Home Care and Maintenance


WOOD FLOOR

Care and Maintenance Tips Cleaning

Hardwood floors add a touch of warmness and comfort to your home. With some simple ongoing care and maintenance you can keep your hardwood floors looking great for years to come.

  • Vacuum, sweep, or dust mop your floor weekly. Vacuum wood floors with a special bare-floor attachment; beater bars from certain styles of vacuum cleaners can damage the flooring.
  • Always use manufacturer’s recommended cleaner and frequency when mopping the floors; Never use water.

Reduce Discoloration/Fading

  • Closing window treatments during the day will reduce fading from the sun. Area rugs are a main cause of hardwood fading differently.

Reduce Scratches

  • Protect your floors from grit, dirt and sand as they can scratch the finish. Placing rugs at the entrances to the room can help minimize the amount of grit, dirt and sand.
  • Use protective mats at all exterior-to-interior entrances. Mats must be made of a breathable material to prevent moisture entrapment.
  • Keep animal nails trimmed, avoid high-heeled shoes, or shoes that have sharp objects protruding from the soles.
  • Use protective pads on your furniture bottoms to help prevent scratching the floor
  • Don’t drag heavy objects, such as furniture, across the floor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are gaps developing between my floor boards?

A: Wood floors respond noticeably to changes in humidity in your home. Follow manufacturer’s recommended humidity levels of 35%. Especially during winter months the individual planks or pieces expand and contract (sometimes causing gaps) as water content changes. A humidifier helps but does not eliminate this reaction.

HVAC

Care and Maintenance Tips

Your home’s heating and cooling system should be maintained periodically to maximize efficiency of the units and prevent disruption of operation during extreme weather periods.

Energy Savings – General

  • Closing blinds and drapes on hot days will help deflect sunlight and minimize solar heating.
  • Conversely, open blinds and drapes on cold days to allow sunlight in to warm the home.
  • Reduce heat from lighting. Lights create a lot of heat which your cooling system has to remove, so avoid leaving unnecessary lights on, particularly during the day.

Energy Savings – Landscaping

  • Plan landscaping elements that support efficient energy use. However, never dig around your home until you have contacted your local utility Company. They can advise you where ground wires have been run and direct you to safe areas to dig.
  • Position trees to shade the roof and still allow good air flow around the home.
  • Plant shrubs and trees to shade the air conditioner without obstructing air flow around the unit.

Energy Savings – Use Ceiling Fans

  • Ceiling fans use significantly less electricity as air conditioners and the moving air allows you to feel comfortable with temperatures set several degrees higher.
  • Ceiling fans do not cool the air; they invoke a cool feeling by moving the air around. Therefore, ceiling fans should be turned off when leaving the room and should not be left on during the day with nobody home.
  • Make sure your ceiling fan is spinning the correct way. For cooling purposes, make sure your fan is blowing DOWN, to send air downward to remove the hot air that surrounds your body. During the winter, set your fan to blow UP on a low setting to circulate warm air that rises to the ceiling. For most fans, when you’re standing under the fan looking up, counter-clockwise blows down and clockwise blows up.

Maintenance

  • Based on the area you live, your home will be equipped with either a gas or electric furnace (with or without air conditioning) or heat pump that provides both heating and cooling.
  • Establish a regular maintenance program with your HVAC contractor. The heating and cooling system should be checked and cleaned professionally a minimum of once every two years.
  • Condensation lines should be cleaned and drained annually. The condensation lines drain moisture created by the systems while operating and through normal wear and tear will collect algae and other debris that should be removed to ensure the lines are clear.
  • Check air filters monthly and replace as needed. Do not operate your system without an air filter in position.
  • Never reverse a dirty filter. A dirty filter increases operating costs and will also eventually cause the system to fail.

System Operation

  • Your heating and cooling system is turned on and off by the thermostat.
  • View our tips for recommended use of your thermostat to maximize energy efficiency while maintaining comfort in your home.
  • Air flows from your heating and cooling system through ductwork and enters each room through registers.
  • View our tips for recommended use and maintenance of your Registers and Ductwork.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do I do if I smell gas coming from my furnace?iStock_000014189963Cleaner

A: Evacuate everyone from the home immediately and call your gas company or 911 from your mobile phone. Do not try and light any appliances or flip any electrical switches.

Q: Why is my air conditioning not coming on?

A: Check your thermostat and make sure it is set to “cool” and that the set temperature warrants that the unit will kick on. By design, the unit will not kick on until the inside temperature of the home is greater than the thermostat setting. Also, check your air filter. If it is completely dirty then the unit may not kick on because air flow is restricted. If none of these work, contact your HVAC contractor for assistance.

Q: Why is my heat not coming on?

A: Check your thermostat and make sure it is set to “heat” and that the set temperature warrants that the unit will kick on. If this does not work, call your HVAC contractor for service.

Q: Why is steam rising from my outdoor heat pump?

A: This is a normal occurrence when the unit is completing its defrost cycle. The heat created by this activity mixed with the cooler outdoor temperatures creates the steam.

Q: Why is there a smell when I turn on my heating or cooling system?

A: The first time you turn on the heating or cooling system for a season there may be a dusty smell. This is normal and is a result of the system being settled for a long period of time. If the smell persists, check your air filter. If this does not resolve the issue, call your HVAC contractor.

Carefully read your manufacturer’s guide to understand all recommended safety tips and operating procedures for your dishwasher.

DISHWASHER

Care and Maintenance Tips

Cleaning  -Exterior

  • Do not wipe the dishwasher with a soiled dish cloth or wet towel. These may leave a residue that can damage the finish.
  • Do not use scouring pads, powdered cleaners, ammonia-based cleaners, bleach or cleaners containing bleach because these products can scratch and damage the finish.
  • Use a clean, soft, lightly dampened cloth, then dry thoroughly. Painted finishes (black, white, etc) can be polished with a good appliance polish.
  • For stainless steel finishes, regularly clean and polish the stainless steel doors with a commercially available stainless steel cleaner to preserve and protect the finish.
  • Do not use appliance wax or polish on stainless steel or clean steel.

Energy Saving Tips

  • If you will be running the dishwasher immediately after loading it, scrape rather than rinse the dishes to save water consumption.
  • Run the dishwasher when it has a full load and allow the dishes to air-dry. A full dishwasher uses less energy and water than washing dishes by hand.
  • Avoid regular use of the rinse and hold cycle.

Operation

  • Dishwashers usually come with a drying agent compartment which helps dry the dishes. Make sure the compartment is full of the recommended agent and it will help prevent water spots and dry time.
  • Make sure that food or other particles do not get clogged around the screen in the bottom of the dishwasher. Check this daily between washes.

Care and Maintenance Tips

Cooktops Carefully read your manufacturer’s guide to understand all recommended safety tips and operating procedures for your oven and cooktop.

  • Clean glass top or ceramic top cooktops after each use with a commercially available glass or ceramic cook top cleaner to prevent spills from hardening on the surface and damaging the finish.
  • To remove heavy, burned-on residue, allow the cooktop to cool. Use a single-edge razor blade scraper at approximately a 45 degree angle against the glass surface and scrape the soil. It will be necessary to apply pressure to the razor scraper in order to remove the residue. After scraping with the razor scraper, spread a few drops of ceramic cooktop cleaner on the entire burned residue area. Use the cleaning pad to remove any remaining residue. For additional protection, after all residue has been removed, polish the entire surface with ceramic cooktop cleaner and a paper towel.

Gas Cooktops

  • For gas cooktops, the burner grates, grills and burner heads should be cleaned after each use to reduce cooked on stains. The slits in the burner heads of your cooktop must be kept clean to preserve an even, unhampered flame.
  • To clean grills and grates, wash them in hot, soapy water and rinse with clean water. After cleaning, replace the burner grates and make sure they are positioned securely over the burners. To remove burned-on food, use a non-metallic soap filled scouring pad. Many grills and grates can also be cleaned in the dishwasher. Consult your manufacturer’s instructions to verify.
  • Although they are durable, the grates will gradually lose their shine, regardless of the best care you can give them. This is due to their continual exposure to high temperatures.
  • Before removing the burner caps and heads, remember their size and location. Replace them in the same location after cleaning. Failure to put them back in the correct position may prevent the flames from igniting.

Oven Cleaning

  • Be sure the oven is off and all surfaces are cool before cleaning any part of the oven.
  • Soil on the outside of the oven and outside of the gasket around the oven door will need to be cleaned by hand with warm soapy water or a mild detergent.
  • Do not clean the gasket around the oven door. This is part of the self-cleaning mechanism and should not be touched or handled.
  • The temperature probe may be cleaned with soap and water or a soap-filled scouring pad. Cool the temperature probe before cleaning. Scour stubborn spots with a soap-filled scouring pad, rinse and dry.

Range Hoodswoman doing housekeeping

  • Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for replacing and cleaning vent filters and chambers.

