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Maintenance Tips

Add to your home’s beauty and value by referring to these simple homecare tips.

Air Conditioning

An air conditioning system will provide you with year-round comfort if you follow the simple maintenance steps listed in the manufacturer's literature.

The thermostat in your home will have a temperature selector and two switches marked HEAT/OFF/COOL and FAN-ON/FAN AUTO. Set the thermostat to the desired setting, the operation switch to COOL, and the fan switch to FAN AUTO. When the temperature goes above the thermostat setting, the thermostat sensor will activate the unit and the fan will automatically turn on. When the desired temperature is reached, the fan will automatically shut off.

To conserve energy, and to make your air conditioner more efficient, keep the windows and doors tightly closed. If you have windows that are exposed to direct sunlight, close the drapes.

The grill of the air intake on the outdoor unit should be kept clear of any debris or the proper air flow will be restricted. New filters should be installed in your unit or, in the case of permanent filters, cleaned, at least four times per year, or according to the manufacturer's written instructions.

Service Notice: It is recommended that you check the operation of your air conditioning unit in late Spring. An early check of the system's operation will provide time to have the situation corrected before the warmer summer season begins.

Before Calling for Service:

If the System Doesn't Cool:

  • Check to see that the thermostat is below the room temperature.
  • Make sure the selector is on COOL.
  • Make sure the main electrical switch is turned ON.
  • Make sure the circuit breaker is not tripped.
  • Make sure the filters are not blocked or clogged.

Special Caution: If your air conditioner should stop operating due to a power failure or an overloaded circuit, extreme caution should be exercised. Do not recycle or reset the unit for at least 20 minutes.

Appliances

Your new home's appliances will save you countless hours as well as improve the results and ease of doing everyday household chores. All products have been individually tested and designed by the manufacturer. Please read your homeowner's manual thoroughly before using your appliances. Be sure to mail in all warranty cards to the manufacturers.

Dishwasher
Before loading your dishwasher, rinse the dishes off first. Don't worry if you find water inside your dishwasher; this is common.

Typically, the dishwasher tub is self-cleaning. Sometimes, after long usage in hard water areas, you may find that a white film has developed on the tub. The tub can be wiped with a damp cloth and a mild, non-abrasive cleaning powder. To clean the exterior, use a damp, sudsy cloth.

Note: Dirty water from the dishwasher drains out through the disposal in the sink. Therefore, proper use of the disposal is important for the proper operation of the dishwasher. Things which should not go into the disposal include celery, artichokes and other stringy vegetables, potato peels, large amounts of rice, and of course, bones, silverware, glass, etc. You should be using lots of cold water each time you operate the disposal, and for about 10 seconds after the blades stop spinning; this allows waste to flow into the larger drain pipes beneath the sink and beyond.

Before Calling for Service:

  • Is the control in the ON position?
  • Is the door closed and locked?
  • Is the water supply shutoff valve (under the kitchen sink) turned on?
  • Is the circuit breaker tripped?

Ranges
Your home may include a self-cleaning oven or continuous cleaning oven. If so, please read the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Be sure to turn off all controls before using the self-cleaning features.

Don't use or spill oven cleaner on metal trim! Never use gritty soaps or abrasive cleaners on any surface. Avoid using any sharp instruments, like a knife or razor blade, to clean any surface.

Before Calling for Service:

Electric Ranges

  • Is electrical cord plugged firmly into the wall outlet?
  • Is the circuit breaker tripped?
  • Is surface heating unit level? Was unit replaced properly after cleaning behind it? Is burner flat? Is range level?
  • If oven doesn't heat, is oven control turned to BAKE or BROIL position and temperature control turned to ON?

Gas Ranges

  • Is valve in gas supply pipe to range turned on?
  • If oven is not heating properly, is the thermostat tube in oven covered with grease? This could cause false temperature readings.
  • Are the gas flame holes in cook tops clogged?

Note: All appliances are warranted by the appliance manufacturer. Please contact the them directly if you need service on your appliances.

Brickwork and Masonry

Brick, by its nature, tends to be irregular in size and shape and normally contains some chips and/or surface cracks. Don't expect each brick to be perfect and spaced perfectly. Small surface chips or cracks and slight variations in size and placement are normal and help to create the texture, beauty, and interest of brickwork.

Mortar joints in masonry are subject to cracking and will weather from exposure to the elements. Should the joints crack, you may need to take maintenance steps yourself, or you may wish to contact a brick mason. If the cracks in mortar joints or masonry walls exceed 3/16" in width, we recommend immediate repairs begin.

Bricks or slump stone may discolor due to moisture. The white powdery substance which appears is known as "efflorescence" and is composed of one or more soluble salts. It can be removed by scrubbing with a stiff brush and a solution of one part vinegar to four parts water. CAUTION: DO NOT ALLOW THIS SOLUTION TO CONTACT ANY FLOORS, WALLS, OR FURNISHINGS.

Service Notice: Because of irregularities in brickwork, you may notice natural cosmetic differences.

Cabinetry

All stained wood cabinets have variations in wood grains and color, especially the paneling on exposed ends. The end grain accepts stain differently from cross grain. The beauty of wood in part stems from grain variation. Variations in grain and knots in wood are part of wood's natural beauty and cannot be controlled by the builder.

Stained or natural finished wood cabinets, as well as other wood items in your home should be treated in the same manner as fine furniture. Washing your cabinets with water and detergents, however mild, will result in damage to your cabinetry's finish. For daily care, dust with a soft cloth. It is recommended that you use the proper furniture polish at least every six (6) months.

If your home has an indoor laundry area equipped with an overhead ventilating fan, be sure to use the fan whenever you use the washer or dryer. Use of the fan will reduce the potential for damage to laundry room cabinets from condensation and heat from the washer and dryer.

In your kitchen, use of the cooktop fan will help to reduce the chance of damage to the cabinets around your cooktop from heat, grease, and steam.

Caulking

This is one of the regular items of maintenance which you should keep high on your list.

Interior caulking:
Since the caulking around your tub and shower areas helps to prevent leaks, it is very important that you check these areas regularly.

