Home Maintenance Guide

Our home maintenance guide helps new and existing home owners better understand what is needed to properly maintain a home. If you have any questions, please call your Professional Dallas Home Inspectors or a system specialist.

In a home, very few things are maintenance free. While it is a bitter pill for most homeowners to swallow, the fact is that preventative home maintenance, with all the time and money it consumes, is still far more cost effective than the crisis management approach of waiting until something breaks and then scrambling to have it repaired. Preventative maintenance can avoid repairs, extend the life expectancy of many components and in some cases, reduce energy consumption. Our Professional Dallas Home Inspections Blog is also full of repair and maintenance tips.

Upon Taking Ownership

After taking possession of a home, Dallas Home Inspections recommends the following maintenance and safety issues that should be addressed immediately. We recommend hiring certified, licensed professionals to perform tasks which homeowners are not qualified or equipped to perform. Your home inspection report makes a great checklist, but the following checklists should help you undertake these improvements:

  • Change the locks on all exterior entrances for improved security.
  • Check that all windows and doors are secure. Improve window hardware as necessary. Security rods can be added to sliding windows and doors.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of the home. Ensure that there is a smoke detector in every sleeping area and adjacent hallway. Replace batteries on any existing smoke detectors and test them.
  • Create a plan of action in the event of a fire in your home. Ensure that there is an operable window or door in every room of the house.
  • Examine driveways and walkways for trip hazards and repair where necessary.
  • Examine the interior of the home for trip hazards. Damaged carpeting and flooring should be repaired.
  • Undertake improvements to all stairways, decks, porches and landings where there is a risk of falling or stumbling.
  • Install rain caps and vermin screens on all chimney flues.
  • Investigate the location of the main shut-offs for the plumbing, heating and electrical systems.
  • Review your home inspection report for any items that require immediate improvement or further evaluation.

Monthly Home Maintenance Check List

  • Check that fire extinguisher(s) are fully charged. Re-charge if necessary.
  • Examine heating/cooling air filters and replace or clean as necessary.
  • Inspect and clean humidifiers and electronic air cleaners.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts. Ensure that downspouts are secure, splash blocks or gutter extensions are in place and that the discharge of the downspouts is appropriate.
  • Carefully inspect the condition of bathtub and shower enclosures. Repair or replace deteriorated grout and caulk. Ensure that water is not escaping the enclosure.
  • Check below all plumbing fixtures for evidence of leakage.
  • Repair or replace leaking faucets or shower heads.
  • Secure loose toilets, or repair flush mechanisms that become troublesome.
  • If the home is equipped with an septic system (onsite waste disposal system), check all components for operation and check the drain field for odor and standing water. If a problem is discovered, contact a certified, licensed septic system specialist.

Spring & Fall Home Maintenance Check List

  • Examine the roof for signs of damage to roof coverings, flashing and chimneys.
  • Look in the attic (if accessible) to ensure that roof vents are not obstructed. Check for signs of leakage, condensation or vermin activity.
  • Trim back tree branches and shrubs to ensure that they are not in contact with the house.
  • Inspect the exterior walls and foundation for indications of damage, cracking or movement. Watch for bird nests or other vermin or insect activity.
  • Survey the basement and/or crawl space walls for signs of moisture seepage or insect penetration.
  • Look at overhead wires coming to the house. They should be secure and clear of trees or other obstructions. Hire a professional to trim tree limbs away from overhead electric lines.
  • Ensure that the grade of the land around the house encourages water to flow away from the foundation. The top 4”-6” of the foundation wall should be visible.
  • Inspect all driveways, walkways, decks, porches, and landscape components for signs of deterioration, movement or safety hazards.
  • Clean windows and test their operation. Improve caulking and weather-stripping as necessary. Watch for signs of rot in wood window frames. Paint and repair window sills and frames as necessary.
  • Test all ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) devices for operation.
  • Shut off isolating valves for exterior hose bibs in the fall, if below freezing temperatures are anticipated.
  • Test the Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve on water heaters.
  • Inspect for signs of wood destroying insect activity. Eliminate any wood/soil contact around the perimeter of the home.
  • Test the overhead garage door opener, to ensure that the auto-reverse mechanism is responding properly. Clean and lubricate hinges, rollers and tracks on overhead doors.
  • Replace or clean exhaust hood filters.
  • Clean, inspect and service all appliances as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Annual Home Maintenance Check List

