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Homeowner manual


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Homeowner manual

  1. 1. Homeowner Manual 888-429-5468 Login to your account with your smartphone:
  2. 2. Dear New Homeowner, We would like to congratulate you on your new home. Cascade Builder Services is proud to be assisting you throughout your one year warranty period. This Homeowner Manual has been created for you by Cascade Builder Services on behalf of your homebuilder. This manual is intended to answer many of your questions and to prepare you for the best possible home ownership experience. We ask that you take some time to review this manual thoroughly as it contains your warranty procedures, claim forms and maintenance recommendations. If you have any further questions or need clarification on any topic, please contact Cascade Builder Services. We are always ready to help you in any way we can as you enjoy your newly constructed home! Sincerely, Kevin Pierce Founder
  3. 3. Cascade Builder Services We are a third party warranty management company with extensive experience in customer service. We have extensive experience with One Year Workmanship and Materials Warranties and take great pride in our role as the informed and objective third party warranty administrator. We believe our service to be a great benefit to both the homeowner and the builder. Cascade Builder Services has been chosen by your home builder to facilitate and administer the 12 month materials and workmanship warranty on your new home. We will help provide you with an objective viewpoint and assessment of any and all warranty related issues. Cascade Builder Services will be conducting your New Home Orientation. We will also inspect and validate your requests for warranty repairs. Cascade Builder Services coordinates any validated warranty repair appointments with the appropriate trade subcontractor or builder employee. All warranty claims will be reviewed, inspected and appropriate action will be taken. We base all of our decisions upon the builders written warranty that was provided to you at the time of your signed purchase agreement. At Cascade Builder Services, it is our primary goal to help you become a successful homeowner. We understand there are many complex parts to a home and believe that with proper education and maintenance, you can be assured a successful experience as a new homeowner. Cascade Builder Services is here to help. Congratulations again on your new home!
  4. 4. Helpful Service Information Your builder has constructed your home with great pride. They have used experienced craftsmen and laborers who carefully selected their products and materials. The construction of your new home was supervised by your builder to assure quality and consistency. The construction plans and specifications required to build your home provided the blueprint for the final product. It is important to note that even homes with the exact same design never end up identical. All homes have a uniqueness as they are constructed mostly with human hands and natural materials. Therefore, each home will react differently to the conditions it experiences. Your new home requires care from the moment you move in. Proper care of your home will ensure satisfactory performance and provide longevity to your investment. Please use this manual as a tool to assist with your care and maintenance program. Use and Maintenance Guidelines for Homeowners Your builder takes great pride in the homes they build within your community. It is their ultimate goal to create long term and lasting value to you. You have the exclusive opportunity to understand and provide the appropriate maintenance for your new home. Consistent maintenance will be necessary for your home due to normal wear and tear and the way in which it reacts to the environment. Routine inspections and/or services are required for the mechanical systems throughout the home. Since your home consists of both manufactured products and natural materials, these systems and their components will interact with each other differently with the environment. Fluctuations in humidity and temperature will affect your home in various ways. We realize it is impossible to describe or anticipate all actions that may be required for good home care. Cascade Builder Services has tried to outline areas that affect the majority of homes. We have tried to provide answers to the most common questions and scenarios in our Care and Maintenance section. Keep in mind that homebuilders are currently using many different products and systems when constructing the homes. We will discuss multiple types of products, systems and appliances not found in every home in the following sections. Some issues may become more urgent than others and require more immediate action. Overlooking or ignoring a minor maintenance issue can sometimes create major problems for the homeowner. Neglecting routine maintenance can actually void the warranty coverage on all or part of your new home. Proactive care and maintenance of your new home will help provide years of enjoyment and uninterrupted warranty coverage.
  5. 5. Manufacturer Warranties Certain consumer products (e.g. Range, Dishwasher) carry only the manufacturer’s warranty. You must make any claims for certain consumer products direct to the appliance manufacturer. Customer Service contact information can be found in the owner’s manual for each specific appliance. If you are unable to locate your manual for any appliance, please look online for the manufacturer’s website. All pertinent information should be listed at that location. Cascade Builder Services recommends that you read carefully through each of the manufacturer warranties and manuals provided. Proper use and care can assure warrantability and help prolong the useful life of your appliance. Cascade Builder Services does not provide appliance manuals nor the management of warranty claims for these products. Most consumer warranties are for one year. In some cases, you may be able to purchase an extended warranty on your appliances. It is best to check directly with the manufacturer regarding any warranty issue. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation even if it conflicts with information given to you by your builder or Cascade Builder Services.
  6. 6. Defined Limited Warranty Standards Your builder strives to build a home free of defects. Unfortunately, you may experience items in your home that fail to perform their intended function. If this occurs, your builder will take the necessary action to correct the warrantable item and bring it within warranty standards. Your builder supports this commitment in the form of a written warranty. We recommend you familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your warranty. Sometimes we break the rules in your favor. Cascade Builder Services uses your written warranty when assessing claim requests for warranty repairs. We use criteria from The National Association of Homebuilders when validating those claims. Your builder reserves the right to exceed those standards, at their sole discretion, without the obligation of exceeding all standards in similar or comparable claims. Exceeding standards for one home does not require them to exceed standards for unlike claims in all homes. Sometimes we say no action A home is a very complex structure. Viewpoints may differ with regard to which items pertain to misuse, routine maintenance or warranty responsibility of either the builder or homeowner. If you make a claim on a maintenance item, Cascade Builder Services will explain the best process for that maintenance issue. Cascade Builder Services is available to answer any maintenance questions and guide you throughout your warranty period. Keep in mind it is your sole responsibility as the homeowner to be aware of and provide normal routine maintenance for your new home. Homeowners may sometimes not understand or agree with a repair request that did not qualify for warranty service. Please contact our office in writing if you wish to gain additional information or better understanding why a repair was declined. If you still disagree with our position and desire reconsideration of the warranty claim, we will require that request in writing.
  7. 7. Warranty Reporting Summarized Providing warranty services for new homes is much more complex than most products. When you purchased your new home, you actually purchased the workmanship and material from 30- 50 independent companies and trade contractors. Cascade Builder Services has established and designed a claims process to accept written repair requests for all non-emergency claims. Claims are requested to be sent using your established account and through our web site. You are also welcome to submit claims by mail, fax, or email. Please retain a copy of any correspondence for your records. Emergency service requests are accepted by phone. Please see the emergency section in this manual and be sure to follow the troubleshooting tips.
  8. 8. “The Steps of our Process” The most efficient way for submitting a warranty claim is through our website Just click “make a claim” at the top of the page and follow the directions It’s that easy! New Home Orientation Closing of your Home 60-Day Claim Submission 11-Month Claim Submission Warranty Ends 12 months after closing
  9. 9. Procedures for Submitting Claims 60 Day Warranty Inspection We recommend waiting at least 60 days before requesting warranty service for issues not affecting the safe and functional use of your home. This allows you the opportunity to become familiar with the many components of your home on a regular basis. Submitting requests for warranty repair If a warrantable item fails to perform its intended function, it can be noted on a Request for Warranty Repair form. These forms allow you to list any and all concerns as needed during the first 60 days. Sometimes several issues fall into the jurisdiction of a specific contractor. If possible, we will try to consolidate issues into one appointment for the convenience of all parties. Please submit your warranty repair requests via our website, mail, fax or email. Your list should include a location and description of your claim. We request that you review your written warranty prior to submission. This will help you determine whether or not a claim meets the applicable standard and should be listed. If you have questions, feel free to call our office. REQUESTS FOR WARRANTY REPAIR MUST BE SUBMITTED IN WRITING VIA EMAIL, FAX OR MAIL. WE PREFER ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION THROUGH OUR WEBSITE! Please keep a copy of any warranty repair requests for your records. Not all homeowners have repair requests at 60 days. You are not required to submit any warranty requests at 60 days! Scheduling for your 60 day Warranty Review Upon receipt of your Request for Warranty Repair form, Cascade Builders Services will contact you to schedule a physical site inspection of your claim. All warranty inspection appointments are scheduled Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 3:00pm. We will try to accommodate any urgency issues when attempting to schedule the inspection appointment.
