Even the smallest, simplest home contains thousands of parts. Each behaves in unpredictable ways, and those behaviors result in maintenance tasks for homeowners. Protecting the beauty and value of your investment begins on the first day of ownership. Begin by reviewing the maintenance ZEC provides and all manufacturers’ materials you receive. Though you have operated similar products in previous homes, minor changes can be significant.
Make prevention the hallmark of your home care plan. Regular inspection and attention prevents unnecessary work and expense. Prepare by collecting the needed tools and materials. Maintenance is faster and easier if your supplies are conveniently at hand. As you plan the care of your home, think in terms of the following activities:
- Protecting. Habits that prevent damage such as scratches, chips, cuts, burns, stains, gouges, and scrapes preserve the appearance and life of the cosmetic surfaces of your home.
- Cleaning. To counter the accumulated effects of time and normal living activities, regular cleaning and attention is also essential. Manufacturers may recommend (or caution you against) using particular cleaning products (for example, because of abrasiveness).
- Adjusting and Lubricating. A home contains many moving parts. Through use, some of these get out of adjustment or require lubrication. Generally, silicone or graphite products make good lubricants; oil base products become sticky and attract dirt.
- Replacing Consumable Parts. Light bulbs, filters, and batteries (in smoke detectors) will eventually need to be replaced; the exact timing depends on use.
- Inspection and Preventative Routines. Consider the type and frequency of attention each component of your home will need. Become familiar with the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance routine for each product.
- Grading/Landscaping. Yards require constant attention. Maintain proper slope from your home for good drainage. Installing custom curbing around decorative rock or work beds can affect proper water drainage.
- Caulk. Over time caulk dries, shrinks, and cracks. Once this occurs its effectiveness diminishes; it no longer provides a seal against moisture and air infiltration. Maintaining caulking will be a routine task throughout the life of you home.
- Systems. The mechanical systems in your new home are likely to perform differently from those in your previous homes. Each home is unique in the way it interacts with wind currents, passive solar effects, its orientation to its neighbors, and surrounding plant life. Each installation also varies even if the same trade contractor does the work. Officials update government requirements and codes regularly. The result is that your new home will have to comply with rules that may not have existed when you last home was built. For instance, federally mandated water-saving devices are now required in every new home. One example of such devices is the low-flush toilet, which has been shown by government studies to save water, even though homeowners sometimes need to flush them more than once. Builders must comply with the requirement in spite of the occasional inconvenience to the owner.
Become familiar with the operation of your new systems to maximize their efficiency and your family’s comfort. Know where all main safety shut-offs are for water, electricity, and gas.
- Critters. The county records office recognizes your ownership. Field mice, wood peckers, ants, bees, and other indigenous life may not. Whether entertaining or threatening, one thing these creatures have in common is that they are yours to contend with.
- Expansion and Contraction: Settling. Building materials expand and contract because of changes in temperature and humidity. Dissimilar materials, for example wood trim installed over dry wall, will expand and contract at different rates in response to these fluctuations. The result can be a slight separation between the two materials. You may see evidence of expansion and contraction in drywall cracks and nail pops, separations where moldings meet walls, or at mitered corners of door casings. Doors may need adjustments because of these changes. Many people refer to these effects as settling.
- Heating and Air Conditioning. ZEC recommends purchasing an Ashley Heating and Air Conditioning service agreement. This agreement will provide the required maintenance for your furnace and air conditioning units every six months. This service ensures your factory warranty will remain valid.
- Summer: Set cooling temp at 74 degrees. Leave at this setting all the time even if the thermostat is programmable. (Raising the temperature or turning the A/C off at certain times will cause the system to perform poorly, does not save electricity and can stress the system).
- Winter: Set the heating temp at 70 degrees. Lowering the temperature at certain times (at night, while at work etc.) works well for heating and will lower energy costs. Programmable thermostats will do this automatically.
- Fan Switch on Thermostat: We recommend running the fan in the “ON” position as much as possible. This is especially helpful in balancing the temperature in 2 level homes, but also works well in all homes. If the system has a media filter or EAC it is very important to run the fan “ON” in order to take advantage of continuous air cleaning. Running the fan “ON” does not shorten the life of the furnace blower (in fact it’s better for it) and uses very little electricity.
- Ventilation. Homes today are built more tightly than ever. This tightness saves energy dollars, but it creates a potential concern. Condensation, cooking odors, radon, carbon monoxide, and other indoor pollutants may accumulate. Develop the habit of using mechanical and passive methods available for ventilating your home:
- ZEC recommends leaving your foundation vents open year around (except for in extremely cold conditions).
- Run the hood or exhaust fan when you are cooking and the bath fans when bathrooms are in use.
- Open windows when weather permits. o Avoid excessive burning of scented candles. The soot they produce can collect on surfaces in your home and is sometimes impossible to remove.
- Fresh air supply: ZEC recommends leaving this device open at all times.
- Warranty. As the home owner, you are responsible for normal maintenance. But if part of the home behaves in a way that exceeds the warranty tolerance or if an installer erred in assembling materials, the materials and workmanship warranty applies. For instance, carpet requires regular vacuuming to look its best. This task is maintenance and therefore your job. If clumps of yarn pull out revealing the backing, the material is defective. The manufacturer is obligated to ZEC to replace it. If a seam comes apart the workmanship is faulty. The installation company’s contract with ZEC obligates the installer to correct the problem.