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Basic Principles of Home Maintenance

                              

Basic Principles of Home Maintenance

Air Conditioning/Heating

Thermostats:

The thermostat (usually located near the air return duct) helps to keep your home at an even temperature throughout Individual room temperature may vary and can be regulated by adjusting the registers in the various rooms. The temperature may also vary between floors as warm air rises. If you have a second floor, it is likely to be warmer than a lower level Leaving the furnace• circulating fan on more consistently can further minimize these variations in temperature within a home. If your home is heated by a warm air furnace or a heat pump your thermostat also may contain controls for converting from the cooling system to the heating systems and vice versa. A recommended setting for a thermostat is 72 degrees for heating and 78 degrees for cooling.

 

The ASHRAE standard for heating states that the system shall be capable of producing an inside temperature of 70 degrees (heating) or 78 degrees (cooling) as measured in the center of each room at a height of 5 feet above the floor IN THE CASE OF OUTSIDE TEMPERATURES EXCEEDING 95 DEGREES, A DIFFERENTIAL OF 15 DEGREES FROM THE OUTSIDE TEMPERATURE WILL BE MAINTAINED.

Register: 

The registers throughout your home help to regulate the flow of air and to maintain the desired temperature. By opening and closing the registers and dampers, you can determine the amount of cool or warm air that enters a room. Once the registers and dampers are adjusted, they together with the thermostat will maintain the temperature in your home, In addition to the air outlets, your home will have an air intake (return) register None of these registers should ever be obstructed.

Filters:  

Your air conditioning system has an air filter to help keep the air in your home clean. For maximum efficiency, this filter should be replaced or cleaned regularly. Clogged filters can cause a unit to malfunction. The instruction manual for your system will tell you the location of the filter and how to clean and replace it.

Insulation:

Your Four Seasons Contractors home has been designed to provide the proper insulation for our climate. Open doors, windows, fireplace flues and clogged filters are more often the cause of inadequate cooling or heating than deficient insulation. A lack of proper window treatments can also prevent the heating/cooling system from functioning properly.

Inspection:

A central air conditioning or heating system should be checked periodically by a professional repairman. See your instruction manual for the frequency of this care.

Gas Furnace:

Gas furnaces are normally automatic starts. If your heating unit is not an automatic start, your pilot light will have to be lit manually at the start of the heating season, and turned off at the end of the heating season.  Your furnace and vent stack should be inspected by a professional repairman at least once a year prior to the heating season.

Heat Pumps:

Heat Pumps work to heat or cool your home. They transfer warm air from one location to another. As a result, the warm air delivered through your registers is cooler than the "heated air" produced by a gas or electric furnace. This gradual heat will keep the home comfortable. In many areas, heat pumps are equipped with an electrical back-up system to be activated in extremely cold weather.

Appliances:

Instruction manuals and other papers accompany your new electrical or gas appliances. Look through them carefully. Remove, fill out and mail any return postcards necessary to record warranties Read all instructional literature so that you will know how to get the best from what you own, and so you will understand all appliance warranties. If an electrical appliance fails to work, before calling a Four Seasons Contractors appliance subcontractor be sure the appliance is plugged in and that no circuit breakers are tripped. If a gas appliance fails to work, check to see that the pilot light is lit. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the main gas valve near the meter and call the utility company.

Attic Ventilation:

If your home has a pitched roof, the space between the ceiling and the roof may have louvered openings. Louvered openings should remain unobstructed all year round. If your home has soffit vents and/or ridge vents they should also be clear of debris. Ridge vents should be checked periodically to ensure they are secure and have not come loose in high winds.

BATHTUBS, SINKS AND SHOWERS

Tile and Porcelain Enamel:

The surface of these fixtures is hard, smooth and glossy like a mirror, but is not indestructible. Accidents or improper cleaning will cause chipping, scratches and stains. A blow from a heavy or sharp object will chip the surface, and scraping or banging metal utensils in a sink will gradually scratch and dull the surface. The finish is then susceptible to stains, which become increasingly difficult to remove. Shiny new fixtures can also be dulled or stained within a short time through improper or excessive use of strong abrasive cleaners. Most household cleaners are mildly abrasive, but used with plenty of water, some of them are not harmful; however, a nonabrasive cleanser is safer. If you prefer a dry material, baking soda is nonabrasive. Most stains are caused by dirt, food, grease, rust or water minerals.