  10. 10. 11 month Warranty Review We recommend that you wait and compile requests for warranty service as long as you feel the issues will not adversely affect your ability of using your home or cause additional damage. It is the perfect time to submit your final requests for warranty service on the 11th month after the closing of your home. Any one time only repair should be held until the 11 month warranty review. Procedures for the 11th month warranty review are similar to those of the 60 day. Please refer to the 60 day procedures if you need any clarification. Help us to better serve you Receive the fastest, most accurate service from Cascade Builder Services by: -Providing your name, address and preferred contact number. -Providing a complete description of the warranty repair requests. (E.G. Kitchen – The hot water leaks under the sink when used. Rather than Kitchen – Water leak.) -Letting us know when, where and how best to reach you. (E.G. I’m off on Fridays and I have a cell phone that is always with me) During your Warranty Inspection A Cascade Builder Services representative uses the time at your warranty claim appointment to visually inspect your Requests for Warranty Repair. The assessment of the issues and determination of warrantability will be made back to you in writing via our website (email). If the claim is warrantable, corrective action processes will begin. Most often claims are going to fall into one of the following categories: 1. Trade contractor is responsible for the warranty repair. 2. Builder is responsible for the warranty repair. 3. Homeowner is responsible for the maintenance item. If your claim is assigned to the builder or a trade contractor, Cascade Builder Services submits a written warranty repair order describing the situation to be addressed to the responsible party. If your claim is determined to be a homeowner maintenance issue, Cascade Builder Services will discuss steps you can take in order to address the concern.
  11. 11. Appointments for Repair Cascade Builder Services may conclude your Warranty Inspection and suggest to scheduling an appointment for necessary repairs. We will ask that you select a business day that is a minimum of 10 working following your inspection. This time frame allows us to forward your warranty repair orders to the trade contractors or the builder. In some cases, Cascade Builder Services may need to discuss the warranty issue with your builder prior to selecting a date for repairs. In this case, Cascade Builder Services will contact you after meeting with your builder to discuss the intended plan of action. Periodically, your warranty repairs may have to occur in a sequence. They may also require drying or curing before follow up can occur. This could result in added work days required for the builder or trade contractor. Cascade Builder Services provides email reminders prior to scheduled work days. Achieving access to your home Cascade Builder Services will not enter homes without an adult present. The adult should be able to point out the exact location of all items listed on request forms. Builder employees and trade contractors also require an adult to be present with awareness of the item locations. An adult individual must be present at all times at the premises and will be asked to authorize and sign acknowledgment that satisfactory repairs were made. Cascade Builder Services will not accept keys, nor will we arrange for a trade contractor or builder employee to accept keys to achieve access to a home. Exterior It is possible for exterior warranty visits and repairs to take place without an adult present as long as there is safe and adequate access. (No Dogs, No Locked Gates, No posted trespassing remarks.) If there are any issues regarding safe and adequate access at your home, please let us know in advance so we can schedule the appointment accordingly. We ask that you prepare a safe work environment for all individuals involved at the time of site inspection and repair.
  12. 12. Work and Inspection Hours Cascade Builder Services operates its office and schedules warranty inspection field staff Monday - Friday during normal business hours. There are a few reasons that Inspection and Repair appointments are best provided during these hours: 1. We find that the 30-50 repair contractors who helped build your home, are able to provide service to your builder during the week and are often local businesses. 2. The majority of repairs and inspections require daylight for proper visibility such as drywall and painting. Our Hours of Operation Office/Administrators Monday – Friday 8:00am-5:00pm Warranty Inspections Monday – Friday 8:30am – 3:00pm Scheduled Repairs Monday – Friday 7:00am – 5:00pm Cascade Builder Services has an automated voicemail system, 24/7, 365 days a year. If you reach our voicemail, please leave a detailed message. We will return your call as soon as possible. We try to return emergency phone calls within 15 minutes. Pets Cascade Builder Services, your builder and its trade contractors acknowledge that pets are very important members of your family. In order to minimize the potential for injury to your pets, we request that they be made comfortable in a location outside the inspection and repair areas. This policy is put in place for the safety of your pets and for our inspectors, builder employees and trade contractors. Personal Belongings Cascade Builder Services suggests that you secure or remove valuables from any and all repair areas. It is your responsibility as the homeowner to provide safe, easy access to the location of intended repairs and to protect all of your valuables, furnishings and wall hangings in the vicinity. Your builder employees and trade contractors may reschedule the repair appointment in cases where there is a potential for damage to your belongings. Rescheduling for this reason could result in a trip charge assessed.
  13. 13. Acknowledging Satisfactory Repairs When a homeowner signs a completed work order, Cascade Builder Services interprets this action as the acknowledgment that a satisfactory repair was made and the claim will be closed. Incomplete Items Follow-Up Cascade Builder Services does a regular review of outstanding repair items. We will make contact with builder employees, trade contractors and homeowners to determine the status of outstanding items. We will try to determine the cause for delays and attempt to facilitate the scheduling process. It is in the best interest of all parties to get the warranty repairs completed within a reasonable time frame. Most of the warranty repairs occur within 15 days of the final determination. In some cases, back ordered material or further evaluation of the claim can slow this process. Weather can sometimes delay repairs where specific climate conditions are required. Keep in mind that the warranty repair will be best served if it is completed under optimal work conditions. Missing Scheduled Appointments It is imperative to notify Cascade Builder Services in advance if you are unable to keep your scheduled appointment. We understand that uncontrolled emergencies present themselves. Notifying Cascade Builder Services as soon as possible in the event of an emergency is greatly appreciated. Also, the work day and commuter traffic of our service providers do not always flow as planned. If Cascade Builder Services, a builder employee or trade contractor realize they will be late, we ask that they notify you as soon as any delays are realized. Ideally, you would be offered a later appointment time in the day or offered a new appointment. We can place warranty repair orders on hold if a situation causes you to become unavailable for a reasonable extended period of time. Trade contractors will sometimes issue a trip charge for missed appointments without your notification or if you ask to reschedule. Please be aware of this potential issue. How Cascade Builder Services Facilitates Completion of Approved Warranty Claims We notify the appointed builder employee or trade contractor that they have been deemed responsible or appointed for a warranty repair. They receive this notification, in writing via email with the appointment date. The responsible party will either confirm the appointment on their schedule or contact you directly for scheduling. In cases where the trade cannot commit to the preselected work day, there is an option for them to request a reschedule. This request is sent to
  14. 14. you directly through our website for your approval or not. Keep in mind that coordinating a work day can be a very time consuming task for Cascade Builder Services. It is our hope that scheduling can be executed with limited conflicts. Please be advised that trade contractor and your builders staff are not employees of Cascade Builder Services. Your builder has been diligent in trying to select trade contractors that are punctual and responsive. Sometimes even the best trade contractors get busy with other jobs and they wish they could be more responsive to meet our scheduling practices. Cascade Builder Services has specific procedures in place to coordinate the completion of your warranty repairs. We ask that you notify us if you receive information or a response that you feel we should be aware of. If a trade contractor misses your appointment or fails to schedule for a repair, we will report this to your builder. At their sole discretion, your builder may assign a new trade contractor to perform your warranty repair.
  15. 15. Emergency Service Emergency warranty situations are not common, but they do occur. Prompt attention is required. Please contact us if any of the following situations occur: ● Your home has no heat when the temperature outside is below 50 degrees F. ● Your home loses electricity that is limited to just your home, not entire area. ● Your home has no water. Please verify this does not affect the neighborhood. ● A plumbing leak occurs that requires the entire water supply to be shut off. All gas leaks should be treated as an emergency. Contact your service provider immediately to prevent potentially catastrophic damages. The number can be found on your bill. The utility providers name is generally on a tag at the gas meter. Notating this information in advance is strongly recommended. Please keep the emergency contact information of your Natural Gas provider in a place that can be found quickly and easily in your home. Troubleshooting Please begin to troubleshoot an existing problem as soon as it is detected. Many situations can be rectified easily or at least mitigated until a professional arrives. Please refer to the Troubleshooting tab in this manual for any suggestions. Roof Leak It is a common policy for roofing contractors to postpone repairing roof leaks until a storm has passed. It is not safe for roofers to be on a roof that is wet, in high winds or during lightning storms. If you do suspect a roof leak, please notify Cascade Builder Services after containing the water leak with buckets or any other means to help stop the spread of water damage. Do not use electricity directly in the area of water puddles or wet fixtures. Dry up any water that has entered the home. It is your responsibility to mitigate damage to the best of your ability until the builder or its representative can respond.
