New home maintenance: It’s key to keeping your new home like new

If you’ve just pocketed a set of keys for a new house, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook as far as home maintenance goes. You’ve got work to do, but don’t fret. It’s fun work, like waxing a new car. And meeting your responsibilities diligently will keep you from having to deal with the kind of really nasty, expensive home maintenance surprises that kept you out of the used housing market in the first place.

Masonry maintenance

Products like concrete, brick, blocks and stucco are great, but our highly variable Canadian climate can be hard on them.

The main culprit is water. It seeps into pores and stays there until it expands as it freezes during winter.


Exposed to enough freeze-thaw cycles, even the best masonry flakes, crumbles and disintegrates.

Add the corrosive effects of road salt and it’s no wonder many masonry surfaces look pretty grim after their 10th birthday.

new home maintenance Ottawa homes Steve Maxwell masonryBut that’ll never happen to your home if you treat it right. The trick is to prevent moisture and salts from soaking in there in the first place. There’s no shortage of brush-on consumer products that repel water from masonry, and these do a good job.


Apply a new coat every three or four years and you can forget about masonry deterioration.

Roof maintenance

Most eavestroughs need at least annual cleaning, but there are other things to take care of on the roof, too.

  • Keeping roof valleys free of leaves and pine needles is essential for long roof life.
  • It’s always a good idea to inspect the metal flashing that waterproofs the joints between roofs, chimneys and adjoining walls.
  • Although you won’t have to replace caulking here any time soon on a new place, when the time comes, use polyurethane caulking. It has outstanding sticking abilities, it’s paintable and remains highly flexible.

Nowadays, getting up on the roof takes more than just a ladder. The kind of aluminum and plastic eavestroughs on new homes are easily crushed while supporting the top end of a ladder. Solution: Get a pair of ladder legs.


These aluminum extension wings support any ladder on the roof’s surface, not the eavestrough. They also make ladders more stable by giving them a wider, top-end stance. At less than $30 a pair, every home builder should throw in a free set as a house-warming gift.

new home maintenance Steve Maxwell

Clean filters

New homes have far more mechanical features than older houses, and although these don’t demand much attention, regular diligence is still required. The most important indoor maintenance task is keeping filters clean. You’ll find them on:

  • Heat recovery ventilators (HRV)
  • Forced air furnaces
  • Whole house exhaust systems
  • Water purification appliances


If you want your home to operate like a well-oiled machine, you have to treat it like a well-oiled machine. The following all appreciate lubrication:

  • Door hinges
  • Window latches
  • Garage door mechanicals

Sliding patio doors

Medium-weight household oil works well for full-size door hinges and garage door parts, but you’ll need something lighter for sliding doors and windows. Spray-on silicone lubricants work well in areas where visible oil would be messy and unsightly.

Kitchen cabinets

new home maintenance Ottawa homes Steve Maxwell cabinet hingesMost new kitchen cabinets use a system of adjustable European hinges to suspend the cabinet doors.


You can recognize them by their large, mechanical look, and the fact that they’re only visible from within the cabinet.

All-steel, European hinges like these last a million years and they’re easily adjustable.

Do your doors sag together in the middle? Is the space between them too wide? Too narrow? No problem. A system of adjustment screws on each hinge lets you easily move the doors up, down, left, right, in and out.


If your builder didn’t have time to tweak cabinet doors before you moved in, do it yourself right now.

Keeping your home in good shape is a lot like driving a car down the highway. Just as you need to make small corrections with the steering wheel every few seconds to stay on the road, your new house needs regular diligence in the little things, too. Stay on top of them and you’ll make the most of your home while spending the least amount of time and money in the process.


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About the Author

Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell has been helping Canadians with home improvement, gardening and hands-on living since 1988. Visit for videos, stories and inspiration.



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