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Maintenance outside your home

Asphalt is a petroleum based topping. Although asphalt is not rigid like concrete, over time the effects of weather and normal settlement will cause minor movement and cracking of the asphalt.


Do not allow extremely heavy vehicles such as moving vans or other large vehicles to use your driveways. Your driveways are constructed to accommodate light residential traffic only such as passenger cars, family vans, light trucks, motorcycles and so forth.


Over time asphalt will take on a faded appearance which is normal and does not pose a problem and does not indicate a material or structural problem. For purposes of sealing small cracks and for appearance, seal‐coat toppings may be applied.


Where asphalt joins to concrete sidewalks, curbs or garage aprons some settlement will occur and is normal.


Your driveway may exhibit thermal cracking which usually occurs during the first 12 months. These cracks are normal and assist the driveway to adapt to heating and freezing cycles. Cracks should be inspected and evaluated during the hottest months.


The white, powdery substance that sometimes accumulates on brick surfaces is called efflorescence.

This is a natural phenomenon when the lime in the mortar and brick products leeches out. It can be removed by scrubbing with a stiff brush and vinegar or there are commercial products sold to remove efflorescence. One cleaning will not permanently stop efflorescence, it will continue until such time as all the lime has leeched out.


At the base of brick walls (the lowest course of bricks) you will see small holes in the mortar or small plastic inserts which have holes. These holes allow any moisture that has accumulated behind the brick to escape. Do not fill these weep holes or permit landscaping materials to cover or plug them.

Maintenance on the weep holes is to make sure they are not blocked with dirt or other material.

Caulking materials are not “one‐time” installations as part of the outside of your home. Over time the materials degrade normally and shrinkage or cracks may appear as building components move with settlement. It is normal maintenance to check and repair or replace caulking on your home as needed. If the homeowner does not feel competent to perform this maintenance a contractor should be consulted.


Check any caulking at windows, door jams, vents and fireplace vent assemblies as necessary. Repair or replace as appearance and condition indicate, with approved products only.

Concrete flat work is any non‐load bearing concrete in your home. Typical examples are the garage floor slab, your patio and sidewalks. Small “spider” cracks that may develop are a result of normal concrete shrinkage and are considered normal. The shrinkage occurs during the curing process of the concrete and does not affect the structural performance of the concrete.


A concrete slab 3 meters across will shrink approximately 1.5 cm as it cures and that is the cause of the small spider cracks. Some spider cracking of concrete flatwork also results from temperature changes that cause normal expansion and contraction of the concrete.

Concrete slabs in outside areas may get water in larger unsealed cracks and in freezing temperatures may cause frost heaves. To maintain slabs ensure that conditions are dry and then seal the cracks with an approved colour‐matching sealant.


Expansion joints help control expansion and minimize and control cracking. In wet conditions moisture can penetrate under the concrete and lift the expansion joint. If the expansion joint lifts after curing or in later years, fill the resulting gap with an approved colour‐matching sealant or consult a concrete repair contractor.


Do not allow heavy vehicles such as moving vans or other large vehicles to use your driveways.

Driveways are constructed to accommodate light residential traffic only. The slabs in your new home are residential type concrete intended for passenger cars, light trucks, family vans, etc.


Depending on your preferences or environmental conditions homeowners may choose to seal the concrete.


Concrete slabs vary in colour owing to differences in the make‐up of the concrete, the location they are installed (inside or outside) and the type of finish. No correction is possible or necessary for this condition.


Minor cracking (spider cracks) are normal in concrete. If a crack is more than 3 mm (1/8”) it will require sealing with an approved caulking compound.


Causes of spalling include repeated hosing of concrete for cleaning, animal urine, vehicular radiator overflow, fertilizer, uncleared snow and ice, ice‐melting agents and road salts from vehicles. Repair of spalling is a home maintenance task. Homeowners may choose to consult a concrete repair specialist.

The crawl space is not intended as a storage area for items that could be damaged by moisture. Wood or other materials that can decompose stored in a crawl space can attract termites or vermin or create odors in the home.

Foundation walls are coated with a drain mat or an asphalt waterproofing material. Careful observation and maintenance of positive drainage will protect your basement from dampness.

