Home Care Library
Real Estate Resources
Citizen Information Center
If your yard includes slopes, you may find that gophers, ground squirrels, mice and other burrowing animals are present.
Unfortunately, these animals can wreak havoc with slopes by creating tunnels or burrows. These burrows, while only a few inches in
diameter, allow soil erosion to begin deep in your slope. During a rain or with the use of irrigation, water will enter the burrow
and carry loose soil away. Over time, the burrow can enlarge and collapse, destroying your slope. It is important
that a professional pest control expert be contacted for proper removal of burrowing animals.
On newer homes a chemical barrier has been placed in the soil beneath the concrete floor of your home to help prevent termites from
entering your home. After the final grading of your home site, the soil adjacent to the exterior stem walls was treated with this
chemical to repel termites as well. It is important that the integrity of this barrier remain intact.
We recommend the following procedures be used to avoid disturbing this barrier and voiding the warranty.
Subterranean termites depend on soil moisture as their primary source of water. Moist soil at or near the surface encourages
termites to forage upward, bringing them close to the wood in man-made structures. The subterranean termites need for constant
moisture is a characteristic that can aid in the control of these insects. By reducing the moisture in the surface soil, the
environment is made less attractive to termites. This is accomplished by:
Landscaping, plantings, electrical and/or any outside watering system should be kept a minimum of 18 inches
outside of the stem wall and adjacent concrete to avoid disruption of this chemical barrier.
Irrigation systems and their water should not infringe on this area as it will dilute the chemical and, in time, render the barrier ineffective.
Surface water drainage should flow away from the home.
Avoid installing fence posts, trellises, or any other wooden decor that touches both the ground and the home.
Soil, gravel, grass, or any other surfaces should not be permitted to come in contact with the wood structure. A clearance of four inches minimum is recommended between the top layer of the ground and the stucco or wood surfaces.
NOTE: Any additions or alterations made within the five year warranty period should be reported to the pretreat company and must be treated. This includes any patios, concrete pads or sidewalks that will adjoin the foundation of the home. If the soil next to the foundation is disturbed in any way, the disturbed area has to be treated with a termiticide by the original pre-treat contractor or the five-year warranty is void.
To perform your own inspection in the spring of each year, look for possible remains of winged insects, search the sides of your exterior stem walls for the earthen tubes that termites build to reach the wood above the foundation, and look for any holes or other disturbances to the interior walls and ceilings throughout the home. If you suspect the presence of termites, consult a licensed pest control company or the original pretreat contractor if your home is still under warranty.
The plumbing system in your
home features modern materials. With care, it will provide trouble-free service for many years.
We recommend that you become familiar with your plumbing system as soon as you move in. You should know the location of the main
shutoff and individual shutoffs in the bathrooms and the kitchen. In the event of a plumbing emergency, you must close the main
water shutoff at once. Flowing water can cause severe damage to your home and its contents.
The main water shutoff is usually located where the water pipes enter the house. Another water shutoff is located at the water
meter. your Home Inspector will identify the water shutoffs during your Courtesy Home Inspection.
Other water shutoffs are located under the sinks in the bathrooms and the kitchen. Each toilet has a shutoff valve behind the
toilet bowl. Another water shutoff is located on the top of the water heater. It controls the flow of water to the heater and should
be closed in the event of a leak in the water heater. You and others in your home should know where these water shutoffs are and how
Each plumbing fixture in your home has a drain specially designed to provide a water barrier between your home and the sewer.
The drain pipe or trap is the U-shaped area of pipe directly under the sink. The trap holds water which prevents the airborne
bacteria and odor of sewer gas from entering your home. If any faucets are used infrequently, we suggest that they be turned on occasionally to replace the water in the trap lost to evaporation. Because of their shape, the traps are the most
likely area to become clogged.
In case of extremely cold weather, your pipes can be subject to freezing. This is most likely to occur where the pipes are
exposed to the weather such as outdoor faucets and antiphon valves. In making preparations for cooler weather, you should consider
wrapping your exposed pipes to withstand most of the cold weather that we receive in this area. Your home center or hardware store
will be able to provide the materials and advice for proper use.
It is absolutely necessary to remove hoses from outside hose bibs in cold weather. .
The following suggestions will provide long and enjoyable service from your plumbing system:
ACRYLIC BATHTUBS AND SHOWER STALLS
Fiberglass is a lightweight, durable material which adds beauty and style to bathroom tubs and showers. It requires minimal care.
You can preserve the original high gloss finish by regular cleaning with a liquid soap or detergent. Do not use abrasive cleansers. Always rinse the walls and the door of the shower after each use. Occasional applications of automotive type wax will add luster and beauty to your fiberglass. Most stains can be removed with a solution of bleach.
Faucets and other plumbing fixtures are designed to add beauty and trouble free use. Most of the fixtures are
plated with bright chromium, a material which is impervious to water corrosion. It is, however, relatively soft and can be damaged
with abrasive cleansers, scouring pads and tools. Clean bright fixtures with warm soapy water and a soft sponge or cloth. Rinse
with clear water and wipe dry to prevent spotting.
Hard water can spot and damage bright chromed plumbing fixtures. While this is not entirely preventable, you can minimize the staining and discoloration by drying the fixtures after each use.
Avoid excessive force when you turn your faucets on and off. The seals in the faucets can be damaged and will require repair or replacement in a short time.
Faucets are equipped with aerators which mix air with the stream of water to prevent splashing. They need to be cleaned occasionally to remove a buildup of mineral deposits. When you notice that the stream of water has lessened, unscrew the aerator from the mouth of the faucet. Remove the debris and rinse the washers and screens. Replace the parts in their original order and screw the aerator onto the faucet. Perform this homeowner maintenance as needed, usually every several
- Shop for Faucets
Toilets are made of vitreous china, a material that is almost impervious to staining. Clean your toilets with a toilet bowl cleaner and a brush or cloth. Vitreous china is brittle and will easily break or shatter if hit with a hard object.
