to resist salt damage but slush should be removed to prevent surface problems. Caution – avoid using chemical de-icers that can harm concrete surfaces. The resulting damage is not covered by your new home warranty.
Stone and gravel driveways require occasional raking to smooth out ruts. After construction, the earth around the house will settle, particularly when a car constantly drives over the area. In new subdivisions, developers or contractors may have to repair cracked or settled sections of sidewalk and road curves on or near your driveway. If you have paved the driveway prior to this repair work, the builder is not responsible for any additional damage to your driveway. It is recommended that you delay the installation of stone or gravel drives (if called for in your specifications).
Asphalt surfaces can acquire indentations, uneven patches, tire markings, flaking of surface chips, or cracking edges caused by expansion and contraction. Remember that driveways are designed and constructed for the use of passenger cars and light vans – not heavy trucks.
Asphalt should last for many years under normal use and care. Resealing your driveway will prolong its life but watch for destructive elements such as petroleum products, and bicycle and motorcycle kickstands. Gasoline will dissolve asphalt rapidly and any spills should be washed away immediately. Pointed objects will sink into asphalt in warm weather.
Garden Hose Connections
If your garden hose connection has a valve inside the house, it must be shut off and drained from the inside before winter to prevent freezing and bursting. Never leave your garden hose connected during freezing weather. Ice forming in the hose will break the hose or the faucet. If this happens, your builder is not responsible.
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