Wood and/or vinyl decks add to the style and function of your home and area high maintenance part of your home’s exterior.


Wood decks are subject to shrinkage, cracking, splitting, cupping and twisting. Nails or screws may work loose and will need seating or tightening to set the heads flush with the wood, as well as routine maintenance. Plan to inspect your decks regularly, at least once each year and provide needed attention promptly to maintain an attractive appearance and avoid costly repairs. It is recommended that you treat or re‐stain your decks annually to keep them looking their best.


As you use your decks, abrasives and grit on shoes can scratch or dent the wood or vinyl surface.

Regular sweeping and using mats can prevent scuffing and abrasion, but will not completely prevent it.

High heeled shoes should not be worn on vinyl deck surfaces since the high pressure of the heel may puncture the vinyl membrane.


The surface of the decking can be damaged by BBQs, deck furniture, or other items such as articles that can rust on outside surfaces. Rust from metal articles can permanently stain some vinyl surfaces. Use caution when moving items to prevent scratches, gouges and punctures.


To prolong the life and beauty of your deck, treat it periodically with a water repellent or wood preservative. Local home centers or hardware stores offer several products to consider for this purpose.

Always follow manufacturer directions carefully.


Heavy snow or ice that remains on the deck over long periods increases the likelihood of damage or early failure. Prompt removal can reduce adverse effects. Use caution in shoveling to avoid needless scratching of the deck boards or the vinyl surface.


Exposed wood decks have been stained to protect and beautify the wood. Each board takes the same stain differently and variation in colour will be readily noticeable. Over time, with exposure to weather and use, further variations in colour will occur.


Colour variations are a natural result of the way in which wood accepts stain and are excluded from limited warranty coverage.


Vinyl deck coverings act as a membrane to protect sub‐structures beneath them from water damage and rot. Vinyl deck coverings require special care to protect against burns, punctures and abrasion. Any penetration of the vinyl decking must be repaired immediately and is the responsibility of the homeowner. Failure to maintain and repair vinyl decking may void warranties on the membrane.

The doors installed in your home are wood products subject to such natural characteristics of wood as shrinkage and war page. Natural fluctuations caused by humidity and the use of forced air furnaces, showers and dishwashers can affect doors and may require minor adjustments.


To ensure longer life for your exterior wood doors, plan to refinish them at least once a year. Stained exterior doors with clear finishes tend to weather faster than painted doors. Treat the finish with a wood preserver every three months to preserve the varnish and prevent the door from drying and cracking. Reseal stained exterior doors whenever the finish begins cracking, crazing or fading.


If a door will not latch because of minor settling, make a new opening in the jamb for the latch plate(remortising) and raise or lower the plate accordingly. Also ensure that the hinge screws are tight.


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.


Lubricate door locks with silicone spray or another waterproof lubricant. Avoid oil, as it will gum up.


Use putty, filler or latex caulk to fill any minor separations that develop at mitered joints in door trim. Follow with painting or staining as required. Panels of wood doors shrink and expand in response to changes in temperature and humidity. Touching up the paint or stain on unfinished exposed areas of wood is your home maintenance responsibility.


The most common cause of a sticking door is the natural expansion of lumber caused by changes in humidity. When sticking is caused by swelling during an excessively damp season, do not plane the door unless it continues to stick after the weather changes. Before planning a door because of sticking, first try tightening the screws that hold the door jamb, door frame, or hinges. If planning is necessary even after these measures, use sandpaper to smooth the door and paint the sanded area to seal against moisture.


Weather stripping, exterior door thresholds and door sweeps occasionally require adjustment or replacement.


Because of normal settling of the home, doors may require adjustment for proper fit.

Your builder installs the foundation of your home according to the recommendations of a professional engineer. The walls of the foundation are poured concrete on footings with steel reinforcing rods. The basement floor slab “floats” and is not part of the structural foundation.


Through the normal curing process of concrete, surface cracks may develop in the wall. Surface cracks do not affect the structural integrity of your home. Shrinkage cracks or backfill cracks are common in foundation walls and are usually noted at the corners of basement windows.


Due to the amount of water in concrete, basements may be slightly damp, especially if unfinished. Condensation can form on water lines and drip onto the floor, especially from cold water supply lines.


