Home Care Tips

 

Air Conditioning

Homeowner Use and Maintenance Guidelines

Air conditioning can greatly enhance the comfort of your home, but if it is used improperly or inefficiently, wasted energy and frustration will result. These hints and suggestions are provided to help you maximize your air conditioning system.

Your air conditioning system is a whole-house system. The air conditioning unit is the mechanism that produces cooler air. The air conditioning system involves everything inside your home including, for example, drapes, blinds, and windows.

Your home air conditioning is a closed system, which means that the interior air is continually recycled and cooled until the desired air temperature is reached. Warm outside air disrupts the system and makes cooling impossible. Therefore, you should keep all windows closed. The heat from the sun shining through windows with open drapes is intense enough to overcome the cooling effect of the air conditioning unit. For best results, close the drapes on these windows.

Time is very important in your expectations of an air conditioning system. Unlike a light bulb, which reacts instantly when you turn on a switch, the air conditioning unit only begins a process when you set the thermostat.

If evening cooling is your primary goal, set the thermostat at a moderate temperature in the morning while the house is cooler, allowing the system to maintain the cooler temperature. The temperature setting may then be lowered slightly when you arrive home, with better results. Once the system is operating, setting the thermostat at 60 degrees will not cool the home any faster and can result in the unit freezing up and not performing at all. Extended use under these conditions can damage the unit.

Inspect filters for dust. Clean and replace filters as needed. Vacuum air supply and air return registers to remove dust and lint. Condensate lines should be inspected twice a year: at the beginning of the air conditioning season and at the end. If a trickle discharge is reduced to an occasional drip, it potentially means that the condensate line is in the process of becoming plugged. Another symptom of a plugged condensate line is cold water droplets blowing out of the air supply grills in the house. If water is observed dripping in front of a window or patio door, or onto a garage floor, it is likely that the primary condensate line is plugged. If this occurs, shut off the air conditioner and schedule the system for servicing.

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Caulking

Homeowner Use and Maintenance Guidelines

Time and weather will shrink and dry caulking so that it no longer provides a good seal. As routine maintenance, check the caulking and make needed repairs. (Please refer to Maintenance Schedule). Caulking compounds and dispenser guns are available at hardware stores. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully to be certain that you select an appropriate caulk for the intended purpose.

The caulk joints in bathrooms need to be inspected and re-caulked when necessary, but no less than every six months. This includes the joint at the bottom of the shower, the joint between the tub and the wall, the joint were the tub or shower pan meets the floor, and vertical inside corners and seats. It is very important that these joints do not pass any water; otherwise dry rot can progress unseen for years.

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Grading and Drainage

Homeowner Use and Maintenance Guidelines

The final grades around your home have been inspected and approved for proper drainage of your lot. The local building authorities as well as Legacy Homes inspect the site. Use caution when installing landscaping, fencing, or additions to your home to prevent causing water problems on your lot or adjacent lots.

Drainage

Typically, the grade around your home should slope 1 foot in the first 10 feet, tapering to a 2 percent slope. In most cases, drainage swales do not follow property boundaries. Maintain the slopes around your home to permit the water to drain away from the home as rapidly as possible. This is essential to protect your foundation. Failure to do so can result in major structural damage and can adversely effect your rights to obtain repairs or recover the cost of repairs.

Yard – Yard drains, if applicable, should be flushed with a garden hose prior to the start of the rainy season and should show evidence of free flow at the curb.

The Homeowner has a responsibility to always maintain all soil that surrounds the foundation of the house. Homeowners may violate this Guideline in one of two ways: 1) during the installation of landscape materials, they modify the existing grade by leveling it out, causing either a negative slope or a flat slope, or 2) they hire a landscape company that modifies the grade during soils preparation and planting, causing either flat or negative slope.

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Heating System: Gas Forced Air

Homeowner Use and Maintenance Guidelines

Good maintenance of your furnace can save energy dollars and prolong the life of the furnace. Carefully read and follow the manufacturer's literature on use and maintenance. The guidelines here include general information only.

Adjust Vents

Experiment with the adjustable registers in your home to establish the best heat flow for your lifestyle. Generally, you can reduce the heat in seldom-used or interior rooms. This is an individual matter and you will need to balance the system for your own family's needs.