Vitreous China: See Porcelain Enamel above. Stainless Steel:

Stainless steel fixtures and sinks generally resist staining and need a thorough scrubbing only occasionally. Do not use steel wool pads, as these can remove the finish of stairt1ess steel sinks. Use a nonabrasive cleaner or a commercial stainless steel cleanser. Stainless steel sinks will dent when they receive a strong impact.

Fiberglass Tubs and Showers:

Never use powdered cleaners or any type of abrasive on Fiberglass® tubs and showers. Special Fiberglass cleaners are available at most supermarkets. Spray window cleaners are also effective. For long term protection, wax your Fiberglass units with a high quality automobile wax immediately upon move in or after each major cleaning.

 

Shower Enclosures:

To clean shower enclosures an ordinary dishwashing detergent (not soap) will do a good job unless hard water minerals have been deposited. For these, use a commercial glass cleaner containing ammonia or I tablespoon of household ammonia in a quart of water. WARNING: Be sure to read the caution note on the label before using ammonia. Never use steel wool or scouring pads on the metal portion of these enclosures. It will remove the protective finish applied by the manufacturer and cause unsightly scratches. To prolong the life and beauty of your plumbing fixtures follow these precautions:

Additional information:

  1. Don't let food wastes stand in the sink, Dispose of food waste through your disposal as it accumulates.
  2. Don't use plumbing fixtures to hold paint cans, trash, or tools when you are redecorating. Cover them when painting walls and ceilings.
  3. Don't  step  in  a bathtub  or  shower  stall with  shoes  on  for  any reason.       Shoe soles carry hundreds of gritty particles that will scratch the surface.
  4. Don't use sinks, tub or toilets as receptacles for photographic or developing solutions. Developer stains are extremely difficult to remove.
  5. Wipe shower area dry after each use.
  6. Utilize bathroom exhaust fans or open bathroom windows to remove excessive moisture from the room.

By observing these suggestions and the preceding instructions, you will prolong the newness and luster of your fixtures.

Cabinets:

Kitchen and bathroom cabinets should never be cleaned with harsh abrasives. Wood cabinets may be cleaned like any other wood furniture with lemon oil or good furniture oil unless it has been plastic coated. An excellent product for hiding minor nicks and scratches that occur over time in wood cabinetry is Old English® furniture polish. Keep cabinet  doors and drawers  closed when not in use. Periodic use of silicone spray lubricant on drawers and hinges will improve operating efficiency.

Carpeting:

Given proper care, the carpeting in your home will provide years of service.  You should  vacuum at least once a week using a powerful upright vacuum cleaner. This is especially important with some of the denser shear and shag patterns. You should also plan to give your carpeting a professional cleaning at least once a year to remove deep down dirt and stubborn stains.  In regard to stains, always attack them immediately. Even half an hour after the accident can be too late. A number of good quality stain and spot removers are available; however, we suggest you seek the advice of a carpeting expert as to what is best for your brand and style of carpet. You should be aware of the material that your carpet is made of. Should your carpet become wet or saturated for any reason, the bottom of furniture legs need to be taken out of contact with carpet. Aluminum foil or plastic coasters work well in this situation. Don't hesitate to call in a professional with very severe staining or spotting. The small expense will pay off in longer carpet beauty and service.

Caulking/Exterior:

Exterior caulking will separate and deteriorate over the life of the home. If this situation is not monitored and corrected on a consistent basis, moisture can work its way behind wood trim or siding and cause serious rotting problems. Leaks around doors and windows can also result if this condition goes unnoticed for any length of time. (Also see "Annual Checklist".)

Ceramic Tile:

Ceramic tile floors are generally easy to maintain. To keep them looking new, you need only wipe with a moist cloth and wet mop from time to time. The grout used between ceramic tiles can be cleaned using a brush and a mild cleanser. Grout sealers are available to make the grout more resistant to stains.  Once again, these products can be purchased at most home care centers.

Countertops:

The majority of kitchen counter tops are constructed of top quality plastic laminate materials. Because these products are a sheet of very hard plastic laminated to a wooden base, you must be careful not to disturb the bond between the wood and the plastic.  To avoid such a problem, always be sure to use a hot pad for anything that is likely to exceed 250 degrees in temperature. Anything coming directly off a burner or from the oven will be much too hot to place directly on the plastic surface.   Laminated plastic tops are very easy products to maintain; however,  there are a few ways to increase their life and prolong their  beauty.

l. Most spots, glass rings, etc. will  usually  wipe  clean  with  a  damp  cloth  and  mild  soap.  For more stubborn stains, we recommend  Formica  brand  spray  cleaner.  Be  careful  of  the  inks used in marking grocery products,  especially  meat  and  produce. They  are often  indelible and can be extremely difficult to remove.  Newspaper ink can also produce indelible   stain.