  • Replace smoke detector batteries.
  • Have the heating, cooling and water heater systems cleaned and serviced.
  • Have chimneys inspected and cleaned. Ensure that rain caps and vermin screens are secured.
  • Examine the electrical panels, wiring and electrical components for evidence of overheating. Ensure that all components are secure.
  • If the house utilizes a well, check and service the pump and holding tank. Have the water quality tested. If the property has a septic system, have the tank inspected (and pumped as needed). Normally, septic systems should be pumped every 4-6 years.
  • If your home is in an area prone to wood destroying insects (termites, carpenter ants, etc.), have the home inspected by a licensed specialist. Preventative treatments may be recommended in some cases.

Dallas Home Inspections Recommends Prevention As The Best Approach

Although we’ve heard it many times, nothing could be more true than the old cliché “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preventative home maintenance is the best way to keep your house in great shape. It also reduces the risk of unexpected repairs and improves the odds of selling your house at fair market value, when the time comes. Our Dallas Home Inspections help evaluate component defects and repair needs.

Advanced Warning

A systematic guide to home maintenance from a reliable home inspection professional allows one to monitor certain conditions and components. Regular roof inspections, for example, will give one enough advance warning to allow for several roofing quotes in order to make an educated and cost effective purchase of a new roof covering. If on the other hand, no maintenance is done, and the roof suddenly leaks, there is very little time to do comparative shopping. Under these circumstances, one is forced to go with the roofer who can do the job the fastest – not necessarily with the roofing materials of your choice or at the best possible price.

In addition to monitoring systems which wear out, structural monitoring can also be performed. It is not uncommon for people who have been living in a house for some time to suddenly realize that a door frame is out of square and the door does not close properly. With regular maintenance, the cracks which occur in the wall surfaces adjacent to the door frame can be monitored. Knowing whether these cracks have appeared suddenly or have been increasing at a specific rate, is valuable information when diagnosing the problem and designing a repair.

Structural Monitoring

Regular home maintenance is not everybody’s cup of tea. Hiring a Professional Dallas Home Inspections Company to perform annual home maintenance inspections and certified, licensed specialists to perform repairs is a prudent decision. Ideally, preventative maintenance inspections should be performed semi-annually in the spring and fall. However, some components require more or less frequent inspections. Records of any work performed should be maintained.

Exterior Home Maintenance

  • Chimneys should be inspected for loose or deteriorated bricks or mortar. If covered with stucco or parging, look for cracks or loose sections. Chimney caps should be inspected for loose or broken sections as should the protruding clay chimney liners. Chimney flashing should be inspected for leakage. Efflorescence (a white salt build-up on the chimney) indicates moisture within the chimney and further investigation is required. Metal chimneys should be checked for rust, missing rain caps, loose braces and weather damaged wood siding.
  • Our Dallas Home Inspections blog about Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance has even more tips