Self-Cleaning Ovens

  • Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate frequency and procedures for running the self-cleaning cycle.
  • When using the self-cleaning cycle, open a kitchen window or run the ventilation fan or hood to help reduce fumes generated during the cycle.
  • Remove all pans and cookware before starting the self-cleaning cycle.
  • All self-cleaning oven racks may be cleaned by hand with an abrasive cleaner or steel wool. After cleaning, rinse racks with clean water and dry with a clean cloth. The oven racks may remain in the oven during self-cleaning cycle without being damaged.

Carefully read your manufacturer’s guide to understand all recommended safety tips and operating procedures for your refrigerator.

Care and Maintenance Tips

Cleaning – Exterior

  • Clean the seals with warm soapy water to help maintain a tight seal around the doors of the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Do not wipe the refrigerator with a soiled dish cloth or wet towel. These may leave a residue that can damage the finish.
  • Do not use scouring pads, powdered cleaners, ammonia-based cleaners, bleach or cleaners containing bleach because these products can scratch and damage the finish.
  • For stainless steel finishes, regularly clean and polish the stainless steel doors with a commercially available stainless steel cleaner to preserve and protect the finish.
  • Do not use appliance wax or polish on the stainless steel.

Cleaning – Interior

  • Refrigerator shelves and bins are removable for ease of cleaning.
  • Do not wash the tray or any plastic refrigerator parts in the dishwasher.
  • To clean and neutralize odors, use a warm water and baking soda solution comprised of about a tablespoon of baking soda to a quart of water. Thoroughly rinse and wipe dry.
  • To remove an odor in the refrigerator you can try putting one tablespoon of vanilla extract on a paper towel and place it in a bowl in the fridge. This solution will absorb the smell and freshen at the same time.
  • Do not use scouring pads, powdered cleaners, citrus-based cleaners, ammonia-based cleaners, bleach or cleaners containing bleach because these products can scratch and damage the finish or their scent may permanently imbed in the plastic surfaces of your refrigerator.

Cleaning Condenser Coils

  • Clean the condenser coils under the refrigerator with a long brush that can be purchased at a local hardware store.

Cleaning Condensor Coils

  • Slide the brush under the unit and run back and forth, then vaccuum all debris that falls.
  • For models with rear coils, move unit away from the wall and brush, vaccuum up dust and debris, then move back into place. This will collect any dust or lint that collects underneath and keep the coils clear. (Be careful when moving the refrigerator away from the wall. All types of floor coverings can be damaged, particularly cushioned coverings and those with embossed surfaces.)
  • Clean coils more frequently if you have pets.
  • Note: not all refrigerators have condenser coils that are cleanable by consumers. Consult your manufacturer’s care and maintenance instructions for your specific model before performing any maintenance.

Operation

  • Avoid putting containers of hot food into the refrigerator; allow them to cool a bit first.
  • Refrigerator shelves are warmer near the door and the coolest parts are near the bottom and toward the back. If possible, keep your meats and dairy products in those cooler places.

Water and Ice Dispenser

  • If your refrigerator comes with a water and ice dispenser, change the water filter as recommended in your manufacturer’s guide. Most units will have an indicator light when the filter is due to be changed.
  • Do not add ice from trays or bags to the storage bin. It may not crush or dispense properly.
  • If ice is blocking the dispenser chute, poke it through with a wooden spoon.
  • Ice cubes may pile up or freeze in the storage bin if not used frequently, causing the ice maker to shut off. You can level the ice cubes by hand and remove large chunks of ice that are frozen together.
  • The dispenser drip area, beneath the grille, should be wiped dry. Water left in this area may leave deposits. Remove the deposits by adding undiluted vinegar to the well. Soak until the deposits disappear or become loose enough to rinse away.

Carefully read your manufacturer’s guide to understand all recommended safety tips and operating procedures for your washer and dryer.

Care and Maintenance Tips

Dryer Maintenance

  • Clean the lint traps inside the dryer before every use. This will help the dryer work more efficiently.
  • Clean the lint traps and exhaust ducts outside the home monthly. This will help avoid a fire hazard and help dryer performance.
  • The outside of the appliance can be cleaned by wiping it down with a damp cloth. If you have a stainless steel finish, you can use a stainless steel cleaner as well.

Safety

  • Keep the area under and around the washer and dryer free of combustible materials such as lint, paper, rags or chemicals.
  • Do not leave washer or dryer doors open; this may entice children or pets to hang on the door or climb into the appliance.

Washer Maintenance

  • Clean the inside of the washer once/month by pouring 1 cup of bleach into the pre-wash section of the dispenser with no clothes in the washer, and run on the Basket Clean cycle. If your model does not have a Basket Clean cycle, you can just run on the Gentle cycle with a small water load.
  • The gasket around the washer door should be cleaned periodically to maintain a tight water seal. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for properly cleaning the gasket.
  • The outside of the appliance can be cleaned by wiping it down with a damp cloth. If you have a stainless steel finish, you can use a stainless steel cleaner as well.

Care and Maintenance Tips

Hot Water Heater Your hot water tank is located in your basement/utility room and provides all hot water that is distributed throughout your home.

  • To reduce the risk of sediment build up and promote efficiency in your water heater it is recommended that the appliance be drained once per year.
  • For electric water tanks, sediment buildup will eventually damage the heating elements inside the tank.
  • Gas hot water tanks will lose their efficiency because they heat from the bottom of the tank.

Energy Tip

  • Set the temperature setting so that when you have your shower turned to full hot it is slightly above your preferred temperature. When the temperature setting is too high, you have to mix in cold water to lower the water temperature, which wastes energy to boil the water. Water at 130°F is hot enough to scald you.
  • Fix leaky faucets. Every 30 drops per minute from a hot water faucet costs you around 18kWh/mo with an electric water heater.

How To

  • How-To drain your hot water tank

ATTIC

Care and Maintenance Tips

An attic’s primary function is structural. The attic soffit and ridge vent ventilate the attic to prevent moisture build up in this space.

General Maintenance

  • Proper ventilation through the attic helps reduce moisture buildup around the home and protects the aging of wooden materials in the roof (trusses and sheathing).
  • Check to ensure there are no obstructions from the soffit or ridge vents.
  • Check for pest intrusion and seal areas (not including vents) where insects or rodents can enter.
  • Check that bathroom/dryer vent lines are not disconnected or leaking into the attic.

Operation

  • You should not use the attic as storage space. Use interior closets or the garage for storage as appropriate.
  • Keep your attic hatch closed. When open it allows warm moist air to escape from your home into the attic.
  • If you are finishing of the interior of your garage (attached or detached) remember to install roof vents to this area to maintain proper ventilation.

A crawl space’s primary function is structural and is typically used in areas with high water tables where basements are not practical.

Care and Maintenance Tips

Components

  • Crawl spaces are constructed with a positive drain through the foundation or into a sump crock to help evacuate the collection of the water in the crawl space.
  • We also install a polyethylene vapor barrier over the ground to help prevent the development of excessive humidity in the crawl space.
  • Crawl spaces will be ventilated during construction as required by the approved building code. Make sure the vents are not blocked at all times to allow proper air flow.

General Maintenance

  • Inspect the vapor barrier periodically and repair any cuts or tears found.
  • Inspect the positive drain in the crawl space for obstructions, such as debris. drain overflow and/or the sump pump.
  • Inspect the drain overflow and/or sump crock for obstructions and buildup.
  • Click here to see instructions on maintaining and inspecting your sump pump.
  • Keep area around the crawl space door opening clear of debris to allow drainage.

INSULATION

Care and Maintenance Tips

Insulation promotes energy efficiency within your home by helping to keep outside air from entering the home.

General Information

  • Your home has been provided with an insulation package designed to meet or exceed your local building codes.
  • Your home is also constructed with house wrap to provide a weather resistant barrier that helps prevent air infiltration.

General Maintenance

  • Attic insulation will settle over time; this natural occurrence is taken into account in planning the amount of insulation originally installed.
  • Do not step on or rest heavy objects on insulated locations in the attic. Puncturing or displacing insulation can reduce its designed effectiveness.
  • Check insulation in crawl spaces and secure any loose or falling insulation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why does it feel cold/hot in certain rooms of my house?

A: Your home has been sufficiently insulated according to local building codes for your area. Insufficient heating or cooling is most likely attributed to operation of your thermostat, registers or heating and cooling system.

CABINETS

Care and Maintenance Tips

We have installed attractive and durable cabinets and shelves in your kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room to provide a warm, inviting appearance and functional storage space.

Care and Maintenance Videos

Cabinets Cleaning

  • Remove dust from cabinets frequently with a soft lint-free cloth. The cloth may be slightly dampened with water or a spray-type dust remover.
  • Do not use detergents or ammonia based cleaners, steel wool, soap pads or abrasive cleaners on your cabinets.

