10. Homeowner Care Guide
We are proud of our product and the neighborhoods in which we build. We strive to create long lasting value for you and the community. This cannot be achieved unless you, as the homeowner, properly maintain your home and all of its components. Periodic maintenance is necessary because of normal wear and tear, the inherent characteristics of the materials used in your home, and regular service required by the mechanical systems. Natural fluctuations in temperature and humidity also impact your home.
Many times a minor adjustment or repair done immediately saves a more serious, time-consuming and sometimes more costly repair later. Note also that negligence of routine maintenance can void applicable limited warranty coverage on all or part of your home. By caring for your new home attentively, you ensure your enjoyment of it for years. In addition, care provided by each homeowner contributes significantly to the overall desirability of the community.
We recognize that it is impossible to anticipate and describe every detail involved in good homecare. However, we will cover many common subjects. The subjects covered include components of the homes we build listed in alphabetical order. Each topic includes suggestions for use and maintenance followed by Lichty Brothers Homes. Some components may be discussed here which are not present in your home.
Please take time to read the literature provided by the manufacturers of consumer products and other items in your home. Although much of the information may be familiar to you, some points may be significantly different from products used in homes you had in the past. The information contained in the manufacturers material is not repeated here.
We make every effort to keep our information current and accurate. However, if any detail in our discussion conflicts with the manufacturer’s recommendations, the manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed. Activate specific manufacturer warranties by completing and mailing any registration cards included with their materials. In some cases, manufacturer warranties may extend beyond the first year; it is in your best interests to be apprised of such coverage.
Thermostats - The thermostat (usually located near the air return duct) helps to keep your home at an even temperature throughout. Individual room temperature may vary and can be regulated by adjusting the registers in the various rooms. The temperature may also vary between floors as warm air rises. If you have a second floor, it is likely to be warmer than a lower level. These variations in temperature within a home can be further minimized by leaving the furnace circulating fan on more consistently. If your home is heated by a warm air furnace or a heat pump your thermostat also may contain controls for converting from the cooling system to the heating system and vice versa. A recommended setting for a thermostat is 72 degrees for heating and 78 degrees for cooling. The ASHRAE standard for heating states that the system shall be capable of producing an inside temperature of 70 degrees (heating) or 78 degrees (cooling) as measured in the center of each room at a height of 5 feet above the floor. IN THE CASE OF OUTSIDE TEMPERATURES EXCEEDING 95 DEGREES, A DIFFERENTIAL OF 15 DEGREES FROM THE OUTSIDE TEMPERATURE WILL BE MAINTAINED.
Register - The registers throughout your home help to regulate the flow of air and to maintain the desired temperature. By opening and closing the registers and dampers, you can determine the amount of cool or warm air that enters a room. Once the registers and dampers are adjusted, they, together with the thermostat, will maintain the temperature in your home. In addition to the air outlets, your home will have an air intake (return) register. None of these registers should ever be obstructed.
Filters - Your air conditioning system has an air filter to help keep the air in your home clean. For maximum efficiency, this filter should be replaced or cleaned regularly. Clogged filters can cause a unit to malfunction. The instruction manual for your system will tell you the location of the filter and how to clean and replace it.
Insulation - Your Lichty Brothers Homes has been designed to provide the proper insulation for our climate. Open doors, windows, fireplace flues and clogged filters are more often the cause of inadequate cooling or heating than deficient insulation. A lack of proper window treatments can also prevent the heating/cooling system from functioning properly. If you feel the insulation may be inadequate, though, you may contact your Lichty Brothers Homes Customer Service Department.
Inspection - A central air conditioning or heating system should be checked periodically by a professional repairman. See your instruction manual for the frequency of this care.
Gas Furnace - Gas furnaces are normally automatic starts. If your heating unit is not an automatic start, your pilot light will have to be lighted manually at the start of the heating season, and turned off at the end of the heating season. Your furnace and vent stack should be inspected by a professional repairman at least once a year prior to the heating season.
Heat Pumps - Heat Pumps work to heat or cool your home. They transfer warm air from one location to another. As a result, the warm air delivered through your registers is cooler than the "heated air" produced by a gas or electric furnace. This gradual heat will keep the home comfortable. In many areas, heat pumps are equipped with an electrical back-up system to be activated in extremely cold weather.
Your new electrical or gas appliances are accompanied by instruction manuals and other papers. Look through them carefully. Remove, fill out and mail any return postcards necessary to record warranties. Keep a list of the authorized service agencies in the back of this booklet. Read all instructional literature so that you will know how to get the best from what you own, and so you will understand all appliance warranties. If an electrical appliance fails to work, before calling Lichty Brothers Homes’ appliance subcontractor be sure the appliance is plugged in and that no circuit breakers are tripped. If a gas appliance fails to work, check to see that the pilot light is lit. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the main gas valve near the meter and call the utility company.
If your home has a pitched roof, the space between the ceiling and the roof may have louvered openings. Louvered openings should remain unobstructed all year round. If your home has soffit vents and/or ridge vents they should also be clear of debris. Ridge vents should be checked periodically to ensure they are secure and have not come loose in high winds. Occasionally, depending on the force and direction of the wind, rain or snow will infiltrate these vents causing spotting on the ceiling.
Bathtubs, Sinks And Showers
Tile and Porcelain Enamel - The surface of these fixtures is hard, smooth and glossy like a mirror, but it is not indestructible. Accidents or improper cleaning will cause chipping, scratches and stains. A blow from a heavy or sharp object will chip the surface, and scraping or banging metal utensils in a sink will gradually scratch and dull the surface. The finish is then susceptible to stains, which become increasingly difficult to remove. Shiny new fixtures can also be dulled or stained within a short time through improper or excessive use of strong abrasive cleaners. Most household cleansers are mildly abrasive, but used with plenty of water, some of them are not harmful; however, a nonabrasive cleanser is safer. If you prefer a dry material, baking soda and Bon Ami® Powder (not Bon Ami® Cleanser) are nonabrasive. Most stains are caused by dirt, food, grease, rust or water minerals.
Stainless Steel - Stainless steel fixtures and sinks generally resist staining and need a thorough scrubbing only occasionally. Do not use steel wool pads, as these can remove the finish of stainless steel sinks. Use a nonabrasive cleanser or a commercial stainless steel cleanser. Stainless steel sinks will dent when they receive a strong impact.
Fiberglass Tubs and Showers - Never use powdered cleansers or any type of abrasive on Fiberglass® tubs and showers. Special Fiberglass cleaners are available at most supermarkets. Spray window cleaners are also effective. For long term protection, wax your Fiberglass units with a high quality automobile wax immediately on move in and after each major cleaning.
Shower Enclosures - To clean shower enclosures, an ordinary dishwashing detergent (not soap) will do a good job unless hard water minerals have been deposited. For these, use a commercial glass cleaner containing ammonia or 1 tablespoon of household ammonia in a quart of water. WARNING: Be sure to read the caution note on the label before using ammonia. Never use steel wool or scouring pads on the metal portion of these enclosures. It will remove the protective finish applied by the manufacturer and cause unsightly scratches. To prolong the life and beauty of your plumbing fixtures follow these precautions:
Don’t let food wastes stand in the sink. Dispose of food waste through your disposal as it accumulates.
Don’t use plumbing fixtures to hold paint cans, trash, or tools when you are re- decorating. Cover them when painting walls and ceilings.
Don’t step in a bathtub or shower stall with shoes on for any reason. Shoe soles carry hundreds of gritty particles that will scratch the surface.
Don’t use sink, tub or toilets as receptacles for photographic or developing solutions. Developer stains are extremely difficult to remove.
Wipe shower area dry after each use.
Utilize bathroom exhaust fans or open bathroom windows to remove excessive moisture from the room.
By observing these suggestions and the preceding instructions, you will prolong the newness and luster of your fixtures.
Brick is one of the most durable and lowest maintenance finishes for a home’s exterior. A record of your brick color is included in your selection sheets. After several years, face brick may require tuck pointing (repairing the mortar between the bricks). Otherwise, no regular maintenance is required. In some circumstances, you may notice small holes in the mortar along the lower row of bricks. This allows moisture that accumulates behind the brick to escape. Do not fill these weep holes or permit landscaping materials to cover them.