  16. 16. Tips for Troubleshooting Troubleshooting problems before requesting emergency service is critical in order to prevent a bill from a contractor sent to repair systems not functioning due to operator error. Trip charges can double and triple when they occur outside normal business hours. When contacting Cascade Builder Services to request emergency service, we will require you to follow the troubleshooting information provided in this section. This will validate whether or not emergency service is required and warrantable. Even if the troubleshooting tips do not identify a solution, the information you gather will be useful to the service provider. NO ELECTRICAL SERVICE Lack of Electrical Service in the Entire Home Before calling for service, we require you check to confirm the following: Service is not out in the entire area. If this is the case, contact the utility company. Main breaker and individual breakers are all in the on position. If power is lost only in the bedroom areas, check the breaker with reset buttons on them. If a breaker trips, you must turn it to the ‘off’ position first, then back to the ‘on’ position. Lack of Electricity to One or More Outlets Before calling for service, we require you check to confirm the following: ● All breakers at the main panel are in the ‘on’ position. This includes the ‘main’ breaker switch. ● Wall switch is on if applicable. ● GFCI has not tripped. (These are outlets with test and reset buttons generally found in kitchens and bathrooms) Push the test button, followed by the reset button. ● The item you want to use is plugged in. ● The item you want to use works in other outlets. ● The bulb in the lamp is good. Even if the troubleshooting tips do not identify a solution, the information you gather will be useful to the service provider.
  17. 17. NO HEATING Forced air Before calling for service, check to confirm that the: ● Thermostat is set to "heat" and the temperature is set at least 2 degrees above the room temperature. ● The thermostat has good batteries. (Generally 2 - AA batteries are required) ● Blower panel cover on the face of the furnace is installed correctly for the furnace blower fan to operate. When the panel is installed securely in place, it compresses a button that sends a signal to the fan motor of the blower; thus allowing it to operate safely. If that button is not pushed in, the furnace will not operate. ● The breaker on the main electrical panel is on. ● The switch on the side of the furnace is on. (This typically is a light switch and could be upside down or laying on its side. The switch is labeled with an on and an off) ● Check that the fuse in the furnace is good. (See manufacturer literature for size and location.) ● The gas line is open at the main meter and at the side of the furnace. (These are typically ball valves; mostly painted red; and are perpendicular to the pipe when closed. They are parallel to the pipe when in the open position. This only applies to gas driven furnaces) ● The furnace filter is clean to allow adequate airflow. (This is a very common cause for heating failures. Furnace Filters should be inspected and possibly replaced monthly.) ● Adjustable vents in individual rooms are open. ● Air returns have no obstruction. (Furniture or wall hangings are sometimes placed too close to these air vents and restrict air flow.) Electric wall or baseboard heating Before calling for service, check to confirm that the: ● Thermostat is set to "heat" and the temperature is set above the room temperature by at least 2 degrees. ● The breaker in the breaker panel has not tripped. ● There is not excessive buildup of dust or debris in the heating unit. Even if the troubleshooting tips do not identify a solution, the information you gather will be useful to the service provider.
  18. 18. PLUMBING No Water Anywhere in the Home Before calling for service, check to confirm that the: ● Main shut off valve(s) inside your home are open. ● Main shut off at the street meter is open. ● Individual shut-offs for each water fixture throughout the house are in the ‘open’ position. ● Check with your neighbor or provider to see if anyone else is experiencing the same issue. No Hot Water See Water Heater section Leak At Only One Sink, Tub, or Toilet ● Check caulking and grout. ● Confirm shower door or tub enclosure was properly closed. ● Turn water supply off to that item. ● Use other facilities in your home and report the problem on the next business day. Leak Involving a Main Line ● Turn water off at the meter (this is generally located at or near the street of public walk. Most hardware stores sell Curb Keys to ease use of this valve.) If it appears to be a supply or drain line issue, the water meter has a flow indicator that spins when water is being consumed. (Flow indicators are generally triangle or asterisk shaped.) Back Up at One Toilet If only one toilet is affected, corrections occur during normal business hours. ● Shut off the water supply to the toilet involved. ● Use a plunger to clear the blockage. ● Use a snake to clear the blockage. ● If you've been in your home fewer than 30 days, contact Cascade Builder Services. ● If you've been in your home over 30 days, contact a router service.
  19. 19. Sewer Back Up Affecting Entire Home ● If you've been in your home fewer than 30 days, contact Cascade Builder Services. ● If you've been in your home over 30 days, contact a router service. ● Remove personal belongings to a safe location. If items are soiled, contact your homeowner insurance company. Even if the troubleshooting tips do not identify a solution, the information you gather will be useful to the service provider. Septic Before calling for service, check to confirm that the: System Alarm ● Have you lost power at home? The pump may need time to catch up. (Check at your alarm. It will have a silence button, pad, or toggle.) ● Is the breaker tripped? Again, the pump may need time to catch up. (Remember if a breaker trips, you must turn it from the tripped position to the off position before you can turn it back on.) (Check at your alarm. It will have a silence button, pad, or toggle.) ● Has there been excessive amounts of rain causing a high water table? It is possible that the system can become over saturated due to natural causes rather than an issue due to improper installation. System Failure Signs that your septic system is failing include: ● Black water with a foul odor backing up drains or toilets. ● Toilets flush slowly. ● Water ponds on top of the disposal field. ● Grass stays green over the disposal field even in dry weather. Even if the troubleshooting tips do not identify a solution, the information you gather will be useful to the service provider.
  20. 20. NO HOT WATER Before calling for service, check to confirm the following: Electric Water Heater ● Water heater breaker on your main electric panel is in the ‘on’ position. (Remember if a breaker trips you must turn it from the tripped position to the off position before you can turn it back on.) ● Temperature setting is not on “vacation” or set too low. ● Water supply valve is open. ● The amount your tank can provide has not already been depleted. ● Refer to the manufacturer's literature for specific locations of these items and possibly other troubleshooting tips. Gas Water Heater Before calling for service, check to confirm that: ● The gas supply valve is open ● Pilot is still lit. (Directions will be found on the side of the tank.) ● Temperature setting is not on “vacation” or too low. ● Water supply valve is open. ● The amount your tank can provide has not already been depleted. Refer to the manufacturer's literature for specific locations of these items and possibly other troubleshooting tips. Even if the troubleshooting tips do not identify a solution, the information you gather will be useful to the service provider you call.
  21. 21. Important Care and Maintenance Information EXTERIOR DRIVEWAYS, SIDEWALKS AND PATIOS Concrete Driveways and sidewalks are generally made of concrete. Concrete is a strong material that wears well and will perform for many years. Concrete will shrink as it cures. This shrinkage causes stress in the concrete, which often results in surface cracks as this stress is released. This cracking can be somewhat controlled by the installation of control joints in the concrete. These deliberate joints in the concrete are more prone to cracking than the remainder of the slab. The cracks you may see are generally cosmetic and do not require repair unless they exceed acceptable standards as set out by your builder. Seasonal variations in temperature may also cause cracks in concrete slabs. Soil movement beneath the concrete due to frost penetration can crack and/or raise sections of the concrete. This change in height may change the direction of surface drainage and cause water to pool against the foundation wall. If this occurs, repairs should be made to prevent water from pooling against the foundation wall. Water may seep through the foundation wall and into the home. These issues are generally considered natural occurrences and beyond the builder’s control. Another potential cause of damage to concrete surfaces is road salt and other chemical contaminants. Road salt or other de-icing products used in the winter may adversely affect the surface of the concrete. As a result, road slush containing road salt should not be allowed to melt on the concrete. A good alternative for de-icing is sand or cat litter. These products generally increase traction on icy sections of the driveway or sidewalk. Common lawn fertilizer, contaminated surface water and runoff from stored materials can cause staining on the surface of the concrete and cannot be removed. Concrete sealers that are commercially available may reduce damage due to chemical contaminants. Care should be taken in the handling and storage of potential contaminants on or near any concrete surface. Concrete Pavers Manufactured concrete products such as paving stones are also susceptible to surface damage and staining. The same precautions pertaining to concrete surfaces should also be used with these products. Concrete pavers are installed on a bed of coarse sand or fine gravel. Some localized settling may occur due to compaction of these materials. If some areas settle excessively, lift out the pavers and add sand in order to level out the area.