2. NEVER cut items directly on the counter top. They will scratch and knife marks can become unsightly hiding places for dirt.

3. Counter tops are not constructed for sitting. Excessive weight can cause warping, drawer malfunction  and even cause the top to pull away from the  wall.

 

To prevent leaks, be certain to monitor the condition of all caulking at countertops and redo if separation or shrinkage occurs. If you have a ceramic tile countertop, see "Ceramic Tile" for care information. If you have a Corian® Countertop, please refer to the manufacturer's care  and maintenance information. Your bath vanity tops, and  perhaps  your  bath  sinks,  are made  of  either top quality plastic laminate (see above) or  they are  made  of  a  cultured  marble  product that  will give you classic good looks and utilitarian service. These  products  will  scratch  and  burn  if mistreated however, so treat them gently. Always be especially careful with razor blade, manicure equipment and bathroom appliances. Cigarette burns are almost impossible to remove without professional assistance. Care for your cultured  marble  with  any  good  quality,  non-abrasive bathroom cleaner. If hard water minerals  collect,  they  may  be  removed  with  mild  ammonia solution of a tablespoon to each quart  of  water.  Caulking  of  the  vanity  tops  is  an  important element  of homeowner maintenance,  and  should be monitored ..

Disposals

Food  should  not  be  deposited  into  an  inactivated   disposal  and  the  unit  then  turned    on. The disposal will provide more  effective  disposing action if cold water is running  and the unit  is  turned on prior to depositing food into it.  When  the  unit  is  running, cold  water  should  be  used.  This helps to solidify any grease in the disposal, which can then be chopped up and moved out with the remainder of the foods. Once a month, a tray of ice cubes can get deposited into the disposal and chopped  up.  This has a cleaning action on the blades  and  exit areas of the disposal.  If the disposal is jammed:

  1. Turn off the switch for the disposal before trying to unclog.
  2. Insert the allen wrench provided into the bottom of the disposal and tum slowly to dislodge whatever has jammed the disposal.
  3. Press the reset button, which is located on the bottom of the disposal, and the unit should  be ready to function again.

Doors:

Doors can cause minor problems. However,  most  door problems  can be handled  with minimum skill.  Sticking caused by shrinkage and swelling is the most common problem with doors, and it is a common characteristic in new homes. If the sticking is caused  by swelling  in damp weather, fold sandpaper around a wood block and sand the edge that binds. If the sticking is the result of uneven alignment, which can occur as your home settles, check to see that the hinge screws are tight and holding properly. If they are tight and the door is still out of alignment, sand or plane the edge that binds. Warping is a result of too much moisture.  Should a door ever warp, a good repair is to dry it in the sun. The door should be elevated off the ground, and it should be positioned flat with the warped side up. If drying a door thoroughly won't straighten a badly warped door, apply weight to the bulged side and leave it for two or three days. If this "first aid" doesn't solve the problem, you should call in a carpenter to make the repair. Always paint or varnish any areas that have been sanded or planed to protect those areas from moisture and further swelling. Exterior doors should be painted or varnished whenever the house is painted. In hot, humid climates, wooden exterior doors have to be refinished on a regular basis. Wooden garage doors require refinishing more frequently. Aluminum doors do not need painting. Special care to the tracks of aluminum sliding glass doors is recommended. Always keep the tracks clean of debris. A very small amount of oil is also recommended on a periodic basis, at both the bottom of the door and the lock mechanics. Silicon lubricant is good for the tracks. Bi-fold and by-pass closet doors and "pocket" doors offer tremendous convenience to the homeowner, as well as enhance the looks of your home; however, the mechanics of these types of doors are more complicated than a hinged door. Gentleness is the key when operating each type. No up or down pressure should be applied. In the case of bi-fold doors, pull toward you when opening and let the door open  itself  With sliding "pocket" doors, gently pushing in the direction the door moves is all that is necessary. Be certain to avoid driving nails into the "pocket" area of a sliding door. Bi-fold and by-pass closet doors have adjustment areas should they become difficult to operate or jump from their tracks. These are easily found on the rear side of the doors. Also, these types of doors are installed in matched sets. If you  should  remove the doors for any reason, be sure to put each section back  in its original position.

The moving parts of garage doors should be oiled about every three months. The screws and bolts that fasten the hardware to any wood areas should be tightened in about a year because the wood shrinks a little as it ages.