Your selection sheets are your record of the brand, style and color of cabinets in your home. If you selected wood or wood veneer cabinets, expect difference in grain and color between and within the cabinet components due to natural variations in wood and the way it takes stain.
Cleaning - Kitchen and bathroom cabinets should never be cleaned with harsh abrasives. Wood cabinets may be cleaned like any other wood furniture with lemon oil or a good furniture oil unless it has been plastic coated. An excellent product for hiding minor nicks and scratches that occur over time in wood cabinetry is Old English® furniture polish. Keep cabinet doors and drawers closed when not in use. Periodic use of silicone spray lubricant on drawers and hinges will improve operating efficiency.
Hinge - If hinges catch or drawer glides become sluggish, a small amount of silicone lubricant will improve their performance.
Moisture - Damage to cabinet surfaces and warping can result from operating appliances that generate large amounts of moisture--such as a crock pot--too near the cabinet. When operating such appliances, place them in a location that is not directly under a cabinet.
Wood Grain - Readily noticeable variations in wood grain and color are normal in all wood or wood veneer selections. Replacements are not made due to such variations.
Given proper care, the carpeting in your home will provide years of service. You should vacuum at least once a week using a powerful upright vacuum cleaner. This is especially important with some of the denser shear and shag patterns. You should also plan to give your carpeting a professional cleaning at least once a year to remove deep down dirt and stubborn stains. In regard to stains, always attack them immediately. Even half an hour after the accident can be too late. A number of good quality stain and spot removers are available; however, we suggest you seek the advice of a carpeting expert as to what is best for your brand and style of carpet. You should be aware of the material that your carpet is made of. Should your carpet become wet or saturated for any reason, the bottom of furniture legs need to be taken out of contact with the carpet. Aluminum foil or plastic coasters work well in this situation. With very severe staining or spotting, don’t hesitate to call in a professional. The small expense will pay off in longer carpet beauty and service.
Below are some conditions that may occur with your new carpet:
Burns - Any kind of burn should be taken care of immediately. First snip off the darkened fibers. Then use a soapless cleaner and sponge with water. If the burn is extensive, talk with a professional about replacing the damaged area.
Crushing - Furniture and traffic may crush a carpet’s pile fibers. Frequent vacuuming in high traffic areas and glides or cups under heavy pieces of furniture can help prevent this. Rotating your furniture to change the traffic pattern in a room promotes more even wear. Some carpets resist matting and crushing because of their level of fiber, but this does not imply or guarantee that no matting or crushing will occur. Heavy traffic areas such as halls and stairways are more susceptible to wear and crushing. This is considered normal wear.
Fading - Science has yet to develop a color that will not fade with time. All carpets will slowly lose some color due to natural and artificial forces in the environment. This can be delayed by frequently removing soil by vacuuming and regularly changing air filters in heating and air conditioning systems. Keeping humidity and temperatures from getting too high and reducing sunlight exposure with window coverings can also slow the process of color fading.
Filtration - If interior doors are kept closed while the air conditioning is operating, the air circulation from the closed room flows through the small space at the bottom of the door. This forces the air over the carpet fibers, which in turn act as a filter, to catch particulate pollution. Over time a noticeable stain will develop at that threshold.
Fuzzing - In loop carpets, fibers may break. Simply clip the excess fibers. If it continues, call a professional.
Pilling - Pilling (small balls of fiber) can appear on your carpet depending on the type of carpet fiber you have and the type of traffic it gets. If this occurs in small quantities, clip off the pills. If the pills cover a large area however, seek professional advice.
Rippling - With wall-to-wall carpeting, high humidity may cause rippling. If the carpet remains rippled after the humidity has left, have the carpeting re-stretched by a professional using a power stretcher, not a knee-kicker.
Seams - Carpet usually comes in 12-foot widths, making seams necessary in most rooms. Visible seams are not a defect unless they have been improperly made or the material has a defect making the seam appear to be more pronounced than usual. The more dense and uniform the carpet texture, the more visible the seams will be. Carpet styles with low tight naps will result in the most visible seams. Seams are never more visible than when the carpet is first installed. Usually with time, use and vacuuming, the seams become less visible. Examples of how carpet seams diminish after they have experienced traffic and been vacuumed can be seen in our model homes.
Shading - Shading is an inherent quality of fine cut pile carpets. Household traffic causes pile fibers to assume different angles and as a result, the carpet appears darker and lighter in these areas. A good vacuuming so the pile is all going the same direction provides a temporary remedy.
Shedding - New carpeting, especially pile, sheds bits of fiber for a period of time. Eventually these loose fibers are removed by vacuuming. Shedding usually occurs more with wool carpeting that with nylon or other synthetics.
Snags - Sharp-edged objects can grab or snag the carpet fiber. When this occurs, cut the snag off. If the snag is especially large, call a professional.
Sprouting - Occasionally you may find small tufts of fiber sprouting above carpet surface. Simply use scissors to cut the sprout off. Do not attempt to pull it as the other fibers will come out in the process.
Stains - No carpet is stain-proof. Although your carpet manufacturer designates your carpet stain-resistant, some substances may still cause permanent staining. These include hair dyes, shoe polish, paints or India ink. Some substances destroy or change the color of carpets. These include, but are not limited to: bleaches, acne medications, drain cleaners, plant food, insecticides and food or beverages with strongly colored natural dyes as found in some brands of mustard and herbal tea.
Exterior caulking will separate and deteriorate over the life of the home. If this situation is not monitored and corrected on a consistent basis, moisture can work its way behind wood trim or siding and cause serious rotting problems. Leaks around doors and windows can also result if this condition goes unnoticed for any length of time.
Ceramic tile floors are generally easy to maintain. To keep them looking new, you need only wipe with a moist cloth and wet mop from time to time. The grout used between ceramic tile can be cleaned using a brush and a mild cleanser. Grout sealers are available to make the grout more resistant to stains. Once again, these products can be purchased at most home care centers.
Grout Discoloration - Grout that becomes yellowed or stained can be cleaned with a fiber brush, cleanser and water. Grout cleansers and whiteners are available at most hardware stores.
Sealing Grout - Sealing grout is your decision and responsibility. Once grout has been sealed, ongoing maintenance of that seal is necessary and limited warranty coverage on grout that has been sealed is void.
Separations - Expect slight separations to occur in the grout between tiles. This grout is for decorative purposes only; it does not hold the tile in place. Cracks in the grout can be filled using premixed grout that can be purchased from flooring or hardware stores. Follow package directions.
Tile around bathtubs or countertops may appear to be pulling up after a time. This is caused by normal shrinkage of grout or caulk. If this occurs, the best remedy is to purchase tub caulk or premixed grout from a hardware store. Follow directions on the container. This maintenance is important to protect the underlying surface from water damage.
Concrete Driveways, Walks and Patios
Most driveways, walks and patios in Lichty Brothers Homes are constructed of concrete or asphalt. We have anticipated normal stresses on these concrete areas and have provided contraction and expansion control joints to minimize cracking; however, cracking is one of the characteristics of concrete and a method of entirely eliminating cracks is still sought. Unanticipated cracking sometimes occurs from unforeseeable conditions, such as shrinkage, severe frost or changes in homesite grade which prevents proper runoff from rain or watering. Ordinarily, the cracks are of no serious consequence.
Minor repairs can be made by following these steps:
1. Roughen the edges of the crack if they are smooth.
2. Clean out loose material and dirt.
3. Soak the old concrete thoroughly. (The crack should be sopping-wet, but water should not be standing in it.)
4. Fill the crack with patching cement slightly higher than the crack to allow for shrinkage. Commercially prepared patching mixtures need only the addition of water, but be sure the mixture you buy is appropriate for concrete.
5. Cover and keep damp for several days. The longer the drying time the stronger the patch will be.
6. When the cement has partly set, remove excess cement with a wire brush. At this stage the surface of the cement appears sandy. You should consider sealing your concrete surfaces with a good quality sealer. This will protect the surface and the finish from water, road salt, or oil stains.