Slight cosmetic imperfections in foundation walls, such as a visible seam where two pours meet or slight honeycombing may occur and require no repair unless they permit water to enter.

Since the garage door is a large, moving object, periodic maintenance is necessary.

CAUTION: The door opener springs are under extreme tension. A homeowner should never tamper with or attempt to adjust overhead door springs and mechanisms.


Garage overhead doors cannot be airtight like exterior household swing doors. Some light will be visible around the edges and across the top of the door. Some wind, dust, or precipitation may enter around the door.


If the lock or bolt becomes stiff, apply a silicone spray lubricant.


Every 6 months, apply a lubricant such as silicone spray to all moving parts: track, rollers, hinges, pulleys and springs. Avoid over lubricating to prevent drips on vehicles or the concrete floor. At the same time, check to see that all hardware is tight and operating as intended without binding or scraping.


Repaint the garage door when you repaint your home if it is a paintable material, or as required to maintain and protect the material.


Garage doors made of wood may sag slightly due to the weight and span of the panels. Sagging is typically not a concern with metal garage doors. The garage door should operate smoothly and easily. If the door becomes misaligned and requires adjustment your builder will make an adjustment unless the problem is caused by the installation of a garage door opener subsequent to closing on the home.


You will find shut‐offs on gas lines near their connection to each item that operates gas. In addition, there is a main shut‐off at the meter outside your home.


If you smell or suspect a gas leak leave the home and call the gas company immediately for emergency service.

The finish grades around your home have been inspected and approved for proper drainage of your lot. Use caution when installing landscaping, fencing, or additions to your home to prevent causing water problems to your home or to homes on adjacent lots.


Typically, the grade around your home should slope away from the home (positive drainage). Maintain the slopes around your home to permit the water to drain away from the home as rapidly as possible.


Maintain your soil levels 15 cm below siding, stucco, brick, or other exterior finish materials.

Deterioration of the exterior finish material can occur from soil or landscaping materials.


Ensure the splash blocks or downspout extensions from under the downspouts are in place. Keep them sloped so the water drains away from your home.


Depending on local requirements or site conditions, builders may install subsurface drainage around the base of the foundation to ensure that surface water drains from a yard adequately. Keep this area and especially the drain cover clear of debris so that the drain can function as intended.

Check gutters occasionally or as weather conditions dictate and remove leaves or other debris. If materials accumulate in gutters, water drainage from the roof can be slowed, or blockages can cause overflows and clog the downspouts.


Extensions should discharge outside of rock or bark beds so that water is not dammed behind the edging materials that might be used. Splash blocks should be maintained with a slope away from the foundation of your home.


Be careful when leaning ladders against gutters or you may cause dents. To prevent damage to gutters use appliances for ladders called “roof stand‐offs” These are available from building supply stores.

Always use caution when using ladders. In particular use caution with metal ladders near electrical power wires or power sources.


If joints between sections of gutter drip clean the inside joint of the gutter and caulk it using an approved gutter caulking compound.


Gutters and downspouts are painted to match your home. You should repaint them when you repaint your home unless they are a baked enamel finish or coloured plastic.


Remove excess snow from downspouts as soon as possible to allow the gutter to drain and to prevent blockage, ice and damage. Ice or snow build‐up can damage gutters and such damage is not covered by the limited warranty.


Gutters may overflow during periods of heavy rain.

Painted surfaces should be cleaned and inspected occasionally.


Check the painted and stained surfaces of your home’s exterior semi‐annually or as conditions dictate.

Plan on refinishing the exterior surface of your home approximately every two to three years or as often as your paint manufacturer suggests for your area and climate. Some areas such as white painted trim may require annual touch‐up.


Hail and wind can cause damage in a severe storm ‐ always inspect the house after severe weather. If any damage is caused by severe weather, report it to your insurance company. Weather damage is not warrantable.

Enameled aluminum or wrought iron railings at outside installations require maintenance. Depending on railing type, painting, touch‐up and cleaning will be required. Your builder installs railings in positions and locations to comply with applicable building codes. Railings should remain securely attached with normal use. Damage from improper use is not covered by warranty.

