Preserve your investment—and keep your family safe and healthy—by maintaining your home using the following tips.
Interior Doors: Monitor the condition of your home’s doors and door frames, including the interior of entrance doors and storm doors. Check their hardware for finish, wear, and proper functioning. Sticking doors or out-of-square frames may indicate house settlement, which is normal.
Exterior Doors: Exterior doors should be checked often for their condition, operation, and the functionality of their hardware. Door types include hinged, and single and double doors made of wood, steel, aluminum, and plastic with and without glazing. Monitor wood and plastic doors that are not protected from the weather. These doors should be rated for exterior use. Some homes use glass-framed doors of fixed and operable panels that have wood, vinyl-covered wood, and aluminum frames. Check the tracks of these sliding doors for dents, breaks and straightness.
Doors should also be monitored for the exterior condition of their frames and sills. Check doors that are not protected from the weather for the presence of essential flashing at the head. Over time, the interior condition and hardware of exterior doors can wear out or fail.
Garage Doors: Garage doors should be monitored for operation, weathertightness, overall condition, and fit. Garage doors are typically made of wood, hardboard on a wood frame, steel, fiberglass on a steel frame, and aluminum. Garage doors come with glazed panes in a wide variety of styles. Wood and hardboard can rot, hardboard can crack and split, steel can rust, fiberglass can deteriorate from ultraviolet light, and aluminum can dent.
Garage doors with motors should be periodically tested using each of the operators on the system, such as key-lock switch or combination lock keypad, where control must be accessible on the exterior remote electrical switch, radio signal switch, or photo-electric control switch. Check the operation for smoothness, quietness, speed of operation, and safety. Check for the presence and proper operation of the door safety-reversing device. Look at the exposed parts of the installation for loose connections, rust, and bent or damaged pieces.
Structural Integrity: All stairs must be kept structurally sound. Don’t forget to examine the basement stairs. Check the area where they meet the floor and where they are attached to the floor joists above.
Stair Width and Clearance: Stairways should have a minimum headroom of 6 feet and 8 inches, and width of 3 feet.
Treads and Risers: The riser of a stair is the height of the step. The tread is the step’s depth. Riser heights and tread depths should be as uniform as possible. All treads should be level and secure. As a guide, stairs in new homes must have a maximum riser height of 7-3/4 inches and a minimum tread depth of 10 inches. The maximum difference in height for risers and depth for treads should not exceed 3/8-inch.
Handrails and Guardrails: You can check a railing’s stability and its fastenings by shaking it vigorously. Handrails are normally required to be 34 to 38 inches above the stair nosing on at least one side of all stairways having three or more risers. Guardrails are required on open sides of stairways and should have intermediate rails that do not allow the passage of a sphere 4 inches in diameter.
Lighting: All interior and exterior stairways should have a means to illuminate the stairs, including landings and treads. Interior stairways should have a light located at each landing, except where a light is installed directly over each stairway section. Public stair and hallway lights in multi-family buildings should be operable from centralized controls.
Smoke Detectors: In addition to having them installed in each bedroom or in hallways adjacent to each bedroom, smoke detectors should be installed above stairways and hallways. They should be located on or near the ceiling, near the heads of stairs, and away from corners. Periodically check the operation of all smoke detectors by pushing their test buttons.
James F. Solon
OMI Ohio & Michigan Inspections LLC