7. If your driveway is asphalt, a seal coat mixture should be applied every two years. This practice will protect the surface of the drive, help fill in the crevices, help to keep water from penetrating and deteriorating the asphalt, and maintain the good looks of your driveway. Never park bicycles on asphalt or set outdoor furniture on asphalt, as the sharp ends of a kick stand or chair legs can poke holes in it.
NOTE: You should avoid applying salt to concrete or asphalt, as it will deteriorate the surface of these materials. To assist you in having traction on ice you may use sand. Remember to provide a mat at the front door so sand will not be tracked into your home.
Cleaning - Avoid washing exterior concrete slabs with cold water from an outside faucet when temperatures are high and the sun has been shining on the concrete. The abrupt change in temperature can damage the surface bond of the concrete. Sweeping is the recommended method for keeping exterior concrete clean. If washing is necessary, do this when temperatures are moderate.
Repeated cleaning of the garage floor by hosing can increase soil movement by allowing water to penetrate any existing cracks. We recommend sweeping to clean the garage floor.
Expansion Joints - We install expansion joints or tool joints in some cases to help control expansion; however, as the concrete shrinks during the curing process, moisture can penetrate under the concrete and lift the expansion joint. When this occurs, fill the resulting gap with a gray silicone sealant which can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Ice, Snow, & Chemicals - Remove ice and snow from concrete slabs as promptly as possible after snow storms. Protect concrete from abuse by chemical agents such as pet urine, fertilizers, radiator overflow, repeated hosing or de icing agents. Be aware that such de-icers like road salt can drip from vehicles. All of these items can cause spalling (chipping of the surface) of concrete.
Sealer - A concrete sealer, available at paint stores, will help you keep an unpainted concrete floor clean. Do not use soap on unpainted concrete. Plain water or hot water and washing soda, or if necessary, a scouring powder should be used.
The majority of kitchen counter tops are constructed of top quality plastic laminate materials. Because these products are a sheet of very hard plastic laminated to a wooden base, you must be careful not to disturb the bond between the wood and the plastic. To avoid such a problem, always be sure to use a hot pad for anything that is likely to exceed 250 degrees in temperature. Anything coming directly off a burner or from the oven will be much too hot to place directly on the plastic surface. Laminated plastic tops are very easy products to maintain: however, there are a few ways to increase their life and prolong their beauty:
Most spots, glass rings, etc. will usually wipe clean with a damp cloth and mild soap. For more stubborn stains, we recommend Formica brand spray cleaner. Be careful of the inks used in marking grocery products, especially meat and produce. They are often indelible and can be extremely difficult to remove. Newspaper ink can also produce an indelible stain.
Never cut items directly on the counter top. They will scratch and knife marks can become unsightly hiding places for dirt.
Counter tops are not constructed for sitting. Excessive weight can cause warping, drawer malfunction and even cause the top to pull away from the wall.
To prevent leaks, be certain to monitor the condition of all caulking at countertops and redo if separation or shrinkage occurs. If you have a ceramic tile countertop, see "Ceramic Tile" for care information. If you have a Corian® Countertop, please refer to the manufacturer’s care and maintenance information. Your bath vanity tops, and perhaps your bath sinks, are made of either top quality plastic laminate (see above) or they are made of a cultured marble product that will give you classic good looks and utilitarian service. These products will scratch and burn if mistreated however, so treat them gently. Always be especially careful with razor blades, manicure equipment and bathroom appliances. Cigarette burns are almost impossible to remove without professional assistance. Care for your cultured marble with any good quality, non-abrasive bathroom cleaner. If hard water minerals collect, they may be removed with a mild ammonia solution of one tablespoon to each quart of water. Caulking of the vanity tops is an important element of homeowner maintenance, and should be monitored.
Granite countertops are generally low maintenance. They require a wipe-on sealant to be applied once a year. These sealants can be purchased from most local hardware stores.
You may notice slight dampness in the crawl space. Landscaping that is correctly installed helps prevent excessive amounts of water from entering crawl spaces. Standing water should be reported to Lichty Brothers Homes for inspection.
Wood decks add to the style and function of your home and are a high maintenance part of your home’s exterior. Exposed wood decks can be stained with a semi-transparent oil stain or other products to protect and beautify the wood. Each board takes the same stain differently and variations in color will be readily noticeable. Over time with exposure to weather and use, further variations in color will occur. Sealing the deck should be completed annually. Home centers offer several products to consider for this purpose. Always follow manufacturer’s directions carefully.
Wood decks are subject to shrinkage, cracking, splitting, cupping and twisting. Nails or screws may work loose and will need routine maintenance. Plan to inspect your decks regularly, a minimum of once each year, and provide needed attention promptly to maintain an attractive appearance and forestall costly repairs.
Shrinkage, cracking, splitting, cupping and twisting are natural occurrences in wood decks and are excluded from limited warranty coverage. Color variations are a natural result of the way in which wood accepts stain and are also excluded from limited warranty coverage.
Food should not be deposited into an inactivated disposal and the unit then turned on. The disposal will provide more effective disposing action if cold water is running and the unit is turned on prior to depositing food into it. When the unit is running, cold water should be used. This helps to solidify any grease in the disposal which can then be chopped up and moved out with the remainder of the foods. Once a month, a tray of ice cubes can be deposited into the disposal and chopped up. This has a cleaning action on the blades and exit areas of the disposal. If the disposal is jammed:
1. Turn off the switch for the disposal before trying to unclog.
2. Use the allen wrench provided.
3. Remove whatever has jammed the disposal.
4. Press the reset button which is located on the bottom of the disposal, and the unit should be ready to function again
The doors installed in your home are wood products subject to the natural characteristics of wood such as shrinkage and warping. Due to natural fluctuations of humidity and the use of forced air furnaces, showers, and dishwashers, and so on, interior doors may require minor adjustments from time to time.
Bi-fold Doors - Interior bi-folds sometimes stick or warp due to weather conditions. Apply a silicone lubricant to the tracks to minimize this inconvenience.
Exterior Finish - To insure longer life for your exterior doors, plan to refinish them at least once a year. Stained exterior doors with clear finishes tend to weather faster than a painted door. Treat the finish with a wood preserver (such as Old English) quarterly to preserve the varnish and prevent the door from drying and cracking. Reseal the stained exterior doors whenever the finish begins cracking or crazing.
Failure to Latch - If a door will not latch due to minor settling, you can correct this by making a new opening in the jamb for the latch plate (remortising) and raising or lowering the plate accordingly.
Hinges - You can remedy a squeaky door hinge by removing the hinge pin and applying a silicone lubricant to it. Avoid using oil as it can gum up or attract dirt; graphite works well as a lubricant but can create a gray smudge on the door or floor covering beneath the hinge if too much is applied.
Shrinkage - Use putty, filler, or latex caulk to fill any minor separations that develop at mitered joints in door trim. Follow with painting. Panels of wood doors shrink and expand in response to changes in temperature and humidity. Touching up the paint or stain on unfinished areas that are exposed as a result are your home maintenance responsibility.
Sticking - The most common cause of a sticking door is the natural expansion of lumber due to changes in humidity. When sticking is due to swelling during a damp season, do not plane the door unless it continues to stick after the weather changes. Before planning a door due to sticking, try two other steps: first apply either a paste wax, light coat of paraffin, or candle wax to the sticking surface; or second, tighten the screws that hold the door jamb or door frame. If planning is necessary even after these measures, use sandpaper to smooth the door and paint the sanded area to seal against moisture.
Warping - Warping is a result of too much moisture. Should a door ever warp, a good repair is to dry it in the sun. The door should be elevated off the ground, and it should be positioned flat with the warped side up. If drying a door thoroughly won’t straighten a badly warped door, apply weight to the bulged side and leave it for two or three days. If this "first aid" doesn’t solve the problem, you should call in a carpenter to make the repair.
Weather Strip - Weather stripping and exterior door thresholds occasionally require adjustment or replacement.
