By Greg Stopher

With fall just around the corner there are certainly many things to look forward to in Southeast Alaska. I enjoy fall because of hunting season, it’s a great time to take fish on a fly rod, and it reminds me to start planning for ski and hockey season. Fall is also a great time to prepare your home for the winter months and to get caught up on yearly maintenance items. This will be a two part series – Part I (in the August issue) focused on the home’s exterior maintenance items and when they should be completed. This month’s focus is on interior maintenance around the home. Next month, Part III will cover the mechanical systems of a home and the maintenance involved with those items.

Home maintenance will increase the life of your home as well as keep it healthy for all residents. With exterior maintenance I start at the top of the home and work my way down, I use the opposite approach with interior maintenance; I start at the bottom and work my way up. The lowest point and sometimes the most problematic spot in a home is the crawlspace. If your home does not have a crawlspace then you are already ahead of the game. However, a lot of homes have crawlspaces. Check the crawlspace for standing water on the ground. If there is standing water check to see if the sump pump is working. If it is not working or there is not one present, look into getting the sump pump fixed, replaced, or installed. A vapor barrier must be present on the ground of the crawlspace to keep unwanted moisture out of the home. A vapor barrier must be sealed properly for it to be effective in keeping moisture out of the home. Lastly, check the structure and joists to see that everything is dry. If you have a basement, it’s important to check it in much the same way. Inspect the entire space for any moisture issues.

Moving up to the main parts of the home it is usually good to check areas that have water sources in them, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Check under sinks, around toilets, and around shower tub surrounds for signs of any damage. If you find any damage, find the source and what caused the damage. While in the bathrooms check and clean the bathroom fan grill. The fan should be able to hold two-ply toilet paper to the grill when it is functioning properly. When in the kitchen don’t forget to check under the refrigerator and the icemaker supply line. It is also wise to clean or replace the grills of your kitchen hood vent. Checking and cleaning the items in the kitchen and bathroom really don’t take much time. If they are performed twice a year, any problems that are found can usually be fixed reasonably. Under all sinks throughout the home, check the supply water lines and replace them with braided stainless steel hoses. It’s also important to be aware of what is stored under your sink. I have often noticed a lot of potentially hazardous chemicals stored there and I would prefer to see those materials stored outside of the home or disposed of properly all together.

Some time should be spent in the laundry room. Check the supply lines to the washer. The supply line hoses are a place that commonly fail in a home and can cause thousands of dollars of damage. These hoses, like the bathroom hoses, should be the braided stainless steel hoses. The shutoff valves to the hoses should be functioning properly as well. Check the vent to the dryer to make sure it is clean of lint buildup and that it’s sealed and ducted to the exterior of the home. If a dryer vent is not ducted to the exterior it will release gallons of water as a vapor into the air of your home each day. Some of the miscellaneous items to check are the garage and windows of the house from the interior, since we have already checked the exterior. If the garage is attached to the home treat it like the home and make sure that all potentially hazardous items are stored properly or disposed of completely. Check for any water damage throughout garage. Check all the windows for signs of water intrusion and see if they are functioning correctly.

One of the last areas to check is the attic. Most of the attic can be checked from the access but sometimes it is wise to check all the under decking of the roof for signs of moisture if the roof is questionable. Not all water-damaged areas of an attic are caused by roof failures or problems. Moisture can also find its way through the home and into the attic in vapor form and condense on the underside of a cool roof deck in colder temperatures. This condensation can happen on a daily basis if the home humidity level is high enough and the roof deck is at dew point temperature. Another thing to check in the attic is any vent ducting run through the attic. Make sure all ducting is sealed correctly and vented to the exterior. It will also be easy to see the insulation in the attic and if the insulation is in place or if it’s time to add more. Set aside a rainy day in early fall to complete your indoor maintenance as most of these maintenance items usually only take a day or possibly a weekend to accomplish. Next month, I will provide a checklist for all the mechanical systems maintenance to help you maintain a healthy, safe, and durable home.

Greg Stopher has over 16 years of experience in the construction field and earned a degree in Construction Technologies from the University of Alaska Southeast. His company, Stopher Construction, LLC, is a general contracting company specializing in remodeling, custom finishes, additions and new home construction projects. He can be reached at 907-321-2350.