If the caulking around your bathtub, sink or windows should appear dried out or cracked, remove the old caulking and replace it. Seeping moisture can cause damage to walls, floors, and countertops. If you do not have a caulking gun, caulking materials can be bought in applicator tubes or disposable caulking guns at any hardware store.

It is critical that you keep the flooring material at the base of the tub or shower tightly sealed. Spilled water in this area or moisture accumulation due to condensation can cause problems which can easily be prevented by keeping this area sealed.

Exterior Caulking:
Exterior wood and trim material are subject to shrinkage, checking, warping, and cracking in areas such as window trim, siding, and roof fascia; routine preventative maintenance by the homeowner is not only desirable, it is necessary. Joints may open up slightly in your exterior trim, and this is unavoidable. When you find that caulking has shrunk, peeled, or deteriorated on the exterior of your home, you will find colored exterior caulking supplies easily available at your local hardware store. During the first year of occupancy, routine maintenance to exterior caulking and paint will keep the exterior in good condition until the house is completely repainted at a later date. We recommend that joints which open more than 3/16" should be caulked immediately.

Concrete

All concrete is subject to minor cracking. Due to varying soil conditions, weather conditions, and simply the nature of any cement-based product, a certain amount of cracking is unavoidable. Seismic activity can also cause cracking. Any cracks developing which are less than 1/8" in either vertical or horizontal displacement should be considered normal.

While cracks are not pretty, they do not necessarily reduce the serviceability of the concrete or reduce its structural strength. If you feel your concrete has experienced excessive cracking, contact a professional. An inspection can be arranged in order to assess the concrete's condition.

In certain cases, when expansive soils are present, exterior concrete slabs such as driveways, sidewalks, patios, front stoops, etc. are subject to upward lift ("heaving") as a result of these expansive soils. Since expansive soils are adversely affected by water, it is very important that water not be "trapped", and therefore, not drain properly when you install your landscaping. For additional information on grading and drainage, please see "Grading, Landscape, and Drainage." "Heaving" in exterior slabs, such as driveways or walks, less than 1/2" should be considered normal and unavoidable where expansive soils are present.

Differences in color are common in cured concrete. The concrete, during the drying ("curing") process may take on varying shades of color. This is unavoidable.

Concrete driveways are designed for normal vehicular use. Cracking or breaking of drives can be caused by heavy vehicles such as moving vans and delivery trucks.

Counter and Wall Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile placed on a cement mortar bed is a very rigid and unforgiving combination. You will experience some cracking in the grout lines where a counter-top meets the wall tile ("backsplash"). You will also see cracking in the corners of shower stalls and where the walls of a shower stall meet the tub or floor, as well as at the threshold of any doors that adjoin tiled floor areas.

This is due to lumber shrinkage in the frame of the home and the natural drying process of all the materials within the building. Grout cracks can be easily repaired.

Ceramic tile is not manufactured to exact sizing dimensions. Due to various firing processes, the size, coloration, absolute flatness, etc. may vary. Therefore, slightly irregular grout lines, slight color variations, and slight height differences between tiles are considered normal.

Ceramic tile may be cleaned with mild soap and water or other household cleaners designed for use on ceramic tile. CHECK ALL HOUSEHOLD CLEANING AGENTS FOR DISCLAIMERS AGAINST USAGE ON COLORED GROUT. Tile can be cracked or damaged by excessive weight or a sharp blow. Expansion and contraction may cause some chipping or cracks.

Cultured Marble

The material contained in cultured marble consists of precisely-compounded natural stone and a polyurethane resin with a gel coat finish applied to provide a non-porous surface which is resistant to stains. No two pieces will ever be exactly alike. Because of this, some variation in color and veining is to be expected and cannot be controlled.

With proper care, the cultured marble will have lasting beauty. Normal cleaning requires only soap or a very mild detergent solution. You may also use some of the appropriate spray-type bathroom cleaners. The use of abrasive cleaners is not necessary and is NOT recommended as it will dull the protective finish and may scratch the marble.

Occasional application of a good grade liquid or paste wax will retard soil formation while keeping the high gloss.

For wainscot and countertop maintenance, one can merely wipe excess water off after usage. This will help to prevent spotting. You should make every effort to avoid exposing the cultured marble to excessively high water temperatures as it will damage it.

We also suggest that you place protective felt pads under items which you set on the countertop to avoid accidental damage.

Because of their non-absorbent surface, the cultured marble will resist most stains. However, prolonged contact with strong chemicals, such as bleach or ammonia, can cause discoloration.

Doors

Exterior wood doors are subject to slight warping, cracking, and panel displacement. Due to varying temperature and humidity conditions between the inside and outside of the home, coupled with the great amount of activity the doors receive, the doors are under a great deal of stress.

Due to the nature of wood products, slight shrinkage cracks may appear in the panels or styles and rails of the door. The panels in your wood doors are "floating panels" and are subject to slight shrinkage and movement within the frame of the door; this is considered normal.

Weather-stripping on your exterior doors will require occasional adjusting to maintain a good seal. A well-sealed door should be somewhat difficult to open and close.

Maintenance and adjustment of weather-stripping should be every homeowners concern.

Painted wood exterior doors should be painted when the house or trim is painted. Naturally finished (stained) doors will require more frequent refinishing than painted doors. Depending on your front door's exposure to the elements, (i.e. rain, sun, etc.), it may require maintenance more often then the rest of the wood on the exterior of your home. Like any stained wood product, it will require special care. Special varnishes and waxes available on the market will enable you to keep the exterior stained finish in good condition.

Exterior Metal Doors
Some of the doors in your home may be galvanized metal clad doors with interior insulation. Metal doors may be found in some or all of the following locations in your home: front entry door, fire doors from home to garage area, furnace room doors (if applicable), or exterior french doors.

Metal doors are nearly maintenance-free. Surface damage to the paint can be corrected by re-painting. Dents to the door can be repaired with bondo-type fillers and then sanded and repainted.