The shingles on your roof do not require any maintenance except to ensure they are kept clear of debris and are intact. The less foot traffic on your roof the less likely it is that problems will occur.


Maintain the gutters and downspouts in clean condition free of debris so they are able to quickly drain water from the roof and the building.


Depending on weather conditions, heat from inside your home can melt snow on the roof. Water then runs down and when it reaches the cold eaves it may freeze. An accumulation of ice can dam the subsequent run‐off and the water may begin to back up and may work its way under shingles and ultimately may find its way into your home through windows or ceilings. Damage caused by ice dams are not covered by your warranty.


If a roof leak occurs try to detect the exact location while it is leaking. If the source of the leak can be spotted and marked it will make the repair job easier when conditions are dry and the repair can be carried out.


After severe storms, do a visual inspection of the roof for damages. Notify your insurance company if you find pieces of shingles or loose roofing tiles in the yard, or if shingle edges have lifted or roof tiles have become damaged or displaced on the roof.


Contact your homeowner insurance company immediately if storm damage is discovered.

A septic system consists of two basic parts. The first part is the septic tank and the seconds is an underground disposal or drainage field. Consult your local septic maintenance contractor for service.

Siding expands and contracts as changes in humidity and temperature occur. Typically, slight waves are visible in siding under moist weather conditions and shrinkage and separations will be more noticeable under hot or dry conditions. These conditions are normal and do not require attention.


Wood or wood‐product siding may require routine refinishing depending on the type of finish. Some raw wood products may be stained or painted and those should be maintained accordingly. Some wood products may have baked enamel finishes which do not require annual cleaning and painting, but may require touch‐ups if damaged. Some wood siding, such as cedar, is subject to more cracking and will require more maintenance.


Vinyl siding requires cleaning. Start at the top and dampen the siding, using only low pressure water and something like a car wash brush. Do not use high‐ pressure washers or other sources of high water pressure. To avoid streaking use only water and a brush, or use a cleaning product recommended by your siding manufacturer. Follow directions carefully.


Cement based siding such as hardie plank or hardie board will require repainting and caulking.

Stucco is a light weight and thinly applied cement product that is subject to expansion and contraction and therefore may crack. Typically only minor hairline cracks will develop in the outer layer (colour coat) of stucco. This is normal and does not reduce the function of the stucco in any way. If the cracks develop into larger gaps these may require caulking or repair as required.


To ensure proper drainage away from the stucco keep dirt and concrete flatwork a minimum of 15 cm below the bottom edge of th3e stucco. Do not pour concrete or install masonry over the bottom edge of the stucco or right up to the foundation since wood members behind the stucco may be damaged by water.


The white, powdery substance that sometimes accumulates on stucco surfaces is called efflorescence.

This is a natural phenomenon where lime in the stucco leeches out. It can be removed by scrubbing with a stiff brush and vinegar or there are commercial products sold to remove efflorescence. One cleaning will not permanently stop efflorescence, it will continue until such time as all the lime has leeched out.


Since stucco is not a watertight barrier avoid spraying water from irrigation or watering systems directly on to stucco surfaces.

In some conditions the foundation design includes a perimeter drain and sump pump. The perimeter drain runs around the foundation to gather water and channel it to the sump catchments. When the water reaches a preset level the pump activates and pumps the water out of your home’s drainage system. Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use and care of your sump pump.


The pump may run more frequently or continuously during a heavy storm or long periods of rain. This is normal under such conditions.


Locate the discharge point for your sump pump system and keep the end of the drain clear of debris so that water can flow out and away from your home.


The sump pump runs on electricity. If the power goes off, the pump cannot operate. Storm water could then enter your basement. Homeowners may choose to install a back‐up power system to guard against this possibility.


Ensure that roof water drains quickly away from the home to avoid circulating it through your sump pump. Keep downspout extensions or splash blocks in place to channel water away from your home.


Check to confirm the pump is plugged in, the circuit breaker is on and that the pump operates on a regular basis. To test the operation of your sump pump, pour several gallons of water into the sump pump catchments. The pump should come on and pump the water out. Follow this procedure at least once a year.