Operation

  • Avoid placing or mounting small appliances beneath your wall cabinets. These appliances (such as coffee makers, toasters and crockpots) can produce excessive heat that can warp your cabinets.
  • Do not overload shelving with heavy objects. For example, space out heavy cans in the pantry closet and in the laundry room with heavy containers of detergent or bleach.
  • If hinges catch or drawer glides become sluggish, a small amount of silicone lubricant will improve their performance.

Polishing

  • Wood and laminate cabinet surfaces may be polished once every few months with a high quality furniture polish.
  • Do not use a paste wax type material or polishes containing silicone. Wax build-up is difficult to remove and will leave a residue that attracts dust and moisture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I be able to see a gap between my cabinets and the wall behind them?

A: Due to the weight of the cabinets and normal home settlement, a gap may occur. Assuming you have not overloaded your cabinets with heavy objects, the gap should be within tolerance for the building codes for your area. Review our Homeowner’s Manual for your area to check the allowable tolerance.

Q: Why do my kitchen cabinets seem to be different colors and styles?

A: Variations of grain pattern and color are normal for wood veneer and solid wood cabinets and shelves. Wood types and exposure to sunlight, smoke or other chemicals may also affect the color of cabinets as they age.

CONCRETE / DRIVE & WALK WAYS

Care and Maintenance Tips

Driveways, walkways, sidewalks, and stoops/steps are made of concrete or asphalt materials.

General Information

  • Concrete is made of natural material and color variation is normal. Color will become more uniform with age.
  • Salt and De-icing agents should not be used on your exterior concrete because they cause discoloration and pitting of the concrete.
  • Concrete will contract and expand due to changing temperatures. Minor cracks are normal and are best left alone.
  • Check your warranty manual to see the required performance standards for concrete in your area. Cracks larger than the performance standard should be reported within the first year of the warranty period and fixed with pointing or patching.
  • Because of the nature of the concrete materials, some minor low spots may occur. Low sections can be broom swept to remove water. Cracks or low spots will not affect the overall strength of the surface.

Sealing Concrete & Asphalt Surfaces

  • Seal your driveway, walkways and front stoop with a penetrating sealer approximately 30 to 45 days after installation and every 2 years thereafter.
  • Most local hardware or supply companies will have the penetrating sealer.
  • Seal all rough surfaces of your concrete including the area under your garage door. This is an area that is more susceptible to damage as salt brine gets trapped by the garage door as it drains off your vehicle.
  • To apply the sealer:
  • Step 1: Pressure wash the surface and allow time to fully dry.
  • Step 2: Apply the penetrating sealer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, allowing sufficient time to dry between applications.
  • You do not need to seal your garage floor as it is a smooth surface.

COUNTERTOPS

Care and Maintenance Tips

Whether you have granite, solid surface, or laminate, proper care and maintenance will keep your countertops looking great.

Granite Cleaning

  • Always carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning your specific countertop material.
  • Do not use abrasive or granular cleaning products and those containing acids or vinegar. Avoid using steel wool or other abrasive cleaning tools to prevent scratches.
  • Clean spills immediately; do not allow liquids to stand on or saturate joints, seams or backsplashes.
  • Clean with a damp, non-abrasive cloth and ordinary soap.
  • Do not flood the countertop, especially near seams, as water can penetrate causing substrate damage.
  • For Natural Stone and Solid Surfaces, do NOT use household ammonia based cleaner, as this can damage the finish of many countertop materials.

Protection

  • Always use a cutting board, chopping block, or other protective surfaces as knives will scratch the countertop surface. Do not chop, slice, pound or hammer on any countertop surface as these all could cause substantile damage.
  • Extreme heat will cause damage; always use a trivet, insulated hot pad or other protective device beneth all hot cookware, heat generating appliances or other heated objects on counter surface.
  • Items such as nail polish and makeup can leave stains on the cultured marble or granite surface of bathroom vanities. Avoid using these products near the countertop or take precautions to protect the countertops while using these products.
  • The caulking between the countertop and the wall, along the joint at the backsplash, and around the sink may shrink, leaving a slight gap. Maintaining a good seal in these locations is important to keep moisture from reaching the wood under the countertop and to prevent warping.

Sealing

  • Granite countertops are porous and thus should be re-sealed annually. You can use a standard granite sealer kit available at any local home center. (To test if your granite countertops need to be resealed, drip a few droplets of water on the countertop. If the water beads up, the sealer is still doing its job. If not, sealer should be applied.)

ELECTRIC

Care and Maintenance Tips

Electricity enters your home through the electrical panel. Distribution of electricity to your various appliances, outlets and switches is regulated by the circuit breakers inside of the electrical panel.

Electric Maintenance

  • Test the operation of the GFCI and AFCI breakers to ensure they are doing their job to protect you and your family.
  • To test, push the Test button located on the circuit breaker. If the device does not trip, it is defective and must be replaced. Contact an electrician to make the repair.
  • If it is working properly, the outlet (not the circuit) should trip. Push the Reset button to restore power to the outlet. If the device does not trip, it is defective and must be replaced. Contact an electrician to make the repair.
  • Never dig around your home until you have contacted your local utility Company. They can advise you where ground wires have been run and direct you to safe areas to dig.

OperationiStock_000010440543Small1-468465_330x220

  • Circuit breakers have three positions: on, off, and tripped. When a circuit breaker trips, it must first be turned off before it can be turned on. Switching the breaker directly from tripped to on will not restore service.
  • ARC Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are required for all bedroom outlets. They protect you from injury or damage due to appliances with damaged cords, loose connections, or nicked or pinched wires inside the walls.
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are circuit breakers that offer personal protection against electric shock. Building codes require installation of these receptacles in bathrooms, the kitchen, and outside areas where an individual can come into contact with water while holding an electric appliance or tool.

Tripped Circuit Breakers

  • Breakers trip because of overloads caused by plugging too many appliances into the circuit, a worn cord or defective appliance, or operating an appliance with too high a voltage requirement (such as a power tool) for the circuit. The starting of an electric motor can also trip a breaker.
  • If a circuit trips, go to the electrical panel and find the circuit that has tripped (will be in the tripped position). Investigate what items are controlled by this circuit, and what may have caused the breaker to trip. (If the breaker trips immediately after you do something, that item caused either an overload to the circuit or may be defective.)
  • After investigation and unplugging any damaged or unnecessary appliances, reset the breaker by pushing the lever to the fully off position, then to the on position.
  • If any circuit trips repeatedly, unplug all items connected to it and reset the breaker. If it trips when nothing is connected to it, contact an electrician for assistance. If the circuit remains on, one of the items you unplugged is defective and will require repair or replacement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I increase the amperage of a circuit?

A: Yes, it is possible, but do not try this yourself. Call your electrician to evaluate what needs to be changed at the outlet level and on the electrical panel to accommodate an increase in amperage.

Q: Why do some outlets in my bathroom work and others do not?

A: Bathroom outlets are protected by GFCI’s which are usually located in one of the bathrooms. This one GFCI will control the outlets in all of the bathrooms. Check to make sure that it has not tripped and if it has push the reset button on the outlet that has tripped. If this does not solve the issue, contact your electrician.

Q: Why do some outlets in my kitchen work and others do not?

A: Kitchen outlets are protected by GFCI’s which are located on 2 or more of the outlets inside the kitchen. Check to make sure that none of them have tripped. If they have, push the reset button on the outlet that has tripped. If this does not solve the issue, call your electrician.

Q: Why does one half of an outlet not work?

A: Check that there is not a switch in the room that operates the 2nd half of the outlet. These switched outlets are usually located in bedrooms, family rooms, and sunrooms. If turning on the switch does not solve the issue, call your electrician.

Q: Why don’t the outlets inside the garage or on the exterior of the home work?

A: Garage and exterior outlets are protected by GFCI’s which are located on 2 or more of the outlets. One is usually inside the garage and in one of the exterior outlets. Check to make sure that none of them have tripped and if they have push the reset button on the outlet that has tripped. If this does not solve the issue, call your electrician.

Q: Why is there a bad smell coming from the outlet?

A: This is a serious issue that requires immediate attention. Call your electrician immediately. This usually indicates an arc (spark) and wire has begun to burn. Try to locate where it is coming from and shut off that circuit.

Q: Why won’t one of the circuit breakers reset?

A: If a circuit breaker has tripped and will not reset, there is an underlying issue that is the cause. Do not force the breaker into the on position. Call your electrician.

Functional and aesthetic lighting has been installed on the interior and exterior of your home.

Care and Maintenance Tips

Energy Savings

  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in all fixtures. These bulbs use less energy than regular bulbs. Note: Do not use CFL’s on fixtures controlled by a dimmer switch.
  • Use a motion sensor for outside lighting (check with your HOA to ensure there is no requirements for outside lighting). Motion sensors will automatically shut off the lights after 1-15 minutes, so you’re not paying to run them all night.
  • Use low wattage bulbs for the lights that are always on. For example, using a 60 watt bulb instead of a 75 watt bulb will use less energy.
  • Installing and periodically testing photo sensors on exterior lights, such as lamp posts, will help ensure that they are not left on during the day.

