Home Maintenance and Handyman Tips for Living by the Sea

It’s a dream life for many, a seaside property, the sun and the sand. However it is a very hard environment for our houses. I own a property maintenance business in a coastal area of NSW Australia, which has given me a great deal of experience with these problems. Hopefully this article will help you identify problems that can occur living by the sea, and give you some guidance in how to prevent unnecessary damage occurring.
I see a large number of rusted gutters and downpipes in this area. Rust is a common problem because of the high level of salt that end up on your house. However there are ways to increase the life of your gutters and downpipes. The easiest is to ensure the you clean or have your gutters cleaned at least twice a year. I recommend that gutters are cleaned at the end of Autumn, after the leaves have stopped falling and before the rain in winter, and again at the end of spring and before the fire danger period of summer. Clean gutters will allow the water to drain away and take with it any salt residue. Blocked gutters result in a build up of a salty silt that sits in your gutter and begins to corrode at the paint and metal.
Along with keeping your gutters clean, is making sure they still fall correctly. This means that there are no low points in you gutter where the water will pool and not drain away freely. In heavy rain you may notice your gutters overflowing in a particular area, this is an indication of a possible low spot or blockage. If you gutters appear crooked or uneven to the eye, then you should get them checked and repaired if necessary.
The next points relate to your choice of gutters and up keep. Ensure that you paint your gutters. Not only will this improve the look of your house, it will help to preserve the gutters. If having new gutters installed make sure you do your research. At $50+ per meter of gutter installed you want to make sure that you are buying quality gutters that come with a warranty.
Screen doors, fly screens and security doors
Just like gutters, screen doors, fly screens and security doors are susceptible to rust. But you have bought marine grade stainless steel? While this is a great product, stainless steel does rust. Make sure from time to time you wash your security or flyscreen doors. When replacing flyscreens opt for a nylon based mesh. Although it is not as tough as a wire based product it will have a longer life in a coastal environment
I have been asked to deal with a number of sticky locks. Coastal environments are very humid. Along with salt residue, a build up of dust inside the lock turns to a virtual glue when combine with the moisture from the air. Generally this is something I only see in old locks or locks in beach front streets. Never be tempted to spray WD40, degreaser or an oil based lubricant into the lock. Although this may make the lock work in the short term, it will attract more dirt and dust and the lock will seize again. Often the lock just needs a small amount of graphite powder, a carbon based dry lubricant. This will usually get things moving again. If necessary the barrel may need to be removed and be cleaned before the lock returns to normal
Shade sails, umbrellas and fabric awnings
Shade sails, umbrellas and fabric awnings have become a popular and practical architectural feature of many houses. The shade they provide while allowing light and air movement are fantastic. They are also relatively cheap, available in a never ending array of shapes, sizes and colours, and can be taken down or wound in for the cooler months. Wind is the number one enemy of these shade systems. As a licensed shade systems installer, I am aware of the massive forces that they catch. Shade sails are called sails for a reason, and I have seen many a fascia and guttering pulled away, windows broken, sails torn and other damage from a combination of incorrectly installed or incorrectly tensioned shade sails. Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as stringing the sail up between a couple of post and screwing it to your house. It is an achievable DIY project but I would emphasise the importance to study up and talk to people about installing them. They may be relatively inexpensive, but they can cause a lot of expensive damage. In relation to umbrellas and awnings – DON’T FORGET TO WIND THEM IN OR TAKE THEM DOWN – they are easily damaged and often repairing them is very difficult and expensive.
Fencing is the last thing I will mention. I see a lot of rusted fences because the bottom sheets are in contact with the ground. Most manufacturers specify a particular distance that the panels should be installed from the ground. It is well worthwhile following these directions. I also see a large number of crooked fences that have moved over time. This is often due to the sandy nature of the soil. It is something that is difficult to address, but often installing larger posts deeper into the ground or concreting every third post for example may address the problem and prevent it from occurring. Other issues are things growing up against the fence and pushing it over, or in the case of vines, pulling it down. Again make sure you maintain your fences. Painting or oiling will extend the life of paling or wooden fences. Washing colorbond or other metal fences can also help to extend the life of the fence, although correct installation and installing quality fences with long warranties is probably the best option in my opinion.
So hopefully this has helped some people, or opened their eyes to a few issues that their homes face on the coast. We live in a great environment and with a little work we can avoid the extra hassles that may come up.

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