Roof Coverings

  • Shingle Roofs: Roofing should be inspected for damaged, loose or missing shingles. Special attention should be paid to high wear areas such as areas where there is significant foot traffic or areas where downspouts from upper roofs discharge onto lower roofs. Flashing at dormers, plumbing stacks, valleys, et cetera, should be carefully inspected. Supports for television antennas or satellite dishes should be checked. Electric cables (eave protection) should be well secured and properly powered. Tree branches should be kept cut back to avoid damaging the roof covering materials.
  • Flat Roofs: Flat roofs should be inspected for blisters, bubbles, and flashing details. Tar and gravel roofs should be inspected for areas of gravel erosion. Tree branches should not contact the roof surface.
  • Gutters and Downspouts: Gutters and downspouts should be checked for blockage, leakage (from rust holes or leaking joints) and areas requiring re-securing or re-sloping. Paint deterioration should also be noted. Downspout seams should be checked for splitting (the seam is usually against the wall). A split downspout is often plugged with debris. Water accumulates in the downspout, freezes and splits it open.
  • Eaves: Soffits and fascia should be inspected for loose and rotted areas, weather damage as well as areas damaged by vermin. Paint and caulk condition should be noted.
  • Walls: Masonry walls should be checked for deteriorated brick and mortar. Stucco walls should be inspected for cracking and separating. Wood walls should be checked for rot, loose or damaged boards, caulking, weather damage and wood/ soil contact. If paint deterioration is the result of blistering or bubbling, the cause should be determined. It may be due to outward moisture migration from the interior of the house, indicating more serious problems. Metal and vinyl sidings, insulbrick and shingle sidings should be inspected for mechanical damage and loose or missing components. All walls should be checked for indications of settling. Trees, shrubbery and vines should be monitored and should not be in contact with exterior wall cladding.
  • Exposed Foundation Walls: Foundation walls should be inspected for deteriorated brick, block, mortar or parging. Cracking due to settlement should also be noted and monitored.
  • Grading: The grading immediately adjacent to the house should be checked to ensure a slope of 6 inch per 10 feet away from the house. The top 4-6 inches of the foundation wall should be visible. If more than 6 inches is visible, additional fill material is recommended. If less than 4 inches is visible, removal of fill material is recommended.
  • Doors and Windows: Caulking and weather-stripping should be checked. Broken or cracked panes of glass should be replaced. Damaged or missing window screens should be repaired. The finishes should be checked for paint deterioration and rot (particularly sills).
  • Porches and Decks: Wooden components should be checked for rot and insect infestation. Wood should be painted or stained as required. Steps and railings should be secure. Ballusters should have no more than 4 inches of space between them.
  • Garages: Garage roofs should be checked for wear. The structure should be inspected for evidence of movement. Wooden components should be investigated for evidence of rot or insect infestation. Wooden components should be painted or stained as required. Automatic garage door openers should be tested monthly and adjusted to reverse in the event of an emergency.
  • Driveways and Sidewalks: Driveways and sidewalks should be checked for cracks and deterioration. Settling which will result in surface water run off towards the house should be corrected as should uneven sections which pose a safety hazard to pedestrians.
  • Retaining Walls and Fences: Wooden retaining walls and fences should be checked for rot and insect infestation. Retaining walls should be checked for evidence of movement.
  • Trees, Shrubs and Vines: Limbs overhanging the house should be cut back. Dead limbs should be removed. Shrubbery should not be in contact with any exterior wall surfaces.
  • Our Dallas Home Inspections blog about Roof Coverings has even more tips.

Structural

  • Foundation Walls: Foundation walls should be checked for evidence of deterioration, dampness and movement. Limited dampness from slow moisture migration can be anticipated with most older foundation walls. This will often result in minor surface deterioration. Semi-annual inspections allow for monitoring of this situation. Cracks and voids should be filled. Filling cracks allows for easy monitoring of movement between inspections. If movement is detected, Selman Home Inspection Company recommends that a certified, licensed foundation specialist be consulted.
  • Access hatches should be provided to all crawl space areas.
  • Wood Framing: Exposed wooden structural components in the basement or crawlspace should be checked for proper ventilation, evidence of rot, insect infestation and proper insulation installation.
  • Wall and Ceiling Surface Cracks: Wall and ceiling surface cracks should be monitored for evidence of significant movement. Minor movement due to normal settling and shrinkage should be anticipated, repaired and monitored over time.
  • Door Frames: Door frames should be checked to determine their squareness. Door frames showing significant movement over a six month period are normally indications of more serious problems.