Safety

  • Always check the maximum wattage of light bulbs for fixtures. Installing a bulb with higher wattage bulbs can be a fire hazard.
  • If you are digging to install plants, fences, or other permanent structures be sure to take note where electrical wires are run. Ideally, call your utility company to mark the utilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are the lights not working?

A: First check that the light bulb is not burned out and the circuit breaker has not tripped. If the bulb is not burned out and the circuit is on, there is a problem with the fixture and you will need to contact an electrician.

Q: Why do the lights dim when the air conditioning unit turns on?

A: It is not uncommon for lights to temporarily dim when an A/C unit initially comes on due to the large amount of energy required to start the compressor. Periodic maintenance of your air conditioning unit, as prescribed by the manufacturer, will help verify that the unit is running efficiently and not creating an electrical hazard.

Q: Why does one half of an outlet not work?

A: Check that there is not a switch in the room that operates the 2nd half of the outlet. These switched outlets are usually located in bedrooms, family rooms, and sunrooms. If turning on the switch does not solve the issue, call your electrician.

Q: Why is a light switch not working?

A: There are potentially many reasons, but a few things to check are that the bulb in the fixture is not out and that there is not another switch also controlling the unit (such as a 2-way switch in large rooms). If you have a ceiling fan, be aware that there are 2 switches for the fan. One will operate the blades and one the lights. If you do not have a light kit, the 2nd switch does not do anything.

Q: Why is my lamp post not working?

A: Cover the photocell with a dark material to simulate nighttime. If you hear a click, there is power going to the unit, and it more than likely is a faulty bulb that needs replaced. If changing the bulb does not solve the issue, call an electrician.

Q: Why is the doorbell not working?

A: Check to make sure that all circuit breakers are on. If this does not solve the problem, call your electrician.

DIRECT VENT FIREPLACE

Care and Maintenance Tips

A direct vent gas fireplace is a safe and efficient way to enjoy the ambience of a fire in your home.

Cleaning

  • Refer to your manufacturer’s care and operating instructions for recommendations on the type of products to use to clean your fireplace.
  • If the inside of your glass needs to be cleaned, carefully remove the screen, release all spring clips around the glass frame and carefully tilt the glass out.
  • Clean with a soft cloth and non-abrasive cleaner. It is critical not to scratch the glass and that it is re-set properly after cleaning to ensure proper seal.

Maintenance

  • Although the frequency of maintenance will depend on the use and the type of installation, a qualified service technician should perform a check-up prior to the beginning of each heating season.
  • When calling for service, consider that peak service season is in the late fall and winter. In the off-season quicker appointment times and reduced service costs may be available from your provider.

Operation

  • A direct vent gas fireplace uses 100% of outside air for combustion and returns all exhaust emissions to the outdoors.
  • To ensure that all the exhaust leaves the home and no heated inside air is used for combustion, there is a sealed glass panel between the combustion area and the home.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: Can I get a fan for my fireplace?

A: Yes. We offer a special package that includes a fan specifically designed for your fireplace as well as a hand-held remote control. If you didn’t take advantage of that option when you first bought your home, they can be sourced from a local authorized retailer.

Q: How much does it cost to operate?

A: The cost to operate will vary depending on the current rate for gas from your gas company. At current rates, your fireplace will cost between 30 and 50 cents per hour to operate. However, while using your gas fireplace, your furnace will not be cycling on as frequently and heating unused areas of your home which can potentially save you money in the winter time.

Q: Is it normal to smell an odor when burning my fireplace?

A: When the fireplace is new, it has oils and paints on the inner surfaces. This will need to “burn off”. After the first year, each fall you may also smell a “hot smell” when you first use your fireplace. This is simply any dust, carpet fibers, pet hair, etc. that may have settled on the heat exchange chamber throughout the summer and now is burning off.

Q: My fireplace feels cold on the coldest days. Is this normal?

A: Remember, your fireplace burn chamber is directly connected to the outdoors through a short vent. On the coldest days, your fireplace will be filled with cold air right behind the single pane glass panel. When not in use, your fireplace will be similar to the cold temperatures you’ll feel if you place your hands against sliding glass doors or metal door frames.

Q: Will my fireplace work in a power outage?

A: Your fireplace requires some electricity to operate. Your fireplace features a patented battery back-up system that when your fireplace power is interrupted, you can simply add batteries into the battery harness in the valve area below the fireplace. Remember to remove the batteries after the power is restored. (If you have a fan in your fireplace, the fan will not operate without power).

WOOD BURNING FIREPLACE

Care and Maintenance Tips

Burning a wood fire adds a luxurious appearance and character to your family room or living room.

Cleaning

  • Remove old ashes and coals from under the grate when completely cool. A light layer is desirable as an insulator and will help to reflect heat.
  • Creosote and other wood-burning by-products accumulate inside the flue over a period of time. This build-up can be a fire hazard.
  • Hire a qualified chimney sweep for this cleaning. If the spark arrester becomes clogged, the diminished airflow will affect the performance of the fireplace and may be a fire hazard. Have the arrester cleaned professionally when needed.

Operation

  • However, while burning a wood fire adds much to the atmosphere only about 10 percent of the heat produced by a fire is radiated into the house.
  • We install a fresh air vent to supply the fireplace with combustion air and reduce the amount of heated air the fire draws from your house.
  • Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use. Leaving this open is equivalent to having an open window in the house. However, always check to be sure the damper is open before starting a fire.

Using your Wood Burning Fireplace

  • Your objective in building a fire should be a clean, steady, slow-burning fire. Begin with a small fire to allow the components of the fireplace to heat up slowly.
  • Stack the logs in two to three layers with air space between. Largest logs to the rear, works best. Any logs 6 inches in diameter or larger should be split.
  • Avoid burning soft woods such as pine and improperly “seasoned” woods as this may produce more by-products and require more frequent cleaning. Seasoned wood is wood that has been allowed to dry outdoors for at least one year. It will appear dark gray or brown and will have loose bark and cracked ends and sides.
  • Start the fire by burning kindling and newspaper under the grate; One sheet of paper burned on top of the stack will help the chimney start to draw.
  • Always close the screen or use a portable screen in front of a burning fire to reduce burning ash from “popping” into the living area.

CARPET

Care and Maintenance Tips

Carpet is a popular flooring choice based on it’s versatility along with the protection it provides to unfinished floors.

Cleaning

  • Vacuum carpeting at least once a week. A light vacuuming is three passes; a thorough job may need seven passes. Heavy traffic areas may require more frequent vacuuming. Vacuuming high-traffic areas daily helps keep them clean and maintains the upright position of the nap.
  • Have your carpeting cleaned professionally at least once a year to remove deep-down dirt and stubborn stains.

Protection

  • If carpeting becomes loose or buckles, or seams begin to separate, contact a carpeting professional.
  • Protect your carpeting from direct sunlight, as it can cause carpeting to age/fade.
  • Check for loose threads. Trim any loose threads, so they don’t catch on vacuums or other items and unravel.

Reduce Staining and Discoloration

  • Seek the advice of a carpeting expert to get the best stain or spot remover for your carpet.
  • To remove spots, use the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning products, if using a spot removal product be sure to follow directions on bottle..

Tile Floor

This durable, tough, and beautiful flooring option adds value to your home and requires only basic routine care to keep it looking great.

Care and Maintenance Tips

Cleaning

  • Ceramic tile is one of the easiest floor coverings to maintain. Simply vacuum with a special bare-floor attachment when needed; beater bars from certain styles of vacuum cleaners can damage the flooring. Occasionally, a wet mopping with warm water may be appropriate. Avoid adding detergent or bleach to the water.
  • Clean the grout used between ceramic tiles with a brush and a mild cleanser. Grout cleansers and whiteners are available at most hardware stores.

Protection

  • Use protective mats at all exterior-to-interior entrances.
  • Use protective pads on your furniture bottoms to help prevent scratching the floor
  • Don’t drag heavy objects, such as furniture, across the floor.

Reduce Staining and Discoloration

  • Application of a “Seal and Finish” product immediately after you move into your new home can help reduce staining and discoloration of the grout between tiles.
  • NEVER seal ceramic or porcelain tiles. Only grout should be sealed if you have ceramic or porcelain tile.
  • If you have natural stone tiles, you should seal the grout AND the stone tile every 2 years.

GARAGE DOOR

Care and Maintenance Tips The garage door is a large, moving object and thus requires periodic maintenance to sustain performance.

Cleaning and Lubrication

  • Lubricate all moving parts of the garage door annually with a non-silicone based lubricant to reduce noise while the door is opening and closing.
  • Lubricate the key cylinder with graphite on an annual basis to maintain proper operation.
  • Wipe down the wheel track to remove any debris and lubricate annually.
  • Wash garage doors with a mild, non-abrasive household detergent and rinsed with water.