Always keep a plumber's plunger on hand to use in the event of stoppage of a toilet. If a stoppage occurs, close the shutoff valve on the backside to the toilet. Usually, a few vigorous pumps with the plunger will free the obstruction. If you are unable to
clear the obstruction yourself, we suggest that you call a plumber.
Do not use drain cleaners in toilets. The harsh chemicals in drain cleaners can damage the toilet seals and flood your bathroom. Do not use colored tank cleaners. The harsh chemicals in drain and tank cleaners can damage the toilet seal and cause a leak. This will void your warranty.
The flush valve in your toilet should last for many years. If it fails or begins to leak, you can purchase a new flush valve at a home center or hardware store. If you are not entirely comfortable with this do-it- yourself project, call a plumber.
LOW VOLUME TOILETS
Over time water has become the West's most valuable resource. In an effort to help conserve water, new Low Volume toilets are now required by federal law. These toilets use much less water on each flush than the older models. With the lower volume of water, they are not as effective in washing down large amounts of toilet paper. Using less toilet paper will help these toilets serve their purpose in conserving our water resource.
The roof on your home may be made of concrete tile. It is extremely durable. A tile affords the maximum protection against fire and adds beauty and quality to your home for many years.
Access to your roof is not necessary under normal conditions.
Do not walk on the tile roof
of your home. The weight of a person can easily break tiles and destroy the
masonry seals on the roof. Leaking may occur and costly repairs could be
necessary. If access to your roof is required, call a professional
roofing contractor for advice and assistance.
Remove fallen limbs and other debris form your roof promptly. If large limbs have fallen onto your roof, inspect the nearby tiles for signs of damage. Repairs should be made by a professional roofing contractor.
California Law requires smoke detectors in every bedroom and in every hallway leading to bedrooms. The selection of the smoke detector, the installation procedure and the location of the smoke detector were done within the requirements of local and state building codes. Please do not move or disable the smoke detector. If you feel the need for additional protection, consider purchasing another smoke detector to be installed at a second location.
The purpose of your smoke detector is to detect the possible presence of fire in your home so that you will have time to call for help and evacuate the house. At the first indication of fire, evacuate your family and call the fire department from a neighboring home. Smoke detectors have battery power backup. A small chirping sound indicates a low battery. Detectors should be tested frequently and batteries should be replaced biannually.
If you choose to have a pool or spa installed, we suggest that you give careful consideration to the eventual drainage problems that could be created. Your swimming pool contractor can assist you in deciding the best location for the pool or spa and if new drainage features are needed. You may be required to install additional fencing to meet city or county ordinances for the
installation of pools or spas. See the
swimming pool maintenance section. You should also install fencing to meet pool-code requirements.
Your water heater is covered by a warranty from the manufacturer. Please read the operating instructions that the manufacturer provides. In the event of a leak in your water heater, close the shutoff valve on the top of the water heater and turn off the pilot light. Call the manufacturer listed on the front of the water heater to request service.
While some water heaters do not require additional insulation, we suggest that you consider an inexpensive water heater blanket when it is appropriate. This will save significantly on the cost of operating the water heater. These products are available at home centers and hardware stores. Check the operating manual that came with your water heater before you add a an insulating blanket.
A few simple maintenance tips will help your windows to provide years of trouble-free service.
Do not apply window tinting materials made of film to double-glazed windows and doors. The use of these materials can cause a buildup of heat between the panes of glass. This excessive heat will destroy the seals and permit water condensation to form between the panes.
This is similar to the seal formed with wood frames and glazed glass. This seal may be broken by natural expansion and contraction and the windows should be re-glazed immediately. Your hardware store or home center can provide glazing materials and complete instructions.
Aluminum foil also causes a heat buildup between window panes and should not be used.
Allowing direct sunlight through the windows will increase the temperature inside your home. On a hot summer day, the increase may be dramatic. This heat buildup, similar to a greenhouse effect, will increase the load on your air conditioner, and will make your home seem warmer than the actual temperature.
A high room temperature caused by direct sunlight or a lack of window coverings does not indicate an air conditioning problem. Many builders will not evaluate the performance of an air conditioning unit until after window coverings are installed and the room temperature has had a chance to stabilize.
Direct sunlight will also fade your carpet and furnishings. To minimize the effect of bright sunlight, you should install window coverings as soon as possible. If you like the sunshine in the winter, consider blinds or other coverings that can be adjusted for more or less light.
Aluminum Windows and Door Frames
Aluminum window and door frames are made to last for years, but they do require routine maintenance. Perhaps the most important step is to keep the window and door tracks free of dirt and debris. The aluminum tracks are relatively soft and can become damaged if they are not kept clean. Use a broom or a brush to loosen collected debris. Vacuum thoroughly as apart of your regular clean routine. Avoid using abrasive cleansers as they scratch the aluminum.
Aluminum window and door frames have small weep holes at the bottom to permit water to drain from the track. Keep the weep holes open and free of debris and dirt. Avoid flooding the window and door frame track with water. Excessive water can overflow the track and back up into your home.
After cleaning, apply paraffin (wax) to the lock and rollers to prevent corrosion.
If windows and doors do not slide freely, an oil-free silicone lubricant can be used on the tracks. Do not use any oil-based lubricant. Oil attracts dust and dirt which become embedded in the lubricant and may damage the aluminum.
Please note that your sliding glass doors are more difficult to slide during the last six to eight inches of movement. This is normal and is due to state and environmental requirements for tight seal when the door is closed. We cannot make adjustments which will make the doors easier to close.
Inspect the caulking and seals of your windows annually. Repair or replace missing caulk or damaged seals promptly. This will protect your windows, prevent fogging from moisture, and enhance the service life of your windows.
A few simple maintenance tasks will help your windows provide years of trouble-free service. Consult your homeowners association guidelines before you install window coverings that are visible from the street of other areas of your neighborhood.
Your home may have wrought iron railings that add beauty to your home. Wrought iron is subject to rusting if it is not maintained properly. Use rust inhibiting primer and touchup paint on nicks and scratches as needed. Use caution to not let water pond around the fence footings.
