Ground realty

Keeping house in your absence

Here are some tips to maintain your house and keep it workable and safe even in your long absence

Keeping house in your absence

 Jagvir Goyal

Handy tips

  • Keep the gas cylinder knob to ‘off’ position.

  • Run the submersible pump installed as an alternative source for water supply, for some time.

  • Appoint a gardener to take care of house lawn and trim the grass at regular intervals.

  • A well-maintained lawn always generates a welcome feeling while wild growth and uncut grass add a desolate and neglected look to the house.

There comes a time when the house you so fondly built has to be kept locked for a long period. This usually happens when you are moving abroad for many months or you may be posted out of your city. In such times, it becomes important to take care of your house and keep it safe from any potential damage. Here are steps needed to be taken to keep the house workable even in long absence:

Protect from a termite attack

The most important step to be taken when the house remains locked for long periods is to protect it from a termite attack. Termite has an uncanny sense of judging uninhibited, abandoned places and attacks it quickly. The best way to avoid a termite attack on wood is to get post-construction anti-termite treatment done from authenticated agency at an interval of two years. These agencies come at a short notice, charge on per square-feet basis, sign an agreement with you, provide warranty of two years and complete the job in a day or so. They drill holes in the skirting area to inject insecticides, apply injections to wooden items and use anti-termite material of reputed companies.

Get done a pre-monsoon check

Make arrangement to get roof of the house examined before monsoon. Identify the spots that may allow ingress of water. These should be repaired and sealed well. Flush pointing of tile terracing and grouting of tile joints should be done wherever required. The cracks in the ‘gola’ at parapet and slab joint should be repaired. Roof area should be cleaned of dust, dead leaves, bird feathers and droppings to ensure that the iron gratings fixed over rainwater pipes are free of deposits, open to receive rainwater and discharge it effectively to rainwater harvesting system without allowing ponding of water over the terrace which may result in dampness in the ceiling or walls, or even leakage from the roof.

Cleaning of AC filters

The filters of ACs installed in the house keep gathering dust and require cleaning at regular intervals. When visiting the house, these should be cleaned regularly in addition to the cleaning of aerators.

Inverter water

Most houses have battery-backed inverters for power backup. Inverters keep charging if the level of solution in the battery cells is maintained at the required level. Take note that whenever you visit a house that has been kept locked for a long period, make sure that the solution level in battery cells is made up to the required level.

Diverters’ stiffness

These days bathroom showers are operated with high flow diverters that allow optimum mixing of hot and cold water for bathing. Unless these diverters are used regularly, their operation becomes stiff due to deposit of salts inside their mechanism. The house owner should check the diverters, and if found stiff, authorised plumber of the company should be called for cleaning and re-fixing these and to make these operate well.

Clean the water tank

The overhead water tanks installed on the roof of the house should be cleaned after every six months. Maximum cleaning interval can be one year. Sign a contract with a tank cleaning agency to perform cleaning and refilling of water tanks of the house as and when one happens to visit it.

Caution against short-circuits

  • In a house to be kept locked for most of the time, take precautions against any short-circuits.
  • Switch off AC stabilisers. Check refrigerator stabiliser, and if there is voltage fluctuation, get it checked.
  • Ensure no loose wires behind switch plates.
  • Switch off most electrical appliances and fittings, including sockets before locking the house.

Clear the aerators

All faucets installed in the bathrooms and kitchen are provided with aerators, commonly known as ‘jallis’. These aerators retain fine solid impurities and convert water flow into a milky bar. Salts present in water often dry up on the aerators and block these or reduce the water flow.

The aerators are easily removable and washable if cleaned at regular intervals. Ensure that the aerators are cleaned and re-fixed.

— The writer is former HoD and engineer-in-chief in a Punjab PSU

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