How to Take Care of Your Home

By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine

The Homeowner’s Manual by Lynda Lyday (Que Publishing, 2006)

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When consumers buy a car, they read the manual to learn about the car’s features, maintenance requirements, and other important information. But when they buy a home — often the biggest investment they’ll ever make — all they get is a key. No directions on maintenance, no guidance on repairs, no description of how all of the parts work. Home improvement expert Lynda Lyday, host of the DIY Network’s viewer call-in show “Talk2DIY,” sought to change that with her latest book. She explains how every component in the home works, from the hot water heater to the chimney cap, and provides practical maintenance tips. Each of the generously illustrated chapters covers a different part or system of the home, such as flooring, ventilation, and plumbing. The focus isn’t on do-it-yourself repairs but on providing an overview of the terms, materials, and care needed for each part of the home. The book can help you and your clients better understand the inner workings of a home and would be especially helpful for buyer clients who just bought their first home.

Tips From the Book:

  • Make sure the lawn is properly graded. If it’s not graded correctly, rainwater will create puddles on the lawn and suffocate plants. In most cases, once the water has done damage to the yard, it will find ways to enter the home through cracks in the foundation. When enough water builds up against the foundation wall, it creates pressure that can crack the foundation and cause water to seep into the home.
  • Buy the right kind of dimmer switch. There’s nothing like being able to create an instant mood with the touch of a button, making light dimmers an excellent choice. But not all dimmers are created equal. An inexpensive switch can cause the light bulb’s filament to buzz. Spend a few more dollars on a more expensive switch, which has components to store the electrical charge that makes the filament buzz. If you’re buying a dimmer for a ceiling fan, you can’t use a regular dimmer. You must buy a switch especially for that purpose.
  • Burn dry hardwoods in the fireplace. Have the chimney cleaned and inspected every year to remove the risk of fire and ensure the fireplace works efficiently. Chimney sweeps clean out the soot and the creosote, which is produced by an incomplete combustion of wood. Creosote is caused by burning woods that are not seasoned or are wet, and softwoods produce more of it than hardwoods do. Season firewood under a cover for six months before burning it, or consider fire logs made of sawdust and petroleum wax, which burn much cleaner and minimize creosote buildup.