Main Components

  • Operation of the garage doors is controlled by several different components.
  • The Motor controls opening and closing of the door. The motor is plugged into a dedicated outlet in the garage.
  • The two Door Sensors are a security mechanism to detect movement in front of the garage door as it is operating.
  • The Touchpad controls opening and closing of the door from the inside of the garage. The Touchpad is connected to the power source for the motor.
  • The Keypad allows opening and closing of the garage door and is located on the outside wall of the garage.
  • The Remote Control allows keyless operation of the garage door and can be kept in your vehicle for convenience.

Operation

  • Test to ensure the door reverses when an object is under the door. Use a block of wood or roll of paper towels for the test.
  • If you hear a banging or popping noise while operating the door, ensure all the hinges are bolted tight and that the rollers are on the track.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I open the garage door if the power is out?

A: If the power is out the garage door can be opened manually. Pull down the emergency cord attached to the opener track/trolley to release the door from the opener so it can be opened manually.

Q: Why can’t I open my garage door using the keypad?

A: Depending on your system, the keypad could be powered by batteries or by electricity. If battery powered, try replacing the batteries to see if that resolves the issue. If powered via electricity, verify that the motor at the top of the garage is plugged in. If yes, then verify is a breaker has tripped on the electrical panel. If these do not resolve the issue, contact your manufacturer for instructions.

Q: Why does the garage door reverse for no reason?

A: Check the safety sensors to determine if they are blocked by any obstructions or to see if they are out of alignment.

Q: Why is my garage door remote control not working anymore?

A: If the remote control is not opening/closing the garage door, check to see if the door opens via the keypad. If this works, then the issue is most likely that the batteries in the remote control need to be replaced.

Q: Why won’t my garage doors close?

A: Check the safety sensors to determine if they are blocked by any obstructions or to see if they are out of alignment.

BRICK

Care and Maintenance Tips The exterior brick on your home should be cleaned and inspected periodically.

Cleaning

  • Never use a pressure washer to clean brick as it may chip or crack brick and mortar joints and force water behind the brick.
  • Clean your brick every 1-2 years with a garden hose and stiff bristled brush.
  • If further cleaning is required, use a brick cleaner but carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions and test a small discrete area first before proceeding to the rest of the home.
  • If regular cleaning does not remove stain, contact a brick professional for assistance.

General Information

  • Small holes exist in the mortar along the lower row of bricks called “weep holes”. By design, these holes allow moisture that has accumulated behind the brick to escape.
  • Inspect the weep holes to ensure they are not blocked by landscaping or clogged with debris or algae.
  • Inspect brick every 2-3 years for missing mortar or signs of deterioration that may require tuck pointing.
  • Inspect caulking around exterior windows, doors, trim, j-channel, and vent pipes. Always remove caulk before applying new caulk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it OK to have ivy or other growing vines on my brick?

A: While aesthetically pleasing, ivy and other vines can hold moisture against your brick and cause damage, as well as invite pests to inhabit and nest. Remove any vines or weeds growing on your brick.

Q: Why is a white powder forming on my brick?

A: The white, powdery substance that sometimes accumulates on masonry surfaces is called efflorescence. This is a natural phenomenon and cannot be prevented. If rain and warming weather do not improve the condition, review Cleaning tips above for ways to try and clean your brick.

FOUNDATION

Care and Maintenance TipsExpress-House-Cleaning-Windows11

Proper grading was established for your home at settlement to properly absorb water and direct it away from your foundation.

General Information

  • We are responsible only for initially establishing the proper grades and swales in the areas disturbed by construction. The Homeowner is responsible for maintaining such grades and swales once they have been properly established.
  • Gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks should be kept unobstructed and maintained to divert water away from the foundation.
  • It is important that the established grades be maintained, and the swales remain clear, so that surface water may flow away from your home.
  • Be aware when planting new landscaping or building decks/patios to not affect designed drainage patterns in your yard.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do I have standing water in my yard?

A: Make sure that your swales and exterior drains are not clogged or obstructed. From a measuring standpoint, standing or ponding water should not remain for more than 48 hours in the immediate area after a rain; except in swales which drain other areas. The possibility of standing water after an unusually heavy rainfall should be anticipated.

GUTTERS

Care and Maintenance Tips

Gutters and downspouts direct water away from the home to designated drainage areas.

General Information

  • Keep gutters clean of debris that can cause overflowing or ice damming, which could cause damage to the house.
  • Keep downspouts from being blocked to drain properly. Remove snow and debris from the exits of downspouts to help prevent freezing and ice damming.
  • Downspouts that end on sod should have an extension or splash pad along the ground to move the bulk water away from the perimeter of the home.
  • The extensions must be in place and in their lowered position to move water away from the foundation. Always return downspout extensions to their lowered position after mowing lawns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are my gutters leaking?

A: Check your gutters to ensure all debris has been removed so that water will properly drain. Gutters and downspouts may overflow during a heavy rain due to the volume of water. Check again after the rain has stopped to see if the condition continues.

Q: Why do I have standing water in my gutters?

A: When your gutters are not obstructed by debris, some water may remain standing due to the pitch of the gutters. Check the gutter connection to the downspout and ensure all blockage has been removed, as well as the opening of the downspout where water is released. If these do not resolve the issue, check your warranty manual for accepted tolerances of standing water in your area.

LANDSCAPING

Care and Maintenance Tips

Properly maintained landscaping adds beauty and color to the exterior of your home.

General Information

  • The homeowner is responsible for maintaining all landscaping provided at settlement, including the lawn, trees and shrubs.
  • Visit your local garden center to obtain a book on garden and lawn care for your geographic area.
  • A local garden center may also be able to provide you guidance on care and maintenance of your lawn and garden relative to your local weather patterns and typical soil conditions.
  • You may also consider utilizing a lawn and garden contractor during your first year of ownership to help get your landscaping established.
  • Never dig around your home until you have contacted your local utility Company. They can advise you where ground wires have been run and direct you to safe areas to dig.

How To

  • Click here to see recommended tips for maintaining your start-up lawn.

SHUTTERS AND EXTERIOR TRIM

Care and Maintenance Tips

Shutters and Trim add distinction and depth to the exterior of your home. Cleaning

  • Never use a pressure washer to clean shutters or trim as it may chip or crack these items and lead to water damage.
  • Clean shutters and trim every year with a garden hose and a mild household cleaning detergent and clean from top to bottom.
  • If further cleaning is required, try other cleaners available at local hardware stores but make sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions and always test a small discrete area first before proceeding to the rest of the home.

General Information

  • Your shutters and trim will either be made of wood or a composite material. Both surfaces will need to be cleaned. All wooden shutters and trim will require painting. Some composite shutters will require painting if they did not come pre-painted.
  • Inspect caulking around window trim, door trim and garage door trim. Always remove caulk before applying new caulk.

Painting

  • Applying paints or stains properly can extend the life of wooden shutters and trim.
  • Paints or stains reduce mildew and help you achieve the color effect you desire from your shutters and trim.
  • Failure to maintain the painted surfaces on your home can result in stain damage from mildew.
  • Periodically inspect for chipping or fading paint. Remove any loose paint before repainting.
  • Refer to your Pre-Settlement Demonstration Booklet to see the choices you made for manufacturer and color of paint.

SIDING

Care and Maintenance Tips

The siding on your home should be cleaned and inspected periodically to preserve its appearance. Cleaning

  • Clean siding every 1-2 years using a garden hose and soft bristled brush.
  • If further cleaning is required, a mild household cleaner may be used but carefully follow manufacturer’s instructions and test a small discrete area first before proceeding to the rest of the home.

General Information

  • Inspect caulking around exterior windows, doors, trim, j-channel, and vent pipes. Always remove caulk before applying new caulk.
  • Never use a pressure washer to clean siding as it may chip or crack the siding and force water though the seams.
  • Avoid excessive overspray from sprinklers on any type of siding.

STUCCO Care and Maintenance Tips

Stucco provides a unique, distinctive appearance to the exterior of your home. Periodic maintenance should be performed to maintain its appearance. Cleaning

  • Never use a pressure washer to clean stucco as it may chip or crack stucco and force water behind the surface.
  • Clean stucco every 1-2 years with a garden hose and a mild household cleaning detergent and clean from top to bottom.

General Information

  • Stucco needs to be painted with a high-quality exterior paint at regular intervals to maintain color and water permeability as per manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Stucco is not waterproof; avoid spraying water from hoses or sprinklers on stucco to avoid possible leaks or water damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is a white powder forming on my stucco?

A: The white, powdery substance that sometimes accumulates on masonry surfaces is called efflorescence. This is a natural phenomenon and cannot be prevented. If rain and warming weather do not improve the condition, review Cleaning tips above for ways to try and clean your stucco.

Q: Why is my stucco cracking?

A: Cracks are not unusual in exterior stucco wall surfaces. Small, hairline cracks can be painted over. Larger cracks that develop outside of the warranty period will need to be repaired by a masonry professional.