All homes require regular maintenance in order to preserve their beauty and
value. an understanding of how to care for each feature in your home will
prevent costly repairs and replacements later. Your home is exposed to various
environmental conditions and changes in temperature variations that we
experience each day. These temperature variations combined with expansive soils
affect our building practices. Natural building material such as wood and
concrete are subjected to constant expansion and contraction from day to day.
This can result in minor warping of wood materials and tiny, hairline cracking
of concrete and mortar. These effects are particularly obvious in the first year
after a home has been built. You can minimize these effects by maintaining a
relatively constant temperature in your home during the first year. This allows
the wood to dry at an even rate and may eliminate larger settlement cracks.
Minor cracks and displacement of wood are a normal part of the aging process of
your home and do not affect its structural integrity.
should begin when you move in. In the following pages we have provided an
overview of the features and materials in your home. Please study each section
carefully to become familiar with the routine procedures for maintenance that
your home requires. IMPORTANT NOTE: Before performing maintenance such as
repainting and replacing exterior items, please consult your Homeowners'
Association, if applicable. The Homeowners' Association needs to be consulted
when you repaint with a different color, erect new structures or fences, add to
or change your landscaping, and when installing window coverings that are
visible from outside the home. Consultation with the Homeowners' Association
will ensure that the work you do meets the regulations and guidelines that have
been established for your neighborhood. Please refer to your Homeowners'
Association documents for more information
Carpets - Vacuum all carpets regularly
Furnace/air conditioning - inspect filters for dust. Clean and replace filters as needed.
Plumbing - Check under kitchen and bathroom cabinets for leaks. Check the area around the hot water heater for leaks.
Kitchen Exhaust Fan - Remove and clean the filter. Clean accumulated grease deposits from the fan housing.
Faucet Aerators - Check for proper flow of water. If the flow is reduced, clean the aerator screens. During the first two months, the faucet aerators could require more frequent cleaning.
GFCI Receptacles - Press test button to "trip" the circuit. Replace if necessary.
Every Two Months
Exterior Doors - Oil hinges and locks if required. Inspect finish for cracks and peeling. Use touch up paint where required.
Every Three Months
Interior Doors - Lubricate hinges.
Garage door - Lubricate hardware. Inspect mechanism for free travel. Adjust if necessary.
Smoke detectors - Test smoke detectors. Replace batteries if necessary.
Every Six Months
Kitchen Tile Grout - Inspect for loose or missing grout. Re-grout if necessary. Recaulk at the edge of the backsplash if necessary.
Tile Areas - Inspect caulked areas for missing or damaged caulking. Recaulk if necessary.
Shower Doors - Inspect for proper fit. Adjust if necessary. Inspect caulking and recaulk, if necessary.
Tub Enclosures - Inspect for proper fit. Adjust if necessary. Inspect caulking and recaulk, if necessary.
Front Doors - Repaint, if necessary. Consult your Homeowner Association regulations before you change the exterior paint color of your doors.
Inspect exteriors for sign of termites
Exterior Paint - Inspect southern and western exposures for cracked and peeling paint. Repair and repaint, if necessary. Consult your
Homeowner Association regulations before you change the exterior paint colors.
Every Twelve Months
Exterior Paint - Inspect for cracked and peeling paint. Repair and repaint, if necessary. Consult your Homeowner Association regulations before you change the exterior paint colors.
French and exterior wood doors - Repaint annually. Consult your Homeowners Association regulations before you change the exterior paint color of your doors.
Roof - Inspect for damaged shingles after storms and high winds. An annual inspection by a roofing professional is recommended.
Heat Pump/Furnace - We recommend an inspection by a heating professional every year.
The appliances in your home were selected for their durability, ease and appearance. Information about each of the appliances can be found in the literature that is supplied by the manufacturers. Copies of these booklets are provided during your courtesy home inspection. Please read the manufactures instructions on usage and care before you use your appliances.
Your appliances are covered by warranties from the manufacturers. Appliance Maintenance
Balconies and Decks
Your home may feature balconies and
decks. They require a minimal amount of care and are designed to last for many years. Do not install heavy equipment or nail anything to your balcony or deck. The hole caused by the installation could allow water to enter your home and cause damage. Such damage is your responsibility. In areas of average weather conditions, it is advisable to seal Spring and Fall.
If your balcony deck has roof drains, they should be kept free of debris. This allows proper water flow from the balcony. After a heavy rain, water may stand in small puddles for a short time before evaporating. This is to be expected of any Discount surface and is normal.
Your cabinets are made of finished hardwoods. With proper care, the beauty and utility of your cabinets will last for many years. We suggest that you clean the cabinet surfaces with a mild solution of warm water and soap. Dry the clean surface thoroughly. Remove splashes and splatters promptly to avoid permanent stains. The beauty of the wood can be preserved by polishing with a furniture polish twice each year. Avoid the use of lemon type polish on any white wash finish cabinets (continued
use may cause a yellowish tint to the finish).
The wood in your cabinets is a natural product. It is subject to drying and, in extreme cases, can warp slightly. This could cause drawers to stick and prevent doors from closing properly. Maintenance of cabinet drawers and doors are the responsibility of the homeowner.
Minor Scratches can be covered with a putty stick that matches the finish of your cabinets. Putty sticks can be purchased at paint or hardware stores. The hinges on your cabinet doors can be lubricated, if necessary, with oil based lubricant. Apply a very small drop of oil to the top of the hinges and work the door back and forth several times so the oil will penetrate into the hinge. Wipe the excess oil with a dry paper towel.
Over time, and particularly during warm, dry weather, caulking will dry and shrink. When this happens, it no longer provides a good seal against moisture. As a part of your routine maintenance, you should inspect the caulking around your sinks and tubs and make repairs as needed. Caulking compounds are available at hardware stores and home centers.
The ceilings in your home are easy to maintain. They do not require special attention other than an occasional cleaning and periodic painting. Remove dust or cobwebs as part of your routine cleaning. When needed and as part of your regular maintenance, you may want to repaint your ceiling.
If your ceiling consists of luminous light fixtures, you should follow these tips:
Do not use cleaning solvents or other strong chemicals on the plastic panels or aluminum grid.