Each plumbing fixture in your home has a drain trap, a J-shaped piece of pipe designed to provide a water barrier between your home and the danger of sewer gas. The trap holds water, which prevents the airborne bacteria and odor of the sewer gas from entering the house. If any fixture is used infrequently, it should be turned on at regular intervals to replace evaporating water and ensure that the barrier remains intact.
Traps, because of their shapes, are also the point at which drains are most likely to become clogged. When the drain pipe from a sink, shower, or tub stops up, first use a plunger. Be sure the rubber cap of the plunger covers the drain openings and the water comes well up over the cup edge. Working the plunger up and down rhythmically 10 to 20 times in succession will build up pressure in the pipe and do more good than sporadic, separated plunges. Be sure to plug the overflow outlet, if there is one, with a piece of old cloth, and close the other drain when working on a double sink. If the plunger doesn’t work, try using a plumber’s snake, which can be rented or purchased at a hardware or plumbing store. Be sure to turn the handle of the snake in the same direction when removing it as you did in inserting it. This will usually keep any matter attached to the snake from coming loose before it is removed. If the drain can be partly opened with the plunger or snake, boiling hot water (no hotter than 140 degrees for plastic pipe) may finish the job. If not, you can open the trap under the fixture. Put a bucket or pan under it to catch water. A piece of wire may help dislodge the blockage. The snake can also be run in at this point.
Although it is sold commercially as a drain cleaner, never use caustic soda to open a drain. It will combine with the grease from soap or food wastes to form an insoluble compound. Potash lye or caustic potash may be added to finish opening a drain, but never use them on a completely stopped up drain. They may take as long as overnight to work, and if you ultimately have to open the trap, the chemicals would be a hazard.
WARNING: Because potash lye and caustic potash are highly corrosive, always pour them slowly into the drain to prevent splattering. Never pour water into the chemical. Wear old clothes, rubber gloves, and goggles or safety glasses. Never use a plunger on a drain after chemicals have been added; the water may splash and cause an injury or damage nearby surfaces. If the stoppage is in the line past the trap, try using the snake at the clean-out plug nearest the blockage. These plugs are located on the drain lines throughout the house.
PREVENTION: To avoid stopped up drains, a cardinal rule is never to pour grease into a drain or toilet. Ordinary washing soda (not baking soda) added to a drain on a regular basis will help keep it clear of grease from soap and cooking utensils. Run hot water through the drain, turn off the water, add 3 tablespoons of washing soda, and follow it with just enough hot water to wash it down the drain opening. Let it set for 15 minutes and run more hot water.
SPECIAL NOTE: Your food waste disposal has special instructions to avoid stoppage, blockage and heavy grease buildup. Refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual for details.
Slight cracking, nail pops, or seams may become visible in walls and ceilings. These are caused by the shrinkage of the wood and normal deflection of rafters to which the drywall is attached. Drywall is a man-made item and does not have a glass-like finish.
Repairs - With the exception of the one time repair service provided by Lichty Brothers Homes, care of drywall is your maintenance responsibility. Most drywall repairs can be easily made and this work is best done when the room is to be redecorated. Hairline cracks can be repaired with a coat of paint while slightly larger cracks can be repaired with spackle or caulk. To correct a nail pop, reset the nail with a hammer and punch. Cover it with spackle which is available at paint and hardware stores. Apply two or three thin coats. When dry, sand the surface with fine grain sandpaper and then paint. Indentations caused by sharp objects can be filled with spackle in the same manner.
The wiring in every Lichty Brothers Homes meets the code requirements and safety standards for the normal use of electrical appliances. Ordinarily, small appliances, which require your personal attendance for operation, may be plugged into any electrical receptacle without fear of overloading a circuit. However, the use of large appliances, or of many small appliances on the same circuit, may cause an overload of the circuit and trip a breaker. This is especially true of electric space heaters. If this happens frequently, contact a reliable electrical contractor to learn whether additional wiring is needed to meet your requirements.
Most municipal electrical codes now require bathroom and exterior convenience outlets to be wired to breakers which utilize Ground Fault Interrupter Circuits (GFI). These circuits are very sensitive and any undue resistance or overload will trip the breakers. Do not use heavy appliances or more than one appliance at a time on these circuits. Never plug refrigerators or freezers into a GFI outlet. Each GFI receptacle has a test and reset button. Once every month press the test button. This will trip the circuit. To return service, press the reset button. If a GFI breaker trips during normal use, it may be an indication of a faulty appliance and investigation is in order. One GFI breaker can control up to three or four outlets.
Electrical Service Entrance
The electrical wiring and equipment in Lichty Brothers Homes is protected by circuit breakers. They are the safety valves of your home’s electrical system. The electrical service entrance, which provides power to the service panel, has been designed for the electrical needs of your home. Do not tamper with this cable. Every home has a master circuit breaker located in the service panel box along with smaller circuit breakers. When the master breaker is tripped the electricity in your home is cut off. Circuit breakers may be reset by first switching the breaker to FULL OFF and then back to FULL ON.
Your air conditioning unit may have heavy duty cartridge fuses or some other disconnect mechanism located in a small box next to the service panel or next to the unit. These may be replaced by simply pulling them from their retaining clips and installing a new cartridge. BE CERTAIN TO TURN OFF POWER BEFORE REMOVING CARTRIDGES.
Refer to the following checklist BEFORE reporting electrical problems:
If receptacles won’t work, check to be certain the circuit breaker has not been tripped. If so, reset it. If not, make sure the receptacle is not controlled by a wall switch which is in the OFF position. Lastly, check all GFIs.
If individual ceiling lights or lamps do not come on, check the bulb in another fixture. If the bulb is good, check the circuit breaker to see if it is tripped and reset if necessary. Also, check for wall switches that may be turned off.
If your disposal or dishwasher won’t operate; first, for the disposal, push the reset button located on the disposal. Second, if your appliances are designed to be plugged in (some are directly wired), check to be sure both appliances are plugged into the proper receptacle. The duplex receptacle under your sink is especially wired with one outlet for the dishwasher and one for the disposal (connected to a wall switch). Also check the circuit breaker.
If an electric water heater won’t function, check the circuit breaker. If that’s no help, turn the power off and push the reset button located under the water heater access cover.
If your oven won’t heat, refer to the manufacturer’s manual to be certain you are properly operating the time controls. Sometimes this can be tricky. Also check the circuit breaker.
If the bath or utility exhaust fan won’t run and makes no noise (hum) or movement the problem is normally electrical. If there is any movement or humming noise, the problem normally is in the fan unit.
If an outlet sparks when plugged into, be certain the appliance is off before plugging in. If it still sparks, try another outlet. If you get sparks from a second outlet the problem is normally in the appliance cord. If you do not get sparks, have the receptacle inspected. Also, sparks from wall switches should be checked by an electrician.
If a wall switch or receptacle is hot to the touch, you should immediately trip the circuit breaker serving that fixture and contact an electrician.
Expansion and Contraction
Changes in temperature and humidity cause all building materials to expand and contract. Dissimilar materials expand or contract at different rates. This movement results in separation between materials, particularly dissimilar ones. You will see the effects in small cracks in drywall and in paint, especially where moldings meet drywall, at mitered corners, where tile grout meets tub or sink, and so on. While this can be alarming to an uninformed homeowner, it is normal.
Shrinkage of the wood members of your home is inevitable and occurs in every new home. Although this is most noticeable during the first year, it may continue beyond that time. In most cases, caulk and paint are all you need to conceal this minor evidence of a natural phenomenon. Maintenance of caulking is your responsibility.
Most of us feel a fireplace is an excellent way to create a warm, cozy atmosphere. However, without sufficient information, your use of the fireplace can result in heat (and dollars) being wasted. To help prevent that, consider the following points. Look upon burning a fire as a luxury that adds much to the atmosphere but just a little to the heat in a home. About 10% of the heat produced by a fire is radiated into the house. In many older homes, the air used by the fireplace for combustion is replaced with cold outside air drawn in through cracks around doors and windows. However, your home is constructed so tightly that this does not happen. We install a fresh air vent to supply the fireplace with combustion air and reduce the amount of heated air the fire draws from your house. Open this vent prior to starting the fire as you do the damper. Start with a small flame to warm up the flew, then gradually increase the flame. When not in use, the damper and cold air vent should be closed. Leaving these open is equivalent to having an open window in the house. If the fire is still burning, but you are finished enjoying it, use glass doors to prevent heated air from being drawn up the chimney until your damper can be closed. One caution on the use of glass doors: Do not close them over a roaring fire, especially if you are burning hard woods (such as oak or hickory) because this could break the glass. Also, when closing the doors over a burning fire, open the mesh screens first. This prevents excessive heat build up on the mesh which might result in warping or discoloration.
