Free Tips and Resources

Home Maintenance Tips

Home Maintenance Information

Click on a Home System or attribute of your home, condominium, townhouse, manufactured home and mobile home for information and tips about maintenance.

Heating Systems
Carbon Monoxide
Heating Ducts
Water Heaters
Electrical Systems
Plumbing Systems
Air Conditioning
Humidifier
Microwave
Refrigerator
Range and Oven
Garbage Disposal
Washer and Dryer
Hot Tub, Spa, Pool
Structure, Structural
Roof
Lead Paint
Asbestos


Heating Systems Gas, Boiler, Hot Water, Electric and Oil, plus Wood Stoves

  • 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. Care should be taken to ensure the interior components are installed in the correct orientation after cleaning. Noisy blower sections should be brought to the attention of a technician. All types of 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 loose or burned. Recall on 1995
  • 2000 Coleman EVCON Furnace
  • Gas Furnaces and Boilers: 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 and boilers should be cleaned and serviced annually. The exhaust pipe should be checked for loose or corroded sections. The heat shield (located where the burner enters the heat exchanger) should be checked to ensure that it is not loose or corroded. Burn marks around the heat shield or soot on the front may indicate a draft or combustion problem. A technician should be contacted. There is a problem with RHEEM and RUUD furnaces that have a face plate gasket seal to the face of the heat exchanger that shrinks and dries up over time. The manufacturer used to offer a gasket kit to fix this problem. In the early part of 2000, they decided to package this kit only with a heat exchanger replacement for liability purposes.
  • All Hot Water Systems: Radiators and convector's 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 loose or burned. 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 and they are keep clean. Baseboard heaters which have been mechanically dam-aged should be repaired or replaced.
  • Oil Furnaces and Boilers: Oil systems should be checked by a qualified technician on an annual basis. Oily soot deposits at registers of forced-air systems may indicate a cracked heat exchanger. A technician should be contacted. The exhaust pipe from the furnace or boiler should be checked for loose connections or corroded sections. The barometric damper on the exhaust pipe should rotate freely. The chimney clean out should be cleared of any debris. The oil tank should be inspected for leaks. Soot on the front of the furnace or boiler 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. I f there is any doubt about the safety of a wood stove, contact the city building inspector immediately.

Carbon Monoxide Information

  • Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, highly-poisonous gas formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon or a carbonaceous material, such as gasoline. The link site covers everything from symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of the horrible disease - Mesothelioma Cancer. Some producers of carbon monoxide (CO) are industrial processes, heating equipment, accidental fire, cigarettes and the internal combustion engine. Generators, candles and space heaters can all create CO emissions. CO is always produced when natural gas, liquid propane, oil, coal, gasoline or wood are burned; often at dangerous levels. Exhaust gases need to be vented properly to avoid CO accumulation in any living space. If the combustion takes place with excess oxygen in a properly tuned burner, not much CO is produced but improper adjustment or any smoldering fire can produce significant CO emissions.
  • Some great information from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance at Mesothelioma.com - a leading web resource for those affected by asbestos cancer. Mesothelioma Cancer.

    Everyone should have one of these. The nighthawk is the CO detector people have recommended for years. However, as with all commercially available detectors that the public can purchase, they fall short. All CO detectors available to the public do not protect infants/children, the elderly or even your pets. They only protect healthy adults. This low level detector does protect anyone and it is called the NSI 3000 Professional Series low level detector. Here is a link that explains the difference between readily available CO detectors and the NSI 3000 - Stop Carbon Monoxide. If people are really serious about eliminating the risk, the NSI 3000 is the ticket. The main difference is, that the lowest level any commercially available detector alerts is 70 ppm for a minimum of 3 hours and 30 minutes. The NSI will alert at 15 ppm. It is sensitive enough to show CO ppm in a smokers system.
  • How much is too much? There are many standards for CO exposure limits. The OSHA standard is 50 parts per million (PPM) in the air as a maximum exposure in the workplace. One PPM is defined as one CO molecule in one million molecules of air. This is about the same dilution as one shot glass of gin in a railroad tanker car full of tonic. The majority of off-the-shelf home CO detectors are designed to alarm at 100 PPM and above, to satisfy current laws concerning home CO alarms. A few home CO meters have digital readouts to show lower levels but they will not alarm at these lower levels. The American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) lists a maximum allowable short term limit of nine PPM of CO. The EPA has set two national health protection standards for CO: a one-hour standard of 35 PPM and an eight-hour standard of nine PPM. From the above standards and guidelines it follows that any CO reading over nine PPM should be investigated and have it fixed.