Electrical Maintenance

  • Main Panel: The main electrical panel should be checked annually for proper accessibility, arching, overheating, rust or water marks indicating moisture penetration. A panel which is warm to the touch or smells of burned insulation should be brought to the attention of an electrician. Burned wires indicating loose or poor connections should be repaired by qualified electrical specialists. All circuits should be labeled. Ground fault circuit interrupters should be tested monthly. Aluminum wire connections inside the distribution panel should be tightened annually and checked for proper antioxidant installation. Electrical system repairs should be done by qualified, licensed electrical specialists. The area around the panel for roughly three feet in all directions should be kept clear of storage.
  • Indoor Wiring: Poor or loose connections noted when viewing the exposed wiring in basements and crawlspaces should be corrected by a qualified electrician. Frayed or damaged wire, including extension cords, appliance cords and plugs, should be replaced. Loose outlets and switches should be tightened. Broken or damaged switch or receptacle covers should be replaced. Ground fault circuit interrupter electrical outlets should be tested monthly. Aluminum wire connections throughout the house should be tightened and checked for antioxidants annually by a qualified electrician.
  • Outdoor Wire: The mast head and the wires leading to the street (if overhead) should be inspected to make sure that they are not loose, frayed or in contact with tree limbs. Overhead wiring leading to out buildings such as garages should also be inspected. Exterior outlets should have proper weather proof covers. Exterior outlets should be protected with ground fault circuit interrupter type receptacles.
  • Our Dallas Home Inspections blog about Electrical Safety has even more tips.

Heating Equipment Maintenance

  • All Forced Air Systems: Conventional filters on forced-air systems should be checked monthly and cleaned or replaced as needed. Electronic filters should be checked monthly and cleaned as needed. The manufacturer’s instructions should be followed carefully. Care should be taken to ensure the interior components are installed in the correct orientation after cleaning. Noisy blowers should be brought to the attention of a technician. Water levels in humidifiers should be checked and adjusted monthly. Interior components should be replaced on an as needed basis. The pad on drum type humidifiers should be replaced annually. On systems with air conditioning or a heat pump, the damper in the humidifier ductwork should be closed during the cooling season.
  • Hot Water Systems: Radiators and convectors should be inspected annually for leakage (particularly at the valves). Radiators should be bled of air annually, and as necessary during the heating season. Circulating pumps should be lubricated twice during the heating season. Expansion tanks should be drained annually.
  • Electric Heat: Electric furnaces and boilers should be inspected by a qualified technician every year to ensure that all the components are operating properly and no connections are damaged. The fuses or circuit breakers in some electric systems can be checked by the homeowner. Electric baseboard heaters should be inspected to ensure an adequate clearance from combustibles. Baseboard heaters which have been mechanically damaged should be repaired or replaced.
  • Gas Furnaces: If gas odors can be detected, call the gas company immediately. Do not turn on any electrical equipment or use anything with an open flame. Gas furnaces should be cleaned and serviced annually by a certified, licensed HVAC specialist. The exhaust pipe should be checked for loose or corroded sections. The chimney clean out should be cleared of any debris. The heat shield (located where the burner enters the heat exchanger) should be checked to ensure that it is not damaged. Burn marks around the heat shield may indicate a draft or combustion problem. A technician should be contacted.
  • Wood Stoves: Wood stove chimneys and flues should be checked for creosote build-up and cleaned at least annually (more frequently depending upon use). Clearance to combustibles around wood stoves should be maintained at all times. If there is any doubt about the safety of a wood stove, contact the city building inspector immediately.
  • Fireplaces: Clearance to combustibles around fireplaces should be maintained at all times. Selman Home Inspection Company recommends that fireplaces and chimneys be evaluated and cleaned by a certified, licensed fireplace and chimney specialist with each change of ownership and then once annually.

Cooling Equipment Maintenance

A qualified technician should be engaged to inspect the system and recharge it if necessary annually. Most systems require the power to be on for up to twenty four hours before using the system. The condensation drain line should be visually checked for leakage during the cooling season. Condensation drain lines should drain to a visible location. Some builders and HVAC installers install condensation drain lines attached to a sink drain. In this circumstance, Selman Home Inspection recommends the installation of an alarm on the condensation drain pan.

