Category Archives: Home Care

Preventative Maintenance Wood Structures

Preventative Maintenance Wood Structures

The number of wooden or composite surfaced homes built in the United states is much smaller than fifty years ago, but there are still some being built. Outbuildings, like garden sheds, utility buildings, cabanas, and storage buildings are often built with wood or wood composite materials, which require a little extra attention to keep them looking good and functioning properly. A planned maintenance schedule for preventative maintenance can increase the life and functionality of any structure, and this is nowhere more of a truth than with wood or composite structures.

Even if your building is covered mostly with brick, there are still wooden areas that need your attention. The most likely spots are the upper portions of the gable ends, the soffit, and facia boards.

Preventing moisture is the key

Moisture is the enemy of wood. To preserve your wooden structure, you need to prevent moisture from getting into the wood. This is accomplished with paint, stain, or some other type of wood preservative, to seal the moisture out. The edges and ends are most susceptible. The will need extra protection where they are exposed, or joined. This is the job of caulking and trim.

Build a planned maintenance schedule

Tools for maintenance

The best way to go about this is to have a schedule for cleaning, painting and sealing your wooden building. Professional contractors like F&B Painting suggest that this is best done once a year, or at least every 18 months. This may seem like a lot, but you are dealing with the life of your structure, so it is important.

Wood structure preventative maintenance checklist and tips

Please follow the order listed below. If you caulk the building, and then realize you need to level it, your caulking may separate when the building is being leveled.

  • Check the building for levelness. Do this first.
  • Check for wood to ground contact and correct this.
  • Check for termite trails on the sides of any concrete blocks.
  • Scrape off any loose paint. Completely clean the entire building exterior. This is important for finding potential problems, and for assuring a clean surface that your coating will adhere to.
  • Check for missing or damaged shingles.
  • Remove any brush, limbs, or other debris.
  • Check the edges of the eves and overhangs to make sure that there is nothing rotting there. If there is any potential damage from moisture in this area, you should consider adding, or extending metal flashing.
  • Check directly under the roof, where it contacts the outside of the building, caulk any places where there are gaps.
  • Check the corners of the building, look for gaps, and caulk accordingly.
  • Check around doors, and windows.
  • Check the door and window weather stripping.
  • Check the siding, and caulk any exposed nail or screw holes.
  • Apply your paint, stain, or wood preservative only when these other steps have been taken, and the building is clean and dry.

If you have a planned maintenance schedule, and practice preventative maintenance, it will increase the longevity of your building, and the building will stay in good condition as long as you continue your planned maintenance schedule.


Maintenance Checklist: Plumbing

Maintenance Checklist: Plumbing

Safety first!

Anytime that tools are used, there are dangers, so use them appropriately, and follow all applicable safety practices. Plumbing safety practices go beyond those of most other maintenance topics. There is more potential for microbial activity. Take special care when servicing plumbing drain waste and sewer lines.

Interior:

Hot water heater attic installation

Plumbing is both an indoor and outdoor concern. We will start with the indoor, or interior of the home.

Hot water heater

Things to check:

Look for leaks and drips, particularly around fittings and connections. This is the most likely place for a leak to occur.

The TP, or top pop valve is always a concern, this valve “pops off” if pressure reaches a dangerous level inside the hot water heater. Most are set to open at around 150 pounds per square inch. TP valves should be checked at least once a year. TP valve activation is usually accompanied by hissing, or the sound of running water, and possibly, the presence of moisture.

Hot Water Heater Repairs: Top Pop Valve

Toilets

As with all other plumbing fixtures, leaks are the most prevalent at the fitting connections. The flushing and filling mechanism opens a drain when the handle or button is moved, and then seals the tank to allow refill, while simultaneously opening a supply line valve which refills the tank to a predetermined level, and the water supply valve is closed by a rising float.

This float and flapper mechanism is simple, but there are a few things which should be checked. The seals, and the flapper may shrink, or crack, which can cause annoying leaks, the filler mechanism may wear out, or become clogged, preventing proper operation. This is evidenced by intermittent, or constant running water. A good inspection would involve looking at the mechanism as it is working, checking for leaks around the supply, drain, and other fittings.

Showers and tubs

Showers and tubs have supply lines, and drains, and with showers, there will be a shower valve, supply line, and a shower head. Check for leaks around these.

Some repairs can be accomplished fairly easily, but most require getting into the plumbing chase, or the wall behind the tub or shower. In such cases, unless you are an accomplished handyman, the work might be best left in the hands of a professional plumber.

Sinks

Sinks have drains and supply lines, both of which are easily accessible, and these areas should be should be checked for leaks. Repairs are straightforward. Most have shut off valves installed under the sink.

Exterior

Most exterior plumbing supply line problems involve line breaks due to activities like digging. The majority of outdoor plumbing problems have to do with clogged drain lines. There are, of course, outdoor water supplies to external faucets, and irrigation lines as well. Where irrigation is concerned, back flow prevention is important, and proper irrigation head adjustment is a must for both your lawns health, and water use.

Things that should be checked are wet spots in the lawn, or around the foundation.

Related repair articles coming soon:

Changing a top pop

Repairing a faucet washer

Replacing a valve seat

Repairing a solder joint by sweating


Home Improvement Rules Of Thumb

Home Improvement Rules Of Thumb

There are several competing ideas about how the term “rule of thumb” came into being.

One has it that there was a time that a man was allowed to beat his wife, as long as he used a stick no larger than his thumb. Another, that it was the distance on a map that a ship would be safe from the shore, others having to do with a variety human measurements. However the term originated, it has come to mean a general rule that is specific enough to serve as guidance in most situations. That is what we are presenting here.

Angle cuts

When you cut the top of a post for a fence that will not be capped, always cut it at an angle. This will allow water to run off, avoiding potential problems with rot.

Crowns

When fastening lumber, there will almost always be a crown, or an upward bend, this should always be on top, or pointed upward. Gravity will always try to force everything downward, and placing the crown up will counter this tendency.

Radial curl

Rule of thumb

When looking at a board for a deck or other outdoor structure that will be exposed to the weather, look at the end of the board. There will be a section of the radius of the log that it was cut from. There will be a slight curl toward what was once the outside of the log. This will become more pronounced with exposure to weather, causing a cupping effect which, if placed on top, will allow the board to hold water, and cause premature degradation.

This is a growing list

We will be adding more as we have opportunity. We also want to invite you to comment, and let us know of any rules of thumb you might want to suggest.