Wash the panels in a mild solution of dish washing liquid and water.
Use a soft cloth to wipe the grids using only warm water.
Towel dry the panels and grids to remove any soap residue and water spots.
Concrete is a major structural material in your home. It provides strength and durability for the foundation, driveway and walkways. While concrete requires minimal care, it should be kept free of accumulated dirt and debris. Oil and grease stains, as well as standing water, should be removed promptly from driveways, garage floors, walkways and patios. Concrete cleaners are available at home centers and hardware stores.
In the extreme variations of temperature and humidity in this area, minor cracks and surface color variations in concrete are normal and unavoidable.
Small cracks, which are the result of contraction and expansion of the concrete, do not affect the materials strength or durability.
The driveways and walkways in your home are designed for residential use. Do not permit large trucks and delivery vans to use your driveway.
If the concrete slab in your home is designed with post-tension cable devices to add strength, the cables are under very high tension and must not be cut or broken. Do not drill or cut your slab in any way. This could result in severe damage to your slab.
Remove plant growth from the expansion joints as soon as they appear. Left to grow, the roots of small plants expand and could crack or otherwise damage your concrete. If this happens, obtain patching cement from a hardware store or home center and follow the directions on the package for proper repair. Patches in concrete will vary in color from the original material. This is normal and cannot be avoided.
EXTERIOR CONCRETE CARE
Since most of the damage which occurs to exterior concrete is cause by factors beyond the control of the builder, exterior concrete is excluded from the warranty coverage of your
home. The following concrete care guidelines will instruct you on the care of your concrete to enhance its useful life:
Newly poured concrete should be allowed to cure and harden before being put into use for vehicular traffic. This curing period varies with climatic conditions.
Seal the Surface of your concrete each autumn. Concrete sealers can be purchased from a building supply store. Be careful not to track sealers into your home while they are still wet.
Do not use salt, de-icers, or fertilizers on your concrete. They will cause physical and/or chemical destruction of the concrete surface. Use sand for safety and traction.
Keep run-off water away from concrete surfaces. Run-off water from sprinkler systems, rain or snow melt or other sources will undermine driveways, walkways, patios and other concrete surfaces causing settling, sinking and cracking problems.
The countertops in your kitchen may be constructed of glazed ceramic tile, plastic laminate or Corian. They are designed to provide years of use. Any flaws or damage to your countertops must be noted during your walk-thru home inspection After you move in, the care of your kitchen and bathroom countertops is your responsibility.
Follow these instructions to assure that your countertops remain beautiful and functional for years:
Avoid gritty, abrasive cleaners, bleaches or acetone based nail polish remover. Use only mild liquid soaps.
Always use a cutting board to protect your countertops when you prepare food. While the minor scratches that result from cutting food may not be noticeable at first, in time they will dull and mar the luster of the finish.
Wipe up spills immediately. Some liquids, particularly hot ones, can cause almost imperceptible stains on ceramic tile grout, plastic laminate and cultured marble. In time, the stains can accumulate and become unsightly.
Avoid hot pans and skillets in direct contact with the countertops.
Be careful to avoid dropping pots and pans and other kitchen items on your countertops. This can break or chip the counter surface.
Add caulking as necessary from shrinkage and settling.
There are more suggestions for caring for your ceramic tile, cultured marble, plastic laminate, and Corian.
Glazed ceramic tile is known for its durability and the variety of colors and designs which compliment your decorating theme. Ceramic tiles are purchased in lots that have the same texture and color. Because an exact replacement match of ceramic tile can be impossible, we urge you to take special care to avoid breaking or damaging the ceramic tile on your countertops. The best way to avoid broken tiles is to use a cutting board and other protection
for your ceramic tiles when you are at work in your kitchen.
Ceramic tile is relatively brittle and can be broken by a sharp blow from a heavy object. Wipe spills away promptly to avoid staining the grout. Soapy warm water, a detergent or a commercial tile cleaner can be used to keep your tile shiny and bright.
Because the grout between the tiles is porous, you may want to consider sealing the grout once a year or so. This will prevent stubborn stains from penetrating the grout and becoming unsightly. Routing/Scrubbing of the grout with warm soapy water will keep it clean and fresh. Strong cleaners such as Lysol can stain the grout. Sealers and cleaners can be found at your local hardware store. Some sealers may cause grout to yellow. You should consult the
tile/grout Manufacturers Representative for advice in selecting sealers.
Corian is a durable man-made product designed especially for use in countertops. However, it is not impervious to stains and damage, and it requires regular cleaning to maintain its beauty. Corian is susceptible to burns, so do not place a hot pan or a cigarette directly on the counter. Like any surface, it is best to clean up spills immediately. Use not-abrasive cleaners and dry with a soft cloth to enhance the luster.
Cultured marble is a modern product which adds style to your bathrooms. Proper maintenance of cultured marble is similar to the maintenance needs of fine wood. Remove spills immediately to avoid stains. Do not use abrasive cleansers on your cultured marble countertops. Most foods and drinks are acidic and can etch the finish on the marble. Do not place any items which may scratch the surface directly onto the countertop.
Routine care of cultured marble countertops requires warm water and a soft cloth or sponge. If the surface of your cultured marble countertop becomes dull, you might consider having the marble polished by a professional who specializes in marble polishing.
Laminate counter tops are very common in many areas. These tops will provide years of enjoyment when properly cared for. Please refer to the following guidelines.
- Mitered joints should be sealed with a parifin wax to avoid moisture damage.
Laminate tops are especially susceptible to hot pots and pans. Always provide a hot pad or some form of insulator between pans and the laminate top.
Laminate tops will scar if cut with a knife or scraped in the process of cleaning. Clean laminate tops with a solution of soft soap and hot water.
Laminate tops may, as your walls expand and contract due to varying weather conditions, show a crack between the top and the wall. This is easily repaired by caulking this crack with flexible caulk. DO NOT unscrew the top and push it toward the wall. If the wall returns to its previous position, it will crack your countertop.