The outdoor equipment should be level. If the outdoor component settles or heaves, adjustments should be made by a specialist. The refrigerant lines should be checked for damaged, missing or loose insulation. Debris and vegetation should be kept away from the outdoor component of the system. Most manufacturers prefer to have the outdoor component left uncovered during the winter to prevent rust. The outdoor coil should be kept clean. Exterior cooling lines should be insulated.

Attic Maintenance

Attics are dangerous areas and should be inspected by a Professional Dallas Home Inspections Company. When homeowners deceide to inspect their own attic space, precations should be taken. Attics should be inspected annually for water stains on the underside of the roof decking. One should also look for rot, mildew, and fungus indicating high humidity levels in the attic. Check to make sure the insulation is not wet. Some types of loose insulation are prone to being blown around during periods of high wind. Check for bare spots and ensure that insulation is not covering pot lights which are not rated to be in contact with insulation. Attic vents should be checked to ensure that they are not obstructed. Often, birds build nests in these vents. Vents at the eaves are often plugged with insulation. Watch for evidence of pests (squirrels, raccoons, etc.). Rafters (supporting the roof) and collar ties (horizontal members running across the attic between opposing rafters) should be inspected for rot and movement. Our Dallas Home Inspections blog about Roof Structures and Attics has even more tips.

NOTE: Be careful walking around. Don’t fall through or step on wires. Compressed insulation loses much of its insulating value.

Plumbing Maintenance

  • Supply Plumbing: Supply plumbing should be checked annually for leaks. Precautions should be taken to ensure that plumbing in areas such as crawl spaces will not freeze during winter months. Outdoor faucets should be shut off from the interior and drained for the winter. Operate the main shut-off valve and critical isolating valves to ensure proper operation in the event of an emergency. Leaking or dripping faucets should be repaired. Well equipment should be inspected semi-annually. A water quality test should be performed periodically on the advice of local authorities.
  • Waste Plumbing: Visible waste plumbing should be checked for leaks. Basement floor drains and exterior drains should be checked and cleaned as necessary. Slow drains within the house should be cleared. All faucets should be operated monthly to ensure water remains in the P-trap to prevent sewer gas odors. Septic systems should be checked monthly.
  • Fixtures: Toilets should be checked to ensure that they are properly secured to the floor. Listen for toilets which run continuously. Grouting and caulking at all bathroom fixtures should be checked and renewed as necessary. Sump pumps should be tested.
  • Water Heaters: Modern water heaters have a test lever on the pressure relief valve (TPR). This lever should be tested quarterly to ensure that the pressure relief valve is operational. TPR valves should drain to the exterior of the structure. In some areas, sludge may accumulate in the bottom of the tank. Draining some water from the bottom of the tank will indicate the presence of sludge and the necessity for regular draining. Be sure to shut off the power or fuel supply prior to draining any water from the tank.

Interior Maintenance

  • Walls and ceilings should be inspected for cracks and “nail-pops” in interior finishes. Defects should be repaired. The amount of movement should be noted so that it can be monitored in the future. Bulges in wall and ceiling surfaces should be carefully monitored. Separated plaster, particularly on ceilings, can fall and cause injury.
  • Walls, particularly in corners and areas of dead air (behind drapes for example), should be checked for evidence of condensation and mildew indicating high humidity levels within the house. Water stains on interior finishes should be noted. The source of moisture damage should be repaired.
  • Door frames should be inspected. Door frames which become out of square during a relatively short period may indicate structural problems.
  • Window glass condensation, discoloration or fogging is an indication that a seal has been damaged or broken and is in need of repair or replacement.
    Fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned and inspected at least annually, depending upon usage.
  • Our Dallas Home Inspections blog about Interior Home Maintenance has even more tips.

