Give your home a regular overall inside maintenance check and attend to a problem before it gets worse. We show you how to limit the damage and save money.
Maintaining the Roof Space
Your roof frame and ceiling rafters can warp and deflect over time and usually there is little chance of a serious problem developing. But, re-roofing with a material heavier than the original covering you can do serious damage unless the roof framing is strengthened.
If you notice unusual smells when examining the roof this could indicate the intrusion of animals or water. Animals can cause damage such as stained ceilings and chewed wiring so remove them as soon as possible and get an electrical safety check once the pests are gone.
Make sure your roof insulation is appropriate for your climate, spread evenly throughout the roof space and kept well clear of downlights, electrical transformers and other heat generating devices. Check it after the space has been accessed by a tradesperson – they are not always the most diligent in leaving the space as they found it! Uneven or inadequate insulation can lead to heat leakage or uneven heat gain and increased energy bills. Electrical hot spots can be a serious fire hazard affecting the structure of your home.
Here are some tips on ways you can maintain your home.
Maintaining Ceilings and Walls
Most plaster walls will crack in time, but provided your footings and foundations are sound, often all that is required is to patch cracks when re-painting to improve appearances.
However, recurring cracks may indicate a structural problem and warrant further investigation. Condensation and roof leaks may eventually cause the walls and ceilings in old homes to bulge as the plaster, fixings or framing deteriorates. If the bulging plaster sound hollow (or drummy) when tapped re-plastering or new plasterboard may be required.
If your house is brick, check the walls regularly for rising damp, which is caused by a breakdown of the damp-proof course, brought on by damp external conditions and often made worse by inadequate sub-floor ventilation. Take care that you don’t create external garden conditions that give rise to rising damp by covering sub-floor vents, or laying beds hard up against walls above the damp-proof course. Lower external ground and paved levels to be lower than sub-floor ground to mitigate damp residing in sub-floor voids.
Maintaining Living Conditions inside the House
You should aim to maintain a reasonable circulation of air in the house, to prevent stale air, excessive humidity and condensation, all of which may affect your health and cause materials to deteriorate.
Items such as stoves, clothes dryers and showers should all be well vented to the outside of the house.
Long periods of stagnant, moist conditions in your house will encourage mould. Chloride-based cleaners will scrub most of it off, followed by an application of fungicidal paint for future protection.
Jamming Windows and Doors
If windows and doors persistently jam, your footings may be defective, your stumps may have rotted or your piers may have moved. Jamming is prevalent in older homes where structural subsidence is common.
Regular sub-floor examination will help keep an eye on the situation. Check sub-floor drainage first as very wet soil can contribute to subsidence. Reblocking, re-stumping or, in serious circumstances underpinning, may be required to rectify the subsidence and halt further damage. Underpinning is only to be considered when all else fails – and requires informed and independent structural engineering services.
Have gas leaks fixed immediately. Check the colour of your cook top’s gas flame for signs of contamination and danger – natural gas should burn blue. If in doubt get your appliance or supply line checked by qualified service person.
Fuses that blow with increasing regularity indicate a wiring problem and should be attended to immediately. Where possible replace fuse boards with circuit breaker board. Blowing fuses may indicate a wiring system coming to the end of its working life. Blown fuses may also occur after the replacement of light fittings, or after recent renovations and extensions, because older wiring can disintegrate when touched and older systems may not have sufficient capacity for additional outlets, light fittings and appliances. Do not attempt any re-wiring work yourself; always contact a licensed electrician.
Cold water systems in older homes can deteriorate very rapidly. If cold water pressure drops significantly, it is worthwhile having a plumber replace the main supply pipe.
Hot water units have a limited life and can fail without warning. External unit deteriorate more rapidly with exposure to the elements and may require replacement every 7 – 10 years. Temperature control valves may require replacement at even shorter interval depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.