Keeping house in your absence


Situations arrive in life when the house so fondly built by you for self-living has to be kept locked by you for a long period. It happens when you are moving abroad for many months to be with your son or daughter living there. Otherwise you may be posted outside and it becomes difficult to visit your house at regular intervals. During such times, it becomes important to take care of your house and to keep it safe from any damage of any sort. Let’s therefore enlist such steps that must be taken to keep your house safe and workable:

Take care against termite attack: The most important step to be taken when the house remains locked for long periods is to keep it safe against termite attack. Termite has an uncanny sense of judging uninhibited, abandoned or deserted area and attacks it very quickly. Best method to avoid termite attack on wooden components is to get post-construction anti-termite treatment done from authenticated agency at two years intervals. These agencies come at short notice, charge on per square-feet basis, sign an agreement with you, provide warranty of 2 years and complete the job in a day or so. They drill holes in skirting area to inject insecticides, apply injections to wooden items and use anti-termite materials of reputed companies.

Get done a pre-monsoon check: Make arrangement to get the roof of house examined before monsoons. 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 all dust, dead leaves, bird feathers and droppings to ensure that the iron gratings fixed over the rain water pipes are free from deposits, open to receive rainwater and discharge it effectively to rainwater harvesting system without allowing ponding of water over the terrace which may result into dampness in the ceiling or walls or even leakage from the roof.

Aerators cleaning: All faucets installed in the bathrooms and kitchen of the house are provided with aerators, commonly known as ‘jalli’. 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 them or reduce the water flow. These aerators are easily removable and washable if cleaned at regular intervals. The house owner should ensure removal, cleaning and re-fixing of all these aerators whenever a visit to the locked house is planned.

Inverter water: Houses are these days provided with battery backed inverters for power backup. Oil operated generators are no more in use due to their disadvantages of pollution, noise and oil consumption. Inverters keep charging if level of the solution in the battery cells is maintained at required level. A house owner should take note that whenever he visits the house kept locked for long period, the solution level in the battery cells is made up to required level.

AC Filters cleaning: The filters of ACs installed in the house keep gathering dust and need cleaning at regular intervals. So during a visit to the house, these should be cleaned regularly in addition to cleaning of aerators.

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

Water tank cleaning: Ideally, the overhead water tanks installed on the roof of the house should be got cleaned at six month interval. Maximum cleaning interval can be one year. Sign a contract with a water tank cleaning agency to perform cleaning and refilling of the water tanks of the house as and when one happens to pay a visit to it.

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

More Precautions: 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 to trim the grass at regular intervals. A well maintained lawn always generates a welcome feeling while wild growth and uncut grass add desolate and neglected look to the house.