Wood Destroying Insects and Pest Control

  • Carpenter Ants: Carpenter ants are the largest variety of common ants found in North America. Carpenter ants do not eat wood; however, they do nest in it. They earned their name by building galleries in wood and by carefully finishing the surfaces of these galleries. When chewing their way through wood they leave small particles resembling saw dust which they push out of the colony. It is the presence of this saw dust which indicates a colony. Carpenter ants tend to be most active in the spring and early summer. They are usually dormant during a portion of the winter. Outdoors, they feed on other insects and plant material while indoors they feed on household food. To prevent a carpenter ant infestation, decayed wood should be removed from around the building. Firewood should not be stored indoors for long periods of time. Wood used where dampness may occur should be treated with a preservative. Food stuffs, such as sugar, should be stored in closed containers and, should a spill occur, it should be cleaned up quickly. Chemical control of carpenter ants should be undertaken by a qualified pest control company. Carpenter ants often nest inside walls, ceilings, outdoor siding, eaves, floors, window casings, etc. They prefer wet wood, and can often be found in rotting wood.
  • Earwigs: Earwigs are one of the most common pests in homes and gardens. They eat both plant and animal food. They often damage flowers, fruit and vegetables. Chemical treatment for the control of earwigs should be applied in June or early July. The treatment should be applied along building foundations, under porches and around fences, wood piles, garages and tree trunks. Chemical treatment is effective in the short-term, it is not uncommon for a garden to be reinfested in as little as two weeks after treatment. Earwigs are nocturnal, searching for food at night and hiding during the day.
  • Silverfish: Silverfish are nocturnal and prefer damp dark areas of the house. They appreciate warm temperatures and can often be found in furnace rooms. They feed on starchy materials such as wallpaper paste or sizing and glue. They will also eat bread crumbs and other human food. Sometimes, they feed on paper or other wood by-products. While chemical treatment can be effective, non-chemical treatment also works. Proper vacuuming in areas where they are likely to hide is essential. Old books, papers, et cetera, should not be left in unventilated areas for long periods of time. Small jars, partially filled with water can be used to trap silverfish. Once inside the jar they cannot crawl up the sides. The outside of the jar should be covered with masking tape to allow them to climb up easily.
  • Cockroaches: There are many species of cockroaches found in North America. Cockroaches eat many different things, including food, paper, plants, glue, etc. They prefer a damp dark environment. Roaches can be a health hazard as they have been known to carry salmonella bacteria. Getting rid of cockroaches is very difficult. Good housekeeping is a must. Spills should be cleaned up promptly and food should be kept in insect proof containers. If possible, repair any damp areas in the home. Chemical treatment is best performed by a professional.
  • Sow bugs: Sow bugs are actually not insects. They are crustaceans (the same family as shrimp, lobsters, et cetera). Sow bugs seldom do serious damage to houses; however, they do feed on decaying organic matter and chronically wet, rotted wood is sometimes their food. They are usually found in dark, damp environments such as the comers of basements. The dryer and better ventilated the basement is, the less the likelihood of sow bugs.
  • Termites: Subterranean termites usually do not live in houses but rather in the soil below. Termites live on wood. While they prefer damp or decaying wood, they will also eat sound dry lumber. The damage to the wood is seldom noticeable as they eat through the interior. If there is no direct wood/soil contact, termites must build shelter tubes or tunnels to get from the soil to the wood. It is the presence of these tubes which indicate an infestation. The tubes are typically 1/4 to 1/2 inch in width and are made of soil glued together by the termites. The amount of damage which can be caused by termites can be extensive. If shelter tubes are noticed, a pest control company should be contacted immediately. In addition to chemical treatment, it is also necessary to break all wood/soil contact.
  • Fleas: Fleas are typically brought into the house by animals. They live on the blood of their hosts. There are many types of fleas; cat fleas, dog fleas, squirrel fleas, etc. Cat fleas give people the most problems. Fleas nest on the animal; however, they leave the animal from time to time and jump onto other species. They never stay, however. They always return to the host animal. If the host animal leaves the premises permanently, the fleas which are left behind will jump onto people, looking for food. Adult fleas are relatively easy to kill; however, the larva live in strong protective cocoons. Both the eggs and the cocoons are very resistant to flea control attempts. While there are products on the market for the homeowner, best results are obtained by hiring an expert.
  • Mice: The typical life expectancy of a house mouse is approximately one year. During that time, a female mouse can bear up to eight litters of four or five mice. While mice will eat virtually any type of food, they prefer grain and seed. They require very little water. Mice travel in a very limited territory, usually not much more than thirty feet from their nest. Mice must gnaw on things to keep their teeth worn down. They are able to chew through wood, asphalt, soft mortar and even aluminum. Mice can get through holes as small as one-half inch in diameter. They are nocturnal creatures. The best control for mice is proper sanitation. This includes the storage of food materials in mouse-proof containers and proper cleaning of spills. Mice can easily be caught in spring traps using bait such as peanut butter, cheese, bacon, or bread. Dead mice should be removed promptly. Poisons can also be used; however, they must be handled very carefully. Usually the poison has to be consumed over a period of several days to become effective. If poisons are to be used, they should be placed in areas where they won’t be found by children or pets. When stored, they should be marked as poison.
  • Raccoons: Raccoons are highly intelligent animals. They will feed on fruits, nuts, grain, fish, meat, etc. They are nocturnal animals and are often found in urban settings. The best control of raccoons is to preclude their entry. Chimney flues should be covered with substantial screens. Garage doors should be kept shut. Garbage should be kept in closed containers and shields can be provided on T.V. towers and trees to prevent access to the roofs of buildings. Tree limbs should be cut back. Box traps or wire cage traps can be used to trap the animals so that they can be removed to a remote area. The trap should be set to catch the raccoon as it approaches its feeding place. It should be secured to prevent it from being tipped over and the bait taken. Bait such as corn, melon, prunes and peanut butter are effective. This is best done by a professional. It is not wise to corner a raccoon.