Avoid Overheating

Do not overheat your new home. Overheating can cause excessive shrinkage of framing lumber and may materially damage the home. In the beginning, use as little heat as possible and increase it gradually.

Blower Panel (Fan cover)

You need to position the blower panel cover correctly for the furnace blower (fan) to operate. This panel compresses a button that tells the blower it is safe to operate. Similar to the way a clothes dryer door operates, this panel pushes in a button that lets the fan motor know it is safe to come on. If that button is not pushed in, the furnace will not operate.

Combustion Air

Furnaces we install in basements or in utility closets over crawl spaces include a combustion air duct. The outside end of this duct is covered with a screen to minimize insect or animal from entering the duct. Cold air coming in though this duct means it is functioning, as it should.

Caution: Never cover or block the combustion air vent in any way. Outside air is needed to supply the furnace with sufficient oxygen. Blocking the combustion air vent will cause the furnace to draw air down the vent pipe and pull poisonous gases back into your home.

Duct Cleaning

Exercise caution before spending money on professional ductwork cleaning services. A study by the EPA found no proof that ductwork cleaning improves indoor air quality, nor was evidence found that it prevents health problems. For more information contact the EPA and request document EPA-402-K-97-002. Or you can view this information on their Website: www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/.

Ductwork Noise

Some popping or pinging sounds are the natural result of ductwork heating and cooling in response to airflow as the system operates.

Filter

A clean filter will help to keep your home clean and reduce dusting chores. Remember to change or clean the filter monthly during the heating season (year-round if you also have air conditioning). A clogged filter can slow airflow and cause cold spots in your home. Although it takes less than one minute to change the filter, this is one of the most frequently overlooked details of normal furnace care.

Buy filters in large quantity for the sake of convenience. You will find the size and type printed along the edge of the filter that in your furnace.

If you have a permanent, washable, removable filter, you need to clean this monthly. Use water only to clean the filter, tap to dry or air dry, and leave unit off for a brief period. Do not use soaps or detergents on the filter.

Furnished Home

The heating system was designed with a furnished home in mind. If you move in during the cooler part of the year and have not yet acquired all of your draperies and furnishings, the home may seem cooler than you would expect.

Fuse

Some furnaces have a fuse directly above the on-off switch. This fuse is an S10, S12, or S15 fuse. It absorbs any spikes in the line such as close electrical strikes or power surges. Unlike old fuses that burn out and clearly indicate that they are blown, these fuses, similar to automobile fuses, have a spring that depresses when tripped. Unless you have examined these quite carefully before, it may be hard to determine if the fuse has blown. We suggest that you buy some extra fuses of the same size to have on hand.

Gas Odor

If you smell gas, call the gas company immediately.

Odor

A new heating system may emit an odor for a few moments when you first turn it on. An established system may emit an odor after being unused for an extended time (such as after the summer months if you do not use air conditioning). This is caused by dust that has settled in the ducts and should pass quickly.

Pilot

You can find these instructions on a sticker on the furnace and in the manufacturer's literature. Please follow all manufacturers recommendations if you need to relight your pilot light.

Registers

Heat register covers are removable and adjustable. You are responsible for adjusting the dampers in these covers to regulate the heat flow within the home. Registers in the rooms farther away from the furnace will usually need to be opened wider.

Return Air Vents

For maximum comfort and efficient energy use, arrange furniture and draperies to allow unobstructed airflow from registers and to cold air returns.

Temperature

Depending on the style of home, temperatures can normally vary from floor to floor as much as 10 degrees or more on extremely cold days. The furnace blower will typically cycle on and off more frequently and for shorter periods during severe cold spells.

Thermostat

The furnace will come on automatically when the temperature at the thermostat registers below the setting you have selected. Once the furnace is on, setting the thermostat to a higher temperature will not heat the home faster. Thermostats are calibrated to within plus or minus 5 degrees.

Trial Run

Have a trial run early in the fall to test the furnace. (The same applies to air-conditioning in the spring.) If service is needed, it is much better to discover that before the heating season.