Drains:

Each plumbing fixture in your home has a drain trap, a J-shaped piece of pipe designed to provide a water barrier between your home and the danger of sewer gas from entering the house. If any fixture is used infrequently, it should be turned on at regular intervals to replace evaporating water and ensure that the barrier remains intact.

Traps, because of the shapes, are also the point at which drains are most likely to become clogged. When the drain pipe from a sink, shower, or tub stops up, first use a plunger. Be sure the rubber cap of the plunger covers the drain openings and the water comes well up over the cup edge.

Working the plunger up and down rhythmically 10 to 20 times in succession will build up pressure in the pipe and do more than sporadic, separated plunges. Be sure to plug the overflow outlet, if there is one, with a piece of old cloth, and close the other drain when working on a double sink.

If the plunger doesn't work, try using a plumber's snake, which can be rented or purchased at a hardware or plumbing store. Be sure to turn the handle of the snake in the same direction when removing it as you did in inserting it. This will usually keep any matter attached to the snake from coming loose before it is removed. If the drain can be partly opened with the plunger or snake, boiling hot water (no hotter than 140 degrees for plastic pipes) may finish the job. If not, you can open the trap under the fixture. Put a bucket or pan under it to catch water. A piece of wire may help dislodge the blockage. The snake can also be run at this point.

Although it is sold commercially as a drain cleaner, never use caustic soda to open a drain. It will combine with the grease from soap or food wastes to form an insoluble compound

Potash lye or caustic potash may be added to finish opening a drain, but never use them on a completely stopped up drain. They may take as long as overnight to work, and if you ultimately have to open the trap, the chemicals would be a hazard.

 

PREVENTION: To avoid stopped up drains, a cardinal rule is never to pour grease into a drain or toilet. Ordinary washing soda (not baking soda) added to a drain on a regular basis will help  keep it clear of grease from soap and cooking utensils. Run hot water throughout the drain, tum off the water, add 3 tablespoons of washing soda, and follow it with just enough hot water to  wash  it down the drain opening. Let it set for 15 minutes and run more hot water.

SPECIAL NOTE: Your food waste disposal has special instructions to avoid stoppage, blockage and heavy grease buildup. Refer to the manufacturer's instruction manual for details.

Concrete:

Most driveways, walks and patios in Four Seasons Contractors homes are constructed of concrete. We have anticipated normal stresses on these concrete areas and have provided contraction and expansion control joints to minimize cracking; however, cracking is one of the characteristics of concrete and a method of entirely eliminating cracks is still sought. Unanticipated cracking sometimes occurs from unforeseeable conditions, such as severe frost or changes in homesite grade, which prevents proper runoff from rain or watering. Ordinarily, the cracks are of no serious consequence. Minor repairs can be made by following these steps:

 

     I.   Roughen the edges of the crack if they are smooth.

  1. Clean out lose material and dirt.

  2. Soak the old concrete thoroughly. (The crack should be sopping-wet, but water should not be standing in it).

  3. Fill the crack with patching cement slightly higher than the crack to allow for shrinkage.

  4. Cover and keep damp for several days. The longer the drying time the stronger the patch will be.

  5. When the cement has partly set, remove excess cement with a wire brush. At the stage the surface of the cement appears sandy. You should consider sealing you concrete surfaces with a good quality sealer. This will protect the surface and the finish from water, road salt, or oil stains.

NOTE: You should avoid applying salt to concrete, as it will deteriorate the surface of the material. To assist you in having traction on ice you may use sand. Remember to provide a mat at the front door so sand will not be tracked into your home.

Electrical:

The wiring in every Four Seasons Contractors home meets the code requirements and safety standards for the normal use of electrical appliances. Ordinarily, small appliances, which require your personal attention for operation, may be plugged into any electrical receptacle without fear of overloading a circuit. However, the use of large appliances, or of many appliances on the  same  circuit, may cause an overload of the circuit and trip a breaker. This is especially true of electric space heaters. If this happens frequently, contact a reliable electrical contractor to  learn  whether additional wiring is needed to meet your requirements.

Most municipal electrical codes now require bathroom and exterior convenience outlets to be wired to breakers, which utilize Ground Fault Interrupter Circuits (GFI). These circuits are very sensitive and any undue resistance or overload will trip the breakers. Do not use heavy appliances or more than one appliance at a time on these circuits. (See "Electrical Service Entrance" and "Electrical Troubleshooting.")  Never plug refrigerators or freezers into a GFI outlet.