MAIN WATER SHUTOFF

Care and Maintenance Tips The main water shutoff controls the flow of water to the entire home. General Information

  • Familiarize yourself with the location of all plumbing shutoffs in your home so you know where they are in event of an emergency.
  • Each plumbing fixture in your home has its own shutoff valve. If a fixture is leaking, use the shutoff valve for that fixture to stop the flow of water.
  • The main water shutoff should only be used in emergency situations when water is leaking excessively and the source of the leak cannot be determined.

SECURITY SYSTEM

Care and Maintenance TipsFemale hand wiping dining table

Our homeowners can optionally choose a standalone security system or a fully integrated system that includes fire and carbon monoxide detection.

General Information

  • Your security system is powered via electricity, however a battery backup exists in the event the power goes out.
  • The backup batteries must be replaced periodically and the system tested according to manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure it is in reliable working condition.

Replace Batteries

  • Always use the appropriate battery type recommended by the manufacturer as a replacement.
  • A low battery warning will sound if you have a low battery condition on one of your wireless sensors. The sensor will still operate fully but the low battery condition should be resolved as soon as possible.
  • When you replace the weak battery with a new one, the sensor will send a “good battery” signal to the control panel when the sensor is activated (by opening a door or window, etc.).
  • If you do not activate a sensor, the control unit will automatically clear the low battery signal within one hour.

Routine Care

  • Keep dust from accumulating on the keypad and all protective sensors, particularly on motion sensors and smoke detectors.
  • The keypad and sensors should be cleaned carefully with a dry soft cloth. Do not spray water or any other fluid on the units.
  • Do not slam sensor-protected doors or windows.

SMOKE DETECTORS Care and Maintenance Tips

Smoke Detectors are installed in each of your bedrooms and in an additional room on each level of your home to notify you and your family of a potential fire or smoke hazard.

Maintenance

  • Replace the batteries as needed (frequency will be affected by the quality of the batteries in use and other environmental factors in the home). The system will “chirp” when the batteries are getting low.
  • Keep dust off of the detectors by gently vacuuming the outside of the unit once a month.

Testing

  • Your smoke detectors are powered via electricity, however they have a battery backup in the event the power goes out. The detectors and backup batteries should be tested monthly to ensure they are still functioning properly.
  • Press the button on the outside of the unit labeled “Test” and verify that the alarm sounds.

With the pending hurricane we are expecting high winds and a great deal of rain.

STORM PREPARTATION

Care and Maintenance Tips

Please take the extra time to be proactive in preparing your home for this event. Please consider the following reminders:

Storm Preparation

  • Make sure any areaway drains and overflow drains are free of debris.
  • Make sure the sump pump outlet and sump pump are working properly. Check often.
  • Secure any loose patio furniture, umbrellas or trash cans that can be blown around.
  • Make sure there is nothing impeding or blocking water flow from the exterior down spouts and drains.
  • If the power does go out, contact the utility company immediately. With no power, the well, sump pump, or ejector pits will not operate. In this case, do not use the basement bath.
  • Fill some containers or a bath tub with water for regular water use. Each toilet will have enough water in the tank for one flush. You can remove the tank lid and manually fill with water to the fill line for additional flushes.
  • Gas cook tops will still be operational by using a lighter when you turn on the burners to the ignite position.
  • Monitor the rain water in the area way.
  • Unplug any exterior yard lighting fixtures plugged in to outlets.
  • Keep garage doors closed during the storm.
  • Have emergency Kit available with Flash lights and batteries.

HVAC DUCT WORK

Care and Maintenance Tips Ductwork delivers air from your heating and cooling system throughout your home.

Maintenance

  • Have your ductwork professional cleaned once every two years to remove dust and other debris that collects due to normal traffic in your home.
  • If you have pets, you should have your ductwork cleaned annually.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do I hear a ticking noise coming from the registers when my furnace kicks on?

A: Some popping, pinging or rubbing sounds are the natural result of ductwork heating and cooling in response to airflow as the system operates. While eliminating all these sounds is impossible, we will correct oil canning. (Oil canning occurs when a large area of sheet metal like those found in air ducts makes a loud noise as it moves up and down in response to temperature changes.)

Q: Why does a room or area of my home not get heat/cool air?

A: First, check your registers to make sure they are open, allowing heated or cooled air to enter the room. If registers are open but you feel no air coming through, contact your HVAC contractor for assistance.

Q: Why does my furnace make a loud booming noise when it turns on?

A: Eliminating the popping and pinging sounds in your ductwork is impossible, but “oil canning” should be corrected. Oil canning occurs when a large area of sheet metal like those found in air ducts makes a loud noise as it moves up and down in response to temperature changes. Contact your HVAC contractor for assistance.

HVAC Care and Maintenance Tips Your home’s heating and cooling system should be maintained periodically to maximize efficiency of the units and prevent disruption of operation during extreme weather periods.

Energy Savings – General

  • Closing blindsand drapes on hot days will help deflect sunlight and minimize solar heating.
  • Conversely, open blinds and drapes on cold days to allow sunlight in to warm the home.
  • Reduce heat from lighting. Lights create a lot of heat which your cooling system has to remove, so avoid leaving unnecessary lights on, particularly during the day.

Energy Savings – Landscaping

  • Plan landscaping elements that support efficient energy use. However, never dig around your home until you have contacted your local utility Company. They can advise you where ground wires have been run and direct you to safe areas to dig.
  • Position trees to shade the roof and still allow good air flow around the home.
  • Plant shrubs and trees to shade the air conditioner without obstructing air flow around the unit.

Energy Savings – Use Ceiling Fans

  • Ceiling fans use significantly less electricity as air conditioners and the moving air allows you to feel comfortable with temperatures set several degrees higher.
  • Ceiling fans do not cool the air; they invoke a cool feeling by moving the air around. Therefore, ceiling fans should be turned off when leaving the room and should not be left on during the day with nobody home.
  • Make sure your ceiling fan is spinning the correct way. For cooling purposes, make sure your fan is blowing DOWN, to send air downward to remove the hot air that surrounds your body. During the winter, set your fan to blow UP on a low setting to circulate warm air that rises to the ceiling. For most fans, when you’re standing under the fan looking up, counter-clockwise blows down and clockwise blows up.

Maintenance

  • Based on the area you live, your home will be equipped with either a gas or electric furnace (with or without air conditioning) or heat pump that provides both heating and cooling.
  • Establish a regular maintenance program with your HVAC contractor. The heating and cooling system should be checked and cleaned professionally a minimum of once every two years.
  • Condensation lines should be cleaned and drained annually. The condensation lines drain moisture created by the systems while operating and through normal wear and tear will collect algae and other debris that should be removed to ensure the lines are clear.
  • Check air filters monthly and replace as needed. Do not operate your system without an air filter in position.
  • Never reverse a dirty filter. A dirty filter increases operating costs and will also eventually cause the system to fail.

System Operation

  • Your heating and cooling system is turned on and off by the thermostat.
  • View our tips for recommended use of your thermostat to maximize energy efficiency while maintaining comfort in your home.
  • Air flows from your heating and cooling system through ductwork and enters each room through registers.
  • View our tips for recommended use and maintenance of your Registers and Ductwork.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do I do if I smell gas coming from my furnace?

A: Evacuate everyone from the home immediately and call your gas company or 911 from your mobile phone. Do not try and light any appliances or flip any electrical switches.

Q: Why is my air conditioning not coming on?

A: Check your thermostat and make sure it is set to “cool” and that the set temperature warrants that the unit will kick on. By design, the unit will not kick on until the inside temperature of the home is greater than the thermostat setting. Also, check your air filter. If it is completely dirty then the unit may not kick on because air flow is restricted. If none of these work, contact your HVAC contractor for assistance.

Q: Why is my heat not coming on?

A: Check your thermostat and make sure it is set to “heat” and that the set temperature warrants that the unit will kick on. If this does not work, call your HVAC contractor for service.

Q: Why is steam rising from my outdoor heat pump?

A: This is a normal occurrence when the unit is completing its defrost cycle. The heat created by this activity mixed with the cooler outdoor temperatures creates the steam.

Q: Why is there a smell when I turn on my heating or cooling system?

A: The first time you turn on the heating or cooling system for a season there may be a dusty smell. This is normal and is a result of the system being settled for a long period of time. If the smell persists, check your air filter. If this does not resolve the issue, call your HVAC contractor.

HVAC THERMOSTAT

Care and Maintenance Tips

A programmable thermostat has been installed in your home to control your heating and cooling system.

Operation

  • Each degree of change in temperature increases your energy consumption considerably.
  • Use your thermostat to create programs to raise or lower the temperature (based on if you are heating or cooling) 2-4 degrees to conserve electricity during known times when you will not be in the home (such as the workday).
  • Avoid placing lamps, televisions or appliances that generate heat near the thermostat.
  • Avoid “juggling” the thermostat by large amounts (over 4 degrees). The heating and cooling unit takes time to process and you will likely not achieve the desired effects in the time you wish to obtain them.

