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The great thing about a new house is that everything is, well, new. Nothing is worn out. Everything works! That’s one of the main attractions in remodeling a home as well, along with improving comfort and raising investment value.

But, as any homeowner knows, the rigors of day-to-day living can cause that blissful ‘new-home’ feeling to fade. It’s an inevitable process, but one that can be stemmed or slowed with proper maintenance of key systems and finishes.

The thought of staying on top of everything in a home can seem daunting, but really, it comes down to common sense, some diligence, and a short list of critical products and systems, including:

  • Heating and cooling. It’s a simple thing everyone has heard before. Changing the furnace filter every three months goes a long way toward maintaining the proper operation of a home’s entire air distribution system. A clean filter keeps dust, moisture, and other allergens out of the ductwork to help ensure fresh and healthy indoor air. Clean filters and ducts also put an easier load on the furnace, prolonging its life, and allowing it to use less energy. For that reason, ductwork should be professionally cleaned every 2-3 years. A properly maintained heating, cooling, and air distribution system can last 15 years or more. By the end of that time, technological advances in energy efficiency and improved comfort will likely justify replacing the equipment.
  • Drainage. Rainwater and melting snow runoff, among other sources of water, must be directed away from the structure to maintain the structural integrity of the foundation. To maintain the drainage and watershed design of a house, gutters should be cleaned and repaired in the fall (once the leaves have all fallen) and in the early spring. Common replacements for aging and leaky gutters are seamless systems and those that are designed to keep debris out of the trough. All downspouts should have extensions and/or splash blocks to direct runoff away from the house, if they are not already installed. As landscaping changes, the dirt against the house (called “backfill”) must be checked again to be sure that it continues to slope away from the structure. Plantings should be set at least 18 inches away from the foundation.
  • Roofing and siding. A home’s exterior finishes — mainly it’s roofing and siding materials — are designed to last at least 20 years and usually longer. That being said, any cracks, voids, or other damage to these finishes can lead to leaks and related moisture problems. Visually inspect the roof and sidewalls of the house at least annually for the first five years of ownership, and then semi-annually after that. Repairs of this nature should be made immediately. Replacement roofing and siding is a common upgrade, creating a fresh look for the home’s exterior and providing an improved barrier against the elements.

For products, systems and finishes that no longer benefit from maintenance, serious consideration should be given to replacements and upgrades. Such investments can refresh a room or increase curb appeal, provide greater convenience or comfort, and perhaps lower future maintenance costs.

There are other maintenance tasks that can help to protect the investment of owning a home and, perhaps more important, sustain or upgrade its comforts and conveniences. When elements of the home reach the end of their usable life, they should be replaced in order to restore and improve performance as well as refresh the look and feel of an existing home.

Warm regards,

Todd Allen Miller, AIA
QMA Design+Build, LLC
5000 Boardwalk, Suite 2
Ventnor, NJ 08406
(609) 822-4949 – phone
(609) 822-4429 – fax


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