Electrical Panel:

The electrical wiring and equipment  in Four Seasons Contractors  homes  is protected  by  circuit  breakers.  They are the safety valves of your home's electrical system.  The  electrical  service  entrance,  which provides power to the service panel,  has been  designed  for the  electrical  needs  of your  home. Do not tamper with this cable. Every home has a master circuit breaker located in the  service panel box along with smaller circuit breakers. When the master breaker is tripped the electricity in  your home is cut off. Switching the breaker to FULL OFF and then  back  to  FULL  ON  should reset circuit breakers.

Your air conditioning unit may have heavy-duty cartridge fuses or some other disconnect mechanism located in a small box next to the service panel or next to the unit.  These may be replaced by simply pulling them from their retaining clips and installing a new cartridge.  BE CERTAIN TO TURN OFF POWER BEFORE REMOVING   CARTRIDGES.

Electrical troubleshooting:

Refer to the following checklist BEFORE reporting  electrical  problems.

  1. If receptacles won't work, check to be certain the  circuit  breaker  has not  been  tripped.  If  so, reset it. If not, make sure the receptacles are not controlled by a wall switch that is in the OFF position.
  2. If individual ceiling lights or lamps do not come  on,  check  the bulb  in  another  fixture. If the bulb is good, check the circuit breaker,  to  see if it  is  tripped  and  reset  if  necessary.  Also, check for wall switches, they may be turned off
  3. If your disposal or dishwasher won't operate, first,  for  the  disposal,  push  the  reset  button located on the disposal. Second, if your appliances are designed  to be plugged  in, check to  be sure both appliances are plugged into the proper  receptacle. The  duplex  receptacle  under your sink is especially wired with one  outlet  for the  dishwasher  and  one  of the  disposal (connected to a wall switch). Also check the circuit breaker.
  4. If an electric water heater will not function, check the circuit breaker. If that's no help,  tum the power off and push the reset button located under the water heater access cover.
  5. If your oven won't heat, refer to the manufacturer's manual to be certain you are properly operating the time controls. Sometimes this can be tricky. Also check the circuit breaker.
  6. If the bath or utility exhaust fan won't run and makes no noise (hum) or movement  the problem is normally electrical. If there is any movement or humming noise, the problem normally is in the fan unit.
  7. If an outlet sparks when  plugged  into,  be  certain the appliance is off before  plugging  in.  If it still sparks, try another outlet.  If you  get  sparks from  a second  outlet  the  problem  is normally in the appliance cord. If you do not  get  sparks,  have  the  receptacle  inspected.  Also,  sparks from wall switches should be checked by an electrician.
  8. If a wall switch or receptacles are hot to the touch, you should  immediately  trip  the circuit breaker serving that fixture and contact an electrician.

Fireplaces:

Each fall, as fireplace usage begins, our service department receives calls regarding "smoking" fireplaces; that is, smoke is coming into the room and not going up  the  chimney.  To  avoid this problem and other potential difficulties with your fireplace, it is important to follow these simple guidelines.

  1. Modern homes are sealed against outside elements for air conditioning  purposes.  Hot  air rising from a chimney must be replaced within the home or unequal pressures develop and smoke returns inside. To avoid this problem, open an outside door or window. Also, it may sometimes be necessary to close room registers, since the forced air heating  and  cooling system will compete with the natural fireplace draft.
  1. Never build a fire directly on the fireplace floor. Always use andirons or a grate, plus a well• fitted fireplace screen.
  2. Start the fire slowly so there is a gradual buildup of heat and smoke. You can also light a section of newspaper and hold it up into the flue to gradually heat it. This will start the up• draft more easily and will help avoid cracking of firebrick due to sudden temperature change.
  3. Before using the fireplace, be certain the chimney damper is open. After use, close the damper so conditioned air will not escape through the chimney. If you have glass fireplace doors remember to close them when no one is in the room.
  4. Adding a handful of salt to the fire occasionally will help prevent the accumulation of  soot, and it will add color to the fire. The chimney should be cleaned  periodically.  This can  be done at the same time the heating and cooling system is cleaned and inspected.
  5. Never bum treated lumber, as it will emit creosote or poisonous gasses that can build up in the flue or enter the house.

NOTE: Remember to store firewood outside, to avoid insects entering your home with the wood.

Fireplace inserts:

Please consult the manufacturer manual for instruction on starting the unit and use of the pilot light. If you smell gas coming from the fixture, please shut off the gas at the meter and contact your local gas company.

