In this article we move onto the next most important weatherproofing element of your home – the walls.
As we work towards creating a home maintenance plan at the end of this series, it may be helpful to outline the three main aspects of home maintenance.
Our main focus in this series is establishing regular preventive maintenance. This starts with scheduled inspections and tackling those small tasks as discussed in the last article e.g. keeping your gutters clear of leaves and other debris.
Regular preventive maintenance will help avoid a range of serious problems.
In the course of carrying out small preventive maintenance tasks you’ll find other items that need immediate attention. Taking prompt action to effect repairs will prevent the potential for small problems becoming larger expensive ones.
In our maintenance plan we’ll also need to schedule in those big maintenance tasks such as replacing worn out parts or repainting the house.
So, with those points in mind let’s take a look at your walls.
Four Walls and a Roof
Back in the “good old days”, the causes of leaky homes were generally obvious. You could look at a solid, traditional weatherboard home and see problem areas often without extensive investigation.
Why? Because the principles behind traditional systems used to clad homes have been tried and tested over time – often hundreds of years or more.
The proliferation of new materials and building systems and lack of adequate regulation and testing has led to a different situation today. The task of investigating moisture problems now often requires specialist equipment and the expertise of a qualified house inspector.
The various monolithic cladding systems now in use require particular care and attention.
As many have discovered, a good building report can save you many thousands of dollars when considering the purchase of a ‘modern’ home.
But what about the things that you as a home owner need to keep an eye out for?
What to look for
Essentially, you’re looking for places that water can enter your house and any signs that it has already started to cause damage.
Walls are comprised of cladding, windows and doors and other elements that are joined to the house through the cladding. All of the junctions between these things and the cladding should be inspected carefully, along with internal and external corners.
If these junctions have been well designed, there will be systems in place to deal with some degree of water penetration. However, with some of the cladding systems associated with the leaky homes crisis, these areas are precisely where many problems have started.
Vulnerable points include pergolas joined to the house, cantilevered decks, flashings, meter boxes, window heads, door heads, window surrounds, fitting penetrations, junctions where a roof intersects with a wall.
The other key thing to check is the clearance between the cladding and the ground. Where gardens come into direct contact with the base of the house, the ground level often creeps up causing moisture to soak into cladding and flood risk. The minimum recommended height is 175mm above lawn or garden and 100mm above concrete or paved area to the bottom of your cladding.
If you have brick cladding, there will be a cavity behind this which needs to be clear and drain holes in the bottom course which also need to be clear to allow water to escape.
Here’s a handy wall inspection check-list:
- Look for any damage to cladding. This should be fairly obvious, especially impact damage to monolithic cladding.
- Check for rot – likely at places such as joins and junctions. Look for places where water can be trapped.
- Are there any gaps that have opened up at joins or corners?
- What is the state of the paint job? Any cracking or bubbling?
- Are any of the items fixed to the house loose?
- Check the condition of any mortar – between bricks & concrete blocks.
- Check the condition of your solid plaster – are there cracks?
- Look for overall signs of any movement – are there any walls out of plumb? Any boards out of level?
- Have a close check of your windows, especially if they are older timber windows.
- Are there any overflow pipes that are constantly dripping?
Remember to take all the necessary precautions to ensure you get through your inspections and repairs unscathed. Ladders can be hazardous if not properly used.
If you need advice on safety issues, get in touch with your local council.
Armed with the right tools and the good old Kiwi DIY attitude, you’ll be able to tackle a large range of house maintenance tasks associated with the walls, windows and doors of your home’s exterior.
If you discover a problem you’re uncertain about or just need good advice, it may be worthwhile obtaining expert help.
We’re here to help.
Stay tuned! There’s more to come. We’ll be sharing more tips and tools you need to stay on top of home maintenance.
The next article in the series: DIY Home Maintenance Part 4: Underfloor
Part I: Keep Calm and Maintain your Home
Part II: Home Maintenance from the Top Down