Troubleshooting Tips: No Heat

Before calling for service, check to confirm that the:

  • Thermostat is set to "heat" and the temperature is set above the room temperature.
  • Blower panel cover is installed correctly for the furnace blower (fan) to operate. This panel compresses a button that tells the blower it is safe to operate. Similar to the way a clothes dryer door operates, this panel pushes in a button that lets the fan motor know it is safe to come on. If that button is not pushed in, the furnace will not operate.
  • Breaker on the main electrical panel is on. (Remember, if a breaker trips you must turn it from the tripped position to the off position before you can turn it back on.)
  • Switch on the side of the furnace is on.
  • Fuse in furnace is good. (See manufacturer literature for size and location.)
  • Gas line is open at the main meter and at the side of the furnace.
  • Filter is clean to allow airflow.
  • Vents in individual rooms are open.
  • Air returns are unobstructed.

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Gutters, Downspouts and Flashings

Homeowner Use and Maintenance Guidelines

Check gutters periodically and remove leaves or other debris. Materials that accumulate in gutters can slow water drainage from the roof, cause overflows, and clog the downspouts.

Extensions or Splash blocks

Extensions should discharge outside of rock or bark beds so that water is not dammed behind the edging materials that might be used.

Ladders

Use caution when leaning ladders against gutters, as this may cause dents.

Leaks

If a joint between sections of gutter drips, caulk the inside joint using a commercial gutter caulking compound available at hardware stores.

Paint

Gutters and downspouts are painted to match your home. You should repaint them when you repaint your home.

Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned and flushed twice annually. The first task is performed just prior to the rainy season, and the second task is performed during the rainy season after the trees have shed their autumn leaves. Prune branches that overhang roofs and gutters.

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Roof

Homeowner Use and Maintenance Guidelines

The shingles on your roof do not require any treatment or sealer. The less activity your roof experiences, the less likely it is that problems will occur.

Clean Gutters

Maintain the gutters and downspouts so that they are free of debris and able to quickly drain precipitation from the roof.

Leaks

If a leak occurs, try to detect the exact location. This will greatly simplify finding the area that requires repair when the roof is dry.

Limit Walking

Limit walking on your roof. Your weight and movement can loosen, or break, the roofing material and in turn result in leaks. Never walk on the roof of your home when the shingles, or tiles, are wet—they are slippery.

Severe Weather

After severe storms, do a visual inspection of the roof for damages. Notify your insurance company if you find pieces of shingle in the yard or shingle edges lifted on the roof.

Troubleshooting Tips: Roof Leak

Please keep in mind that roof leaks cannot be repaired while the roof is wet. However, you can get on the schedule to be in line when conditions dry out, so do call in your roof leak.

  • Confirm the source of the water is the roof rather than from a
    • Plumbing leak
    • Open window on a higher floor
    • Clogged gutter or downspout
    • Blowing rain coming in through code required roof vents
    • Gap in caulking
  • Where practical, place a container under dripping water.
  • If a ceiling is involved, use a screwdriver to poke a small hole in the drywall to release the water.
  • Even if the troubleshooting tips do not identify a solution, the information you gather will be useful to the service provider you call.
  • Remove personal belongings to prevent damage to them. If damage occurs, contact your homeowner insurance company to submit a claim.
  • Report the leak to Legacy Homes during first available business hours.

The Homeowner is responsible for periodic (annual) maintenance, cleaning of all roof drains, gutters and downspouts of leaves and other foreign debris and for checking all areas that have a caulking or sealant type material such as vents, pipe penetrations, and sheet metal flashing for cracked sealant. The Homeowner should inspect the roof for any cracked and/or broken tiles within the first month of occupancy.

NOTE: Homeowners should not walk on roof tiles, because concrete and clay tiles are subject to breaking. The Homeowner, can do generalized inspections, from the ground, from ladders set at the edge of the roof, and/or from adjacent properties. If more detailed inspections are necessary, it is advisable to hire a qualified, licensed and properly insured roof inspection contractor.

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Toilet

Running Toilet

To stop running water, check the shut-off float in the tank. You will most likely find it has lifted too high in the tank, preventing the valve from shutting off completely. In this case, gently bend the float rod down until it stops the water at the correct level. The float should be free and not rub the side of the tank or any other parts. Also check the chain on the flush handle. If it is too tight, it will prevent the rubber stopper at the bottom of the tank from sealing, resulting in running water.

Clogs

The main causes of toilet clogs are domestic items such as disposable diapers, excessive amounts of toilet paper, sanitary supplies, Q-tips, dental floss, and children's toys.