  22. 22. Suitable material for this repair can be purchased from your local home supply store. Asphalt Asphalt surfaces are seldom smooth and often have indentations. Checking or cracking at the edges from expansion and contraction are other common characteristics. Damage to the surface may also occur in hot weather as the surface softens due the heat. Sharp or pointed objects such as motorcycle kickstands or trailer hitches can penetrate the surface. Gasoline and solvents can dissolve asphalt quickly. Spills or fluid leakage from automobiles should be removed immediately. Periodic sealing of the asphalt surface (every two to five years) with an acrylic- based sealant is recommended. These products are readily available at most home supply centers. Gravel Gravel driveways require raking periodically to fill in depressions and to maintain an even surface. Crowning the center of the driveway or sloping it to one side is a good method of controlling surface water. Site Drainage & Grading The intent of site drainage patterns is to prevent surface water from pooling near or against the perimeter foundation wall of your new home. This is accomplished by sloping the soil away from the residence on all sides and maintaining a minimum 2% grade. Window wells provide a window for a basement below the grade. These wells must be kept free of ice, snow, leaves and other debris which could block the drainage system and potentially flood your new home. Depressions due to soil compaction may occur adjacent to the foundation walls. These depressions should be filled and graded to help direct surface water away from the walls for a distance of at least six feet. At no time should water be allowed to pool against the foundation walls. Overall property drainage systems may include surface depressions (swales), drain tile curtain drains and catch basins. Ice, snow, leaves and other debris can block the flow of drainage and must be seasonally maintained by the owner. Care must be taken not to permanently alter the drainage flow as this may create additional drainage problems. During periods of excessive rainfall, standing water may occur due to soil saturation. Such conditions are beyond the control of the owner or builder.
  23. 23. Drain Tile & Sump In most jurisdictions, there is a requirement for a perimeter drain tile system. This system is located below the level of the basement or crawlspace floor. It is generally comprised of perforated pipes covered with gravel in order to allow water to seep into them. This drain tile carries the water away from the perimeter of the house and prevents it from accumulating against the foundation walls or footings. The drain tile then carries the water to a sump or catch basin. Sediment in the water settles to the bottom of the sump and the clear water is then drained off by another pipe. The water is then carried to the municipal storm sewer, ditch or a rock pit located in the yard. Access pipes or clean-outs are installed to allow the perimeter drain tile to be inspected and cleaned. The location of these clean-outs should be identified for future reference. Sumps and catch basins should be cleaned at least every two years to remove any excessive sediment, leaves or debris. Exterior stairwells are often equipped with a drain and sump at their base. This helps prevent flooding of the basement. These drains must be kept clear of debris. Avoid planting deep-rooted foliage or trees next to the foundation walls as roots can clog a drain tile system. The requirement for a perimeter drain tile system may be waived by the proper authority in arid regions, regions with free draining soils or some rocky lots. In areas of blasted rock, it is virtually impossible to stop the movement of water through the rock. Water may seep and cause wet condition in areas of exposed rock in a crawlspace. Care must be taken to ensure that any visible water is drained away and the area is adequately ventilated. Landscaping Frequent watering of the grass is essential during the first few weeks after an area has been sodded or seeded. Once the grass is established, weekly watering is adequate. This will promote a deep root system that will result in a healthier, more drought resistant lawn. Frequent light watering results in a shallow root system that causes the lawn to dry out and die in drought conditions. For the same reason, grass should not be cut shorter than two inches in height. Fertilizing twice a year and controlling weeds will promote a healthy lawn. Consult your local home garden center for suitable lawn care products. During the spring thaw, do not allow snow or ice to accumulate in shaded areas of your lawn. This will damage the grass. Accumulations of snow should be distributed over a large area so that it melts evenly. Minor settlement will occur
  24. 24. over some areas of new lawns or landscaping. These areas should be filled and reseeded to maintain a level surface. When installing flowerbeds, be careful not to interfere with the drainage system. Ensure that the flowerbeds are graded away from the foundation wall and that a minimum clearance of eight inches is maintained between the ground level and the bottom of the exterior wall cladding. Never allow soil or gravel to come in contact with untreated wood materials or your exterior finish. Trees and shrubs should be kept clear of the house. Deep rooted plants or trees could interfere with the performance of the perimeter drainage system of the house. Newly planted trees or shrubs require a shallow depression around their base. Loosen the soil of the depression periodically to allow air and water to penetrate into the root system. Once the plant is established , the depression can be filled in. Remember, never raise the soil above the level of the base of the trunk. This action this will more than likely kill the tree. In some arid locations, the installation of lawns, planters, trees or shrubs adjacent to your new home is not recommended. The water that is required to sustain a healthy lawn and plants causes soil to expand or collapse. Installing items too close to your home will adversely affect the load-bearing ability of the soil and may cause structural damage to the residence. EXTERIOR COMPONENTS Vinyl, Metal & Composite Siding Most vinyl, metal or composite siding materials do not require refinishing. Metal and composite siding materials can be repainted. Vinyl siding cannot be repainted. These materials can be kept clean by washing them with a garden hose, mild detergent and light scrubbing. Never use a pressure washer to clean the exterior cladding. Excessive water pressure can cause damage to the surface of the cladding and/or force water into the cavity of the wall. Vinyl and metal siding materials are installed loosely to allow for expansion and contraction when the outside temperature varies. Damaged or extremely loose siding should be replaced or fastened as best as possible to prevent further damage. Wood Siding Wood siding and shingles can be cleaned with a mild detergent and a garden hose. Do not use a pressure washer to clean wood siding as this will damage the surface and force water into the pores of the wood. Painted wood siding or shingles will generally require repainting or staining within five years. Variances to wear largely depend on the type and quality of the product and the exposure to the natural elements.
  25. 25. The siding on your home will require repainting or staining whenever the surface begins to fade, discolor or peel. Moisture that penetrates into wood siding causes most exterior paint failures. This moisture may be caused by garden sprinklers, damp shrubbery next to the wall, small cracks in the siding or from door and window details. Spot repairing affected areas can help extend the life of the remaining surfaces. Please note that spot touch ups of paint or stain will more than likely not match that of the existing surface due to fading and weathering. Siding installed on the south and west elevations may require more frequent repainting or staining to maintain their original appearance. Proactive maintenance of your home exterior paint and stain will also help to provide adequate protection for the siding. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for surface preparation. Decks, handrails and windowsills may require more frequent cleaning and maintenance than other components of the house. This is due to their horizontal orientation. Stucco Stucco consists of a mixture of sand, lime, water and Portland cement. Conventional stucco applications, including those with an acrylic top finish coat, are not waterproof. The protection from water penetration comes from the building paper and flashing installed prior to the application of the first coat of stucco. Stucco does help in shedding water, but it will become saturated after a prolonged period of rain. Control joints are installed at each floor to compensate for the movement of the building frame. Shrinkage of the wood components occurs and hairline cracks may appear in the finish coat after the drying process is complete. These cracks should be expected and it is suggested that they be left until near the end of the first year. Repairs can be made at that time, if necessary. Please note that the repair of the crack is often more unsightly than the original crack. Cracks less than 1/16” in width do not require repair. Larger cracks should be sealed to prevent water into the wall assembly. Most surface dirt on stucco can be cleaned with a garden hose. A pressure washer should never be used to clean stucco surfaces as considerable damage and excessive water penetration can occur. Sometimes mildew and moss grows on the shaded surfaces of cladding. A mild solution of bleach and water may remove this growth.