Carbon Monoxide - What is Up With That?

When Carbon Monoxide gets too concentrated indoors it can be fatal. At 70 to 100 ppm CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, runny nose and blurred vision. At 150 to 300 ppm is can cause dizziness, and vomiting. At more than 400 ppm it can cause brain damage, unconsciousness and death. There are over 4,000 deaths in the U.S. annually that are directly attributed to Carbon Monoxide. More than 10,000 people succumb to varying degrees of Carbon Monoxide poisoning every year. Why? Because Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas and the body, when given the chance, will choose Carbon Monoxide over oxygen.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that every home should have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. CPSC also urges consumers to have a professional inspection of all fuel- burning appliances -- including furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, and space heaters -- to detect deadly carbon monoxide leaks.

  • Health Effects: Low-level exposure can cause chronic health conditions from cardiovascular disease to a Parkinson’s like illness. The following is an excerpt from the EPA: “The health threat from lower levels of CO is most serious for those who suffer from heart disease, like angina, clogged arteries, or congestive heart failure. For a person with heart disease, a single exposure to CO at low levels may cause chest pain and reduce that person's ability to exercise; repeated exposures may contribute to other cardiovascular effects. Even healthy people can be affected by high levels of CO. People who breathe high levels of CO can develop vision problems, reduced ability to work or learn, reduced manual dexterity and difficulty performing complex tasks. At extremely high levels, CO is poisonous and can cause death. CO contributes to the formation of smog ground level ozone, which can trigger serious respiratory problems. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Measuring Exposure: There are portable, digital meters that measure various gases. These dosimeters have a digital display of the current level or concentration of CO. If used over time, they can compute the total exposure (over time) in units of ppm-hours. There are guidelines for keeping workplace exposure below 200 ppm-hours for an eight-hour workday. The variables that are typically reported in a dosimeter are the maximum exposure concentration, the time when this occurs, the total exposure and the time-weighted average (TWA). The TWA is the total exposure divided by the time over which the exposure occurs (i.e. the PPM-hours divided by the period of time in hours you collected the exposure data). If the TWA is over 35 PPM for one hour, you are in an environment that exceeds the EPA's national health protection standard. Dosimeters range in price from the low $100s on up. They sometimes include a maximum exposure reading and a total exposure reading.
  • If at Risk, Act: If you are in CO levels above nine PPM, you can and should attempt to change your environment by opening a window to ventilate the area with clean air or by leaving the area ASAP. Bring in fresh air if possible. While a level of nine PPM is not an emergency, you should look for possible sources and cleaner air. Determine the sources of the CO by looking for activities like smoking, burning toast, vehicle exhaust or a campfire. If the levels are over 35 PPM, consider evacuating until the source is determined. If levels are above 125 PPM, call in a professional fire department and evacuate.

    Find the source and have repairs performed. If a hood is not vented properly as well or if an owner is trying to save money and not running the hood often enough, CO concentrations can build up. Management may point to their standard plug-in alarm and insist that it must be safe because the alarm is not going off, but such alarms are designed to go off at much higher thresholds so as to not trigger false alarms. Meanwhile, workers and customers are exposed to hours of CO at undesired levels. Think about it. Don’t we need to educate ourselves about CO levels and use good tools for measurement and protection? If you don’t, who will?

Heating Ducts

  • Heating Ducts: Have your ducts cleaned at least every 5 to 6 years, this keeps your furnace clean and will increase life expectancy. Make sure your ducts have no cracks or leaks in the ductwork and tape were needed.

Water Heater

Water Heater:

  1. Turn the water heater off. If you have an electric water heater, turn the power off at the circuit breaker panel. If you have a gas water heater, turn the switch to pilot so that heat is off but the pilot remains lit.

  2. Shut off the cold water intake valve. This is usually located on top of the water heater.

  3. Open a hot water faucet in your home to vent the system and allow the tank to drain quicker.

  4. Connect a garden hose to the drain valve near the bottom of the water heater tank. Run the hose outside, open the valve and begin draining the tank.

  5. The tank will drain about a gallon per minute. After it drains for a while, fill a glass with water from the tank to check the sediment level.

  6. After draining the tank, flush out the remaining dirt and debris. Close the hot water faucet that’s been running. Go back to the garage and turn on the supply valve in the water heater. Let the water run about 5 minutes and flush the tank through the garden hose.

  7. Close the drain valve on the bottom of the tank and disconnect the hose. Once the tank fills up with water, turn the power or gas back on.

Electrical System

Electrical System: To prevent power outages, be sure there are not too many appliances plugged into one circuit.