Chimney Cleaning - Creosote and other wood burning by products accumulate inside the flue over a period of time. This build up can be a fire hazard. The way you use your fireplace and the type of wood you burn determines the timing on having your chimney cleaned. For instance, burning soft woods or improperly seasoned woods necessitates more frequent cleaning. A qualified chimney sweep should be hired for this cleaning.
Spark Arrestor - If the spark arrester becomes clogged the diminished, air flow will affect the performance of the fireplace and may cause a fire hazard. Have the arrester cleaned professionally when needed.
Gas Fireplace - Lichty Brothers Homes offers direct vent gas fireplaces. If you ordered this type of fireplace, it is demonstrated during the orientation. Read and follow all manufacturer directions. Do not re-arrange the logs, the log placement is set by the manufacturer for optimal air flow. Be aware of a delay between turning the switch on and flame ignition. The flames should ignite gently and silently. If you notice any deviation in this and any gas smell, shut the switch off immediately and report it. CAUTION: The exterior vent cover for a direct vent gas fireplace becomes extremely hot when the fireplace is operating, do not touch. The glass on the front of the fireplace becomes extremely hot when the fireplace is operating, do not touch.
Pilot - On models with manually lit pilots, lighting the fireplace pilot involves several steps. First remove the cover panel to expose the pilot. Then rotate the on/off/pilot knob to PILOT. When the knob is in this position, the red button can be depressed. While depressing the red button, hold a match at the pilot. Once the pilot lights, continue to hold the red button down for 30 to 60 seconds. When you release the red button the pilot should stay lit. If it does not, wait several minutes to allow any gas to dissipate from the furnace area and repeat the entire process again. If the pilot stays lit, rotate the on/off/pilot knob to the ON position. Reinstall the cover panel.
Water Infiltration - In unusually heavy or prolonged precipitation, especially when accompanied by high winds, some water can enter the home through the chimney. The limited warranty excludes this occurrence.
We install the foundation of your home in accordance with the recommendations of our consulting engineer. The walls of the foundation are poured concrete with steel reinforcing rods. To protect your home’s foundation, follow guidelines for installation and maintenance of landscaping and drainage.
Cracks - Even though the foundation has been designed by an engineer and constructed in accordance with engineering requirements, surface cracks can still develop in the wall. Surface cracks are not detrimental to the structural integrity of your home. If a crack develops in a foundation wall, refer to the performance guidelines and follow the suggested corrective measure.
Dampness - Due to the amount of water in concrete, basements may be damp. Condensation can form on water lines and drip onto the floor.
Future Construction in Basement - If you decide to perform additional construction in the basement, obtain guidelines from a licensed engineer, obtain a building permit, and comply with all codes and safety requirements. Lichty Brothers Homes does not warrant that a permit will be obtainable due to the possibility of unforeseeable changes in building codes.
Garage Overhead Door
Since the garage door is a large, moving object, periodic maintenance is necessary.
Standard Silicone Spray - Every six months, apply a standard silicone spray to all moving parts: track, rollers, hinges, pulleys, and springs. At the same time, check to see that all hardware is tight and operating as intended without binding or scraping. Avoid over lubricating to prevent drips on vehicles or the concrete floor.
Lock - If the lock becomes stiff, apply a silicone or graphite lubricant. Do not use oil on a lock as it will stiffen in winter and make the lock difficult to operate.
Opener - To prevent damage to a garage door opener, be sure the door is completely unlocked and the rope-pull has been removed before using the operator. If you have an opener installed after closing on your home, we suggest that you order it from the company that provided and installed the garage door to assure uninterrupted warranty coverage.
Safety - Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe and reliable operation. Do not allow anyone except the operator near the door when it is in motion. Keep hands and fingers away from all parts of the door except the handle. Do not allow children to play with or around the door. For your safety always have any needed adjustments made by a qualified specialist. The door springs are under a considerable amount of tension and require special tools and knowledge for accurate and safe servicing. Have the door inspected by a professional garage door technician after any significant impact to the door.
Light Visible - Overhead garage doors cannot be air tight. Some light will be visible around the edges and across the top of the door. Severe weather conditions may result in some precipitation entering around the door.
You will find shut-offs on gas lines near their connection to each item that operates on gas. In addition, there is a main shut off at the meter. We point these out during the orientation. If you suspect a gas leak, leave the home and call the gas company immediately for emergency service.
Grading and Drainage
The final grades around your home have been inspected and approved for proper drainage of your lot. Inspections are made by the local building authorities as well as Lichty Brothers Homes.
Drainage - Typically, the grade around your home should slope one foot in the first ten feet, tapering to a two percent slope. In most cases, drainage swales do not follow property boundaries. Maintain the slopes around your home to permit the water to drain away from the home as rapidly as possible; this is essential to protect your foundation. Failure to do so can result in major structural damage and will void your warranty.
Roof Water - Do not remove the splash blocks or downspout extensions from under the downspouts. Keep these in place at all times, sloped so the water drains away from your home quickly.
Settling - The area we excavated for your home’s foundation was larger than the home to allow room to work. In addition, some trenching is necessary for installation of utility lines. Although we replaced and compacted the soil, it does not return to its original density. Some settling will occur, especially after prolonged or heavy rainfall or melting of considerable amounts of snow. Settling can continue for several years. Inspect the perimeter of your home regularly for signs of settling and fill settled areas as needed to maintain positive drainage.
Erosion - Soil Erosion is a natural, reoccurring process that requires ongoing maintenance of the home site. Significant erosion can occur after heavy rain, ice, or snow fall, which are unforeseen acts of nature. Fill and rake the effected areas and then sod or cover with seed and straw. Water replanted areas daily for at least three weeks or until the area is reestablished.
Swales - Lichty Brothers Homes must maintain drainage patterns as close to natural tendencies as possible. Any landscape plans must be altered to accommodate the draining characteristics or the lot. Typically a lot receives water from and passes water on to other lots; changes in grade often affect those adjacent or near by.
See also, Landscaping.
Gutters and Downspouts
Check gutters periodically and remove leaves or other debris. Materials that accumulate in gutters can slow water draining from the roof, cause overflows or clog the downspouts.
Extensions or Splash blocks - Extensions should discharge outside of rock or bark beds so that water is not dammed behind the edging materials which might be used.
Leaks - If a joint between sections of gutter drips, caulk the inside joint using a commercial gutter caulking compound available at hardware stores.
Overflow - Gutters may overflow during periods of excessively heavy rain. This is expected and requires no repair.
Standing water - Small amounts of water (up to one inch) will stand for short periods of time in gutters immediately after rain. No correction is required for these conditions.
Snow and Ice - Clear excess snow from downspouts as soon as possible to allow the gutter to drain and prevent damage. Severe ice or snow build up can damage gutters; such damage is not covered by the limited warranty.
No key used during the course of construction of your new home will operate the locks after you have taken possession. Most exterior hardware comes finished with a sealant. Often times this sealant can wear, and tarnishing will occur. To minimize this condition a regular cleaning and clear lacquer application will prolong the look of the hardware. Passage door hardware in any home can work loose through use. Keep a careful watch to avoid excessive play in the doorknob escutcheon plate. In the event a doorknob or privacy lock should become inoperative, it is usually because looseness has allowed the interior mechanism to slip out of place. Removal and reinstallation of the fixture (a simple process) will usually correct the problem. Doors with key-type hardware are more complicated and usually require the services of a locksmith. Periodic application of powdered graphite or silicone spray to keyholes and lock mechanisms can help to keep them operating smoothly.
In daily care of hardwood floors, preventive maintenance is the primary goal.