  26. 26. Masonry Neither the mortar joints in the brickwork nor the bricks themselves are entirely waterproof. The mortar joints should be periodically checked for cracks. Hairline cracks are not problematic but should be repointed to reduce the potential for moisture related problems. Repointing involves cleaning out loose mortar to a depth of at least ½” and filling the space in with new mortar. The bottom course of brick contains intentional openings (weep holes) which allow for the drainage of moisture from the cavity behind the brick. These openings must remain unobstructed and be a consideration when landscaping. White dust or staining on the masonry surface is referred to as efflorescence. It is the result of salts within the masonry or mortar that migrate to the surface of the brick over time. It can usually be controlled with water and a light scrubbing. More persistent occurrences can be washed off with muriatic acid or baking soda. If efflorescence continually occurs in a localized area, the cause may be a specific water source such as a leaking gutter. If this is the case , the problem should be identified and corrected. Caulking Flexible sealing compounds are generally referred to as caulking. Numerous varieties exist and have many specialized uses. Caulking is generally used to seal gaps between dissimilar materials on the exterior of the building and to seal gaps or joints in exterior finishes. As the building moves due to the shrinkage of the building framing members and/or the finishing materials themselves, considerable stress is placed on the caulking materials. While a caulking joint should never be the only means of preventing water from entering a building, it is one of the initial means of keeping water out. Therefore, caulking requires examination annually before the wet weather arrives. Any cracked or damaged caulking should be removed and replaced. When caulking, use a high quality material formulated for your specific purpose. Some varieties of caulking are for interior use or cannot be painted. Consult with your builder or local home supply center for an appropriate product. Windows Window glazing is typically made of glass with the exception of some skylights that may use an acrylic glazing. Current building standards require the use of double glazed, sealed units mounted in thermally broken frames. There are wide assortments of frame types and the materials used can vary.
  27. 27. Windows may open in different fashions. They may slide horizontally or vertically, open outwards like a door or tilt open like an awning. Typical windows require minimal maintenance. Window hardware should be cleaned and lubricated annually. Any accumulated grime or debris should be removed from the window frame. Vinyl window tracks can be lubricated with a silicone spray to ease operation. Most window designs incorporate a drainage track at the bottom of the window. This track collects any condensation that runs off of the glazing. These tracks have exterior weep holes to help drain this moisture. These weep holes must be kept clean and maintained with a short piece of wire or a cotton swab used to clear the area. If levels of high relative humidity occur inside your new home during cold weather, condensation and frost will accumulate on the inside face of the windows. This will become a ventilation issue and not a failure of the window or seals. Condensation can create mold growth on the window frame. This problem can be easily controlled with a mild solution of bleach and water. Condensation between the layers of glass within the window frame indicates the sealed unit has failed. This is called glazing and will require replacement as there is no method of repairing sealed units. If failure of the sealed unit occurs after the expiry of the 12 month warranty, contact your window supplier as the cost of this repair may be partially borne by the manufacturer. Acrylic skylight glazing does allow the migration of moisture. This form of skylight usually has a vent that can be opened to allow for additional airflow between the acrylic glazing units. Check with your skylight manufacturer for further information if you experience this issue. Doors Exterior swing doors are generally made of solid wood, metal, fiberglass or wood over a foam core. Sliding patio doors are usually constructed with metal or vinyl frames and are supplied by the window manufacturer. Interior doors are usually a wood veneer over a hollow core. The bomber door between the garage and the house should have a weather stripping seal and are sometimes supplied with an automatic door closer. In some cases, the self closing feature is no longer required by code. Exterior doors are exposed to weather conditions and extreme variations in temperature. These changes in weather can harm the surface of the door. Variations in the relative humidity from the interior to the exterior can also affect the door. Over time, these conditions can cause doors to warp or change in dimension. Seasonal variations can occur up to ¼” in any direction. Please refrain from trimming a binding exterior door as the problem may rectify itself as the climate changes.
  28. 28. Some exterior doors may have color restrictions from the manufacturer. The heat absorbed by darker colors can sometimes cause failure of the sealing compounds in the glazing and/or cause excessive warping of the door. The wrong paint color may void the manufacturer’s warranty. Please review any restrictions from the manufacturer prior to painting an exterior door. Interior doors are generally sized to allow a gap between the bottom edge and floor covering. The gap tolerance is 18mm (¾”) and creates the ability for air to circulate beneath the door. Weather Stripping Weather stripping is installed around doors and windows to reduce air infiltration. Check the weather stripping annually in order to confirm proper seal. Some weather stripping is adjustable and should cause the door to be slightly difficult to latch or lock. Petroleum jelly can be used to lubricate rubber or vinyl products to maintain their flexibility. Finish Hardware The factory finish on exterior locks and door handles will wear with normal use. This is especially evident with brass finishes in marine environments. To restore this finish, remove the factory lacquer with a scouring powder and then polish and seal the hardware with a new coat of clear lacquer. Interior door hardware can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and polished with a soft dry cloth. It should be noted that natural body oils and many hand lotions are detrimental to brass finishes and will cause tarnishing. Door hardware and locks can be lubricated with powdered graphite or light oil. Decking & Handrails Decks, balconies and handrails are exposed to rain, snow and sun. Cracking, warping and splitting wood deck materials are normal. Painted surfaces will chip and peel and should be touched up annually before the onset of cold, wet weather. Open seams in wood trim should be sealed with a suitable caulking to prevent water penetration. Be careful not to damage any deck membranes. Any damage must be cleaned with mild soap and water or repaired immediately.
  29. 29. ROOF & GUTTERS Roof If the roof of your new home is sloped, it will typically be surfaced with either asphalt, shakes, fiberglass or cedar shingles, clay or concrete tile, metal or a composite manufactured product. Flat or slightly sloped roofs may be surfaced with built-up tar and gravel or torch down sheet goods. The typical life expectancy of these various roof materials ranges from 10 - 25 years. The life expectancy of the roof will depend upon the materials used and the care and maintenance provided. Loose, broken or missing shingles should be repaired or replaced. Most manufacturer warranties for shingles do not cover wind damage if the speed exceeded 80 kph (50 mph). Storm related damage is not the responsibility of the builder. Therefore, maintenance repairs should be made as soon as possible to prevent leakage. Roof leaks can cause serious damage to the interior of your new home or further damage to the remainder of the roof. Asphalt shingles and some roll roofing have granules on their surface. This protects the product from damage due to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. If bare areas of the underlayment roof material are present, they should be protected with additional granules. This material is available at most roofing material supply stores. These types of roofs will become soft in hot weather. The top surface can become damaged from people walking over it. Deflection of the sheathing or lifting the shingles from expansion can cause variations to the surface. Cedar roofing should be washed annually with a garden hose and any accumulated debris and moss should be removed from between the shingles or shakes. The shingles should not be pressure washed as the high water pressure can cause irreparable damage to the composition of the shingle. Wood roofs become very slippery when wet and extreme caution must be taken when working on this type of surface. Wood shingles will crack and split with time. This weathering is generally not a concern unless it causes a roof leak. If a leak occurs, it should be repaired immediately by installing a piece of flashing under the cracked shingle. Older wooden roofs are very brittle and traffic on the roof can cause extensive damage to the shingles. Flat roofs should be inspected by a professional every two years. All recommended maintenance should be carried out. They typically have drains and need to have debris removed on a regular basis. Your drains may overflow. This could indicate heavy rainfall that overwhelms or obstructs them. All forms of roofing are intended to shed water and prevent entry into the home. Obstructions that prevent the free flow of water off of the roof or to a drain can cause leakage or failure of the roofing material. The roof and ancillary flashings must be kept free of debris and any excessive
  30. 30. accumulations of ice or snow. It is recommended that you annually inspect the roof surface for excess debris and especially after every heavy windstorm. If coniferous trees surround your home, they can deposit quantities of debris that could impede the free flow of water run off. The area beneath the roof surface on all homes will be vented to the outdoors. Sloped roofs generally have an attic that has vents at the perimeter, gables or at the ridge of the roof. Flat roofs are also vented. It is crucial to the longevity of the roof to keep your vents unobstructed. All skylights, plumbing stacks and vents on the roof need to be inspected annually and sealed as needed. Ice Dams Snow melting and freezing on the roof as it runs off at an overhang or eave of the roof can cause ice damming. Ice dams can cause water to back up under the shingles and will result in internal leaks. This is a natural occurrence and generally is not considered a building defect. Snow and ice should be removed from the roof at the eaves and valleys as soon as it is safe to perform this task. Gutters & Downspouts Gutters are not required by all building regulations. Builders may install them at the perimeter of the roof to control the runoff of rainwater. Gutters also serve as a preventative measure to carry rainwater away from the foundation. If the gutters or the down downspouts become clogged with debris or ice, water will collect and cause damage to the home. Keep gutters, roof drains and downspouts free of all obstructions in order to maintain their efficiency. Inspect your gutters and downspouts every six months. STRUCTURE Foundation The most common material used in foundation construction is poured concrete. Alternative methods of construction include masonry block walls and walls constructed of pressure treated and preserved wood. It is important to understand that concrete shrinks as it cures. Most concrete flat work may crack due to the shrinkage and stress to load factors or natural elements. Minor cracks cannot be avoided in conventional concrete foundations and floors. These cracks have little effect on the structural integrity of the building.