Interior Wood Doors and Woodwork
Interior wood doors, like exterior doors, are subject to warping and cracking. Warpage of greater than 1/4" from top to bottom is unacceptable and the door should be replaced.

You will experience some shrinkage in the interior woodwork of your home at the corners of the door casings, baseboard joints, stair rails, etc. This activity takes place as your home "dries out" due to temperature and humidity variations. This shrinkage is considered normal and maintenance is every homeowner's responsibility.

Closet Doors
The sliding closet doors in your home have hardware which should give long and virtually trouble-free service. To keep doors operating smoothly and quietly, you may wish to lightly lubricate rollers and tracks with a bar of soap, paraffin or similar types of solid wax. Tracks must be kept free of dirt and grit.

Overhead Garage Doors
The moving parts of garage doors should be oiled about once every three (3) months. The screws that fasten the hardware to a wooden door should be tightened in about a year because the wood shrinks as it ages, and this may leave the screws a little loose. An overhead door may warp inward from being left up for long periods of time. Usually you can corrected this by adjusting the door.

Your door is constructed of high quality components to provide years of continued service. Since it is a large moving object, periodic maintenance along with the following cautionary directions should be observed to insure safe and reliable operation.

  • Operate the door only when adjusted properly and free of obstructions.
  • The door is under constant spring tension. Repairs and adjustments, especially to cables and spring assembly, can be hazardous and should be performed by qualified door service people only.
  • Do not permit children to play with garage door or electric controls.
  • Avoid standing in open doorway or walking through doorway while the electrically operated door is moving.
  • In the event of an electrical failure, or if the door should fail to operate for any reason, you can by-pass the electrical opener by pulling down on the cord which hangs down from the track. This cord disengages the automatic opener and will permit the door to be operated manually.

Drywall

Proper installation procedures are carefully followed to minimize the normal cracking which may occur. While every reasonable effort to minimize the necessary joints where sheets of drywall butt together, no installation can completely conceal this joint. Regardless of workmanship, jointing can be detected upon careful inspection, or if the lighting is very angular.

Cosmetic cracking of drywall around window and door openings, drywall seams and metal corner bead edges is expected to occur to some extent in every new home. Some of the causes of drywall cracking are stresses to the drywall caused by minor shrinkage of the wood framing members in the home, earthquakes of even the smallest magnitude, high winds, and expansion of the soils upon which the home is built. Cosmetic cracking of this nature is not a sign of any structural problem with the home or of defective workmanship.

You can be assured that your home was designed, plan checked, inspected, and built to meet or exceed all applicable building codes. The code does not, and could not, allow for elimination of all minor movement and subsequent cosmetic damage within the structure.

Electrical

A panel of circuit breaking switches protects the electrical circuits in your home. If you overload a circuit by plugging in too many appliances, or appliances that are too powerful, the circuit breaker will trip, shutting down that circuit.

Before resetting any breakers, disconnect all cords and appliances, and check them for defects. Insulation worn away from wires may have caused a short circuit. Take care of these defects at once; they are potential fire hazards.

If after visual inspection everything appears to be all right, reset the circuit breaker switch. You will be able to tell by looking at the electrical panel which circuit has been tripped toward the "OFF" position. To restore the circuit, simply move the breaker all the way to the "OFF" position, then back to the "ON" position. This will reset the circuit and usually nothing more is necessary.

Should the breaker immediately trip again, do not reset it again. Call an electrician immediately and do not use that circuit again until the problem has been solved.

Should a major outage of electricity happen in your home or subdivision, please contact the local electrical company.

Ground Fault Interrupter (G.F.I.)
Your home has also been wired with one or more ground fault interrupters (G.F.I.) for your protection. The plug receptacles in the baths, garage, kitchens, and outside locations are on this type of special circuit to eliminate the possibility of electrical shock. Faulty appliances will "trip" this circuit and cause an interruption in electrical power. The most common causes of a G.F.I. tripping are unsafe hair dryers, shavers, BBQ motors or starters, or other small personal appliances or power tools.

The G.F.I. outlets are similar in appearance to a regular outlet except they have two buttons marked "TEST" and "RESET" on them. If you experience a loss of power at the bath, garage, kitchen or exterior outlets, please try resetting the G.F.I. before calling for assistance. In some instances, there is a separate, marked breaker on the electrical panel.

As the G. F. I. is very sensitive, it cannot be used for a freezer or additional refrigerator as the load placed on the circuit by this type of appliance may result in repeated power outages in those areas of the home that are connected to the G.F.I. circuit. You also risk the spoilage of food.

If an appliance stops while in use, check the G.F.I. first. The "R" or "RESET" bottom may have popped out; all you need to do is push it back in. If the G.F.I. is located on a breaker at the electrical panel, simply move the breaker to the complete "OFF" position, then to the "ON" position.

The word when checking electrical items in your home is CAUTION. Always be sure to unplug anything electrical before working on it. Never touch electrical switches while bathing, or if hands or feet are wet. Avoid using defective cords; they are very dangerous.

Switched Wall Outlets
Some wall outlets in your home are operated by a wall switch. This permits you to turn on a floor lamp or end table lamp from the wall switch when entering a room. One half of these wall outlets will be always "hot," while the other half will be operated by the wall switch. If a wall plug fails to operate, first check to see if the plug is controlled by the wall switch before requesting service.

Exteriors

Fencing
If your home has perimeter yard fencing installed, one of the items you should include on your maintenance list is the coating of your fence with pure linseed oil or other special products which are readily available at hardware stores or lumber supply yards. If you begin this maintenance procedure during your first year of occupancy and continue it yearly, you will find this is an effective preservative method.

Gutters and Flashing
If your home is equipped with gutters and flashing, special care should be taken to insure that gutters and downspouts are kept clear of debris, such as leaves, tree limbs, etc., that would cause them to overflow. Rain gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year and debris removed, not swept into the downspouts. Any open corners or joints should be filled with hydroseal.

Please keep in mind that it is not unusual for some water to remain in the gutters after rain. You can also expect to hear some noise from the gutters as water travels through them during rain storms.