Setup

  • Turn the thermostat setting to “heat” to activate the heating system or to “cool” to activate the air conditioner.
  • The “on” and “auto” setting controls whether the blower on the system recycles air through the home continually (on) or only when the unit is running (auto). If you have ceiling fans in your home, keep setting on “auto” and use the ceiling fans to help circulate air around the home when the heating or cooling unit is not running.

HVAC REGISTERS

Care and Maintenance Tips

Registers control air flow from your heating and cooling system within each room of your home.

Do Not Restrict Airflow

  • Arrange furniture and draperies to allow unobstructed airflow from registers and to cold air returns. If cold air is unable to return to the furnace, the flow of heated air to that area of your home becomes restricted.
  • There should be a minimum 1/4″ gap on the bottom of doors so that the air can flow from a room with a closed door back to the room or hallway to the return air vent.

When Operating Air Conditioning

  • Closing dampers in unused rooms during warmer months when running the air conditioner can improve system efficiency by limiting the rooms in the home that need cool air sent to them.

When Operating Furnace

  • When running the heat during colder months, adjusting the dampers can help distribute warm air more evenly through the home. However, adjust dampers one at a time to monitor the effects in the other rooms.
  • Closing too many registers at once can overheat the furnace by reducing airflow, blowing holes in your ducts. Refer to your manufacturer’s guide or contact your HVAC contractor to discuss how many (if any) registers you can safely close according to the size and type of your heating system.

BATHROOMS

Care and Maintenance Tips

Your bathrooms come equipped with many accessories that generally only require periodic cleaning and adjustments if loose.

Mirrors

  • To clean your mirrors, use any reliable liquid glass cleaner or polisher available at most hardware or grocery stores.
  • Avoid acidic cleaners and splashing water under the mirror; either can cause the silvering to deteriorate.
  • Acidic cleaners are usually those that contain ammonia or vinegar. Avoid using glass cleaners on plumbing fixtures as some formulas can deteriorate the finish.

Towel Bars

  • Loose bath accessories can be repaired by tightening the small set screw on the bottom.
  • The mounting bracket for bath accessories is attached to the wall with wall anchors (it may be necessary to remove the accessory and tighten the bracket).
  • Towel bars are not designed to hold more weight than standard towels. Do not hang heavy objects or let children hang on or play with towel bars.

CAULK

Care and Maintenance Tips

Caulk is placed throughout your home to help deflect water from leaking behind finished surfaces.

General Information

  • Latex caulking is appropriate for an area that requires painting, such as along the stair stringer or where wood trim meets the wall.
  • Caulking that contains silicone will not accept paint and works best where water is present, for example, where tub meets tile or a sink meets a countertop.
  • Time and weather will shrink and dry caulking so that it no longer provides a good seal. As part of your routine maintenance, check the caulking and make needed repairs. Caulking compounds and dispenser guns are available at hardware stores.

Home Exterior

  • Inspect caulking around exterior windows, doors, trim, j-channel, and vent pipes. Always remove existing caulk before applying new caulk.

Home Interior

  • Inspect caulking around interior windows, doors, trim and stairways. Always remove existing caulk before applying new caulk.
  • The area where the backsplash of your countertops meets the wall is caulked with siliconized acrylic or latex caulk since it adjoins a painted surface. Do not use 100% silicone in these locations since it cannot be painted.

Wet areas

  • Caulking in wet areas such as showers and tubs must be maintained by the homeowner regularly.
  • Water intrusion behind ceramic walls or under floors can damage your home. Corners of tile and the where flooring abuts the tub should be checked periodically and resealed as needed.
  • Use 100% silicone caulk for these areas. The surface must be dry and meticulously clean for best results. Always remove existing caulk before applying new caulk.

DRYWALL

Care and Maintenance Tips

Drywall will experience settling and nail pops during the first year of ownership.

General Information

  • Settlement is a normal process in wood frame construction as the building materials compress and acclimate to the climate.
  • Maintaining a consistent temperature in your new home throughout the seasons can help prevent stress on the drywall by minimizing expansion and contraction from temperature change.

One Year Drywall Service

  • Our warranty provides for a one time repair of settlement cracks, nail pops, and seams in your drywall during One Year Drywall Service.
  • One Year Drywall Service is completed near the end of the first year of ownership to allow sufficient time for your home to settle.

INTERIOR HARDWARE

Care and Maintenance Tips

Door knobs, interior and exterior stair rails, as well as plumbing and electrical fixtures have finishes (brass, nickel, etc.) and operating parts that require periodic cleaning.

Door knobs/Hinges

  • Lubricate key holes and door lock mechanisms with a graphite spray to allow ease of use.
  • Apply a standard household “3-in-1″ oil to lubricate hinges that may squeak or provide resistance when operating.
  • Periodically inspect door stops to ensure they are not bent or the rubber stopper has fallen off to protect wall surfaces and the door surface from damage.

Finishes

  • Manufacturers typically apply a protective coating to the plated surface of brass, bronze, and other antique finish products.
  • In time, the protective lacquer may deteriorate either from exposure to weather, extremes of climate, frequency of use or other factors.
  • Tarnishing or excessive wear of these finishes is a normal process which is unavoidable.
  • Hardware finishes can be cleaned easily and quickly with a soft cloth and warm, soapy water to remove fingerprints and dust.

INTERIOR FINISH

Care and Maintenance Tips

The interior of your home is initially painted a basic white or off-white color.

Choosing a Paint Finish

  • When you are ready to repaint your home, there are many different paint finishes you must consider given how you plan to use the room.
  • FLAT paint is a good finish for ceilings and walls with surface imperfections. Flat paints do not reflect light which can help disguise bumps and dents in the walls. Flat paints generally do not hold up well to washing, so keep extra paint on hand to help with scuffs and scratches.
  • SATIN or EGGSHELL finish is more durable and stain resistant than a flat finish. This finish is a good choice for living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways and stairwells.
  • SEMI-GLOSS finish has more shine than eggshell paints and is more durable and stain resistant. Semi-gloss paint is most often used in high traffic areas such as bathrooms and interior trim around doorways and windows.
  • GLOSS finish is the hardest and most durable finish option. It has high sheen and is the most resistant finish to stain and easiest to keep clean. However, gloss finish does not hide surface defects because it reflects light. Gloss paints are a good choice for wood trim and doors and provides a nice contrast to walls painted with satin or eggshell finish.

General Information

  • We recommend that you wait to repaint the interior of your new home after the first year. This allows time for settlement to occur and to complete One Year Drywall Service.
  • Dirt or scuff marks on the walls can be easily painted over. Use the touch-up kit provided to you at your Pre-Settlement Demonstration for this purpose.

WOOD TRIM & MOULDING

Care and Maintenance Tips

The wood trim and moulding in your home adds definition and style around your walls and ceiling lines.

General Information

  • Chair moulding, crown moulding, baseboards and shoe moulding (sometimes called “quarter-rounds”) are collectively referred to as your “Trim Carpentry” and require little homeowner maintenance.
  • You may experience shrinkage of these trim items as the weather changes and due to settlement of your new home.
  • Most of the time cracks that form at joints of moulding or gaps to the floor or wall can be repaired with caulk and then touch-up paint after the caulk dries.
  • You may also use a nail or two to hold moulding in place where it starts to separate. Touch up with a little paint when done to hide the nail head as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where can I get trim to match what was used in my home?

A: Most of the wood trim in your home is purchased from Tinder Wholesale Company (http://www.tinderwholesale.com/moulding.cgi). Like material can be obtained by visiting the manufacturers website and selecting the proper part number for the material you are trying to match. Your local lumber yard can then order it for you.

GARBAGE DISPOSAL

Care and Maintenance Tips

Your disposal system helps protect blockage in your pipes by breaking down food and other particles disposed in the kitchen sink. Disposals should be cleaned periodically and used properly for maximum effectiveness.

Cleaning

  • Clean your disposal to improve the smell and remove any bacteria that may form under the rubber gasket.
  • Place the stopper in the sink and fill halfway with water.
  • Add 1/4 cup of baking soda and mix together.
  • Turn on the disposal and release the water.
  • Another option is to use citrus rinds: Cut a lemon into 4 sections and freeze; Next, chop it up in your disposal. The acid from the lemon will kill bacteria and leave behind a fresh smell.

Leaks

  • If the disposal is leaking in the cabinet beneath the sink, place a bucket under the drip.
  • Check the connection between the disposal and drain pipe. If loose, you can tighten to see if this stops the leak. If not successful, call your plumber as soon as possible and schedule a service appointment.