Cleaning - Sweep on a daily basis or as needed. Never wet mop a hardwood floor. Excessive water causes wood to expand, possibly damaging the floor. When polyurethane finishes become soiled, damp mop with a mixture of one cup vinegar to one gallon of warm water. When damp mopping, remove all excess water from the mop.
Dimples/Scratches - Install proper floor protectors on furniture used on hardwood floors. Protectors will allow chairs to move easily over the floor without scuffing. Clean the protectors on a regular basis to remove any grit that may accumulate.
Humidity - Wood floors respond noticeably to changes in humidity in your home, especially during winter months. A humidifier helps but does not eliminate this reaction.
Mats and Area Rugs - Use protective mats at the exterior doors to help prevent sand and grit from getting on the floor. Gritty sand is wood flooring’s worst enemy. However, be aware that rubber backing on area rugs or mats can cause yellowing and warping of the floor surface.
Recoat - If your floors have a polyurethane finish, in six months to one year you may want to have an extra coat of polyurethane applied. This should be done by a qualified contractor. The exact timing will depend on your particular lifestyle. If another finish was used, please refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Separation (see also, Warping) - Expect some shrinkage around heat vents or any heat producing appliances as well as during the heating season.
Shoes - Keep high heels in good repair. Heels which have lost their protective cap (thus exposing the fastening nail) will exert over 8,000 pounds of pressure per square inch on the floor. That’s enough to damage hardened concrete and it will mark your wood floor.
Spills - Clean up food spills immediately with a dry cloth. Use a vinegar and warm water solution for tough food spills.
Warping - Warping will occur if the floor becomes wet repeatedly or is thoroughly soaked even one time. Slight warping in the area of heat vents or heat producing appliances is also typical.
Wax - Waxing and the use of products like Murphy’s Oil Soap are neither necessary nor recommended. Once you wax a polyurethane finish floor, recoating is difficult because the new finish will not bond to the wax. The preferred maintenance is preventive cleaning and recoating annually or as needed to maintain the desired level of luster.
The effectiveness of blown insulation is diminished if it is uneven. The last step in any work done in your attic (for example, the installation of a TV antenna) should be to confirm that the insulation lies smooth and even. Do not step on drywall ceilings, as personal injury or damage to drywall can result. Electrical outlets normally emit noticeable amounts of cold air when outside temperatures are low.
In addition to meeting your homeowners’ association requirements for landscape, well-designed and installed landscaping prevents erosion and protects the foundation of your home. The grade of your home site was established by professional engineers to provide drainage away from the building (and, in some areas, a certain amount of water retention on the home site). Should you wish to change the drainage pattern, as part of a landscape arrangement, be sure a proper drainage slope is maintained. On sites designed for some water retention, do not change the drainage pattern.
When adding fill dirt, do not fill above the top of the foundation and always allow a 6 inch minimum between the earth and any wood or aluminum siding; otherwise, water may enter the joint between the footing and the wall material or cause decay of wood. When watering your lawn, do not allow sprinklers to spray against the exterior walls of your home. Doing so causes discoloration, wall buckling and can cause interior flooding regardless of whether the wall is masonry or wood. Remember that proper care of the sod or seeded areas of your lawn is essential to ensure adequate grass growth.
Backfill - We construct the foundation of your home beginning with an excavation into the earth. When the foundation walls are complete, the area surrounding them is backfilled. Soil in this area is not as compact as undisturbed ground. Water can penetrate through the backfill area to the lower areas of your foundation. This can cause potentially severe problems such as wet basements, cracks in foundation walls and floor slab movement. Avoid this through proper installation of landscaping and good maintenance of drainage. (See also, Grading & Drainage)
Bark or Rock Beds - Do not allow edgings around decorative rock or bark beds to dam the free flow of water away from the home. A non woven landscape fabric can be used between the soil and rock or bark to restrict weed growth while still permitting normal evaporation of ground moisture.
Irrigation - Make provisions for efficient irrigation. Conduct operational checks on a weekly basis to ensure proper performance of the system. Place no sprinkler heads within five feet of your home and insure the sprinkler heads are directed away from the home. Trickler or bubbler type irrigation systems are not recommended for use adjacent to the structure. Drain and service sprinkler systems on a regular basis.
Planning - Locate plants and irrigation heads out of the way of pedestrian or bicycle traffic and car bumpers. Space groves of trees or single trees to allow for efficient mowing and growth. Prune woody plants as needed. Group plants with similar water, sun, and space requirements together.
Plant Selection - Plant with regard to your local climate. Consider ultimate size, shape, and growth of the species.
Soil Mix - Provide good soil mixes with sufficient organic material. Use mulch at least three inches deep to hold soil moisture and to help prevent weeds and soil compaction. In areas with high clay content, prepare the soil before installing your grass. First cover the soil with two inches of sand and one inch of manure that is treated and odorless. Rototill this into the soil to a depth of six inches (rototill parallel to the swales). Whether you use seed or sod, this preparation helps your lawn retain moisture and require less water. Installing a lawn over hard soil permits water to run off with little or no penetration and your lawn derives minimal benefit from watering or rain. Apply appropriate fertilizer, weed and pest controls, and so on, as needed for optimum growth. Investigate organic compounds for additional protection of the environment.
Utility Lines - You may see a slight depression develop in the front lawn along the line of the utility trench. To correct this, roll back the sod and spread top soil underneath to level the area, then relay the sod. Sand may also be used for running grasses like Bermuda.
Paint and Stain
Due to changes in the formula for paint (such as the elimination of lead to make paints safer), painted surfaces must be washed gently using mild soap and as little water as possible. Avoid abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, or scrub brushes. Flat paints, as opposed to gloss paints, show washing marks more easily. Often, homeowners prefer the results obtained by touching up rather than washing.
Cracking - As it ages, exterior wood trim will develop minor cracks and raised grain. Much of this will occur during the first year. Raised grain permits moisture to get under the paint and can result in peeling. This is not a defect in materials or workmanship. Paint maintenance of wood trim and gutters is your responsibility.
Exterior - Regular attention will preserve the beauty and value of your home. Check the painted/stained surfaces of your home’s exterior annually. Repaint before much chipping or wearing away of the original finish occurs; this saves the cost of extensive surface preparation. Plan on refinishing the exterior surface of your home approximately every 8-10 years or as often as your paint manufacturer suggests for your area and climate. The chemical structure of the paint used on the exterior is governed by the climatic conditions. Over a period of time, this finish will fade and dull a bit. When you repaint the exterior of your home, you should: reset popped nails and remove blistered or peeling portions of paint with a wire brushed or putty knife. Sand, spot with primer, then paint the entire area. Use a quality exterior paint formulated for local climate conditions. Avoid having sprinklers spray water on the exterior walls of your home. This will cause blistering, peeling, splintering and other damage to the home.
Fading - Expect fading of exterior paint or stain due to the effects of sun and weather. Lichty Brothers Homes limited warranty excludes this occurrence.
Severe Weather - Hail and wind can cause a great deal of damage in a severe storm and the house should be inspected after such weather. Report damage caused by severe weather to your insurance company promptly.
Stain - For minor interior stain touch ups, a furniture polish and stain treatment are inexpensive, easy to use, and blends in with the wood grain. Follow directions on bottle.
Touch-up - When doing paint touch up use a small brush, applying paint only to the damaged spot. Touch up may not match the surrounding area exactly, even if the same paint mix is used. When it is time to repaint a room, prepare the wall surfaces first by cleaning with a mild soap and water mixture or a reliable cleaning product. We provide samples of each paint used on your home and those will be left for you at the end of construction. Store these with the lids tightly in place and in a location where they are not subjected to extreme temperatures. Paint touch-ups are visible under high lighting conditions.
Wall Cracks - We suggest that you wait until after the first heating season to repair drywall cracks or other separations due to shrinkage.
Wood Grain - Due to wood characteristics, color variations result when stain is applied to wood. This is natural and requires no repair. Water-base paints today often make wood grain visible on painted trim. Lichty Brothers Homes does not provide corrections for this condition.
See also, Drywall.