Plumbing System

  • Plumbing System: Avoid flushing any paper products other than toilet paper down the toilets. Check for corrosion, leaks, and add a clean out compound to system once a year. Polybutylene is a form of plastic resin that was used extensively in the manufacture of water supply piping form in 1978 until 1995. Due to the low cost of the material and ease of installation, polybutylene piping systems were viewed as the "the pipe of the future" and were used as a substitute for traditional copper piping.
  • The problem with poly systems may fail without warning, damaging properties and personal belongings, and disrupting lives. Factors that may contribute to poly’s failure include: chemicals in our water supply, such as chlorine, that slowly destroy the structural integrity of poly pipes and fittings; the age of the pipe — the older the pipe, the more likely a problem will occur; and faulty installation

    How to tell if you have Poly - Exterior polybutylene underground water mains are usually blue, but may be gray or black (do not confuse black poly with polybutylene pipe). It is usually 1/2" or 1" in diameter, and it maybe found entering your home through the basement wall or floor, concrete slab or coming up through your crawlspace; frequently it enters the home near the water heater. Your main shutoff valve is attached to the end of the water main. It is wise to check at both ends of the pipe because we have found cases where copper pipe enters the home, and poly pipe is at the water meter. Interior - Polybutylene used inside your home can be found near the water heater, running across the ceiling in unfinished basements, and coming out of the walls to feed sinks and toilets. Any gray plastic pipe could be poly. Many properties have a combination of copper and poly pipes.

    Warning: In some regions of the country, plumbers used copper "stub outs" where the pipe exits a wall to gee a fixture, so seeing copper here does not mean that you have poly. Source: polybutylene

Air Conditioning or Swamp Cooler

  • Air Condition or Swamp Cooler: Check your filters every month.
  • Have annual system maintenance done one month before the air conditioning season begins.
  • Keep the condensing unit free of debris.
  • U.S. Dept. of Energy Source: Starting January 1, 2006 Please type in 13 SEER in search bar and you'll get the information on them.

Humidifiers

  • Humidifier: 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. The water supply to humidifier should be shut off for the summer months and activated for the heating months. On systems with air conditioning or a heat pump, the damper in the humidifier ductwork should be closed during the cooling season.

Microwave

  • Microwave Oven: Do not use pans or dishes that are metal or have a metallic trim.
  • Only use mild soap and/or baking soda to clean the interior (abrasive cleaners or scouring pads can damage the lining).

Refrigerator

  • Refrigerator: Clean the interior shelves, shell and gaskets every 3 months.
  • Once a year, clean the coils on the back or underneath and make sure temperatures is set correctly.

Range and Oven

  • Range and Oven: To avoid damaging the burners, do not use extra-large and heavy cooking pots or pans.
  • If you have a self-cleaning oven, do not use any other method to clean it.

Garbage Disposal

  • Garbage Disposal: To clean the disposal, push a full tray of ice cubes through it while running cold water. Always remember to run water during use and for at least two minutes after you finish. This prevents stoppages.
  • Jammed Disposal: A disposal wrench is provided with your garbage disposal and will either be in a pouch on the disposal or will be in one of the kitchen drawers. There is a female receptor for the wrench on e disposal. You will need to put the wrench in the receptor and turn it counter clockwise until the wrench turns freely. Then press the reset button and should once again operate properly. If you drop a fork in your disposal, always TURN THE POWER OFF before you fish it out.

Washer and Dryer

  • Washer and Dryer: Clean the lint screen after each load of clothes has been dried and the unit is empty.
  • To adjust the level of your washing machine, turn the legs clockwise to lower them or counter clockwise to raise them.

Hot Tub/Spa/Pool

  • Hot Tub or Spa or Pool: Keep a proper water level.
  • Consult your pool and spa company for suggestions about maintaining your particular system and make sure you check weekly.

Structure or 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. Access hatches should be provided to all crawl space areas.
  • Wood Framing: Exposed wooden structural components in the basement should be checked for evidence of rot and insect infestation. Deterioration usually results in sagging structural components.
  • 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.
  • Door Frames: Door frames should be checked to determine their square-ness. Door frames showing significant movement over a six month period are normally indications of more serious problems.
  • Grading: The grading immediately adjacent to the house should be checked to ensure a slope of one inch per foot for the first six feet away from the house (where practical. Catch basins should be cleaned and tested.

Roof Information, Gutters, Leaking and Damaged Downspouts

  • Roofing Information: Most residential roofing consists of Laminate (asphalt) shingles. These can be purchased in 3-Tab, 25, 30 and 40 year shingles. Don't be fooled by the numbers. However, the thicker the shingle, the more value you are going to get for your buck while they last. Not to mention that a 30 year shingle (which is recommend for 99% of the homes).