Low Flush Toilets

We want to draw your attention to a water-saving regulation that went into effect in 1993, which prohibits the manufacture of toilets that use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. In the search for a balance among comfort, convenience, and sensible use of natural resources, the government conducted several studies. The 1.6-gallon toilet turned out to be the size that overall consistently saves water.

As a result of implementing this standard, flushing twice is occasionally necessary to completely empty the toilet bowl. Even though you flush twice on occasion, rest assured that overall you are saving water and we have complied with the law. Similarly, flow restrictors are manufactured into most faucets and all shower heads and cannot be removed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Tank Care

Avoid exposing the toilet to blows from sharp or heavy objects, which can cause chipping or cracking. Avoid abnormal pressures against the sides of the tank. It is possible to crack the tank at the points where it is attached to the bowl.

Learn the proper use of a low-flush toilet. Toilet tanks have mechanical parts inside them and these parts wear out over time. Depending upon the amount of use and water quality, replacing worn flappers, floats, and valves can occur as frequently as once a year or as infrequently as every 10 years. Water supplies with high concentrations of minerals (known as hard water ) will leave deposits inside the toilet tank and its parts. This condition will cause more frequent replacement and rebuilding of toilet parts than those areas that do not have high mineral content in the water supply.

NOTE: The Homeowner has the duty to notify Legacy Homes of any leaking toilet before additional damage occurs. Toilets that are permitted to leak will cause structural damage if the toilet is located over a wood subfloor. A toilet that leaks creates a condition for termites to enter the house, regardless of whether it sits on a wooden subfloor or a slab. Termites are attracted to dark damp conditions in the soil. It is important to note that a toilet that rocks back and forth or moves side-to-side may be leaking, even though no leak is visible. The homeowner has a duty to notify Legacy Homes of this condition.

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Siding

Homeowner Use and Maintenance Guidelines

Siding expands and contracts in response to changes in humidity and temperature. Slight waves are visible in siding under moist weather conditions; shrinkage and separations will be more noticeable under dry conditions. These behaviors cannot be entirely eliminated.

Wood and Wood Products

Wood or wood-product siding will require routine refinishing. The timing will vary with climatic conditions. Maintain caulking to minimize moisture entry into the siding. Note that some paint colors will require more maintenance than others and some sides of the home may show signs of wear sooner based on their exposure to the elements. Some wood siding, such as cedar, is subject to more cracking and will require more maintenance attention.

Cement Based Products

Cement based siding will require repainting and caulking just as wood products do.

The term "trim" refers to the wood trim either abutting the stucco or placed on the wooden siding around windows and doors. The trim should be inspected each year prior to the start of the rainy season; and if the trim is pulled away from the house or the caulking has deteriorated, these areas should be re-caulked. If warping or twisting is severe (more than ½ in.), the trim should be replaced. Do not caulk the bottom gap of the trim piece over a window or patio door. Also, the siding (exterior wall material such as panels, lap boards, shingles, or other non-stucco, non-brick, or non-stone material) should be inspected for warpage and protruding nails. Inspections should be annual and prior to the start of the rainy season. Warpage should be caulked and painted, and protruding nails should be pulled and replaced with a slightly larger nail. Use the appropriate fasteners as recommended by the product manufacturer. Drive the nail head even with the siding; DO NOT drive the nail head into the siding. Driving the nail head into the siding may break the seal and cause the siding to swell and leak during precipitation. Touch up all work with caulk and paint.

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Water Heater: Gas

Homeowner Use and Maintenance Guidelines

Carefully read and follow the manufacturer's literature for your specific model of water heater.

Condensation

Condensation inside your new water heater may drip onto the burner flame. This causes no harm and in most cases will disappear in a short period of time.

Drain Tank

Review and follow manufacturer's timetable and instructions for draining several gallons of water from the bottom of the water heater. This reduces the build-up of chemical deposits from the water, prolonging the life of the tank and saving energy dollars.

Pilot

Never light a gas pilot when the water heater tank is empty. Always turn off the gas before shutting off the cold water supply to the tank.

To light the water heater pilot, first remove the cover panel on the tank to expose the pilot. Then rotate the on-off-pilot knob to the pilot position. When the knob is in this position, the red button can be depressed.

While depressing the red button, hold a match at the pilot. Once the pilot lights, continue to hold the red button down for 30 to 60 seconds. When you release the red button, the pilot should stay lit. If it does not, wait several minutes to allow the gas to dissipate from the tank and repeat the entire process. If it stays lit, rotate the on-off pilot knob to the on position.