Your plumbing has been installed by a professional and generally should need only minimum maintenance for a number of years if you care for it properly. If any problem does arise, tend to it promptly to prevent a bigger, and often more costly problem.
You and your family should become familiar with the various water supply shutoff valves in your plumbing system. A good practice is to label each one for easy reference with a tag. Toilet and sink valves are located under the appropriate fixture. The main shutoff valve is normally located adjacent to the front hose bib or the water heater. Plumbing connections should last the lifetime of the home, but if a joint should loosen, your best response is to call in a professional for repairs. If any water-using appliance appears to be leaking, check the drain before calling a repairman. A partially blocked drain can cause overflowing.
Faucets, like all plumbing fixtures with moving parts, are apt to require more repair than non-moving fixtures. The less strain you put on your faucets, the less frequently they need repair.
Aerators - Even though your plumbing lines have been flushed to remove dirt and foreign matter, small amounts of minerals may enter the line. Aerators on the faucets strain much of this from your water. Minerals caught in these aerators may cause the faucets to drip because washers wear more rapidly when they come in contact with foreign matter.
Bleach and Antibacterial Cleaners - If your home is on a septic system, excessive use of bleach and/or other antibacterial cleaners will kill the good bacteria that maintain a health septic system and dramatically shorten the cleanout cycle of the tank. This effect can be counteracted by regularly adding enzymes and bacteria additives to your system through the existing plumbing system. These products are available at your local building supply store.
Cleaning - Follow manufacturer’s directions for cleaning fixtures. Avoid abrasive cleansers; they remove the shiny finish leaving behind a porous surface that is difficult to keep clean. Clean plumbing fixtures with a soft sponge and soapy water (a nonabrasive cleaner or a liquid detergent is usually recommended by manufacturers) then polish with a dry cloth to prevent water spots. Care for brass fixtures with a good quality brass cleaner, available at most hardware stores.
Clogs - The main causes of toilet clogs are domestic items such as paper diapers, excessive amounts of toilet paper, sanitary supplies, Q tips, dental floss, children’s toys, and so on. Many plumbing clogs are caused by improper garbage disposal use. Always use plenty of cold water when running the disposal. This applies to grease also. Supplied with a steady flow of cold water, the grease congeals and is cut up by the blades. If you use hot water, the grease remains a liquid, then cools and solidifies in the sewer line. Allow the water to run 10-15 seconds after shutting off the disposal. Clogged traps can usually be cleared with a plumber’s helper (plunger). If you use chemical agents, follow directions carefully to avoid personal injury or damage to the fixtures. Clean a plunger drain stopper--usually found in bathroom sinks--by loosening the nut under the sink at the back, pull out the rod attached to the plunger and lift the stopper. Clean and return the mechanism to its original position.
Dripping Faucet - You can repair a dripping faucet by shutting off the water at the valve directly under the sink, then remove the faucet stem, change the washer, and reinstall the faucet stem. The shower head is repaired the same way. Replace the washer with another of the same type and size. You can minimize the frequency of this repair by remembering not to turn faucets off with excessive force. (Please note that some manufacturers do not use rubber washers.)
Extended Absence - If you will be away for an extended period of time, it is best to drain your water supply lines. To do this shut off the main supply line and open the faucets to relieve pressure in the lines. You may also wish to shut off the water heater. Do this by turning off the cold water supply valve on top and the gas control at the bottom--and drain the tank (run a hose from the spigot on the bottom to the basement floor drain). If you leave the tank full, keep the pilot on and set the temperature to its lowest or "vacation" setting. Check manufacturer’s directions for additional hints and instructions.
Freezing Pipes - Provided the home is heated at a normal level, pipes should not freeze at temperatures above 32 degrees F. Heat should be set at 65 degrees if you are away during winter months. Keep garage doors closed to protect plumbing lines which may run through this area. In unusually frigid weather or if you will be gone more than a day or two, open cabinets doors to allow warm air to circulate around pipes. An ordinary hair dryer can be used to thaw pipes that are frozen. Never use an open flame.
Leaks - If a major plumbing leak occurs, the first step is to turn off the supply of water to the area involved. This may mean shutting off the water to the entire home. You should then contact the appropriate contractor.
Noise - Changes in temperature or the flow of the water itself will cause some noise in the pipes. This is normal and requires no repair.
Outside Faucets - Outside faucets are freeze resistant, but in order for this feature to be effective, hoses must be removed during cold weather, even if the faucet is located in your garage. If a hose is left attached, the water that remains in the hose can freeze and expand back into the pipe causing a break in the line. Repair of a broken line that feeds an exterior faucet is a maintenance item. Note that Lichty Brothers Homes does not warrant sillcocks against freezing.
Porcelain - Porcelain enamel can be damaged by a sharp blow from a heavy object. It can also be scratched. Do not stand in the bathtub wearing shoes unless you have placed a protective layer of newspaper over the bottom of the tub. If paint is splattered onto the porcelain enamel surfaces during redecorating, wipe it up immediately. If a spot dries before you notice it, use a recommended solvent.
Running Toilet - To stop running water, check the shut off float in the tank. You will most likely find it has lifted too high in the tank, preventing the valve from shutting off completely. In this case, gently bend the float rod down until it stops the water at the correct level. The float should be free and not rub the side of the tank or any other parts. Also check the chain on the flush handle; if it is too tight it will prevent the rubber stopper at the bottom of the tank from sealing, resulting in running water.
Shut-offs - Your main water shut off is located near your meter. You would use this shut-off for major water emergencies such as a water line break. Use the shut-off during installation of a sprinkler system or if you plan an addition to your home. Each toilet has a shut-off on the water line under the tank. Hot and cold shut-offs for each sink are on the water lines under the sink.
Stainless Steel - Clean stainless steel sinks with soap and water to preserve their luster. Avoid abrasive cleaners; these will damage the finish. An occasional cleaning with a good stainless steel cleaner will enhance the finish. Avoid leaving produce on a stainless steel surface since prolonged contact with produce can stain the finish.
Your roof will give years of service if it is properly maintained. Flashings seal places where the roof abuts walls, chimneys, valleys or where two roof slopes meet. If a leak should occur, call a qualified roofer to make the repairs. If it is repaired as soon as the roofing material has dried, the cost will be far less than if the job is postponed. A qualified roofer should inspect your roof at least every three years. If you have to walk on your roof for any reason, be careful not to damage the surface or the flashings. Be particularly careful when installing a TV or radio antenna; a careless job can cause serious leaks.
Check your smoke detectors every month. The alarm should sound when you push the button. For your safety it is important that this device be kept clean and in proper working condition. The smoke detector is hard wired to your electrical system and may include a nine volt battery backup. In the event the electricity is cut off, your system will still be in use. The smoke detector will sound off to inform you that battery replacement is necessary.
No known method of installation prevents all vibration in a staircase when used by adults. A shrinkage crack will develop where the stairs meet the wall. When this occurs, apply a thin bead of latex caulk and when dry, touch up with paint.
Stucco is a brittle cement product that is subject to expansion and contraction. Minor hairline cracks will develop in the outer layer of stucco. This is normal and does not reduce the function of the stucco in any way.
Drainage - To ensure proper drainage, keep dirt and concrete flatwork a minimum of six inches from the stucco screed. Do not pour concrete or masonry over the stucco screed.
Efflorescence - The white, powdery substance that sometimes accumulates on stucco surfaces is called efflorescence. This is a natural phenomenon and cannot be prevented. In some cases, it can be removed by scrubbing with a stiff brush and strong vinegar. Consult your home center or hardware store for commercial products to remove efflorescence.
Never flush hair, grease, lint, diapers, rubbish, facial tissues, etc. down the toilet drain. Such waste stops up the toilet and sanitary sewer lines. A variety of commercial cleaners are made especially for the toilet. Use them according to the manufacturer’s direction, but DO NOT mix them or use them with household bleach or any cleaning product. And never use them in anything but the toilet. If the water chamber appears to leak, it may only be condensation forming on the outside of the tank and dripping to the floor. If water leaks into the bowl through the overflow pipe, try bending the rod holding the float so that the float will be closer to the bottom of the tank. Flush the toilet, and if it still leaks, the inlet valve washer probably needs to be replaced. If the water trickles into the bowl but is not coming through the overflow pipe, it is coming through the flush ball valve. The rods between the ball valve and the flushing handle may need aligning, so that the ball will drop straight down after the handle has been pushed. A worn ball valve or dirt or rust on the ball or the ball seat will let water leak through into the bowl. If the ball or seat are dirty or rusty, clean them: if toilet float is worn, unscrew it and replace it with a new one.