Floor Tile:

Your Four Seasons Contractors home contains a vinyl tile that we call resilient flooring. Give daily care to resilient floors by removing loose dirt with a broom, dust mop, or vacuum. Wipe up spills immediately, but, if a spill dries, remove it with a damp sponge, cloth or mop. Damp mop occasionally to prolong the period between cleanings. However when floors are dull or cannot be refurbished by mopping, give them a thorough cleaning.

To clean resilient floors, use a good detergent diluted as recommended by the manufacturer. Use just enough mechanical action with a mop, cloth or floor scrubber to loosen dirt. Then take up the cleaning solution, rinse floor and let it dry. Some resilient floors are designed never  to  need waxing but most of them require a coat of floor polish, such as a "mop and let dry" product. The best polish for most resilient floors is a water emulsion wax. Use either a floor finish or a wax on the clean dry floor. Finishes provide hard films that don't smear but do not respond to buffing. Waxy polishes leave softer films with slightly lower gloss that can be buffed to  restore appearance.

Apply moderate coats, the right amount is the least amount that can be applied without streaking. Let it dry about 30 minutes before exposure to traffic. Periodically, usually once or twice a year take off the build-up of old polish or wax with a remover. Dilute it as recommended, apply, rinse, let dry, and apply a new coat of polish.

NOTE: High heeled shoes or furniture legs without floor protectors will cause damage to any floor covering, especially resilient.

Hardwood Floors:

I f y o u have hardwood floors in your home, you should consult your Manufacturer/Installers guide for care tips. Wood will expand and contract as weather changes, and it may shrink under extreme dryness or swell under extreme humidity.

Keys and Locks:

No key used during the course of construction of your new home will operate the locks after you

have taken possession. Most exterior hardware comes finished with a sealant. Often times this sealant can wear, and tarnishing will occur. To minimize this condition a regular cleaning and clear lacquer application will prolong the look of the hardware. Passage door hardware in any home can work loose through use. Keep a careful watch to avoid excessive play in the doorknob escutcheon plate. In the event a doorknob or privacy lock should become inoperative, it is usually because looseness has allowed the interior mechanism to slip out of place.

Removal and reinstallation of the fixture will usually correct the problem. Doors with key type hardware are more complicated and usually require the services of a locksmith. Periodic application of powdered graphite or silicone spray to keyholes and lock mechanisms can help to keep them operating smoothly.

Landscaping:

No blanket description of landscape maintenance is provided since Four Seasons Contractors divisions are located in a variety of geographic regions with different landscape requirements.  The  grade of your home site was established by professional engineers to provide drainage away from the building. Should you wish to change the drainage pattern,  as part of the landscape  arrangement, be sure a proper drainage slope is maintained. On sites designed for some water retention, do not change the drainage pattern. Changing your drainage pattern on any site will void your warranty.

When adding fill dirt, do not fill above the top of the foundation and always allow a 6 inch minimum between the earth and any wood or aluminum siding, otherwise, water may enter the joint between the footing and the wall material or cause decay of wood.  When  watering  your lawn, do not allow sprinklers to spray against the exterior walls of your home. Doing so causes discoloration, wall buckling and can cause interior flooding regardless of whether the wall is masonry or wood. Remember that proper care of the sod or seeded areas of  your  lawn  are essential to ensure adequate grass growth.

Louvers:

If your home has a pitched  roof,  the space between the ceiling and the roof may have  louvered openings. Louvered openings should remain unobstructed all year round.

Motors:

Many heavy-duty appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, etc. have motors that require servicing from time to time. Consult the appropriate service manual for care of these motors.

Plumbing:

Your plumbing  has been  installed  by  a professional  and  generally  should  need  only minimum maintenance for a number of years if you care for it properly. If any problem does arise, tend to it promptly to prevent a bigger, and often more costly problem.

You and your family should become familiar with the various water supply shutoff valves in your plumbing system. A good practice is to label each one for each reference with a tag. Toilet  and sink valves are located under the appropriate fixture. The main shutoff valve is normally located near the front meter. Be sure to keep clean year round. Plumbing connections should last the lifetime of the home, but if a joint should loosen, your best response is to call in a professional for repairs. If any water-using appliance appears to be leaking, check the drain before calling a repairman. A partially blocked drain can cause overflowing.

Faucets, like all plumbing fixtures with moving parts, are apt to require more repair than non-moving fixtures. The less strain you put on your faucets, the less frequently they need repair.

