Capitol Hill Restoration Society

Preservation Cafe: Money Saving Preventative Home Mainenance

Posted on March 15th, 2014

Gary Barnhart, general contractor and owner of GL Barnhart Construction, was the March 2014 Preservation Café speaker.  A Capitol Hill resident, Mr. Barnhart started GL Barnhart in 1997 with his father, focusing on home improvement and small commercial renovations. Today, the company focuses on modern renovations, historic restorations, and construction work in the Capitol Hill area.


Gary Barnhart at his Capitol Hill Workshop

Gary’s presentation focused on simple and cost effective measures to extend the life-cycle of the components of a home.  Preventative measures were recommended for exterior walls and plumbing systems.  Other items discussed included knowing the facts about your house before an emergency, performing regular inspections, and preparing a house for the summer and winter seasons.

Preventative measures to undertake for a residential plumbing system include draining the water heater empty at least once a year to remove sediment buildup from the tank, checking the flapper in the toilet tank for internal leaks, and cleaning out aerators at kitchen and bathroom faucets.  Frozen pipes can be mitigated by installing good insulation between the exterior walls and pipes and by cutting off supply lines to exterior spigots before winter.For exterior walls, crawlspaces and attic spaces, providing insulation and sealing the interior from the exterior provides the largest return on investment.  Examples include weather stripping exterior windows and doors, caulking wall penetrations, sealing around recessed lights, and checking dampers if they seal properly.

Before an emergency occurs in your house, know the locations of the main water and gas shut off valves, clean outs and electrical distribution panels.  A house file/folder should be maintained that Includes appliance serial and model numbers, info on companies who last serviced the equipment, product manuals and any applicable warranties, titles & deeds.

Establishing a regular maintenance and inspection schedule for your home will help save money over time.  Items to check include testing the sump pump to make sure the discharge line is not obstructed, testing smoke detectors and GFCI and AFCI outlets, and testing the AC overflow shut off float switch.  Areas to routinely clean include gutters and floor drains in area ways and patios to prevent infiltration into the house.

Seasonal checks include testing the furnace in late summer and checking the AC condensate drain in the fall.  Trees should be pruned in the winter to avoid exposing them to fungi.

Happy to answer any renovation questions, Gary can be reached at 202.569.8471 or PowerPointPresentation

Submitted by Gregoire Holeyman, AIA, LEED AP