No house is maintenance-free. But where in many places it doesn’t matter if maintenance is less stringent, in other cases it can cost money if it is not done.
The new homeowner family finally thinks “peace” when, after long months of planning, building, and moving, they can finally start a new daily routine.
And since everything in and around the house is so unique, nobody has to waste a thought on maintaining these installations – what could happen?
Such thinking is understandable, but it is also deceptive. While maintenance is often not necessary at the beginning due to the novelty of all installations, it never becomes a permanent obligation for many people – similar to many car owners who only think about inspections and MOT dates because their workshop reminds them of time.
This is a great danger because there is little in the house that must be regularly maintained by law – with the chimney sweep as the prominent exception.
So it happens that already brand new homes fall into oblivion and age unnoticed despite being permanently inhabited. If damage then occurs due to lack of maintenance, it often becomes costly. But what are particularly prominent neglected points?
Much of the long-term damage to houses has to do with water. And since this omnipresent liquid follows gravity, the first enclosure of any home is a particularly prominent target.
The problem here results from a simple fact: out of sight, out of mind. What lies far above the heads of the occupants is hardly automatically eyed.
Also, insulation, interior cladding, etc. not only prevent heat transmission but also avoid checking views from the inside for the condition of the roofing, the masonry connections and the wooden components of the roof truss – one of the few advantages of the open roof construction methods used in the past.
This is one of the reasons why a roof is now designed to be flexible and robust.
The relevant standards also take into account the fact that it must be able to withstand wind and weather for years without anyone checking it regularly.
However, this fact also means that if damage occurs, it will go unnoticed for a long time. At this point, the circle closes to water and gravity. A roof is subjected to extreme stress in many ways.
For example, all it takes is a hairline crack in a roof shingle caused by extreme temperature fluctuations (such as summer heat followed by hailstorms), and even the smallest amounts of water can penetrate it in the future with every rain shower.
Perhaps the same process is also triggered by a storm, which damages the mortar of the ridge stones.
In any case, water will in future soak through the load-bearing battens, the insulation, perhaps running into the masonry. It can take a long time before the damage becomes visible somewhere through a wet spot – only then will there be more to be repaired than a shingle.
On the other hand, homeowners should automatically call in a roofer every year to check for such problems – even over the decades, this is incomparably cheaper than most consequential damages.
The stopcocks in the water circuit
The water circuit of a building is widely branched between the supply line in the basement and the upper floor. For most homeowners, however, the fittings are the only control elements.
- The refill tap in the boiler room,
- The inlet tap of the washing machine,
- The stopcocks below fittings,
- The shut-off valves to individual pipe branches (e.g., to the outside area),
- The two main valves directly upstream and downstream of the water meter.
These elements are also part of a standard-compliant installation. However, if they no longer function, you will only notice when they are needed.
The homeowner may want to change the tap cartridge in the bathroom because the faucet is dripping, not an arduous task for the craftsman. To do this, however, he must close the stopcocks located below.
Here is the problem: taps gradually become stuck when not in use. Not a simple power problem.
Because this jamming often leads to the internal seals being damaged by jerky loosening (for example, with pliers).
The stopcock no longer shuts off properly; with a bit of pitch, pieces of the seal can come loose, get into the water circuit and block it at unpredictable points – for example, in the valve mechanism of other cocks.
If this happens with the main valves, the house cannot be separated from the water at all; the repair will most likely produce a small flood.
Maintenance” here is particularly simple and completely free of charge: close all taps once a quarter and open them again immediately. In this way, nothing can ever become seriously stuck, and the taps remain usable for decades.
The silicone joints in bathroom and kitchen
For many people, the silicone joints are a purely visual detail – the handsome bridge between the wall and the bathtub. And they are often only perceived as such when they are visibly damaged or dirty.
However, there are good reasons to take a critical look at the soft lines every time you plaster. The primary purpose of silicone joints is to prevent water from getting into areas where it has no place – behind the bathtub; for example, it hardly evaporates and can quickly cause mold.
The problem arises because the silicone joints are invisible but are regularly subjected to stress.
Take the bathtub, for example: When it is filled with hundreds of liters of water and an adult “passenger” is still lying in it, even a professionally installed bathtub lowers itself by fractions of a millimeter; it expands due to the heat.
With the unavoidable embarrassment of the material due to aging processes, this results in permanent deformation, regardless of how often the bath is taken.
The joints should, therefore, be renewed every two years. This is not professional work either. It requires little more than a sharp knife, cartridge gun, smoothing agent, honing tool, and a steady hand—maintenance for a few euros, which can prevent damage amounting to thousands.
The seals of windows and doors
This item is a particular case in this text in that neglect does not produce expensive consequential damage, at least not at one stroke. Instead, money is lost slowly and unnoticed – but it makes no difference to the total amount after a certain period.
Windows and doors today are small engineering works of art. Because they manage, despite usually considerably lower material thicknesses, to provide thermal insulation similar to that of walls, which can rely on ingenious hollow blocks, highly technical insulation layers.
But windows and doors are not only resourceful, but they are also subject to particular stress; after all, they are regularly tilted, opened, and closed again.
Therefore, the part that is subjected to the most stress is not the mechanics of the locking system; it digests tens of thousands of opening and closing operations completely unimpressed.
It is the seals. Despite all the engineering finesse, they are the key to preventing the heat (or cold) generated inside for expensive money from escaping outside. Without correctly functioning seals, the best window is worth nothing.
- The material of the seals is plastic. It is automatically subject to aging processes.
- There are often dramatically high-temperature differences between the inside and outside of windows.
- The outer seals are often in permanent contact with environmental influences, such as exhaust gases.
- Most of the time, the flexible seals are compressed because windows and doors are closed. When they are opened, the gasket must unfold flexibly but also compress correctly again.
If one then adds (fine) dust and flower pollen, which are deposited when open and then act as a fine abrasive with every movement, it becomes clear that seals must also be very carefully constructed masterpieces masterpieces that require care.
In addition to the heating system and the chimney, both of which are usually maintained automatically, homeowners should also ensure that everything gets regular attention elsewhere on day one. This is also the responsibility of the homeowner.
The following always applies: a drop of oil here, a checking look, is still much cheaper than all the repairs that result from neglect.