Cleaning the aerators will be the most frequent task in maintaining your faucets. This  attachment to the faucet adds air to the water as it leaves the faucet, reduces splashing, and provides some savings because less water is used. To clean an aerator, unscrew it from the mouth of the faucet, remove any debris, remove and rinse the washer and screens, replace them in their original order, and replace the unit on the faucet mouth. These should be cleaned every three or four months.

Leaking faucets generally can be fixed by replacing the faucet's washer or washers. If you have a washerless fixture, you may still have to replace the control cartridge from time to time, although this occurs with much less frequency than washer replacement. Plumbing pipes can and will make noises at times. It is not unusual to hear water running through the drainpipes between your walls. Expansion and contraction of the water supply lines can make a clicking noise. A loud banging noise when the water pipes are in use is a situation that would require the attention  of  a professional plumber.

Roof:

Your roof will give years of service if it is properly maintained. Flashings seal places where the roof abuts walls, chimneys, valleys or where two roof slopes meet. If a leak should occur, call a qualified roofer to make the repairs. If it is repaired as soon as the roofing material has dried, the cost will be far less than if the job is postponed. A qualified roofer should inspect your roof at least every three years. If you have to walk on your roof for any reason, be careful not to damage the surface or the flashings. Be particularly careful when installing a TV or radio antenna,  a careless job can cause serious leaks. Keep roof clean of all debris (pine straw, leaves,  etc).  This can cause the roof valleys to back up and hold water, causing interior damage.

Screens:

The window and door screens in your Four Seasons Contractors home are constructed of good quality nylon. They never need painting  or other preservatives.  A gentle washing and hosing about once a  year is all that is needed for maintenance. Should it be needed, replacement nylon screen is available from any good hardware store. It is not necessary to remove window screens in the  winter, although many people prefer to do so. Vinyl window screens fit with room for expansion and contraction.

Smoke Detectors:

Check your smoke detectors every month.  The alarm should sound when you  push the  button. For your safety it is important that this device be kept clean and in proper working condition. The smoke detector is hard wired to your electrical system and may include a nine-volt battery backup. In the event the electricity is cut off, your system will still be in use. The smoke detector will beep intermittently to inform you that battery replacement is necessary.

Termites:

Conduct your own inspection in the spring of each year and look for possible remains of   winged insects. Search the sides of your footing walls for the earthen tubes, which termites build to reach the wood above the foundation, and use the blade of  a jackknife to test  wood  for soundness.  If you suspect the presence of termites, consult a professional exterminator. All  foundations must have at least 6" clearance between the finished grade and the siding. This includes any mulch or plant material. Keep this space clear at all times.

Toilets:

Never  flush hair, grease,  lint,  diapers,  rubbish,  facial tissues,  etc. down the toilet  drain.        Such waste stops up the toilet and sanitary sewer lines. A variety of commercial cleaners are made especially for the toilet. Use them according to the manufacturer's directions, but DO NOT mix them or use them with household bleach or any cleaning product. And never use them in anything but the toilet.

If the water chamber appears to leak, it may only be condensation forming on the outside of the tank and dripping to the floor. If water leaks into the bowl through the overflow pipe, try bending the rod holding the float so that the float will be closer to the bottom of the tank. Flush the toilet, and if it still leaks, the inlet valve washer probably needs to be replaced. If the water trickles into the bowl but is not coming through the overflow pipe, it is coming through the flush valve.

The rods between the ball valve and the flushing handle may need aligning, so that the ball will drop straight down after the handle has been pushed. A worn ball valve or dirt or rust on the ball or the ball seal will let water leak through into the bowl. If the ball or seal is dirty or rusty, clean them, if toilet float is worn, unscrew it and replace it with a new one.

Walls and Ceilings:

Your Four Seasons Contractors home has two types of walls, bearing and nonbearing. Nonbearing walls may be altered without fear of structural damage, but alteration of bearing walls must be done carefully to avoid reducing its bearing capacity. Usually, exterior walls are bearing walls. Some interior walls are also bearing walls. The interior walls of your home are constructed of gypsum wallboard, sometimes known as drywall. They will last without undue maintenance for the life of your home.

As new homes go through a normal shrinkage process, minor cracks will appear in the drywall. No repairs should be attempted until the room is ready to be redecorated. At that time, fill the cracks with spackling compound, smooth it out with fine sandpaper or sanding blocks and then redecorate the entire surface. Except in very unusual conditions, cracks should not reappear.