Decks and Balconies
You can easily maintain your decks and balconies. Frequent sweeping to remove dirt and debris as well as occasional light washing are generally all that are needed. Drains should also be inspected to be sure they are free of leaves and any other debris which might clog them.

You can expect to have some areas where water will puddle after rains or washing of the deck.

Decks that have a coated surface will need to be refinished by a professional approximately every two to three years, although this can vary depending on exposure to the elements. Inspect for cracks and signs of deterioration every six months or so and have preventative maintenance done if needed.

Stucco Walls
Your exterior walls may have received an application of stucco, which is a mixture of Portland cement, sand and water.

Like concrete or plaster, stucco is not flexible. Some cracks will appear and these cannot be controlled.

There are many factors which cause stucco to crack. Stresses are generated in the home from such things as wind load on walls, impacts, vibrations, earthquake activity, shrinkage in the underlying framing lumber, expansion and/or contraction of underlying soils, etc.

Susceptible areas for stucco cracks always exist to some degree at corners of doors and windows, around penetrations of the stucco, and on open frame construction at faces of studs.

Recommendation suggests waiting about two years before making a cosmetic repair to these normal settlement cracks. Allow this time for the normal shrinkage to end and then cracks can be filled and repainted. Be sure and consult with a good painter regarding the proper type of paint to use on your stucco walls.

Floor Coverings

Carpet
Taking care of your carpet starts at installation. Carpet needs regular care to prolong its life. The lasting beauty of your carpet will depend on your attention to a few simple and easy rules:

  • Reduce soil accumulation
  • Vacuum regularly
  • Remove spills promptly

There will be areas where foot traffic is concentrated, such as doorways, stairwells, and traffic patterns caused by furniture arrangement. Eighty (80) percent of the soiling on your carpet will be from foot traffic. The use of wipe-off mats at all entrances will help to keep outside soil from being tracked onto the carpet. You may also want to relocate furniture periodically to allow for even distribution of traffic and wear on the carpet. Mats and runners on non-carpeted areas adjacent to carpet will reduce soil in heavy traffic areas.

The most important thing you can do to protect your carpet is to vacuum it often. The upright type with brushes and beater bar is best for most types of carpet. The agitation of the beater bar causes soil particles to move freely in the fiber and to move into the air flow of the cleaner. Suction only vacuums tend to move surface soil only. A 9 x 12 carpet can hold as much as one to two pounds of soil and still look clean to the owner.

The brushes of your upright vacuum or the power head of the tank type cleaner must be checked periodically for pins, paper clips or any type of hard object that can lodge in the beater bar. These objects can snag, cut or tear the face yarn which produces a fuzzy or beard-like surface and reduces the life of the carpet. Also, threads and hair must be removed from the bearings to ensure the brush is rotating freely.

The failure to perform routine maintenance will result in your carpet becoming discolored, dingy, and flattened. This is the result of ingrained soil and minute greasy dirt particles that cannot be removed by the vacuum cleaner alone. This condition is normally referred to as "graying out" and can only be corrected by an overall deep clean.

Overall Deep Cleaning
In addition to vacuuming, overall deep cleaning on a periodic basis is necessary to keep the carpet looking its best. If the surface is beginning to look dirty or matted, further delay could damage the carpet fibers. Many systems for carpet cleaning are available. Some require a long drying time, an impossibility in many situations. There are methods that can reduce the time period to a matter of hours, but the main questions you should ask about cleaning procedures are:

  • Will the carpet resoil rapidly?
  • Will it upset your routine?
  • How fast will it dry?
  • Is it safe for your particular brand/type of carpet?
  • How expensive is it?

Deep Cleaning Systems
There are four basic types of cleaning systems - Dry Extraction, Wet Extraction, Dry Foam Extraction and the Wet System.

Dry Extraction
Dry extraction uses a moist compound impregnated with an emulsion of water, softeners, detergents, and safe solvents. The compound is brushed through the carpet pile by a twin brush machine to loosen all the water soluble and solvent soluble soil which is re-absorbed in turn by the compound during the brushing period. The soil-laden compound is vacuumed from the carpet. There is little drying time and the carpet can be used right away. There is minimal danger of shrinkage, split seams or color bleeding, delamination, and wrinkles. Always consult with your carpet supplier or manufacturer before using any cleaning system and follow all instructions for application.

Wet Extraction
A common method is "Steam Cleaning". This method works by spraying, under high pressure, a hot or warm detergent and water solution, mixed as recommended by the detergent manufacturer, on the pile of the carpet. A large percentage of this solution, having dissolved or loosened the soil, is extracted at the same time by a vacuum head located adjacent to the spray nozzle. This extractor may be operated separately, so the cleaning solution can be lifted from the pile.

Dry Foam Extraction
A machine lays down a moist foam, brushes it in and immediately extracts the soil laden foam using one pass. Air and detergent are mixed under pressure to generate a dense, dry foam discharged ahead of the machine and cylindrical nylon brush. The brush applies foam to loosen dirt and residue from each carpet fiber. Dirt is held in suspension in the foam removed by the vacuum extractor located immediately behind the brush. The vacuum extractor lifts the dirt, foam and defoamer into the recovery tank where foam is reduced to liquid for easy disposal.

Caution: The above methods should be used according to recommendations of your carpet supplier and/or manufacturer. These compounds, detergents, and machines, when used improperly, can cause damage to the carpet. Liquid cleaning solutions must be thoroughly removed from the carpet after cleaning as any residue will cause premature re-soiling.

Wet System
The wet system employs a rotary scrubber head and detergent foam that is removed by a wet vacuum. Care should always be taken with wet methods to avoid saturating the carpet and causing shrinkage or delamination. Drying time can be prolonged and ranges from several hours to several days, depending on the operator's skill, knowledge, temperature, and relative humidity. This procedure is usually reserved for hard surfaces or commercial carpet (low nap, dense construction).

Due to the harsh treatment and pile distortion, this method of cleaning is not recommended for residential carpet.

Deep Cleaning of Berbers
Like other new carpets, care of a Berber carpet begins at installation. Unfortunately, many people treat Berbers as if they are indestructible and do not need regular programmed maintenance.