Priority Home Maintenance For Homeowners

There are so many home maintenance and repair items that are important it can be confusing trying to establish which are the most critical. Our Dallas Home Inspections which include a prioritized summary can help. To simplify things, we have compiled a short list of our favorites. These are by no means all-inclusive, nor do they replace any of the information in a home inspection report. They should, however, help you get started on the right foot. Remember, any items marked as priority or safety issues by your Dallas Home Inspectors on your report need immediate attention.

One Time Home Maintenance Tasks

  • Install smoke detectors as necessary (usually one on each level of the home, near any sleeping areas).
  • Make any electrical improvements recommended in the home inspection report.
    Remove any wood/soil contact to prevent rot and insect damage.
  • Remove or correct trip hazards such as broken or uneven walks, patios and driveways. Loose or torn carpet or flooring should also be repaired promptly.
  • Correct unsafe stairways and landings. (Treads uneven, too narrow, sloped, loose; risers irregular or too high; landings missing, poorly lit or too small; railings missing, loose, too low, et cetera).
  • Have all fireplaces and chimneys inspected and serviced before operating any of these appliances.
  • Locate and mark the shut-offs for the heating, electrical and plumbing systems.
  • If there is a septic system, have it inspected, and pumped if necessary.
  • If the house is on a private water supply (well), set up a regular testing procedure for checking water quality.

Regular Maintenance Items

  • Clean the gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Check for damaged roofing and flashing materials twice a year.
  • Cut back trees and shrubs from the house walls, roof and air conditioning system as needed.
  • Clean the tracks on horizontal sliding windows annually, and ensure the drain holes are clear.
  • Test ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) using the test button, monthly.
  • Test arch fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) using the breaker, monthly.
  • Service furnaces annually.
  • Check furnace filters, humidifiers and electronic air cleaners monthly.
  • Check the bathtub and shower caulking monthly and improve promptly as needed.
  • If you are in a climate where freezing occurs, shut off outdoor water faucets in the fall.
  • Install and re-secure door stops as needed.
  • Check attics for evidence of leaks and condensation and make sure vents are not obstructed, at least twice a year.

Annual home inspections by our certified, licensed professionals can help with your home maintenance.