Inspection & Maintenance
Many materials are used inside your home to cover your ceilings, walls and floors. These materials should be cleaned and maintained regularly. In addition, you should inspect for structural problems. Although structural problems are rare, it is important to determine the cause and make repairs before the problem grows worse. This section discusses interior inspection and maintenance.
Walls in modern homes are usually made of gypsum wallboard. They should last as long as your home with little maintenance. Sometimes normal shrinking will cause minor cracks or cause nails to pop from the wallboard. The framing boards and the wallboard shrink away from the nail, leaving the nail sticking out beyond the surface of the wallboard. Popped nails do not alter the strength of the wall and should be left alone until you redecorate the room.
When redecorating, fill any cracks, repair any scuffs or dents, and reset and re-spackle any popped nails. Repaint or redecorate the wall surface.
Although you see them every day, you should actually inspect your walls once a year. Look and feel along the walls for cracks and bowing, sagging or leaning walls.
As discussed above, minor, straight, generally parallel cracks are common. Cracks at angles to each other, jagged cracks and open cracks, however, require your attention. If cracking is extensive, additional cracks develop, cracks change in size from season to season or cracks grow longer or wider, you should call a professional inspector, engineer or contractor to inspect for structural problems.
Minor sagging or softening of the wall material may indicate a water leak that should be repaired behind or above the damaged area. Bowed, sagging or leaning walls may indicate structural problems that should be inspected by a professional inspector, engineer or contractor.
Inspect wall coverings for signs of fraying, tearing and pulling away from the wall. Repairing minor problems in time will preserve the look and the life of your wall coverings.
When your walls become dirty, spot clean just the dirty areas whenever you can get away with it. If spot cleaning is not enough, proceed with a full washing. Wash from the top of the wall down, wiping off runs of cleaning solution as you go, before the runs have a chance to cause streaks. Before washing any wall, however, wash a test area first to be sure that you will not damage the surface.
The most common ceiling covering may be gypsum board, also known as sheet rock or plaster board. Other coverings include plaster, wood, tin, interlocking acoustical tiles and suspended ceilings. Whatever the style or materials, your ceilings should require little maintenance.
The roof above rooms with exposed wood ceilings or beams should be inspected regularly as discussed at this link. Even small leaks can cause permanent water stains or wood damage. If you ever see signs of leaks in these rooms, have the problem repaired as soon as possible.
You generally should not need to wash your ceilings. Even if a ceiling is dirty, the dirt will not be noticed if the ceiling is uniformly dirty. Mold on bathroom walls and cooking grease on kitchen ceilings can be cleaned with household cleaners.
You can repaint most ceilings to hide dirt, cover paint damage or redecorate the room. However ceilings are difficult to paint. Because ceilings receive less wear and tear than walls, they are generally repainted less frequently.
Use mats, runners or throw rugs to protect your carpets from dirt and excessive wear in high traffic areas. They are easy to clean and can be replaced when necessary.
Normal maintenance of your wood floor should include regular vacuuming or dry mopping to remove surface dust and dirt. Water can be used to clean your wood floors but be careful not to flood the floor. Excess water can damage the wood. Protect the finish on the floors by attaching furniture rests to the bottom of your furniture legs.
Follow the manufacturers care recommendations. Most resilient floors should be finished with Acrylic High-Gloss Floor Finish. No-wax, linoleum and bathroom floors are discussed below. Before applying finish for the first time, seal the floor with a penetrating sealer (not a surface sealer). You should seal the floor after stripping it for the first time if you do not know whether it has been sealed before. Strip and refinish the floor as needed to keep the floor looking like new.
You do not need to finish no-wax floors with acrylic finish if you sweep, vacuum, damp-mop and wash the floor regularly. However, dirt and grime will wear down the floors finish. If you know you will have problems keeping the floor clean at all times, you may want to finish the no-wax floor. A sealer is not necessary on no-wax floors.
Because bathroom floors are exposed to a lot of moisture, it is difficult to maintain a finished floor. Just seal the floor and keep it clean.
True linoleum is usually found in older homes on floors and countertops. It should be sealed with a wood sealer and finished with wax, not acrylic finish.
Tile Floors (Walls & Countertops)
Clean ceramic tile by wiping with a damp cloth or an occasional wet mop. If necessary, a more thorough cleaning with detergent or ceramic tile cleaner will remove grime. Staining agents should be mopped up promptly. Under normal conditions, some staining is likely to occur. Often stains can be bleached out with household bleach.
A typical window contains glass, framing around the glass called the sash, framing around the window opening and moulding around the frame. Windows may be a single pane of glass or may contain two or more layers of glass with air space between the layers for insulation. A coating on low-E glass reflects radiant heat back into your home during the winter and reflects heat from the suns rays away from your home during the summer.
Wood windows should be inspected inside and out for paint and decay problems in the same manner as wood siding and wood trim. See the discussion at this link.
Look for broken glass panes, bent sashes, loose, broken or missing hardware and torn or damaged window screens. Inspect locks and latch handles for proper operation and secure fit. Check seals, caulking and weather stripping to ensure cool outside air cannot enter your home from around a window. Make any necessary repairs.
A word on washing your windows. Few things affect the feeling of a room more than the quality of light coming through the windows. The easiest, fastest and most effective way to clean windows is with a squeegee and clear ammonia or dishwashing detergent and water. Use a professional quality window squeegee with replaceable blades. Use a squeegee extension pole to reach windows that are beyond reach. A squeegee scrub sleeve is the most efficient way to scrub the windows before squeegeeing.
Finally, check to make sure all opening windows move freely. You want to be certain that your family can exit through windows if necessary.
Wipe your countertops clean with a damp cloth. If necessary, a more thorough cleaning with detergent or household cleaner will remove grime. As with your tile floors, silicon grout seal is applied to protect tile countertops. If you have tile countertops or back splashes, re-apply grout seal once each year (see the tile floor discussion at this link). Staining agents should be cleaned up promptly. Protect your countertops from hot pots, pans, baking dishes and irons with pot rests. Never cut anything directly on the countertop because the knife may dent or nick the surface.
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