Reinstall the cover panel and then adjust the temperature setting with the regulating knob on the front of the tank.

Water heaters sometimes collect small quantities of dirty water and scale in the main gas lines, which may put out the pilot light.

While away from home for an extended period of time, set the temperature to its lowest point and leave the pilot lit.

Safety

Vacuum the area around a gas-fired water heater to prevent dust from interfering with proper flame combustion. Avoid using the top of a heater as a storage shelf.

Temperature

The recommended thermostat setting for normal everyday use is "normal." Higher settings can result in wasted energy dollars and increase the danger of injury from scalding. Hot water will take longer to arrive at sinks, tubs, and showers that are farther from the water heater.

TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS: NO HOT WATER

Before calling for service, check to confirm that the:

Pilot is lit. (Directions will be found on the side of the tank.)
Temperature setting is not on "vacation" or too low.
Water supply valve is open.

Refer to the manufacturer's literature for specific locations of these items and possibly other troubleshooting tips.

Even if the trouble-shooting tips do not identify a solution, the information you gather will be useful to the service provider you call.

To prolong the life of the water heater, accumulated sediment should be removed from the heater tank once a year. This task can be performed by attaching a hose to the drain spigot at the bottom of the tank and draining out no more than two gallons.

Since the water being drained is very hot, be very careful that the hot water does not come into contact with persons, animals, plants or any material that could be damaged by scalding water (120 degrees F to 160 degrees F).

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Windows, Screens, and Sliding Glass Doors

Homeowner Use and Maintenance Guidelines

Contact a glass company for reglazing of any windows that break. Glass is difficult to install without special tools.

Aluminum

Clean aluminum metal surfaces with warm, clear water. Do not use powdered cleaner. After each cleaning, apply a silicone lubricant. Clean glass as needed with vinegar and water, a commercial glass cleaner, or the product recommended by the window manufacturer.

Condensation

Condensation on interior surfaces of the window and frame is the result of high humidity within the home and low outside temperatures. Your family’s lifestyle controls the humidity level within your home.

Sills

Windowsills in your home are made of wood or wood products or man-made marble. The most common maintenance activity is dusting. Twice a year, check caulking and touch-up as needed. Protect wood and wood product sills from moisture. If you arrange plants on a sill, include a plastic tray under the pot.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors are made with tempered glass which is more difficult to break than ordinary glass. If broken, tempered glass breaks into small circular pieces rather than large splinters which can easily cause injury.

Keep sliding door tracks clean for smooth operation and to prevent damage to the door frame. Silicone lubricants work well for these tracks. Acquaint yourself with the operation of sliding door hardware for maximum security.

Sticking Windows

Most sliding windows (both vertical and horizontal) are designed for a 10-pound pull. If sticking occurs or excessive pressure is required to open or close a window, apply a silicone lubricant. This is available at hardware stores. Avoid petroleum-based products.

Tinting

Applying tinting of foil lining to dual pane windows can result in broken windows due to heat build-up. Some manufacturers void their WARRANTY on the windows if you apply tinting or foil lining. Contact the manufacturer to check on their current policy before you apply such coatings.

Weep Holes

In heavy rains, water may collect in the bottom channel of window frames. Weep holes are provided to allow excess water to escape to the outside. Keep the bottom window channels and weep holes free of dirt and debris for proper operation.

  • Seals – Inspect for broken or breached window seals in dual pane windows at least annually. Having a moist, foggy, or filmy condition between the two panes of glass easily identifies windows with broken or breached seals. When this condition exists, the insulating value of the window is greatly diminished. The only repair is to replace the window.
  • Weep Holes – The weep holes at the bottom of windows and patio doors serve a purpose: to allow water to drain out from the track during rainstorms. Weep holes should be inspected at least annually to make sure that no debris has plugged the holes and that rainwater will drain freely from them.
  • Tracks – The tracks of windows and patio doors should be swept and vacuumed frequently to prevent dust and debris buildup. Clean window and door tracks, allowing the sliding vent to move more freely, so that any wet debris will not impair the drainage through the weep holes. In open areas where there is ongoing construction or agricultural operations that generate dust, track cleaning should be done weekly.

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 Home Care Tips

Northern California and Nevada

 


 

Southern California and Nevada