With cold weather approaching in many parts of the country, now is a good time for homeowners who have lived in their newly constructed home just over one year to make sure the home is ready for winter. Regular home maintenance prevents future damage, maintains proper operation, and preserves the aesthetic quality of a home.
Jim Petersen is the Director of Research and Development for Pulte Homes (NYSE: PHM), one of the nation's largest homebuilders. He encourages "nearly new" homeowners to follow these simple tips to help prepare a home for the winter months and prevent future damage.
- Change your air filters -- they've been working hard all summer! This
is the single most important task for maintaining a properly working
heating system. Filters are located inside the furnace and can be purchased
at most hardware and home improvement stores.
- Drain sediment from the water heater to minimize rust and limestone
buildup; also, test the pressure relief valve while the tank is full.
- Trim tree branches and shrubs so that they are not in contact with
the house or roof.
- Winterize your sprinkler system -- turn off the timer, and use an air
compressor to blow the water out of the pipes. Turn off the water to all
outside faucets and drain water from the pipes leading to the spigot. Drain
and remove all hoses.
- Clean your gutters and downspouts. Be sure to clear any debris where
the gutter connects to the downspout. Clogged gutters can cause water to
back up, which can eventually damage wooden soffits located next to the
- For wood-burning fireplaces, clean the firebox and screens before
each use; for all fireplaces, conduct a check-up twice a year using the
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries
- Clean and lubricate garage door hinges, rollers and tracks on
overhead doors using a silicon spray.
- Check your sump pump's operation (if you have one) and flush the
- Check the roof and roof vents and replace any missing or damaged
shingles; look for damaged flashing or clogged roof vents. Good ventilation
is important, even in the winter, to prevent ice buildup on your roof.
- Check the seals around all exterior doors to ensure there is a tight
fit between the door, the jamb and the threshold. Install weatherstripping
to help keep cold air out.
"After you buy a newly constructed home, you should expect things to run smoothly during the first year of ownership," Petersen said. "If there's a problem, you're usually covered on most items through one-year warranties. But after that first year, many common maintenance items become your responsibility. Often, it's simply a matter of identifying key systems that need to be maintained regularly and then establishing a schedule to take care of them to avoid preventable repairs in the future."