  31. 31. Hairline cracks in the foundation wall may allow for the entry of water. These cracks can be repaired from the outside with an asphalt-based sealant. If exterior access is not possible, numerous concrete patching compounds are available and can be installed to the inside surface of the wall. Basement Floor Slabs & Crawl Space Ground Seals The floors of basement style homes is ‘cast-in-place’ concrete. This surface may not be perfectly smooth and is generally not intended as a finished floor. As the concrete cures, stress cracks are common. Cracks will generally form at corners, across doorways and at the perimeter of the floor. There is generally no structural reason to repair cracks in a concrete floor unless they are larger than 3mm (1/8”) in width. These cracks can usually be filled with concrete grout. Concrete floor slabs can be painted. The product used should be alkali resistant as it helps in continuing the curing process of the concrete. Painted concrete floors often flake or peel and require continual touch-up. Efflorescence may appear on areas of the concrete floors and walls. Efflorescence is a white powder on the surface of concrete which is caused by salts in the mix. It is cosmetic only and can be removed with a brush. Efflorescence will likely stop once the concrete has had more time to cure. A polyethylene vapor barrier is generally installed beneath the concrete floor to help stop the migration of groundwater. Despite this vapor barrier, some moisture may still transmit into the concrete. Storage items should be raised up off the floor and away from the walls. This will allow for the free flow of air and help prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Crawl space floors are required to have a vapor barrier. This can be a polyethylene barrier weighed down with rocks, gravel or a skim coat of concrete. If a concrete skim coat is used, it will generally be lower in strength, roughly finished and will measure approximately 50mm (2”) thick. The skim coat will likely crack due to its weak strength and the manner in which it was installed. This is normal and no repair is necessary unless the cracks exceed 10mm (3/8”) in width. Wood Frame The most common method of building the structure of a new home is called western platform framing. This method incorporates a vertical frame of 2" x 4" or 2" x 6" studs with continuous plates of the same width at both the top and bottom of the wall. The wall studs are generally on 16 or 24 inch spacing. Plywood, lumber or oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing is used on the exterior of the frame. The floor “platforms” are constructed using 2" x 8", 2" x 10" or 2" x 12"
  32. 32. floor joists of solid lumber or manufactured floor joists. Plywood or OSB sheathing is screwed or nailed to the top surface. To help eliminate squeaks and to provide structural rigidity, glue is often applied to the top of the floor joist prior to the installation of the floor sheathing. The interior and exterior walls of the structure and/or the perimeter foundation wall generally support the floor joists. For space considerations, beams constructed of several joists nailed together, or engineered wood products, may be used to support the joists in lieu of a wall. For larger loads or longer spans, a special manufactured beam may be used. Posts at intermediate locations may support these beams. Most roofs are constructed using prefabricated wood trusses that are spaced 600mm (24”) apart. Detailed roof structures may be framed by hand using roof rafters and ceiling joists. Trusses are capable of spanning large distances while carrying considerable weight. It is likely that the interior walls on the top floor of your home carry no roof loads. That load is only supported by the exterior walls. The wood used to construct your new home will shrink as it dries out after installation. This shrinkage will cause minor changes in the size and the shape of the wood members. These changes do not affect the structural integrity of the wood frame, but may cause changes in the finishes used throughout your new home. The most common changes you might see are ceiling and wall cracks or nail pops in the finished surfaces of the drywall. The movement that results from the shrinkage of the structure may also impact other finishes such as flooring and wood trims. Minor floor squeaks may occur and doors may begin to bind. Any necessary repairs should be postponed until towards the end of the first year. This will allow for the majority of the wood shrinkage to occur. INTERIOR FINISHES FLOOR FINISHES Hardwood Kiln dried material is used for the construction of hardwood floors. These materials are susceptible to movement caused by variations of interior humidity levels. Low humidity levels will cause the wood floor to separate slightly at the seams. High humidity levels will cause the wood to expand. Expansion may lead to cupping or swelling in the center of the board. These movements can be somewhat controlled by monitoring the indoor moisture levels. The movement of the flooring may also create noises as it expands and contracts.
  33. 33. The appearance of hardwood flooring should be protected from furniture scratches, water damage and surface wear. Hardwood floors should be swept or vacuumed regularly. A damp mop should be used sparingly with a mixture of ¼ cup white vinegar and 1 gallon of water. There is no need for wax on the hardwood floors. Resilient Flooring Resilient flooring such as tile or sheet products can be damaged from indentations or scratches. The floor should be protected from such damage by using furniture pads beneath heavy legs. It is best to lift furniture rather than sliding it across these surfaces. Damage to flooring surfaces caused by these types of actions is not a warrantable issue. Resilient flooring should be cleaned with warm water and vinegar. Harsh cleaners can cause fading or adversely affect the composition of the flooring material. Consult with the supplier of your product for their recommendations on cleaning and restoration of your particular floor. Shrinkage can cause movement of the floor structure. Flooring installers applied filler at the seams of the underlayment. It is not always possible to achieve and retain a perfectly level sub- floor Minor ridges can appear under certain light. Generally, these are only cosmetic and do not require any action. Carpet Carpet care generally consists of avoiding spills, cleaning high traffic areas and vacuuming the entire carpet on a weekly basis. Consult your flooring supplier for the specific cleaning and maintenance requirements. Carpets and rugs should be professionally cleaned every year or two depending on the use and appearance. Less expensive carpet is more susceptible to matting. This is primarily noticeable in high traffic areas and can only be prevented by the use of carpet runners. Warranties from the carpet manufacturer generally only pertain to fiber loss and do not usually cover the retention of its appearance. Ceramic Tile Ceramic tile is very durable. Use a mild detergent for routine cleaning. Do not use waxes or sealers. Grout is porous and will absorb water. Coat the grout joints with a clear liquid silicone sealer in order to prevent staining and discoloration. The tile grout in your new home will not be sealed when you move in. It is recommended that the homeowner seal the grout prior to use.
