Home maintenance guide

Following a routine of assessments and repairs in your home will preserve its beauty and prevent large, unexpected expenses later on
 

By Aarifah Nosarka

Homes around the world appreciate in value on their own, but to maintain and build value
requires a proactive and systematic approach. Avoiding major operational malfunctions or complete failures can be avoided by carrying out minor home maintenance chores.

 

Divisional manager of Renprop Residential Resales, Debbie Justus-Ferns, says it makes sense for homeowners to continually maintain and improve their properties in order to protect their investments and add value. “Homeowners can also increase their return on investment through keeping a well-maintained home,” she says.
 

Home maintenance should be kept up year round, with some areas requiring seasonal maintenance. Here we cover the areas around your home where scheduled maintenance is important.
 

Windows and doors

Michael Berg, national sales and marketing manager at Den Braven, says that door and window maintenance should be carried out during drier seasons to avoid wet conditions. “Sealants require a dry and clean surface to adhere and cure correctly. Ideally, maintenance should be done once a year if it is required,” he says.
 

He explains that maintenance periods largely depend on the type of exposure the windows, doors and frames endure. Take into consideration whether windows and doors are subjected to direct sunlight, water contact or temperature variances.
 

Michael says it is essential to identify what needs to be done before carrying out any maintenance work. He says, “If windows, doors or frames are kept together by old, cracked sealants, cement or grouting, they need to be removed. The substrates should be cleaned away and replaced with a suitable sealant for the type of frame or application.”
 

Michael suggests sanding, priming and repainting steel window frames where putty replacement is necessary. “Maintenance work involves weather sealing, putty replacement, perimeter sealing and joint sealing.” He advises the use of reputable, quality products during window and door maintenance. Products should also be suitable for the intended application and substrates.
 

Security

When your family’s safety is concerned, prevention is certainly better than cure. Let’s explore what security maintenance warrants:

•  Conduct weekly perimeter checks – take a walk around your residence to inspect that locks on your doors and windows are fully functional. It may not seem vital, but poorly maintained window and door frames make for an easier breach in entry point.

 

•  Ensure that all exterior lighting is functional. It is advisable to check lighting on a monthly basis and readjust lights so they are aimed or positioned correctly. This will also maximise the effectiveness of the lights outside your home.

 

•  Sensors also need attending to, merely to ensure they are still in the places they are meant to be. Battery-powered sensors require occasional changes and replacement of new batteries, just as they do testing.

 

•  If you have cameras as a security measure on your property, inspect them on a weekly, if not daily, basis to make sure they have not been vandalised, have power and aim where you intend them to. Check monitoring and recording devices to ensure that they are functioning as expected.

 

•  It helps to have an annual inspection by a qualified technician. Technicians will inspect the wiring, check the various components, power supplies and update software if necessary.
 

Electrical

Louis Pretorius, the Highveld regional director of the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) says the only electrical maintenance that can be done by a homeowner is to check that the home’s earth leakage is still operational.
 

“This is done by pressing the trip button, normally a small square push button located on the lower half of the distribution board, at least once a month. If this unit does not work, you need to get a registered electrical contractor to investigate and correct the problem.” He says that all other electrical work should be carried out by a qualified electrical contractor.
 

Plumbing

National training manager at Cobra and ISCA taps, Patrick Gordon, offers some advice on plumbing fixtures that must be maintained:
 

Geysers

According to Patrick, the most dangerous fixture is the geyser, for which maintenance is required to prevent injury to oneself and property as well as to preserve energy. “The geyser is made up of many components that need regular maintenance. Depending on the quality of the water, the geyser in your home should be decommissioned every two years and also needs to be serviced.” Patrick explains what should happen during servicing: “The lime scale build-up in the cylinder needs to be cleaned out and the element and thermostat pocket descaled. The sacrificial anode needs to be inspected and replaced if very eroded.” He highlights the importance of homeowners taking extra corrective action so that installation is in line with new specifications. Installation specifications can be found online.
 

Taps and mixers

Note that if a leaking tap is not attended to as soon as it is noticed, the whole unit may need to be replaced. A leaking faucet wastes up to 90 litres of water a day.
 

Patrick recommends that sealing washers be inspected and replaced on an annual basis or when necessary. Sealing washers are sold at all hardware stores under different brands. Patrick says, “The homeowner should rather replace damaged seals with ones supplied by the manufacturer of the tap. By using the correct seals the lifespan of the unit will be extended.” He says that seat units may be damaged over time but can be repaired by re-cutting the brass seating surface. “Ensure that a good quality re-seating tool is used so that the main seat is finished with a smooth surface.”
 

Toilet cistern

Patrick warns that one of the biggest water-wasting culprits is toilet cisterns. With water restrictions in place, this is a leak that should be attended to immediately. “The problem is that most homeowners don’t want their hands near a toilet.”
 

How to check for causes of leaks

• The filler valve needs to be adjusted so that the water level is below the internal overflow level.

•  If the cistern is over-filled the excess water will flow via the internal overflow pipe to the toilet bowl.

•  The flush valve sealing washer should be checked for wear and distortion. If the seal is not making proper contact all the way around, the valve cannot prevent the water from leaking into the toilet bowl.

•  A quick way to check if your cistern is leaking is to place some bright food colouring in the cistern, and even the smallest leaks will show up as lines in the toilet bowl. You can also use tissue paper to test if the inside of the bowl is dry or not.

 

Patrick concludes: “Remember, a stitch in time saves nine.”
 

Brief checklist for potential plumbing problems

•   Turn on all of the faucets in your home to see if there is any water coming out of the handles and valves.

•  Look for signs of corrosion – you will see green stains around brass and copper fittings and on steel, and orange or yellow stains, which are indicative of corrosion. Corroded pipes can cause leaks and bad pipe connections if not corrected.

• Observe drainage in the shower, sink and bathtub for the speed that water drains at. Slow drainage usually indicates a clog in the drain or a blocked vent pipe. Your drains should have a full swirl when draining.

• Check the flushing handle and inside parts of the toilet. Flush each toilet to make sure that it is flushing properly. Check the parts inside the tank of the toilet to see if any parts are broken, rusted or missing. Make sure the toilet water does not continue to run after flushing and make sure there is no sign of water on the floor around the toilet.

 

Addressing these problems on a regular basis can help prevent the problems from worsening and save you money.
 

Paint like a pro

•  Always mix the paint thoroughly with a flat paddle before pouring into the paint tray.

• If working with different paint colours, slip the paint tray into a plastic bag and pour the paint onto the bag. Simply remove the bag and pour the paint into the clean tray when a colour change is required.  

•  Never dilute paint to achieve more coverage. This only compromises quality and lowers adhesion strength.

• Before painting, always wash the roller in clean water to remove traces of fluff. Spin dry the roller to remove excess water, then hang up to dry thoroughly.

• When applying paint, cut around cornices, ceilings, skirtings and corners first, then fill in with a roller.

• Adhere to drying times indicated on the paint container before applying a subsequent coat. This will ensure proper coverage and a quality, professional finish.