Check to confirm the pump is plugged in, the circuit breaker is on and that the pump operates on a regular basis. To test the operation of your sump pump, pour several gallons of water into the sump pump catchments. The pump should come on and pump the water out. Follow this procedure at least once a year.

New homes today are more tightly sealed to the outside environment than older homes. While this improves efficiency there are negative effects such as condensation, cooking odors, indoor pollutants, radon and carbon monoxide may all accumulate. There are both mechanical and passive methods of ventilating homes and minimizing the effects of these factors. It is important that you attend to ventilation maintenance as an important contributor to your health and safety.


Attics are vented throughout the soffit (the material installed on the underside of overhangs) or on gable ends. Driving rain or snow can sometimes enter the attic through these vents. Do not cover the vents to prevent minor amounts of water entering. Instead, cover the insulation in front of the vent with a poly plastic covering. By doing this you allow the vent to remain open and the small amount of water that blows in will evaporate safely. If the amount of water is excessive ensure the vent grilles are properly installed.


Homes with crawl spaces usually include two or more vents through the foundation or between the floor joists. It is important to open crawl space vents for summer months and close them for winter months. Failure to close these vents during the winter and replace the insulation may result in plumbing lines freezing in the crawl space.

Contact a glass company for re‐glazing of any windows that break or repair of any component. Clean the glass as needed with vinegar and water, a commercial glass cleaner, or the product recommended by the window manufacturer. Always consult the manufacturer’s literature and maintenance recommendations if there are special window glazing treatments.


Clean acrylic or glass blocks during moderate temperatures using a mild solution of soap and warm water. Wash using a sponge or soft cloth or brush and dry with a towel. Avoid abrasive cleaners, commercial glass cleaner, razors, stiff brushes or scrubbing devices of any kind.


Clean vinyl window frames during moderate temperatures using a mild solution of soap and warm water. Wash using a sponge or soft cloth and dry with a towel. Avoid abrasive cleaners, commercial glass cleaner, razors, stiff brushes or scrubbing devices of any kind. From the outside of the home inspect and ensure that the drain (weep) holes are free of dirt or debris and are draining properly.


Clean aluminum metal surfaces with warm, clear water. Do not use abrasive cleaners or steel wool.

After each cleaning apply a silicone lubricant with a cloth.


Condensation on the interior surfaces of the window and frame is the result of high humidity within the home and low outside temperatures. Lifestyle controls the humidity level within your home and is affected by the number of residents, cooking habits and so on.


Window sills in your home are typically made of wood and require minimal maintenance which includes repairing minor cracks, keeping paint in good condition and caulking of the joints.


Sliding glass doors are made with tempered glass which is more difficult to break than ordinary glass and protects people from injury if broken. Tempered glass breaks into small pieces (popcorn) rather than large splinters or shards which can cause severe injury. Keep the sliding door tracks clean for smooth operation and to prevent damage to the door frame. Lubricate the tracks with silicone spray lubricant.

Ensure the proper operation of sliding door hardware for maximum security in your home.


If sticking occurs or excessive pressure is required to open or close a window, apply a silicone spray lubricant to the tracks. If lubrication does not help investigate further.


During heavy rain, water may collect in the bottom channel of window frames. The weep holes are essential to allow excess water to escape to the outside. Ensure that bottom window channels and weep holes are free of dirt and debris for proper drainage.


If you add tinting or foil films to double‐glazed windows all warranties are voided. Damage can result from condensation or excessive heat build‐up between the panes of glass. Refer to the manufacturer’s literature for additional information.

Shrinkage of wood trim occurs normally during the first two years or so depending on ambient temperatures and humidity levels. All wood is more susceptible to drying and shrinkage during the hot summer season. Wood shrinkage can result in separation at joints of trim pieces and cupping or cracking may occur. Homeowners should correct this with caulking and touch‐up painting as required. Shrinkage or cupping may also cause a piece of trim to pull away from the structure. If this happens re‐nail the board with an appropriate size finishing nail so as to attach it properly. Fill the nail hole or crack if needed with putty and touch‐up with paint.. Minor imperfections in wood materials are normal with natural products and will require no action.


Because of the effects of weather on natural wood, you should expect raised grain to develop. This is normal attribute of wood and not a defect in the wood or paint. Warranty coverage excludes this condition.