A new home often seems like it has a halo. Those brand-new, right-out-of-the-store appliances gleaming in the kitchen are a huge improvement from the scuffed-up older appliances at your last house. The carpet is fresh and clean underfoot, the tub is sparkling, and all you have to do is get your locks set and call it home!
Unfortunately, new homes can be vulnerable to many of the same problems as old ones, and a few of their own besides. We have a list of just a few possible maintenance challenges you may want to keep an eye out for while living in your newly built home.
- Does it have a wood or gas fireplace? You’re going to need to “cure” it. One of the reasons people often cite for moving into older homes is that so many have fireplaces. Everyone knows how wonderful that wood-smoke smell can be, but a new fireplace isn’t going to smell nice for those first few fires. Don’t wait until it’s too chilly to even open the windows to light a fire for the first time; some sealants, paints, or gasket adhesives may need to ‘burn off’ first. These can release a small amount of carbon monoxide into the air and may have a strange ‘chemical’ smell. Open your windows for that first couple of fires to make sure you have plenty of ventilation during this process, to avoid setting off that carbon monoxide detector. The amount released should not be harmful, but it won’t be particularly pleasant, either. You only need about 24 hours of burntime to get rid of any possible smell, so it really won’t be long before you’re enjoying that great wood-smoke smell on a cold winter night!
- Too much moisture (or not enough) can do a number on your hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are common in both old and new homes, and for good reason; a real hardwood floor is beautiful and can last for generations. If the floor isn’t installed correctly, though, you may run into serious problems. If you’re seeing what looks like cracks between the slats, you have a moisture problem. If the air is too dry, the wood will shrink in response and pull away from its neighbors. Humidifiers can be used to keep a room’s humidity at normal levels. If the air is too humid (which, let’s face it, is definitely more common here in South Carolina), wood fibers stretch and shrink, which can lead to a ‘cupped’ appearance. A dehumidifier placed in the room can help with this problem, but you may find yourself having to replace individual slats. Make sure when you buy your newly built home that you get from the builder or previous owner what kind of hardwood was laid down on the floors.This will make the process or replacing slats much easier.
- Did you check the insulation in your attic before you bought? An unscrupulous builder sometimes skimps on the attic insulation – if there’s no living space up there, it’s not that common for new home buyers to want to take a look. If you feel like your heating and cooling system is working far too hard to heat such a new home, it’s worth heading up there to check. If your insulation isn’t even, just take one Saturday afternoon for this simple fix: spray foam insulation is fairly inexpensive and available at most home improvement stores. You can rent the machinery needed to use it pretty cheaply right in the same store. Head up into the attic and even out the insulation. It should lower your heating and cooling bills pretty quickly. Still feel like your central heating is working too hard? You may need a heating & air professional to come out and take a look.
- Plumbing issues can be fairly common in newly built homes. These are usually small problems with quick fixes: the sound of water running continuously can mean a busted flapper valve, which is a very quick and inexpensive home fix. Is your bathroom starting to smell like a sewer? This may mean your builder didn’t quite place the wax seal correctly around the bottom of the toilet. While this is something that can be DIY’d, it does require a bit of familiarity with plumbing, and so you may not want to take this on yourself. Give us a call here at Corley (or fill out our quick and easy online contact form) and we will send a qualified professional out to take care of it and get your bathroom back to smelling like that candle you lit, and not like a dumpster.
These are just a few of the maintenance challenges that homeowners of new construction may find themselves facing. Some of those issues are what we call “hidden” problems. A small leak or outlets that aren’t 100% installed correctly may not become visible issues until something big breaks and a small problem becomes an expensive one. We recommend getting a spring tune-up; give us a call and we’ll come out and check up on your HVAC, electrical, or plumbing systems to ensure everything is up to par. Spring is great time to get this out of the way, and we’re happy to work with you to come out at a time that is good for your schedule. Contact us today!