Although Berbers have a heavy textured appearance, Berbers are not much different from any other carpet. The popular Berber colors are either white or light shades. These will naturally show soils much quicker than medium or dark colors. All of the maintenance procedures outlined in this manual are applicable, but the light colors will require more frequent maintenance.

For information on cleaning your Berber carpet, please consult directly with your carpet supplier and/or the manufacturer.

Cleaning of Stain Protected Carpets
By following some simple cleaning practices, stain protected carpet can provide years of beauty and enjoyment. Do not expect any carpet to be completely maintenance-free or totally stain-proof. If soiling and spills are ignored, they will soon spoil the beauty of even the highest quality carpets.

The presence of stain-resistant properties in your carpet will not prevent household chemicals from discoloring your carpet. Some of the common culprits are:

  • ACNE MEDICINES and some skin products for humans and pets.
  • HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS that may be used on tile, toilet bowls, drains, and oven cleaners.
  • BLEACHES with chlorine, mildew killers, and swimming pool chemicals (tracked in from the outside).
  • INSECTICIDES AND PESTICIDES. We strongly recommend that these be applied by a qualified pest control professional only.
  • PLANT foods that may be spilled or leaked from flower pots. This sometimes is not apparent for months.

There can be slight loss of stain resistance in high traffic areas such as stairs, halls, and entryways.

Spots, Stains and Excessive Soiling
Over a period of time, carpet will come into contact with several types of materials, each one capable of ruining the beauty of the carpet. They can also contribute to excessive matting, fuzzing, and poor appearance of the carpet.

These materials are:

  • Dry Soils: Excessive amounts of loose dirt, dust, cigarette ashes, pet hair, and other dry substances that are non-oily and non-sticky. As long as dry soils remain dry, it is easy and quick to remove from the carpet with a vacuum. Pay particular attention to traffic areas; these should be vacuumed daily, even if soil is not visible. Concentrating the vacuuming where people walk saves time and gets better results in keeping the pile up and vibrant, rather than trying to vacuum all of the carpet all of the time. Use a regular schedule for the rest of the areas. An upright vacuum with a brush and beater bar works best; tank types are not as effective. The vacuum cleaners should be pushed back and forth slowly with the head set at the right height to enable suction to remove the soil. Keep the equipment in good operating condition, exchanging the bags frequently and following the manufacturer's directions. If dry soil gets wet from either water or oil, it will either stick to or become embedded in the fiber surface. This is the "grayed out" condition previously described and can be corrected by deep cleaning.
  • Water Soluble Materials: These stains are usually the sweets, starches, non-greasy food, and mud stains. These stains will grab hold and adhere to the fibers and cannot be removed by vacuuming. These stains will spread with foot traffic if not attended to as soon as possible. A simple carpet-cleaning solution is needed to remove them.
  • Petroleum Soluble Materials: These stains include a wide range of substances such as alcohol, coffee, tea, soft drinks, blood, urine, ink, fruit, and paint. If any or all of these are not removed promptly, damage and/or permanent discoloration may occur. A specialized carpet-cleaning solution will be needed.
  • Human and Animal Waste: If it is solid waste, carefully scrape up excess material; do not force it down into the fiber. If it is liquid, immediately blot up excess liquid with white paper toweling or a white bath towel. Sponge area with lukewarm water; do not over wet. Blot and absorb excess moisture. Apply a solution as follows:
    • 3 tablespoonfuls of White Vinegar
    • 3 tablespoonfuls of lukewarm water
  • Apply with towel and allow to dry. If stain remains, re-apply the vinegar solution and allow it to remain on the stain for about fifteen minutes. Blot excess solution and absorb excess moisture. Allow the carpet to dry with no traffic in the area during this time.
  • General Removal Procedures: Never put any type of cleaner directly on the carpet. Always put it on a towel, then apply. For best results, spot clean as soon as the stain is noticed. Remember, anything that is used on a spot or stain must be removed as well. Choose your methods carefully. If the stains are not easily removed, seek the assistance of a professional carpet cleaner. If the stain reappears, it is a sign that you did not get all of the residue from the fiber.

Important Notice: Excessive rubbing of pile and over-wetting will cause pile distortion that will permanently damage the pile face in texture and appearance. Over-wetting can also cause permanent damage to the carpet backing.

Vinyl / Linoleum Flooring
Vinyl floors require minimum care and usually can be kept clean with plain water or mild detergent.

Permanent damage can be done to your vinyl floors through improper cleaning or waxing procedures. "NO RINSE" cleaners, abrasives, and cleaners containing solvents are not recommended as their use can dull and/or yellow your floors. Never use chlorine bleach on your floor coverings. In some instances, where stubborn, hard to remove soiled areas resist cleaning by soaking with detergent, you can use a non-abrasive cleaner for this purpose. High gloss floors should never be cleaned with steel wool or abrasive cleaners.

Even though these floors are rugged, they are not indestructible. Please keep in mind that vinyl flooring can be damaged unless proper precautions are taken.

Equip all furniture and appliances that may damage the flooring with large surface casters, glides or furniture cups. Use plastic containers and cups, since some types of rubber may permanently stain light-colored flooring. Any vinyl surface can be damaged by burns from cigarettes, matches and other very hot items. Flooring can even stain if spills are not wiped up at once.

Caution: Rubber backed mats may cause permanent staining.

High heels can dent or puncture vinyl flooring. It is important to note that a 110-LB. woman wearing high heels exerts in excess of 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. We recommend removing high-heeled shoes before entering areas in your home that have vinyl flooring.

Wood Flooring
The most popular flooring material has always been wood. Besides affording comfort, warmth, and strength, wood affords a natural beauty that can't be duplicated. There is a wide variety of wood flooring available for installation in your new home.

