For most people, a home is the largest investment they’ll ever make. That’s why it’s important to protect its value with regular home maintenance to prevent expensive repairs down the road. If you’re a first-time homeowner, it can be a daunting list. The good news is that you can do most of it yourself. 

Wall Together Now
Hawaii’s geology, topography and tropical climate leave many Oahu properties on unstable ground. That’s why it’s a good idea to inspect your retaining walls at least twice a year. “You have to be aware and make adjustments as needed,” says Eric Levora of Anchor Systems Hawaii Inc.

What causes all this harmful shifting? “The culprit is usually water in combination with expansive soil and good ol’ gravity,” says Levora. “Water can, of course, wash soil away and undermine retaining walls, but it’s most often changes in the soil’s moisture content that will cause the swelling and shrinking that wreaks havoc on them.”

That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on the walls. “You want to catch clues of movement earlier rather than later,” Levora says. “Be sure not to allow vegetation to obscure your view.  If you notice a crack and want to monitor it for further movement, an easy way is to paint a line across it, take a picture and make note of recent weather conditions. Go back regularly to check and document whether the line is still straight or has offset. This really helps in determining the level of priority to assign the issue.”


GREEN TIP OF THE MONTH
Save money and time by letting your lawn grow longer. A longer lawn requires less water as the grass blades hold in the moisture. When you do mow, consider using a mulching mower. The clippings will return nutrients to the soil instead of taking up space in the landfills. (Plus, that’s less bagging for you.) Source: epa.gov/watersense


Test GFCI outlets. (Monthly)
A ground fault happens whenever electricity escapes the confines of the wiring in an appliance, light fixture or power tool and takes a shortcut to the ground. When that shorcut is through a human, the results can be deadly. To test your outlets, plug in a light fixture and turn it on. Then push the device’s test button. If the light stays on, the

GFCI needs to be replaced. Check faucets for signs of leaks. (Daily)
It’s important to look for any signs of problems. Is your faucet dribbling or sputtering instead of producing a steady stream? Is it constantly dripping? If so, you most likely have a leak. Screaming faucets or weak water pressure are signs of a larger problem.

Inspect your walls. (Every six months)
Check your walls as the weather changes from dry to wet, and wet to dry. Look for cracks, bowing and whether the wall is plumb. Look to see if tree roots are infiltrating cracks or weep holes — and get them gone.


DID YOU KNOW?
The average U.S. household wastes 10,000 gallons of water per year due to leaky faucets. That’s enough water to do 270 loads of laundry. Source: epa.gov

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