    Great Informational Site below and type in their search roofing!

    InspectAPedia.com® Online encyclopedia of building and environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, and problem prevention advice - illustrated, detailed, in-depth research on finding, diagnosing, testing, correcting, and preventing building defects, energy conservation, and indoor environmental hazards. Unbiased information, no conflicts of interest.
  • Gutters: Gutters are an important part of your home's weatherproofing system. For many homeowners, their gutter system is a secondary concern and often gets neglected. Don't make that mistake! It is important that you maintain a free -flowing gutter system as your gutters prevent rain from running from your roof and falling too close to your house. Flowing water away from your house properly will protect your foundation, keep stains from developing on your siding, and keep walkways ice-free in the wintertime. There are four basic types of gutters available- aluminum, galvanized steel, vinyl and sometimes you will find wood gutters. Galvanized steel gutters, although the least expensive, also require the most attention and maintenance. Also aluminum and vinyl gutters offer the most maintenance-free solution as they are durable and resistant to corrosion.
  • Leaking and Damaged Downspout:
    1. You will sometimes find that the downspout joints loosen and lose their ability to be watertight. Start by removing the screws holding the joint together or the retaining hardware depending on how yours is attached.
    2. Pull apart the pieces in the joint and use the wire brush to remove any existing caulk on both the outside of the male piece and the inside of the female piece of the joint.
    3. Inspect the hardware to be sure that the hardware is not in such condition that it is not reusable. Your downspout might be dented so that it cannot be used or your retaining hardware may be damaged. Replace any pieces that cannot be reused with new material.
    4. Apply caulk to the outside of the male piece of the joint, near the end, and reattach the female piece.
    5. Secure the joint with screws or other retaining hardware suitable for your gutters.
    6. Leaking gutter sections. If you find a leak at the joint, and there is no apparent damage such as rust or dents, your sealant is most likely the culprit. Try to scrape away as much of the old caulk sealant that is visible.
    7. Then, simply apply a joint caulk, such as silicone, to waterproof the joint.
    8. Leaking areas within straight gutter are usually due to rusting gutter sections. You can temporarily patch this problem, but the section will most likely need to be replaced within a couple years. To patch the rusted area, first clean the rust away using your wire brush and water. Be sure that you brush away all the rust so that you minimize the potential for the rust to spread.
    9. Use your putty knife to spread roofing cement onto the clean area and the surrounding areas. Try to keep the patch as flat as possible so that water will run down your gutter properly. If your rusted area is very large or you want to make a more permanent fix, you should replace the entire gutter section or cut out the damaged section and replace it.
      10. Replacing a damaged gutter section.
      There are times when you will have to remove and replace sections of your gutter system that have been damaged by rust or falling debris such as tree branches or ice. Before replacing sections of gutter that are sagging, be sure that it is your gutter, and not the gutter support, which has failed. You should first remove any retaining hardware from the section of gutter that you need to replace. As shown, remove the retainers and connectors.
    10. Use a 4x4 block of wood and place it inside the good section of gutter as you cut the bad section out with a hacksaw. T his will keep your gutter in good shape while you are cutting and prevent the gutter from twisting as you cut it.
    11. Cut out a section of gutter to replace the piece you have cut out of the existing gutter. Cut the replacement section about 2” longer than the section that is being replaced to allow for some overlap.
    12. Using your caulk gun, apply roofing cement to the inside of the original gutter and place the new section into place so that it overlaps about an inch on each side.
    13. Drill holes appropriate to your rivets into the overlapping sections of the gutter, and securely fasten the sections together with rivets.
    14. Replace any retaining hardware that you originally removed, so that the gutter stays in place.

Lead Based Paint

  • Lead Based Paint: There are many substances that are found in our homes besides air and water. Some of these substances are harmful, but most are not. The amount of any given substance, or even its mere presence, may determine if your home is safe or not. The concentration levels of these substances may determine if you are dealing with an aesthetic issue, a long-term health risk, or an immediate health threat. Each year, millions of people die or become seriously ill due to mysterious illnesses. We believe that many of these illnesses are caused by environmental hazards that cannot be seen, smelled, or noticed. We believe there are five main causes to these illnesses: radon contamination, carbon monoxide poisoning, water contamination, lead-based paint exposure, and mold exposure.