Today's wood floors require less care than carpet. Follow these easy steps for floor care:

  • Avoid water, water detergent solutions or water based cleaners or waxes. They can cause stains, warping, or damage to the finish.
  • Don't drag furniture or other heavy objects across your wood flooring without a pad. Even though the finish on your floor penetrates deeply into the wood, it can still be gouged or scratched by rough treatment.
  • Sweep, buff, or vacuum to prevent dirty build-up about as often as you vacuum your carpet. A soft dry cotton or yarn dust mop is especially good for this. NEVER USE A WET MOP ON WOOD FLOORING.
  • Use the tile attachment or lowest carpet setting when you use a vacuum.
  • Wax your floors with a good quality paste wax, at least once a year, for best results.
  • Use a heavy duty combination wax if your floor receives especially heavy traffic.
  • For help in removing heavy stains, contact your local flooring distributor or contractor.

To protect the floor's finish and prevent dents in the wood, it is recommended that you place furniture cups under the legs of all furniture resting directly on the floor to distribute the weight of the furniture evenly.

Because wood flooring will expand and contract under temperature and humidity changes, there may be slight shrinkage and small separations between the boards. These are normal, and unless excessively wide, are not covered under the limited warranty. Small shrinkage gaps can be filled with wood filler when floors are eventually refinished.

Tile Floors
Remember that the ceramic tile on your floors is fragile and can be broken. Tile floors can be cleaned with warm water and a mild liquid detergent, such as Ivory, and require no waxing. If you should choose to wax your tile, you can expect some darkening of the grout joints to take place as the wax is absorbed. Keep in mind that grout is a porous material and will absorb liquids, etc. that are placed upon it.

It is normal to see some cracking in the grout joints and touch-ups can be easily taken care of during your normal maintenance procedures. This natural settlement cracking is not covered under the limited warranty.

Flooring (Structural)
Wood subfloors are glued, nailed and/or screwed down by the framing contractor to meet all codes and specifications required by the building industry and the local jurisdiction. Minor shrinkage and expansion are to be expected and does not mean there is any defect in material or workmanship. All floors built on wood joists are nailed and every reasonable effort is made to minimize squeaking.

Minor floor squeaks are normal and to be expected.

Foundations

Your home is built upon a concrete foundation, engineered to be more than sufficient to do the job required of it. These foundations are subject to a wide variety of stresses and strains. Changes in temperature, seismic activity, soil shrinkage, and expansion, as well as the natural shrinkage that takes place when concrete achieves its final set can all cause cracks in the concrete foundation. The structural strength of your home is not affected in any way and as the factors which cause the cracking cannot be controlled by the builder, this is not covered under the terms of the limited warranty.

In some areas, based on the recommendations of an engineering report, post-tension concrete slabs are used for the foundation of your home. These slabs have large cables running through them which are used to exert pressure on the slab and alleviate stresses caused by highly expansive soils conditions.

Important Notice: If your home is built on a post-tension concrete slab, it is essential that a licensed contractor review the building plans before beginning any work which would involve any drilling or the penetration of the slab (i.e. remodeling, installation of a floor safe, room additions, etc.). It is absolutely necessary that the location of the cables in the slab be known before beginning any work of this type. Accidental breakage of a cable can result in severe property damage and/or personal injury to yourself, workers on your property or, in the case of attached housing, property damage or personal injury to adjacent homes or persons.

The approved building plans used in the construction of your home can be accessed at either the city building department, or in unincorporated areas, at the county building department offices.

Grading, Landscaping, and Drainage

Your lot has been carefully engineered and graded to standards established by local governmental jurisdictions to insure proper drainage of rain and irrigation waters. Prior to delivery to you, your lot was inspected by the local building department to ensure it was graded in accordance with plans.

Most water problems result from an interference of the flow of surface water. Your lot was graded to ensure that water runs away from the house in all directions and off the lot by means of natural drainage swales or, in some projects, drain lines installed by the builder.

Caution is urged in landscaping to avoid changing the drainage pattern or blocking the swales. It is recommended that you have a civil engineer approve all landscaping plans and improvements and that you review your landscaping contract to be sure it includes language that insures safe and adequate drainage.

Failure to maintain drainage can lead to serious structural failures in your home, water damage to interiors or even financial liability for damage to neighboring properties.

In order to assist you, we have prepared some DOs AND DON'Ts which should be followed in maintaining your original drainage. Please be sure to review these with your landscaper prior to beginning work:

  • Do clear any paved ditches and/or drains on your lot. Keep clear at all times and remove any silt deposits immediately following storms. Keep drain openings clear of debris and other material which could block them in a storm. Water must be permitted to flow freely through these ditches and drains for proper operation; ask your neighbors to cooperate in maintaining those portions which may cross their lots.
  • If your home is equipped with gutters and downspouts, DO keep them free of debris. We recommend clearing gutters and downspouts a minimum of twice a year, more often if needed.
  • Do maintain drainage from the rear yard through the side yard to the street. Keep all earth contacts several inches below construction; slope away from the house on all sides to drain water away from the foundation. This will help to avoid damage from dry rot and/or termites.
  • Do keep the grade of the yard below the door sills to prevent water from draining into the house or garage.
  • Do maintain planted slopes and repair superficial erosion immediately.
  • Do watch hoses and sprinklers for over-watering. Over-saturation of the ground is not necessary and can cause sub-surface damage.
  • Do be sure your landscaper maintains adequate drainage.
  • Do provide drain lines for surface water flow if installing patio concrete slabs or other landscaping items across drainage swales.
  • Don't block the natural drainage swales which the builder has graded around your house or the lot pad. These swales are there for the purpose of removing water on the lot toward the street. You are responsible for maintaining the drainage on your lot. Damage caused by soil movement is not the builder's responsibility.
  • Don't let water gather against foundations or retaining walls. This will cause structural damage, erosion or expansion (swelling) of the soil or the wood.
  • Don't create planter areas next to foundations or around your air conditioner unit that permit water to collect in them. It is important that the weep screed between the house and the foundation be kept clear of dirt mounding, etc. in order to avoid excessive moisture build-up in this area and damage from dry rot, condensation, mold, etc. Avoid the use of spray-type sprinkler heads near foundations. Discuss a good drip system with your landscaper instead.
  • Don't allow the water to flow along the edge of your driveway. In expansive soil conditions, this can cause the driveway to buckle.
  • Don't over-irrigate slopes, especially during the rainy season. This can create accelerated erosion and/or slides.
  • Don't fill the swale with loose dirt left over when digging out for post holes or trees.
  • Don't cover or obstruct water drain lines from the air conditioning unit, water heater, or sewer cleanouts and foundation vents.