  34. 34. Marble, Granite & Other Natural Stone Spills can permanently stain natural marble. All spills should be cleaned up immediately. Cleaning of marble should be done with warm water and a clean, soft cloth. Scratches should also be addressed immediately. Preventative care such as sealing the stone surface is advised. Sealers are available at your local hardware store for natural stone products. Please be aware!! Some sealers may change the appearance of your stone products. Read the instructions and warnings on any products prior to application. COUNTERTOPS & CABINETS Plastic Laminates Laminated counter tops will burn or delaminate if hot pots or pans are placed directly on the surface. Protective pot holders should be used if heated items are to be placed on the counter top Electrical appliances may also require protection when they are in use. The damage caused by hot items is generally not repairable. Abrasive cleaners or steel wool may scratch the surface and should not be used. Household bleach or solvents can stain or discolor laminate surfaces. Water must not be allowed to remain on joints on the counter top This will result in the substrate of the counter top to swell. This damage is irreversible. Clean the surface of plastic laminates with a damp, soapy cloth or sponge. For stubborn stains, use a mild household cleaner and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Be aware that some liquid cleaners contain abrasives and may solidify at the opening of the container. These hard, solid pieces can scratch the surface if they accidentally get on the cleaning cloth or sponge. Manufactured Marble Sinks and counter tops made from manufactured marble or other man-made materials often have specific cleaning requirements. The manufacturer of the products should be contacted for cleaning instructions. Generally, they can be cared for in the same manner as plastic laminates. Abrasive cleaners should not be used. In addition, these surfaces are heat sensitive. Cabinets Vinyl surfaced cabinets are very susceptible to heat damage. If the kitchen is equipped with a self-cleaning oven, the cabinet drawers and doors near the range should be kept open when the appliance is in the self-clean mode. This will allow any excessive heat to quickly dissipate. If heat is allowed to build up, the surface may delaminate. This precaution should also be taken when the oven is used at a high temperature for any prolonged period.
  35. 35. Most cabinet surfaces can be cleaned using a damp cloth and a mild detergent. Abrasive cleaners should not be used. Grease splattered on the surfaces should be removed immediately as it becomes more difficult to remove when solidified. Paint The majority of the interior drywall surfaces of your new home will be finished with either a latex (water-based) or alkyd (oil-based) paint. Maintain the interior walls by gently washing the painted surfaces with a mild soap or detergent solution. Abrasive solutions or excessive scrubbing should be avoided as they will remove the paint. PLUMBING General The plumbing in your new home will likely consist of plastic or copper piping for the supply of potable water and plastic piping (PVC) for the waste disposal. Other products are available but are less common. A main water supply shut off valve has been provided to your new home. This can be used in the event of an emergency. Additional shut off valves may also have been provided to the sink supply lines and toilets. The waste lines have been provided with clean-outs throughout the residence. These may be located within cabinets, inside closets or clearly visible on a wall surface. These clean-outs must remain accessible if any waste line blockage occurs. P-traps are present at the outflow of all waste piping. These traps are designed to provide a barrier of water and prevents the entry of sewer gases into the home. Sinks or drains which are seldom used may lose this water barrier due to evaporation. If sewer gases are detected, run water down the waste pipe. It will prime the trap again and likely stop the odor. Any waste materials such as grease, fat and petroleum products should not be placed down into the plumbing system. These materials will accumulate in the piping and can significantly reduce the flow of water through the waste system. Waste substances are also very detrimental to the municipal sewage and private septic treatment systems. If your home is on a septic system, the use of bleach as a cleaner should also be kept to a minimum. Excessive bleach can kill off the bacterium that is critical to the operation of the septic system.
  36. 36. Fixtures The surfaces of the plumbing fixtures are susceptible to damage from abrasive cleaners. Use of abrasive products and steel wool pads will cause the finish of the fixture to become dull and porous. Refer to the manufacturer's recommended maintenance procedures for information relating to your fixtures. Plumbing fixtures are intended for normal household use only. Caustic products should not be disposed of into any household fixtures. Hot Water Tank The temperature of the hot water can be adjusted at the thermostat located on the tank. This may require the use of a screwdriver. The hottest setting for the water temperature is 120 deg. F. This temperature is hot enough for most uses but will not cause scalding or burns. If the house is to remain unoccupied for a substantial period of time, the water temperature should be turned down, switched off at the tank or circuit shut down at the breaker panel. Some hot water tanks have a “vacation” setting on the thermostat for this purpose. Hot water tanks are equipped with a pressure relief valve at the top of the tank. This is a safety feature that will open and relieve water pressure if the tank exceeds its rated working pressure. If water or stains are evident at the discharge pipe leading from the relief valve, contact a plumber. This is an indication that the normal operating pressure of the tank has been exceeded. The typical hot water tank has a life expectancy of 8 to 12 years. Periodic draining of the tank will remove sediment and help prolong its life. The sediment creates an insulating effect which causes heating elements to operate longer than necessary. This condition will increase the overall cost and amount of energy consumption. Prior to draining water from the tank, turn off the power supply or fuel source. Do not restore power to the tank until it has been refilled. Doing so may cause the tank to explode due to excessive pressure. The tank can be emptied by attaching a garden hose to the outflow drain at the base of the tank. Keep the hose lower than the tank and route it to a drain or outside the home. Hose Bibs Hose bibs (garden hose connections) often have a shut off valve inside the house. The hose connection can be drained from the inside before winter arrives with its freezing temperatures. These shut off valves should be identified and not used during winter months. The exterior valve should be opened only after shutting off the water supply valve. This will allow the exterior portion of the piping to drain. This process is reversed in the spring once the threat of freezing temperatures are gone.
  37. 37. Some hose bibs are considered "frost free". This means that the valve is connected to a long stem and allows the water to be shut off inside the home structure. The outer portion of the piping then drains freely. Garden hoses should not be left connected to the hose bib during freezing weather. Ice forms in the hose due to the undrained water. The hose or the hose bib will cause the supply pipe to freeze. Toilets Toilets generally refill as follows: flush causes water in the tank to rise, which in turn lifts a ball float to a preset water level. Once the ball float reaches this level, the water flow valve is shut off. If set too high, the water level will rise in the tank and run down the overflow pipe. Water then runs into the toilet bowl without shutting off the water. A simple fix is to adjust the height of the ball float so that the water is shut off before it reaches the height of the overflow outlet. If water continuously runs into the toilet bowl from the tank, there may be a poor seal at the flapper valve at the base of the tank. This seal can be cleaned with a stiff brush or steel wool. A worn flapper valve would require replacement. Water dripping from the base of the toilet tank is likely due to condensation on the tank. High interior humidity levels will result in condensation on the cold surface of the toilet tank. Some toilets and basins are made of glazed and kiln-fired vitreous china. Other basins and bathtubs are made of enameled steel. Both are very durable and attractive. To clean these fixtures, use mild powdered or liquid cleaners. Avoid abrasive cleaners or pads as they will damage the finish. Plugged Toilets & Drains Toilets are very susceptible to blockage. New toilet designs use very little water per flush. The result is a lower volume of water carrying away the waste. Repeated flushing may be required in some instances to remove solid waste. Dense tissue paper and some thick toilet papers are unsuitable for these toilets. Never dispose of hair, grease, lint, diapers, sanitary products, Q-tips, or plastic into the toilet. Hair, grease, large food particles or other solid forms of waste can plug your drains. Remove the debris from the drain trap beneath the fixture. Plungers are a great tool for forcing solid debris from drains. Once the drains partially clear, hot water can be used to complete the job. It is recommended you do not use commercial drain cleaners as some are very corrosive and harmful to your pipes and plumbing. A more severe blockage may require a plumber.