Operation

  • Always use cold water when operating your disposal. This not only saves hot water you pay to heat, it preserves the disposal motor and cools the ball bearings which helps the motor last longer.
  • Allow the cold water to run 10 to 15 seconds after shutting off the disposal.
  • Avoid putting small bones, fruit pits and other hard objects in your disposal as these items will dull the blades.
  • Always run the disposal before putting food into it. Putting large amounts of food into an inactive disposal can cause jamming.

HOSE BIBS

Care and Maintenance Tips

Hose Bibs are located on the exterior of your home to provide an exterior water source. General Information

  • All hoses should be disconnected from the hose bibs prior to the start of winter and especially the first freeze.
  • If a hose is left attached, the water that remains in the hose can freeze and expand back into the pipe, causing a break in the line.
  • If leakage is detected, immediately shut the faucet off and call your plumber.
  • For added protection we recommend that the interior valve leading to the exterior faucet be turned to the off position and the line be drained prior to the first freeze.

SEPTIC TANK

Care and Maintenance Tips

A septic system processes and neutralizes liquid and solid waste that exits your home from sinks and other plumbing fixtures. A conventional septic system consists of three main parts; a septic tank, a drain field and soil beneath the drain field. Maintenance Schedule

  • Many jurisdictions require proof of an annual inspection of your septic system. We recommend you utilize a licensed, septic system inspector than can also perform periodic maintenance to your system.
  • Your inspector can recommend a maintenance schedule that is appropriate for your tank size, style and drain field properties.
  • Consult with your inspector before landscaping near your septic system; Root systems for different types of plants and/or grading changes caused by landscaping can alter the effectiveness of your drain field.

Things to Avoid

  • Hazardous chemicals such as paint thinners, gasoline, etc. should never be disposed of through your plumbing fixtures; these and other similar chemicals can ruin your system and are a hazard to groundwater.
  • Do not flush any trash down the toilet. This will stop up the toilet and also risk damage and backup to the septic system.
  • Disposal of heavy cleaners, particularly those containing bleach, via your plumbing can kill beneficial bacteria in the septic tank, so solids won’t break down as well.

TOILETS

Care and Maintenance Tips Toilets require periodic cleaning and replacement parts due to normal wear and tear.

Cleaning

  • Clean your toilet regularly to avoid dulling of the finish and permanent water stains. Use a standard cleaner available at any local hardware store and always use the product as specified by the manufacturer.
  • Avoid using suspended chlorine-based cleaning agents in your toilet as these products can wear down plastic and rubber components inside the tank that control flushing and water intake.

Operation

  • The components in the toilet tank will wear down over time and need replacement.
  • Do not flush any trash down the toilet. This will stop up the toilet and risk backup to the main sewer lines or septic system.

Repairing Clogs

  • Clogged toilets are not covered under warranty unless the toilet is defective or if blockage from construction debris is detected and communicated to us prior to your Post Settlement Follow-up Meeting.
  • If water is backing up and/or flowing out of the toilet, shut off the water supply to the toilet (located on the bottom left hand side of the tank).
  • Attempt to clear the clog using a plunger.
  • If this fails, leave the water supply to the toilet off and call your plumber for an appointment. A service charge is applicable if the toilet is in good working order.

TUBS & SHOWERS

Care and Maintenance Tips

Tubs and showers should be cleaned periodically to protect the finish of the tile and glass surfaces and caulked annually to protect from water damage.

Caulking

  • Caulk your tub and showers at the base and around the faucet and towel bars at least once per year with a 100% silicone caulk (various colors available).

Cleaning Tile and Grout

  • Clean shower tiles using an everyday, multipurpose spray cleaner that removes soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew.
  • Clean the grout used between tiles with a brush and a mild cleanser. Grout cleansers and whiteners are available at most hardware stores.

Jetted Tubs

  • If your home includes a jetted tub follow manufacturer directions for its use and care.
  • Never operate the jets unless the water level is at least one inch above the jets.
  • Keep objects away from jets than can get tangled or caught.
  • Clean and disinfect the system every one to two months, depending on usage. To do this: 1. Fill the tub with lukewarm water and add one cup of liquid chlorine bleach. 2. Run the jets for 10 to 15 minutes, drain and fill again. 3. Run the tub jets for 10 minutes with plain water and then drain.

 

HOT WATER HEATER

Care and Maintenance Tips

Your hot water tank is located in your basement/utility room and provides all hot water that is distributed throughout your home.

Draining Tank

  • To reduce the risk of sediment build up and promote efficiency in your water heater it is recommended that the appliance be drained once per year.
  • For electric water tanks, sediment buildup will eventually damage the heating elements inside the tank.
  • Gas hot water tanks will lose their efficiency because they heat from the bottom of the tank.

Energy Tip

  • Set the temperature setting so that when you have your shower turned to full hot it is slightly above your preferred temperature. When the temperature setting is too high, you have to mix in cold water to lower the water temperature, which wastes energy to boil the water. Water at 130°F is hot enough to scald you.
  • Fix leaky faucets. Every 30 drops per minute from a hot water faucet costs you around 18kWh/mo with an electric water heater.

ROOF

Care and Maintenance Tips

Your roof requires periodic maintenance to protect your home from water entry.

General Maintenance

  • All roofing, flashing, roof vents and exhaust fans should be checked twice a year by a professional roofing contractor in order to maintain a good watertight condition.
  • The shingles on your roof do not require any treatment or sealer, but occasionally they can be displaced by extreme weather or traffic on your roof.
  • Tree branches that hang over your roof should be cut down. Branches can fall and damage your roof, scratch and remove shingles, and drop leaves into eaves that retain moisture and cause rotting of wooden sheathing and trusses beneath shingles.

Things to Avoid

  • Excessive traffic (walking) on the roof can cause damage. The less activity your roof experiences, the less likely it is that problems will occur.
  • Always hire a professional, licensed roofing contractor when performing maintenance on the roof.
  • Carefully monitor the work of any contractor you hire to install television or radio antennas or satellite dishes. A careless job can cause damage to shingles and roof vents and result in serious leaks.

EXTERIOR DOORS

Care and Maintenance Tips

Your exterior doors are manufactured with quality products to provide durability and style.

General Information

  • Monitor drafts coming through your exterior doorways. Exterior door sills can be raised or lowered to eliminate drafts by turning the screws located on the bottom plate.
  • Make sure your exterior doors fit snug to the weatherstrip. You can loosen the two screws on the strike plate and move the adjustable plate in or out as needed for a snug fit with the door.
  • Lubricate key holes and door lock mechanisms with a white graphite spray to allow ease of use.

Sliding Glass Doors

  • Keep sliding door tracks clean for smooth operation and to prevent damage to the doorframe.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to pick up loose materials on the door track and screen track, then use a cloth or sponge with a solution of water and dishwashing liquid to finish cleaning.
  • You may periodically apply a silicone lubricant on the bottom track once dry after cleaning.
  • You can use the same water-based commercial cleaner for cleaning the glass of your sliding glass doors as you use for your windows.

WINDOWS

Care and Maintenance Tips

Windows add to the ambience of your home by providing views and allowing sunlight and fresh air into your home.

Cleaning – Inside

  • Clean the inside of your windows periodically with a soft cloth or soft bristle brush and a water-based commercial cleaner.
  • Oil, caulk or tar can be removed with mineral spirits on a soft cloth.
  • Paint stains on vinyl windows should be removed using a plastic edge, such as a spatula or credit card.

Cleaning – Outside

  • Clean the outside of your windows using the same cleansers as recommended for the inside.
  • Consult your manufacturer’s guide for instructions on tilting the window sash to facilitate cleaning the outside of the windows, particularly on upper levels of the home.
  • To rinse, avoid using high-pressure washers that can damage the windows and surrounding caulk.
  • Use a garden hose to rinse, applying the water at a low volume and pressure, working down from the upper floors to the ground floor.

General Guidelines

  • Always lock windows when not in use to obtain proper seal to keep air and moisture from entering the home.
  • The window sash may periodically need to be lubricated to ease operation of the window. Verify that the lubricant is compatible with vinyl; the manufacturer recommends spray furniture polish.
  • Inspect caulking around interior and exterior windows for cracking and damage. Always remove caulk before applying new caulk.
  • Windows are constructed with small holes called “weep holes” to allow water to drain from the windowsill. Weep holes should not be blocked by tape, caulk or debris to prevent them from draining properly.

Things to Avoid

  • Window screens are not designed to hold more weight than the screen itself. Therefore, the screen system will not prevent children or pets from falling through open windows to the ground below. Parents should be careful to prevent children and pets from leaning against the screens.
  • Do not apply film to tint windows. This adversely affects the insulated glass seal and consequently voids the warranty.
  • Masking tape should not be placed on glass surfaces. Sunlight can bake the tape into the glass or frame causing damage.
  • Do not paint vinyl windows. Painting of vinyl windows will render null and void your product warranty.
  • Do not remove permanent labels on your windows, such as AAMA, WDMA and Warranty product certification labels. They are generally hidden and will not obstruct view or function of the window.