A conscientious effort on the part of all homeowners in maintaining their home, lot, drainage, and any slopes will insure an attractive community and protect the value of your investment in your new home.

Heating Systems

You should take special care not to overheat your new home. Overheating can cause excessive shrinkage in the framing lumber and may materially damage the home. When you first move in, it is a good idea to use moderate heat and gradually increase it.

Remember, heater outlets and vents function best when they are unobstructed. It is important that you keep furniture, rugs, and draperies away from the vents and from the furnace's cold air intake.

In designing the capacity of your furnace, it was assumed that the home will be completely furnished, including rugs and draperies. If you are moving into your new home during the colder months and have not yet acquired all your furnishings, your home may seem somewhat cooler than you like.

Thermostat
Setting your thermostat at a high temperature will not heat your house any faster than at a lower temperature.

Before Calling For Service:
Occasionally, the controls on any type of heating system may malfunction. Please check the following:

  • Is the thermostat set above room temperature?
  • Is the selector on the thermostat set on HEAT?
  • Is the main electric switch turned on?
  • Is a circuit breakertripped?
  • Are the filters clogged?
  • Is the fuel line (if applicable) to burner turned on?

Maintenance
Heating system maintenance is every homeowners responsibility. A good time for doing this is in the late summer or early fall. Use only licensed, qualified repair people work on your heating system. Properly cared for and maintained, your heating system will serve you well.

Lumber and Millwork

You will experience some shrinkage in the interior woodwork of your home at the corners of the door casings, baseboard joints, stair rails, etc. Some shrinkage of the wood is inevitable and to be expected. This is why some moldings or trims may move out of their original positions. Shrinkage may cause gaps to appear in woodwork, doors to warp, and cracks to appear.

This shrinkage is normal and is considered a homeowner maintenance responsibility.

To help the wood in your home dry out, it is suggested you keep the temperature of your home at 70 degrees during the first heating season. Too low a temperature will slow down this process; too high a temperature will cause the wood to dry out too quickly and may cause warping, twisting or bowing of the wood.

Service Notice: Please remember the framing members in the overhead area of the garage are not intended for storage support. Similarly, the attic space in your home should not be used for storage of boxes, etc.

We would also like to remind you that there is no floor structure in the attic. Walking in this area can be hazardous. Should you lose your footing, a fall through the sheetrock is likely to be not only very painful, but costly as well.

Painting and Staining Materials

Because paint color changes after application, matches in color made be hard to locate.

Painted walls cannot be spot washed without showing variations in color. If you must wash an interior wall, use a mild soap and wash the entire wall at one time. Do not use detergents. Constant washing to remove every smudge or mark is not recommended. There is no paint that is completely scrubbable.

For long life and low maintenance, painting should be done at regular intervals. Because of steam, condensation, and generally harder wear, the kitchen and bath usually require more frequent painting than other rooms.

Depending on the exposure and other factors, exterior trim, and wood may need paint maintenance more often. Paint and wood varnishes protect the wood on the exterior of your home from damage which occurs as a natural result of heat/sun exposure and moisture/rain. Although nothing can totally prevent the deteriorating effect of the elements on the exterior of your home, if you repaint and revarnish before wood shows advance damage, you'll save both money and time.

Pest Control

There are any number of excellent pest control services that will be happy to help you set up a regular pest control schedule. Please proceed cautiously when attempting to eliminate field mice or other pests. Remember that the use of snail bait to rid your yard or snails or slugs can cause injury or death to children and animals when not used with proper precautions.

Always be sure to consult with a qualified pest control expert whenever you have a question.

Plumbing

Your new home's plumbing system has been engineered and tested prior to passing county/city building inspections. Even though all of your plumbing has been flushed out to remove dirt and other foreign matter, a small amount of pipe sealant compound or other small construction debris may come out of the faucets during the first few days of regular use. It is a good idea before using your water for the first time to remove aerators and let the water run for a few minutes to clear any dust or sediment from the lines.

Emergencies: Your first step is to shut off the water supply. Familiarize yourself now with the location of emergency shut off valves to avoid damage if an emergency happens. The main shut off valves are usually located where the main water supply pipes enter the house. Room shut off valves are usually just below the fixture (at the rear of the toilet at the wall, under the sink in the rear of the sink cabinet). If the leak is at a shower head or tub spout area, you will need to shut off the main water valve to the home.

In the event of a water leak between walls, turn off the main water valve to prevent damage to carpet and/or walls.

Common Problems and Repairs
Please remember that your faucets, sinks, bathtubs, toilets, etc. are fragile and can be damaged. Chips and scratches occur easily through accidental misuse or abuse.

Tarnished or Discolored Fixtures: Corrosion of chrome and/or brass is due to hard water drying on it and is not a part of the manufacturer's responsibility. The finish on your fixtures can also be damaged through the use of improper cleaning methods. Avoid abrasive or acid-based cleaners. Fixtures may be cleaned with non-abrasive, foam type cleaners or mild soap and water. Always dry the fixtures after cleaning and use; hard water deposits will break down the protective lacquer finish and cause corrosion, tarnishing, and discoloration to the finish.

Aerators: This will be your most frequent task in maintaining your faucets. This attachment to the faucet adds air to the water as it leaves the faucet, reduces splashing and provides some savings through lower water usage. Faucet aerators should be cleaned regularly to avoid build-up of sediments. Clean aerators whenever the water stream is impaired or pressure seems lower than normal.

To clean an aerator, unscrew it from the mouth of the faucet, remove any debris, remove and rinse the washers and screens, replace them in their original order, and put the aerator back on the faucet. Frequency of cleaning will depend on the condition of your local water supply, but generally every three or four months should be adequate.