The doors and door frames in your home are made of painted or varnished wood. Wooden doors are subject to expansion and contraction due to local weather conditions such as heat and humidity. The result can be warping and sticking. This is normal and may correct itself as moisture is absorbed. You should allow your home to go through at least one dry and one damp season before you plane the wood or make other permanent changes.
Small cracks may also develop during a dry season, and again, they may disappear during wet, winter months. If the cracks do not disappear over time, they can be easily filled with wood putty or filler obtained at your local hardware store or home center.
The hinges and locks on your doors may require lubrication from time to time for proper maintenance and to prevent squeaks. Remove the hinge pin and rub it with a graphite tube or lead pencil and then replace it. We do not recommend using oil because it accumulates dust and grease.
Teach children not to hang on the door knobs or swing back and forth. This will cause the door to sag and the hardware to become loose. It is a good idea to keep duplicate keys for the bathrooms and other locking doors. Children may accidentally lock themselves into a room and be unable to work the lock. You may find that some locks can be opened with a small screwdriver or nail.
Remove finger smudges from painted or varnished interior doors by washing with warm water and a soft cloth or sponge. Use a mild detergent solution on stubborn smudges. Dry the surface thoroughly with a soft cloth or towel. Check your interior doors frequently and use touchup paint or varnish when necessary. These simple steps will keep your interior doors beautiful and in top condition.
If your closets feature sliding doors, keep clothes and other items away from the doors so they do not obstruct its proper operation. The roller and tracks should be greased periodically with Vaseline or other light grease.
Check the finish on your exterior doors several times a year. Weather stripping should form a reasonably tight seal to prevent air and water from entering. Normal contraction of wood doors can leave a small gap in the weather stripping. This is normal. The small gap will be closed when the humidity increases and the door expands. Re-glue or replace rubber and synthetic weather stripping that has worked loose. Use an appropriate
weather stripping cement or glue. Do not use "super glue" type adhesives.
Metal weather stripping components can become unfastened. If this happens, carefully reshape the metal to its proper position and fasten it with small nails or tacks. Replace metal weather stripping that has been damaged beyond this simple repair procedure.
Your garage door is the largest piece of moving equipment in your home. Given the proper maintenance and respect, it will give you many years of safe service. You should never attempt to repair, replace, or make adjustments to the door system including the springs, cables and/or bottom corner fixtures. The spring mechanism is under substantial tension and is extremely hazardous. Repairs or adjustments to these parts should only be
attempted by a qualified technician.
Lubricate the hardware on your garage doors every three months or so by placing a small drop of light lubrication oil on the shaft of the roller. Wipe away the excess oil. The screws and bolts that fasten the hardware to any wood area should be tightened after a year or so because the wood shrinks a little as it ages.
If a garage door opener was installed, an electronic infrared eye was placed at the base of your garage door. This is a federal requirement for all garage door openers installed after January 1, 1993. This device is meant to prevent accidents from happening. In order for the eye to operate correctly, damage to wiring and lenses is avoided if tools or other objects are kept out of the way.
Remember it is a good idea to purchase your garage door and garage door opener from the same source. One company is then responsible for the operation of both units.
The electrical system in your home was designed by professionals to comply with stringent local, state, and national standards. It is intended for normal residential use. Any changes or additions to your
electrical system can result in damage to your home and may cause a fire. You must consult a licensed electrician to make such changes and additions. Please note that a permit may be required for changes and additions to your electrical system.
Periodic maintenance is required in the electrical system. Most problems which arise in the system are derived from loose connections. Because of the extreme ambient temperature differences from summer to winter, this effect causes terminations at the circuit breakers to loosen up. Those terminations should be checked at least every six (6) months and tightened by a professional as needed. If you find the receptacle you plug your appliance
cords into are loose or the cord end plugs in loosely, those receptacles should be replaced by a professional.
The following information and suggestions are intended as guidelines for the proper use and care of the electrical system in your home.
During the home inspection of your home, the home inspector will point out the location of the circuit breaker panel. There will be one master circuit breaker and several individual circuit breakers. Each circuit breaker will be identified on the chart that is mounted in the panel. Circuit breakers trip under excessive electrical load. Reset tripped circuit breakers by moving them to the OFF position and then to the ON position. We suggest that you
inspect and become familiar with the individual circuit breakers soon after you move in.
In the event of a loss of electrical power in your home, follow these steps:
If the power loss is in one area of your home and power is available in other areas of your home, it is likely that an individual circuit breaker has turned off. Unplug any appliances in the areas that are without power and turn other appliances off. Check the circuit breaker if necessary, reset it. Plug your appliances back in. If the circuit breaker fails repeatedly, you have either a short circuit in one of your appliances or a short circuit in
the electrical system in your home. Do not attempt further repair. Call a licensed electrician or the Home Warranty company if your home is still covered under the Home Warranty.
If electrical power is lost through out your home, check the master circuit breaker. If the master circuit breaker has tripped, reset it.
If the master circuit breaker trips repeatedly, refer the problem to a licensed electrician. If the master circuit breaker has not tripped, take a look around your neighborhood. If you notice a general electrical failure in your neighborhood, call your electric company to report the problem.
GROUND FAULT INTERRUPT DEVICES (GFI)
During your courtesy orientation and inspection, the Home Inspector representative will point out the location of the ground fault interrupt devices (GFI outlets). Usually, GFI outlets are located near tubs, bathroom sinks, in the kitchen, garage and exterior of the home. These are special circuit breakers that are designed to break the flow of electricity in the event of electrical shock. When this occurs, the GFI outlets must be reset according to
the manufacturer's instructions. Do not plug appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators into GFI outlets. The electrical surge that occurs when these appliances cycle will trip the GFI outlets and break the circuit. Timing devices such as those for sprinkler systems should not be plugged into GFI's.
Most lighting fixtures in your home are designed for standard wattage bulbs. To avoid excessive heat, you should not exceed 60 watt bulbs in most enclosed fixtures.
OUTLETS AND SWITCHES
Convenient electrical outlets can be found in every room in your home. Most of the outlets are designed for two plugs. Do not exceed the capacity for which the outlets were designed. Devices which increase the capacity of electrical outlets and multiple extension cords can cause a fire.