This normal shrinking will also cause nail or screw pops. The framing studs and the wallboard shrink away from the nail or screw and leave it sticking out beyond the surface of the wallboard. Popped nails do not alter the strength of the wall. The nail should simply  be  reset,  and the resulting dimple re-spackled and repainted. Also, unusual abrasions may scuff  or  indent the surface of gypsum wall. In the event, fill the indentation with two or three applications of joint cement used for drywall taping.

The interior walls and ceiling of your home has been decorated with quality paint products. They should give you a lasting surface if properly cared for. The painted walls are not meant to be scrubbed. Gentle cleaning with a mild soap should remove most spots. If you have acoustical ceilings they can be gently vacuumed to remove collected dust. They may even be repainted if absolutely necessary, although it is a very messy job and should be avoided if possible. The best insurance against repainting is to keep your furnace and air conditioning filters clean,  to  use exhaust fans over your range and in the bathrooms, and to quickly vacuum dust as it collects.

A word of caution: Be very careful to locate a ceiling joist in which to attach hardware for heavy hanging plants, lamps and macrame. The drywall used in your ceiling is not designed to support any weight.

Water Heater:

Water  heaters  normally  collect  small quantities  of scale and  dirty water.   This can  easily be removed by opening the valve at the bottom of the heater and allowing the tank  to drain itself clean. Once you have drained the heater, you should refill and drain again. The rushing water, which refills the tank, will dislodge any particles clinging to the side of the tank and then you can flush them out. Be sure to turn off the gas and/or electricity before draining your water heater. A water softener will reduce the frequency of cleaning.

All water heaters, whether gas or electric, have a control mechanism to govern water temperature. The dial should be set at 130 degrees for an electric heater  and on NORMAL  for a gas  heater. This is especially important for the proper operation of your dishwasher. Too little heat will cause your dishes to not get clean; too much heat will "bake" dirt to the dishes. Every three or four months you should check the temperature and pressure relief valve on your water heater to be sure the lever works properly. If the thermostat should fail to work, this valve would prevent a dangerous increase in water temperature and pressure. (See "Appliances" and "Electrical Troubleshooting".)

Helpful Equipment:

You will need a few basic tools and supplies for everyday use in keeping your home in tip-top shape. Here is a suggested minimum list:

I. Medium-sized wrench

2.     Standard pliers

  1. Screwdrivers- small, medium, large and phillips head
  2. Claw hammer
  3. Hand saw
  4. Assorted brads, nails and screws
  5. Sturdy penknife
  6. Plane
  7. Quality interior and exterior caulk
  8. Matching interior and exterior paint and different sized paint brushes

II.  Sandpaper (medium and fine grit)

Other helpful Hints:

  • Other tools can be rented or purchased as you have the need for them.
  • Keep a home first aid kit or its equivalent in a convenient location.
  • Buy, and keep with it, a booklet on first aid and home safety.
  • Have duplicate keys made and keep them in convenient places so you will have access should you get locked out. When you take a vacation, a key left with a neighbor for use in the event of an emergency is a good idea.
  • Consider  furnishing your  home  with three fire  extinguishers.       One for the garage, one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom.

Annual Checklist:

  • Check condition of putty, caulking, and exterior paint. Replace or paint as needed.
  • Check for evidence of termites.
  • Check interior paint and redecorate when needed.
  • Seed and feed lawn (spring and/or fall); plant annuals (spring); do appropriate pruning of perennials (some in spring, others in summer or fall); rake and compost leaves;  mulch  perennials that need winter protection.
  • Have heating and cooling system cleaned and repaired if necessary.
  • Oil motors of appliances as directed in instruction manuals.
  • Check cords and plugs of all electrical appliances for wear. If necessary have them repaired or replaced.
  • Check roof valleys, gutters, and downspouts to be sure they are not blocked.
  • Check ridge vent, if applicable, to be sure it is secure and has not come loose.
  • Check  fireplace  flue  to  ensure  it  is  clear  and  ready  for  use.             You may wish to contact a professional.
  • In freezing climates, drain outside faucets.
  • In freezing climates, remove exterior sump pump hose.
  • Keep roof valleys clear of leaves and pine straw.
Four Seasons Contractors 
1100 Eastern Avenue
Nashville, NC 27856 
Office252-462-0022

Steve Newcombe
252-903-1460
stevenewcombe@ymail.com

John Newcombe
252-903-1945
johnsnewcombe@gmail.com

Kendall Cobb
252-903-9497

kendall.4scnc@gmail.com 
Remodeling and Home Design

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