Do not close your faucets too tightly. Close them just enough to stop the flow of water. Over-tightening of faucets can lead to excessive wear on the washers and higher maintenance for you.

Noisy Pipes: Noise in the pipes can be caused by a variety of things. Expansion and contraction of the pipes under temperature changes, water traveling through the pipes, worn washers, loose parts in a faucet, etc. can all cause noise in the pipes.

Leaking Faucets: A leaking faucet can generally be fixed by replacing the washer. Some of the new, single control fixtures have a cartridge rather than washers. These last longer, generally, but still need to be changed periodically.

Don't neglect a leaking faucet. It is not only annoying but expensive.

Traps: Each plumbing fixture in your home has a drain trap, a J-shaped piece of pipe designed to provide a water barrier between your home and the danger of sewer gas. The trap holds water which prevents air-borne bacteria and the odor of sewer gas from entering the house. If any fixture is used infrequently, it should be turned on at regular intervals to replace evaporating water in the trap and insure that the barrier remains intact.

Clogged Pipes: Traps, because of their shape, are also the point at which drains are most likely to become clogged. Sink drains are subject to clogging by grease, hair, soap, etc. Never pour grease into a drain or toilet. To prevent stoppage in the kitchen sink, run very hot water through the drain every week. Remember, however, that cold water only should be used when you are running the garbage disposal.

Clogged traps are usually cleared easily with a plunger. Use a rapid, but firm, up and down motion (have water in the toilet bowl while doing this). In the event of a stoppage or overflow, shut off the water at the angle stop shut-off valve at the base of the fixture. In more severe blockages, by opening the sewer cleanout and snaking the line to remove the blockage.

Toilets: A slow flush is not necessarily a symptom of blockage. To reduce the risk of overflows or blockages in your toilet, be sure to avoid the following:

  • Never use your toilet for the disposal of q-tips, dental floss, disposable baby diapers, paper towels, feminine hygiene items or other personal products.
  • Avoid the use of toilet bowl cleaners that are in solid form; the particles that they drop can clog the water jets in the toilet's rim.

If your toilet seems to be running too much or continues running after flushing, the water level float may be out of balance. It is a simple matter to realign the float by tightening or loosening the screw at the top of the float mechanism. By adjusting the screw, you can raise or lower the float arm; this will generally take care of the problem. Be sure that the float is free and not rubbing on the sides of the tank or other parts.

Water Heaters
By draining your water heater at least every three months, you will add years to its life. To drain, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the gas to the water heater.
  2. Turn on a hot faucet far from the heater, for example, upstairs at the master bathroom sink.
  3. Turn off the water leading into the water heater at its top (you will hear the water stop at the hot faucet you just opened in the bathroom).
  4. Attach a hose to the drain faucet at the bottom of the heater and take the other end of the hose outside. Open this drain and allow the tank to empty. This will drain off mineral deposits before they become solid; a common danger where water is very hard.
  5. Remove the hose and close the drain faucet.
  6. Turn on the water leading into the water heater at its top and let it fill the tank until you hear the hot water in the bathroom. Turn off the bathroom faucet.
  7. Turn on the gas to the water heater.
  8. To light your water heater, refer to the manufacturer's instructions on the heater or call your public utility company.

If your heater has a thermostat indicator, set it between 120 and 140 degrees. After a while you will know where to set the thermostat so your water is hot enough for you but not so hot that it wastes fuel. Please note that water at high temperatures speeds up the creation of lime sediment in your water heater and shortens its life.

Roof

Special care should be taken not to stand on, walk on, or nail anything to the roof of your new home. Only experienced personnel should walk on your roof. Hire a professional to determine what type of maintenance to perform and how often. We suggest that you clear debris from around all vents, chimneys, and rain gutters to avoid damage to the roofing.

Windows, Mirrors, Sliding Glass Doors, Screens

The windows in your home are of excellent quality and are part of the overall energy conservation package in your new home.

You may have dual-paned windows in your home for energy conservation. These windows are made of two pieces of glass between which there is a seal or gasket which makes them weather tight.

Occasionally, the seal between the panes of glass may fail and condensation will build up between the panes of glass. Commonly described as "fogged" glass, this needs to be repaired to protect the energy conservation features of the window.

Service Notice: Do not apply tinting or films to your dual pane windows. Some manufacturers' warranties become null and void when tinting or solar films are applied to windows.

Sometimes the air outside cools the air against the glass. This air will drop to the floor and set up a current which moves through the room. This current of cool air may feel as though the window is leaking cold air, but it is actually cool air in motion.

To avoid excessive moisture (condensation) in your home, it is a good idea to keep bathroom, laundry, and kitchen windows open an inch or so when using these rooms. In the absence of a vented (sliding) window, use the exhaust fans. This will help to reduce condensation which can be harmful to wall finishes and painted window sills.

Windows may sometimes stick because they are tightly fitted. Do not be too anxious to have the windows operate very freely. Allow for normal shrinkage, wax the tracks occasionally with paste wax and allow them to "wear" into good operation.

Service Notice: All aluminum window sill channels should be kept free from dirt for proper operation. The weepholes must be kept free from dirt and debris for correct drainage. Clogged weepholes may cause rain water to pour over the window frame channel and enter your home.

Clean aluminum surfaces with clear warm water as often as needed. Do not use powdered cleaners. After each cleaning of the metal, apply paraffin wax to the locks and rollers to obtain longer life.

Be careful when removing your window screens. They can be easily bent or have the screening torn. They need to be cleaned regularly. Nylon screening requires no preservative.

The plate glass wall mirrors in your home have been installed according to industry standards. Please avoid the use of abrasive cleaners or rough cleaning rags on your mirrors; they can be easily scratched.

Remember also to avoid excessive moisture build-up on your mirrors during cleaning or bathing. Should the moisture penetrate behind the molding at the mirror's edge or behind the mirror itself, it can result in ugly, black blotches in the glass.

Please Note: Home Care Tips are for general reference only. Not all of the features listed are provided in every community by SummerHill Homes. For specific information regarding the features of your SummerHill home, please contact the community sales team.