Attic ventilation is required by building codes and therefore Lichty Brothers Homes must include the required vents. Occasionally, depending on the force and direction of the wind, rain or snow will infiltrate these vents causing spotting on the ceiling.
Your Lichty Brothers Home contains a vinyl flooring that we call resilient flooring. Give daily care to resilient floors by removing loose dirt with a broom, dust mop, or vacuum. Wipe up spills immediately, but, if a spill dries, remove it with a damp sponge, cloth or mop. Damp mop occasionally to prolong the period between cleanings. However, when floors are dull or cannot be refurbished by mopping, give them a thorough cleaning.
To clean resilient floors, use a good detergent diluted as recommended by the manufacturer. Use just enough mechanical action with a mop, cloth or floor scrubber to loosen dirt. Then take up the cleaning solution, rinse the floor and let it dry. Some resilient floors are designed never to need waxing, but most of them require a coat of floor polish, such as a "mop and let dry" product. The best polish for most resilient floors is a water emulsion wax. Use either a floor finish or a wax on the clean dry floor. Finishes provide hard films that don’t smear but do not respond to buffing. Waxy polishes leave softer films with slightly lower gloss that can be buffed to restore appearance. Apply moderate coats; the right amount is the least amount that can be applied without streaking. Let it dry about 30 minutes before exposure to traffic. Periodically, usually once or twice a year, take off the build-up of old polish or wax with a remover. Dilute it as recommended, apply, rinse, let dry, and apply a new coat of polish.
NOTE: High heel shoes or furniture legs without floor protectors will cause damage to any floor covering, especially resilient.
Limit Water - Wipe up spills and vacuum crumbs instead of washing resilient floors frequently with water. Limit mopping or washing with water; excessive amounts of water on resilient floors can penetrate seams and get under edges causing the material to lift and curl.
Moving Furniture - Use caution when moving appliances across resilient floor covering. Tears and wrinkles can result. Coasters should be installed on furniture legs to prevent permanent damage. If you damage the resilient floor, it can often be successfully patched by professionals. We leave any remnants of floor covering materials for this reason.
No Wax - The resilient flooring installed in your home is the no-wax type. No wax means a clear, tough coating which provides both a shiny appearance and a wearing surface. However, even this surface will scuff or mark. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining the finish.
Raised Nail Heads - Raised nail heads are the result of movements of the floor joist caused by natural shrinkage and deflection. Special nails have been used and the underlayment has been glued to help minimize this movement. If a nail head becomes visible through resilient flooring, place a block of wood over it and hit the block with a hammer to reset the nail.
Seams - Any brand or type of resilient flooring may separate slightly due to shrinkage. Seams can lift or curl if excessive moisture is allowed to penetrate seams. A special caulking can be used at tub or floor joints to seal seams at those locations. Avoid getting large amounts of water on the floor from baths and showers.
Walls and Ceilings
Your Lichty Brothers Homes has two types of walls, bearing and nonbearing. Nonbearing walls may be altered without fear of structural damage, but alteration of bearing walls must be done carefully to avoid reducing its bearing capacity. Usually, exterior walls are bearing walls. Some interior walls are also bearing walls. The interior walls of your home are constructed of gypsum wallboard, sometimes known as drywall. They will last without undue maintenance for the life of your home. As new homes go through a normal shrinkage process, minor cracks will appear in the drywall. No repairs should be attempted until the room is ready to be redecorated. At that time, fill the cracks with spackling compound (available from any paint or hardware store), smooth it out with fine sandpaper, and then redecorate the entire surface. Except in very unusual conditions, cracks should not reappear.
This normal shrinking will also cause nail or screw pops. The framing studs and the wallboard shrink away from the nail or screw and leave it sticking out beyond the surface of the wallboard. Popped nails do not alter the strength of the wall. The nail should simply be reset, and the resulting dimple re-spackled and repainted. Also, unusual abrasions may scuff or indent the surface of gypsum wall. In that event, fill the indentation with two or three applications of joint cement used for drywall taping.
The interior walls and ceilings of your home have been decorated with quality paint products. They should give you long service if properly cared for. The painted walls are not meant to be scrubbed. Gentle cleaning with a mild soap should remove most spots. If you have acoustical ceilings they can be gently vacuumed to remove collected dust. They may even be repainted if absolutely necessary, although it is very messy job and should be avoided if possible. The best insurance against repainting is to keep your furnace and air conditioning filters clean, to use the exhaust fans over your range and in the bathrooms, and to quickly vacuum dust as it collects.
A word of caution: Be very careful to locate a ceiling joist in which to attach hardware for heavy hanging plants, lamps and macramé. The drywall used in your ceiling is not designed to support any weight.
Water heaters normally collect small quantities of scale and dirty water. This can easily be removed by opening the valve at the bottom of the heater and allowing the tank to drain itself clean. Once you have drained the heater, you should refill and drain again. The rushing water which refills the tank will dislodge any particles clinging to the side of the tank and then you can flush them out. Be sure to turn off the gas and/or electricity before draining your water heater. A water softener will reduce the frequency of cleaning.
All water heaters, whether gas or electric, have a control mechanism to govern water temperature. The dial should be set at l30 degrees for an electric heater and on NORMAL for a gas heater. This is especially important for the proper operation of your dishwasher. Too little heat will cause your dishes to not get clean; too much heat will "bake" dirt to the dishes. Every three or four months you should check the temperature and pressure relief valve on your water heater to be sure the lever works properly. If the thermostat should fail to work, this valve would prevent a dangerous increase in water temperature and pressure.
Windows, Screens, and Patio Doors
Contact a glass company for re-glazing of any windows that break. Glass is difficult to install without special tools.
Cleaning - Clean aluminum metal surfaces with warm, clear water. Do not use powdered cleaner. After each cleaning, apply a silicone lubricant. Clean glass as needed with vinegar and water, a commercial glass cleaner, or the product recommended by the window manufacturer. Do not use muratic acid to clean your windows.
Condensation - Condensation on interior surfaces of the window and frame is the result of high humidity within the home and low outside temperatures. The humidity level within the home is largely influenced and controlled by your family’s lifestyle.
Door Tracks - Keep patio door tracks clean for smooth operation and to prevent damage to the door frame. Silicone lubricants work well for these tracks.
Sticking Windows - Most sliding windows (both vertical and horizontal) are designed for a ten pound pull. If sticking occurs or excessive pressure is required to open or close, apply a silicone lubricant. This is available at hardware stores. Avoid petroleum-based products.
Storing Screens - Many homeowners remove and store screens for the winter to allow more light into the home. Use caution: screens perforate easily and the frames bend if not handled with care.
Weep Holes - In heavy rains water may collect in the bottom channel of window frames. Weep holes are provided to allow excess water to escape to the outside. Keep the bottom window channels and weep holes free of dirt and debris for proper operation.
Shrinkage of wood trim occurs during the first two years or longer depending on temperature and humidity. All lumber is more vulnerable to shrinkage during the heating season. Maintaining a moderate and stable temperature helps to minimize the effects of shrinkage. Wood will shrink less lengthwise than across the grain. Wood shrinkage can result in separation at joints of trim pieces. You can usually correct this with caulking and touch up painting.
Shrinkage may also cause a piece of trim to pull away from the wall. If this occurs, drive another nail in close to, but not in, the existing nail hole. Fill the old nail hole with putty and touch up with paint as needed. If the base shoe (small trim between base molding and the floor) appears to be lifting from the floor, this is probably due to slight shrinkage of the floor joists below. Similar to a piece of trim that is pulling away, this can be corrected by removing the old nails and re-nailing.
You may prefer to wait until after the first heating season to make any needed repairs at one time when redecorating.