    Although it’s true that paint in older homes and buildings may be lead-based, the truth is that lead-based paints for residential purposes were virtually banned in 1971 and many companies stopped adding lead to their paints long before then. However, if older lead-based paint in your home is deteriorating, it could be hazardous to you and especially to your children.
  • The Problem: Deaths from lead poisoning are now rare, but it is not unusual for a child's blood to contain enough lead to cause intellectual and developmental delay, neurological problems, kidney disease, and anemia. Children absorb 40-50% of the lead that gets into their mouths (adults only 10%). Even small amounts of lead can produce high concentrations in the blood of young children because their bodies are small. Since children's brains are still developing, the effect of lead poisoning can be especially damaging.

    Today, lead-based paint is the most common source of lead poisoning in children. Over many years, painted surfaces crumble and become common household dust. This dust coats the objects that curious children put in their mouths. Adults can also ingest lead in this way. It is the most common way for the lead in paint to get into a person (and it is reassuring that your dust tested negative). Children will also chew on windowsills or other painted surfaces. Sometimes they will eat old paint chips. Lead is used to make paint to help it last longer. Prior to World War II, heavily lead-based paints contained as much as 40% lead by dry weight. The amount of lead in household paint was reduced in 1950, and reduced even further in 1978. Most apartments and houses built before 1950 still contain paint with high levels of lead, particularly on doors and around windows. Later household paints may test positive for lead, but generally contain much smaller amounts.
  • Action Levels: Paint does contain organic solvents, which are used to form a film that makes the paint both durable and washable. These solvents release fumes that can be irritating to some people; children and pets may be more sensitive than adults. Fortunately, the fumes evaporate and dissipate as the paint dries. T o avoid adverse effects from fumes, ventilate the area well while painting and during the drying period. Latex paints have only a small percentage of organic solvents in them (around 4 to 8 percent), but oil-based paints can have a much higher content and consequently will release more fumes. It’s probably best not to choose oil-based paints if you’re painting in winter. For more information go to - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - EPA Lead Based Paint.

Asbestos Facts

In January 30, 2008, the State of Colorado adopted stricter laws and regulations on Asbestos? There are sizeable fines levied for non-compliance of these regulations. The word Asbestos is derived from the Greek word meaning "inextinguishable". The Greeks considered Asbestos the Miracle Mineral because it was so soft and pliable and because it was heat resistant. Asbestos has been used commercially since the late 19th century because of its ability to resist heat, electricity and chemical change. Asbestos also has very high sound absorption and tensile strength characteristics. Inhalation of Asbestos can cause Mesothelioma (cancer caused from Asbestos) and Asbestosis (chronic inflammation).

Here are some little known facts about asbestos: Building materials being manufactured today still contain Asbestos! Buildings of ANY age may contain Asbestos. There are just a few Asbestos Containing Building Materials that were not banned. It is illegal to improperly disturb Asbestos-containing materials.

Some great information from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance at Mesothelioma.com - a leading web resource for those affected by asbestos cancer. Mesothelioma Cancer. Another great resource is The Mesothelioma Center

Important Contact Information: Extended Warranty Service Holders, Finding Replacement Part and Fireplace Information Resources...

  1. Bradford White Water Heaters (800) 531-2111
  2. A.O. Smith Water Heaters (800) 323-2636
  3. State Water Heaters (303) 534-4293
  4. All City Service (303) 454-9500
  5. GE Appliances (800) 626-2000
  6. Hotpoint Appliances (800) 386-1215
  7. Kenmore Appliances (800) 469-4663
  8. Kitchen-aide Appliances (800) 253-1301
  9. Maytag Appliances (800) 253-1301
  10. Rudd and Rheem Appliances 800 848-7883
  11. Whirlpool Appliances (800) 222-8608
  12. Finding Replacement Parts - Repair Client: Click Here
  13. Fireplace Related Information and Resources: Click Here

Recalls and Problems - Inspectors Journal

House Hold Products Recalled - Consumer Affairs

Consumer Products Safety Commission - Consumer Affairs

Colorado - Tax Credits, Rebates & Savings Recalls - Consumer Products Safety Commission and Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation

Maytag Recalls - Click Here

Recall on 1995 - 2000 Coleman EVCON Furnace


Bookmark this page to keep it handy!

Mechanical Systems, Appliances, Carbon Monoxide, Lead Base Paint, Structure or Structural, Asbestos Facts, Recalls, Etc...

Plumbing System

Denver/Boulder BBBBBB of Southern ColoradoMountain States BBB

Copyright © 2015 Blue Ribbon Home Warranty, Inc. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy Disclaimer | Colorado Real Estate, Realtors, Resources, Services Information Directory

Contact Us | toll-free 1-800-571-0475 | Site Map

ribbon