If an electrical outlet does not have power, there are two possible explanations:
Some outlets are controlled by a wall switch. Plug an appliance into the outlet and turn on nearby wall switches to see if the problem is corrected. If you find that an outlet is controlled by a wall switch, you might point this out to others who live in your home.
Check the circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker has been tripped, reset it and try the outlet again. If the circuit breaker trips repeatedly, call the Home Warranty Company.
CAUTION: Children can be injured by poking small metal objects into wall outlets. You can prevent this by installing child proof devices on all floor level electrical outlets. These devices are available in grocery stores and drug stores, as well as home centers and hardware stores.
The primary finishes on your home are wood, stucco, brick and aluminum. These finishes were probably chosen for their beauty and durability. Because they are exposed to constantly changing weather conditions, the exterior finishes on your
routine maintenance and care. You should inspect the exterior surfaces of your home every three months.
Stucco is a cement product that is subject to expansion and contraction due to the environmental conditions existing in your area. Minor hairline cracks can develop in the outer layer of stucco. This is normal and does not reduce the function of the stucco in any way. No home seller or warranty compamy will be responsible for normal hairline cracks in stucco. .
Wood is found throughout your home. Because wood is a natural, porous material, it requires protection with paint if it is exposed to the elements. Inspect your exposed wood surfaces frequently. If you find cracking or peeling of the paint, sand the area and repaint it promptly. The exterior wood on your home will require repainting every two to four years. Surfaces that receive direct sun in the morning and mid-afternoon could require frequent
Split or damaged wood, particularly on the ends of beams, should be repaired or repainted to avoid further damage. "Small splints" on the end of beams is called "checking". This is normal and does not affect the integrity of the beams. The natural drying of wood can result in gaps and splits in wood molding and trim parts. Nails can work loose. Reset all popped nails and reposition trim parts. Fill any cracks with a commercial wood filler an use
If block walls were included with your home, types and heights of the walls may vary from lot to lot. It will need regular preventative maintenance along with the other components of your home. Do not allow sprinklers to spray block walls and other exterior surfaces.
If you choose to add a wall to your property, you should employ a professional block wall contractor. It is your responsibility to locate the property lines and to have your wall installed according to local building codes, your homeowners association, and your C.C. & R's. Refer any questions to local building authorities and your homeowners' association, if applicable.
The fireplaces in your home are designed to add beauty and style. They are not designed to heat the entire home. We suggest that you use small fires which will lend a sense of warmth to the room while supplementing the heat from you heating system.
Here are practical suggestions for getting the maximum benefit from your fireplace:
Homes are practically airtight. Because fireplaces need a draft to function properly, you should open a nearby window about one inch before you light a fire. This is especially true if our heating system is operating at the time your fire is lighted. Failure to open a window and provide a draft could cause a down draft and smoke may fill your home.
Always use a fire grate or andirons in your fireplace to allow air to circulate around the fire. Never place the fire directly on the floor of the fire box.
Be sure the damper is in the open position before you build a fire. Become familiar with the operation of the damper before you light the fire. Damper clips are necessary when using gas logs.
Use firewood that is intended for a residential fireplace. The logs should not be too long for the fire box. Do not use green or water soaked wood. Do not use the construction lumber or other wood which has a high creosote or pitch content. The pitch will condense on the chimney and, in time, build up enough to become a fire hazard.
Store wood outside as it may be a home for unwanted insects.
Close glass doors or fireplace screen when the fire is burning.
Never leave the fire unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed and when leaving your home.
Never use your fireplace as an incinerator to burn trash. Never burn Christmas trees or holiday decorations in a fireplace.
After the fire is completely out and the embers are cold, close the damper to prevent heat loss through the chimney.
Remove built up ashes after you are certain that they are cold. Hot coals in ashes can ignite if the ashes are dumped in a garbage can or other receptacle.
Have your chimney inspected annually. Cleaning by a professional chimney cleaner is recommended.
Gas Only Fireplaces
Sealed gas fireplaces offer efficient gas heat. Depending on the unit installed in your home, you may have a pilot light on the
fireplace. These units work on a low voltage switch which activates the pilot and lights the gas causing the flame.
These units are sealed and should remain sealed so as to continue to provide their designed heat efficiency. Pilots may be turned
off in the summer. These units may vent directly out of the home or through the roof. Units vented directly out of the home may leave
a black soot residue on exterior house materials. This can be cleaned with a commercial soft cleaner. Adjusting the flame may prevent
excessive soot from accumulating.
The flooring in your home will last longer if you provide routine maintenance and care.
Squeaky floors are usually caused by a change in the weather or settlement of your home. This is normal and may correct itself over
time. We will attempt to eliminate any floor squeaks in your home, on a one time basis, and only during the first year.
Please inspect your flooring carefully during your courtesy home inspection. Subsequent damages including broken tiles, cracked
grout, scratched or damaged wood flooring, torn carpeting and scuffed vinyl are your responsibility after the courtesy orientation
Accumulated dirt and grime are the most common causes of damaged flooring. We suggest the following routine maintenance for the
flooring in your home:
Vacuum carpeting frequently to avoid the buildup of dirt and grime. Use a fixed brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. If your vacuum cleaner has a beater type attachment, the beater should barely touch the tops of the carpet fibers.
Eliminate carpet shedding fibers as they appear. Loose carpet fibers will work their way to the surface for quite some time. This is known as fluffing or shedding. Vacuum these fibers as part of you routine cleaning. If a tuft of carpet appears which is longer that the surrounding carpet, do not try to pull it out, it is probably attached to the backing and simply needs to be trimmed to the height of the surrounding tufts.
Do not be alarmed by visible carpet seams. Most rolls of carpet are produced in twelve (12) foot widths. This dictates that most rooms will have at least one seam. Professional installers lay your carpet with the minimal amount of seams without excessive waste. Seams are most visible in a
home before it has been furnished and occupied. As your carpet wears, the fibers will meld together eliminating many of the seams. Visible seams are not a
defect unless they have been improperly made or the material is defective.