  38. 38. Tub & Shower Enclosures A shower curtain will prevent water from running onto the bathroom floor. To prevent damage to the floors and walls, water should be cleaned up immediately. Caulking is used to seal seams and prevent water from penetrating behind the enclosure. Any gaps or separations around your bathtub, wall tiles or wall enclosure should be filled immediately with sealer or caulking compound. Leaving the gap unsealed may cause serious water damage to adjacent materials. You should apply a clear liquid silicone sealer to the finished tiles at the grout joints of the tub or shower enclosures. Sealer is used to prevent the porous grout from allowing water to seep through to the substrate material behind the tile. This sealing cannot be done until the grout has cured for approximately six to eight weeks. Please note, this is a liquid product and should not be confused with silicon based caulking. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application. We recommend sealing every six months. Some tub enclosures have specific cleaning requirements. Generally, abrasive cleaners and harsh chemical cleaners are not recommended. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance. Floor Drains Many municipalities require a floor drain primer. This primer automatically provides water for the P-trap which is located below the floor surface. The P-trap is similar to those used under sinks and helps form a seal against gases entering into the home from the sewer system. Pour a liter of water down the drain every two to three months if an automatic primer is not present. ELECTRICAL SYSTEM General The electrical system in your home has been installed in accordance with the requirements of the provincial electrical code. The power supply is fed to the home via underground or overhead cable. Care should be taken when digging on your property due to underground service cables, piping and gas lines. For information on these underground services, contact your utility provider, cable supplier or your local building department. Circuit breakers provide electrical protection and are located in the electrical panel. The main
  39. 39. power shut-off will be located inside the electrical panel or immediately adjacent to it. This panel and the location of the main breaker should be located upon moving in and before an emergency occurs. Overloading an electrical circuit or a short in an appliance cord can cause a breaker to trip. Starting up an electric motor of an appliance can also temporarily overload a circuit. To correct tripped breakers, isolate the cause of the overload or short and disconnect the unit. The circuit breaker can then be reset by turning it to the "off" position and then to the "on" position. If the breaker continually trips, contact an electrician. G.F.C.I. Circuits A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (G.F.C.I.) is an additional electrical safety device. This device is a breaker that is designed to provide protection from ground faults. The G.F.C.I. is extremely sensitive and will trip if grounding of the electrical current is detected. Ground faults usually occur in older appliances, inexpensive extension cords and electrical equipment. A poorly insulated extension cord laying on wet ground will often cause a ground fault. Water and electricity are a poor combination. G.F.C.I. protection is installed to the outlets in the bathroom, kitchen and outdoor areas. If this breaker trips, unplug the source of the ground fault and reset the breaker either at the panel or at the outlet itself. G.F.C.I. outlets should be tested monthly to ensure they are working properly. Smoke & Fire Detectors Smoke detectors have been installed in accordance with the requirements of the Building Code. They should be tested monthly to ensure proper operation and cleaned twice a year with a vacuum. Please note that these devices are connected directly to the electrical system of the home. Smoke detectors also require batteries as an added precaution in case of a power failure. Batteries should be replaced at least twice each year.
  40. 40. HEATING & VENTILATION Heating There are numerous types of thermostat controls for heating systems. The accuracy of these controls can vary due to a continued demand for heat. Adjusting a thermostat to a setting higher than the temperature desired will not speed the rise in temperature. The various heating systems available all have specific requirements for maintenance in order to operate at maximum efficiency. The operation of your specific system is best determined by reviewing the instructions provided by your builder or the manufacturer. Heating systems can be noisy at times due to the expansion and contraction of the pipes and other components. Noises are most noticeable at the start up or cooling phases of a cycles. These noises do not affect the performance of the system. Systems that rely on burning fuel to generate heat require air for combustion. The air supply must not be blocked or restricted as a dangerous backdraft condition can occur. Heating systems will not operate unless the thermostat setting is higher than the room temperature. Solar heat gains can warm a room or area above the thermostat setting. The heating system will then remain turned off and other rooms not affected by the heat of the sun can become cool. Furniture or floor coverings must not block the free flow of air at the heat outlets and cold air returns in a forced air system. In addition, the filters must be cleaned or replaced at least twice a year. This will allow the unobstructed flow of air through the furnace. Proper maintenance of the filter dramatically affects the performance and air quality of the system. Ventilation, Condensation & Relative Humidity The optimum year round humidity level within the residence is approximately 50%. Due to seasonal variations of the relative humidity, 50% humidity can be difficult to maintain without the use of specialized mechanical equipment. Furnace humidifiers that add moisture to the indoor environment are available. They must be checked frequently to ensure that proper water level is maintained. Building Code requires the exterior envelope of the structure be sealed against incidental air leakage. Sealing of the exterior walls prohibit leakage of warm air outside the residence. Warm air has the ability to hold more moisture than cold air. Daily activities such as showering, boiling water and respiration create moisture in the air. Surprisingly, four occupants within a home can
  41. 41. cause 1½ to 2 gallons of moisture per day. Warm air suspends this water until it comes into contact with a cold surface. Condensation will form on these surfaces and will fuel the creation of mold and mildew. Your builder has installed a system called THE WHOLE HOUSE FAN. This fan system meets building codes and assures your ability to have proper house ventilation. The failure of an owner to properly ventilate and maintain heating levels can seriously affect a new home and the health of its occupants. Damage caused by the failure to maintain this system properly by the owner would not be covered under the warranty. The key to controlling humidity levels within the home and avoiding condensation is to provide adequate ventilation. Ventilation allows warm air to be exhausted from the home and replaced with cool air from outside. Ventilation is often the only effective means for removing moisture from the air. Windows or the tanks of the toilets are the best indicators in determining proper relative humidity and ventilation is being maintained. Increase the ventilation when condensation occurs on the inside window surfaces or the toilet tanks. Use of a dehumidifier is practical in limited areas and when you are experiencing an extreme air moisture issue. Fans in the kitchen and bathroom will also remove moisture during cooking and bathing. These fans should not exhaust into the attic space as this will become trapped and cause moisture problems. Run the fans before, during and after activities that create any moisture in the air. Many builders provide intermittent timer controls in new homes. These timers regulate the operation of fans and should never be tampered with or turned off. Windows are another effective means of ventilation. Opening a window while a fan is in operation allows for cross ventilation. This will also create a more effective way to remove moisture and odor from the home. Range Hoods & Exhaust Fans Range hoods and exhaust fans are provided to reduce or eliminate cooking odors and excess moisture. Not all range hoods vent directly outdoors. For efficient operation and reducing potential fire hazards, filters should be washed by hand in mild detergent or run through a dishwasher.
  42. 42. Appliances Any appliances installed with the purchase of your new home will have been tested and checked by the builder or subcontractor for proper operation. New appliances generally come with instructions and detail the operating procedures for the appliance. These instructions must be followed in order to maintain the manufacturer's warranty. Any warranty cards provided with the equipment should be completed and sent to the manufacturer as soon as possible. Inspect and clean the exterior vents of your dryer on a monthly basis. They commonly become plugged with lint which reduces the efficiency of the dryer and can also become a fire hazard.
  43. 43. HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST: SPRING ● Activate Exterior Hose Bibs ● Fertilize Lawns ● Clean Windows and Repair Screens ● Unclog and Secure Gutters and Downspouts ● Check Grade Around Foundation ● Test Sump Pump ● Inspect and Maintain Laundry Room ● Treat Nesting Bees ● Test G.F.C.I. Outlets ● Change Furnace Filters ● Change Batteries in Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors SUMMER ● Provide Fence Maintenance ● Clean and Care for Deck ● Clean Exterior Siding ● Check Crawl Space ● Maintain Yard Growth ● Test and Lubricate Garage Door ● Remove Rust on Railings ● Check and Flush Water Heater ● Check Skylights ● Clean Shower Heads ● Change Furnace Filters ● Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors ● Test G.F.C.I. Outlets FALL ● Clean Out Gutters ● Check and Seal Windows ● Change Batteries in Programmable Thermostat ● Service Heating System ● Close Critter Entrances ● Shut Off Hose Bibs ● Check and Maintain Dishwasher ● Clean Outdoor Drains ● Check Toilets ● Clear Out Sink Drains
  44. 44. ● Test G.F.C.I. Outlets ● Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors WINTER ● Check and Repair Weather Stripping ● Inspect Furnace Is Operational ● Change Furnace Filters ● Vacuum Air Registers ● Re-Caulk Bathtub ● Maintain Fireplace and Chimney ● Check Crawl Space ● Replenish Flashlight Batteries ● Test G.F.C.I. Outlets ● Prevent Ice Buildup On Roofing and Gutters ● Remove Hose From Bib ● Shut Off Exterior Water Valves (If Applicable) ● Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors PERIODIC ● Pressure Wash Deck ● Pressure Wash Siding ● Check and Maintain Roof Shingles ● Check Flashing ● Lubricate Door Hinges and Hardware ● Vacuum ‘Hard To Reach’ Spots ● Inspect Caulking Areas (Caulk As Necessary) ● Verify Easy Access To Emergency Shut-offs ● Verify Attic and Crawl Space Ventilation Is Not Obstructed