Suffering damage to your property can be stressful, and large issues can be particularly problematic and time consuming to resolve. That’s why when it comes to maintaining your property, we all know that prevention is better than the cure, and getting on top of property maintenance issues quickly can prevent a much larger issue from occurring – saving both you and your tenants a considerable amount of hassle. Not sure where to start when it comes to maintaining your property? Don’t worry, we’ve pulled together our top tips for clearing drains, gutters and pipes, and well as some tips for general day-to-day property maintenance.
Clogged or damaged rain gutters divert water under roof tiles and into basements, which can ultimately lead to expensive water damage. If you take some time to schedule regular gutter maintenance you can help prevent this. Ideally, you should aim to clean out guttering twice a year, once in the autumn and again in the spring. Falling leaves, twigs and other debris clog rain gutters in the autumn, while wind, snowfall and ice damage gutters over the winter. Here are 4 tips for maintaining your gutters:
1. CHOOSE A DRY DAY WITH MINIMAL WINDS
Avoid cleaning gutters on a day when the ground is soft and wet. For safety, where possible you should have a second person with you to hold the ladder.
2. START CLEANING GUTTERS AROUND DOWNSPOUT HOLES
The downspout is an attachment to your gutter that transports water down and away from your property’s structural foundations all the way to the drains – but we’ll talk more about maintaining drains in the next section.
Start at the bottom of your gutter as this is where the most debris builds up, so starting from the top could pack any remaining clogs tighter.
3. REMOVE ALL DEBRIS
You might find messy and unpleasant surprises when cleaning the gutters; therefore it’s best that you wear protective gloves and clothing.
4. FLUSH THE GUTTER WITH A GARDEN HOSE
Flush the gutter starting at the bottom, as this helps detect areas where there may be standing water and blockages in downspouts.
If you're not comfortable cleaning the gutters or you have a number of properties to manage, you can arrange for professional gutter cleaning to come out and inspect the guttering for you. You might find that paying someone to clean the gutters works out cheaper than the cost of repairs for a clogged or sagging gutter.
Drain claims can be costly. This is due to the labour and specialist knowledge required to excavate and reinstate them.
Here are a few helpful drain maintenance tips to pass to your tenants to help maintain the drains and avoid blockages:
- Don’t flush non-degradable items down the toilet, such as sanitary towels, nappies and wipes
- Regularly check that the drains are free flowing by lifting drain covers
- Don’t dispose of food waste down the kitchen sink
- Avoid putting fats and grease down your drains
- Don’t allow debris and leaves to collect in the gutters and drain gullies
- Keep items that could fall into the toilet or down a plughole away from the area
AND A FEW PIPE MAINTENANCE TIPS…
A burst pipe can also cause a lot of damage in a very short space of time, but there are simple steps you can take. If cold weather is forecast, ensure your heating system is working and left on, with the thermostat adequately set.
If the property is likely to be empty for a period of time, you might want to consider turning the water supply off at the mains. This can be done either by an internal stopcock, or one located in the pavement. You may also need to consider taking out unoccupied home insurance to cover for the increased risk of the property sitting empty.
If a pipe is damaged, inform your tenants of where the stopcocks are so that they can take steps to help minimise any damage. Keep details of a local plumber handy to contact in an emergency.
Window and door maintenance
Windows and doors left with little or no maintenance can often lead to expensive early replacement. Glassolutions have provided some tips on keeping different types of windows and doors in good condition…
1. TIMBER FRAMED DOOR AND WINDOW MAINTENANCE
Inspect them regularly to see if there are cracks emerging in the exterior coating. Just one crack in the paint exposes the timber to moisture, and the decomposition of the timber has begun.
2. ALUMINIUM WINDOWS AND DOORS
Aluminium windows and doors require little maintenance and so are perfect for buy-to-let properties. Wash the outside of the windows, the frame and the opening hinges a few times a year to keep them free from dirt and salt.
3. WEATHER STRIPS
Weather strips (the rubber seals around doors and windows) require little maintenance beyond routine cleaning, when needed. Use a cloth with a silicone care product to ensure the strips remain soft - if the strips become stiff they could lose their effectiveness or become brittle and break.
4. MOVING PARTS SUCH AS HINGES AND LOCKS
Ensure you lubricate all moving parts a few times a year, this will ensure that they continue to move smoothly. If they aren’t lubricated they can deteriorate and become difficult to operate eventually leading to the possibility of them not working and having to be replaced.
5. CLEAN WINDOW PANES
Use mild soapy water, a soft brush and a squeegee to clean the window panes. This will maintain the appearance of the property, as well as visibility through the windows. Exterior frames should be kept clean to avoid general degrading of the framework. Insects can eat into the rubber gasket around the frame, allowing draughts and wet weather in.