Remove spills immediately.
Stain removal is easier if it is done promptly. Consult a home center or a carpet professional for stubborn stains. Cleaning products should be tested on a section of carpeting that is not obvious. Do not use cleaners that have not been tested and certified for the carpeting materials in your home.
Thoroughly clean your carpets at least once each year. While do-it-yourself carpet shampoo devices can be effective, consider employing a professional carpet cleaner. The professional equipment, materials and experience will add years of life and beauty to your carpets.
Ceramic tiles are available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. There are two types of ceramic tile - glazed and unglazed.
Glazed ceramic tile is recognized by its shiny, smooth finish. It is cared for in the same manner as ceramic tile counter tops. Wash glazed tile with warm water and vinegar to eliminate spotting and hard water buildup, or use a commercially prepared product. Like your counter top, the grout will need sealing to be resistant to stains. Some sealers may cause grout to yellow. You should consult the tile/grout Manufactures Representative for advice in
Unglazed ceramic tile is note for its uneven and porous finish. It is a beautiful tile which adds a look of style to any room. Because the tile is porous, it should be sealed to prevent moisture penetration and to aid in proper cleaning. Periodic buffing of the floor will restore its beauty and luster. A professional flooring contractor should be sought for more extensive cleaning.
Clean your hardwood floors as often as you vacuum your carpets. Sweep the floors and mop with a soft, dry mop or cloth. Do not use water-based cleaners.
Do not flood hardwood floors with water. This will cause stains, warping and the destruction of the flooring. Do not permit water or other liquids to stand on hardwood flooring. Wipe up spills immediately. Do not use water based detergents, bleach or one-step floor cleaners on hardwood floors.
Do not drag heavy appliances or furniture across hardwood flooring. Permanent scratches in the finish can result. High heeled shoes can dent hardwood flooring.
Waxing and buffing hardwood floors should be done according to the manufacturer's instructions for materials and procedures. Consider having this done by a professional.
Burns from cigarettes can be difficult or impossible to remove from hardwood floors. Small burns can be removed by sanding lightly and staining with a commercial wood stain. Large burns should be referred to a flooring professional.
Modern, resilient vinyl flooring adds beauty and comfort to your home. The infinite variety of patterns and colors combined with its easy care finish make vinyl floors desirable in heavy traffic areas. The following are tips for proper care of your new vinyl floor:
Do not drag heavy appliances or furniture across vinyl flooring. Because of its relatively soft texture, vinyl flooring can be damaged by heavy appliances, dropped tools and rough use. This damage is permanent and cannot be repaired. High heeled shoes can be particularly damaging to vinyl. Such shoes can cause permanent dents and gouges.
Do not use abrasive cleaners or full strength bleach on vinyl floors. Abrasives will dull the finish and cause permanent damage. Full strength bleach can etch and destroy the surface of the flooring.
Clean vinyl flooring with a solution of warm water and a commercial vinyl flooring cleaner.
Remove spills immediately to avoid staining. Use a sponge or soft cloth. Dry the floor after removing the spills.
Do not place rugs with rubber backing on vinyl flooring. Doing so will cause the vinyl to turn yellow over time.
LARGE VINYL AREAS
Large areas of vinyl installed in the home are more susceptible to damage caused by normal wear and tear. These large vinyl areas require more seaming than smaller pieces.
Like any appliance, we recommend that you read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper operations of your garbage disposer. For best results, do not load the disposer with food items before turning it on. For proper operation, turn on the cold water and start the disposer. Then, drop the food items slowly into the unit. When the unit sounds clear, turn the disposer off and leave the water running for an additional 30 seconds. This allows the food waste to be carried into your
Only foods that are non-fibrous and easily pulverized should be placed into the disposer. Examples of foods not to place in the disposer are corn husks, celery, onion skins, olive pits, bones and solid liquid grease. These items may cause your unit to overload or jam. If this happens, follow these corrective measures.
Turn off the disposer and the cold water.
Wait three minutes for the unit to cool, then press the reset button usually located on the bottom of the disposer. Continue with proper use of the disposer.
If this does not correct the problem, your unit is probably obstructed. Follow these steps for proper removal.
Unplug the disposer and any other appliance before attempting a repair yourself.
Check the circuit breakers. An overload of this type may have tripped the circuit. Reset any tripped circuit breakers.
If your disposer has a service wrench, insert one end of the wrench into the bottom of the unit. Work back and forth until the disposer turns freely. If your disposer does not have a service wrench, insert a broom handle or mop handle into the throat of the unit and rotate the impeller back and forth. The obstruction will be loosened so that it can be removed.
Remove the obstruction, plug the disposer in, press the reset button and proceed with the above steps for proper use.
Heating and Air Conditioning
Your home is equipped with a high quality heating and air conditioning system that complies with local and state energy codes. With proper care, the
system will provide many years of enjoyable, dependable service. Please read the instructions and become familiar with the heating and air conditioning system before you use it. You may also obtain information on your unit by calling the A/C company to send you a brochure on the unit.
For maximum efficiency, set your thermostat to 68º in the winter and 78º in the summer.
The following suggestions are intended to assist you in getting the maximum usage and enjoyment from your heating and air conditioning system:
Change filters according to the manufacturer's directions. In areas with heavy dust more frequent changes may be in order. Fresh filters can significantly reduce operating costs and will prolong the life of your system. Change filters once a month.
Check the operation of your system well in advance of peak operating seasons. Notify your Home Warranty Company of problems before seasonal service demands are the greatest.
Keep all vents and registers clean and free of dust, cobwebs and debris.
Keep plants and grass trimmed well away for the outdoor unit.
Heating and cooling of the home can be more effective by utilizing the register vents in floors and ceilings. By closing and opening different vents at certain times of the year you can direct the hot or cold air to the rooms that need them most.
In order for heating and cooling system to work, the air in the home must be able to move freely. Closing room doors in the winter will prevent effective air circulation and the room will remain colder than the rest of the home. In the summer, closing the door to an unused room that has direct sunlight through the windows can help keep the rest of the house cooler.
Adjusting heat vents and opening and closing doors will help make your heating and cooling system adjust to the extremes that may be present at any given time during the year. These minor adjustments will also help conserve energy and increase your energy efficiency.
The walls in your home are constructed of wood and other materials which are subject to normal expansion and contracting. Molding and trim can shrink and warp in some cases. It is your responsibility to perform
routine maintenance on molding, trim and wall boards. Replace badly warped molding and trim. Reset nails that have popped out of position. Use touchup paint to complete the repairs.
Use care when you hang pictures and other decorative items. The wall board is brittle and will break if hit with a hammer. Costly repairs can be avoided by using picture hooks and other supplies from a home center or hardware store. Always repair nail holes with a spackle or putty.
Some or all of the walls in your home may be textured for beauty and style. The texturing material is relatively soft and can be damaged by scrubbing with abrasive cleansers and rough brushes or cloths. Small finger smudges may be removed from walls with a solution of warm water and a mild soap. Wash gently with a soft sponge or cloth. Rinse and dry the excess water carefully. Do not permit the wall board to become soaked with water. Larger spots, not easily removed by cleaning, will require
paint touch up.
Hairline cracks and seam or tape cracks, along with other slight imperfections are normal and should be expected within certain tolerances.
Landscaping, Grading and Drainage
Maintenance of landscaping is your responsibility after escrow closes. If landscaping has been provided with your
home, it was designed in conjunction with the grading and drainage to provide proper water flow over your lot. You become responsible for this
maintenance immediately after you close escrow. If you do not plan to occupy your home right away, you should arrange for someone else to care for your landscaping. Without routine watering plants can die quickly.
If your home has a sod lawn, you should water it daily. Allow the water to run until the ground becomes spongy. Be careful not to over water which may erode other parts of your yard. You will soon be confident as to the right amount of water. A newly sodded yard will require water several times a day until it becomes established. Watering early in the morning and late in the evening will minimize water loss to evaporation. But, if your new lawn seems extra dry in the middle of a hot day, do
not hesitate to water.
If your yard was created with hydroseed, it requires special care. Hydroseed is easy to identify because it appears as if the ground has been painted green. Hydroseed is simply a grass seed mixture that is sprayed upon the ground. The grass seed will take root quickly. Sprinkle the ground lightly using the same guidelines for sod. Be careful not to walk on the seed. Avoid over watering. Until the lawn is fully established, water lightly several times a day.
The contours and features of your lot may have been designed by professional engineers. Their goals were to provide an ideal setting for your home and to give the maximum protection from water erosion and damage. The engineers used small hills and valleys - called berms and swells - to direct the water away from your home and adjacent properties. These contours must be maintained to avoid severe water damage during heavy rains. Berms which are designed to direct the flow of water away from slopes
are especially important and must not be altered.
Your lot was graded to provide proper drainage and irrigation water. Any changes to the grading of your lot can result in substantial water damage to your property and to nearby property. Natural settling can change the original grading. It is your responsibility to maintain the original grading of your lot and to preserve good drainage. Any changes to the grading or drainage features will void your warranty and could damage neighboring property.
Landscaping can change the grading of your lot. We suggest that you consult a professional landscape gardener when the time comes to landscape your lot. Provide ample room for growth between plants and your home. The ground next to your home should slope away to prevent standing water. If allowed to stand or pool next to your home, water can damage the foundation and ruin plantings. The water could also seep into your home. Do not dig or plant within 18" of the foundation of you home.
Observe the flow of irrigation water after each planting. If you notice pooling water or excessive lows in one area, construct drainage features to direct the flow of water. Consult with a landscape gardener before such drainage features are begun. Always keep drains free of debris, leaves and lawn clippings.
To lessen the waste of water, consider using a drip irrigation system. These systems concentrate a small amount of water directly to the root of the plant where it provides the most nourishment. In most cases, the amount of water used is significantly less. If you want to take further action to conserve our most precious commodity, water, we urge you to use drought resistant or drought tolerant plants. Your landscape professional can provide advice on plant selection, watering needs and
proper placement in your yard.
If your landscaping projects require that additional soil be added to your lot, be especially careful that the drainage is not altered significantly. In no case should the level of the soil be less than six inches below the level of the foundation. This will assist in preventing wood rot and termite infestation.
In addition, other changes and additions can alter the drainage of your lot and cause water damage. These changes include walkways, patios, spas, pools, fences, walls, planters and play structures. Before you make any changes or additions to your lot, give careful consideration to the effect on water drainage. If you have any questions, consult a professional before you begin the project.
Flower beds can significantly change drainage patterns. We suggest that you consult a professional gardener before you dig flower beds. In any case, keep flower beds to a minimum of two to three feet from the foundation. Many gardening books have plans for constructing flower beds that will enhance the beauty of your home and promote the proper drainage of irrigation and rain water.
Please consider that any changes you make in the grading and drainage of your lot could affect neighboring properties.
Before you begin any patio or
deck additions to your home, you check with your homeowners' association and local building officials to make certain that your plans comply with building codes, CC & R's and the law. It is likely that permits will be required. A licensed contractor is best qualified to perform this work.
We define emergencies as problems that require immediate attention to protect you and your family from harm and to avoid damage to your property, your home or your lot. These problems include:
A total stoppage of the plumbing drain system. If your plumbing ceases to work, none of your sinks, tubs, or toilets will function properly.
A water leak which requires the water supply in your home be shut off to avoid serious water damage. A leak which can be isolated by the shutoffs under the cabinet or plumbing fixtures is not an emergency.
Damage from a water leak can be minimized by turning off the plumbing shut off valve to a particular fixture or turning off the water main near your home. The water main is usually located in a vault below ground level near the front curb.
A total electrical failure
Loss of heating or air conditioning during extreme weather conditions.
Any situation which endangers the occupants of the home.
In case of emergency, your first step should be to protect your family from harm. Once you are sure of their safety, and if your safety will not be jeopardized, you should take steps to correct or lessen the effects of the emergency.