Maintenance functions are often referred to asmaintenance, repair and overhaul(MRO), and MRO is also used formaintenance, repair and operations. Over time, the terminology of maintenance and MRO has begun to become standardized. The United States Department of Defense uses the following definitions:
Home repair involves the diagnosis and resolution of problems in a home, and is related to home maintenance to avoid such problems. Many types of repairs are "do it yourself" (DIY) projects, while others may be so complicated, time-consuming or risky as to suggest the assistance of a qualified handyman, property manager, contractor/builder, or other professionals. Repair is not necessarily the same as home improvement, although many improvements can result from repairs or maintenance. Often the costs of larger repairs will justify the alternative of investment in full-scale improvements. It may make just as much sense to upgrade a home system (with an improved one) as to repair it or incur ever-more-frequent and expensive maintenance for an inefficient, obsolete or dying system. For a DIY project, it is also useful to establish limits on how much time and money you're willing to invest before deciding a repair (or list of repairs) is overwhelming and discouraging, and less likely to ever be completed.
Perhaps the most perplexing repairs facing a home-owner are broken or damaged things. In today's era of built-in obsolescence for many products, it is often more convenient to replace something rather than attempt to repair it. A repairman is faced with the tasks of accurately identifying the problem, then finding the materials, supplies, tools and skills necessary to sufficiently effect the repair. Some things, such as broken windows, appliances or furniture can be carried to a repair shop, but there are many repairs that can be performed easily enough, such as patching holes in plaster and drywall, cleaning stains, repairing cracked windows and their screens, or replacing a broken electrical switch or outlet. Other repairs may have some urgency, such as a broken water pipes, broken doors, latches or windows, or a leaky roof or water tank, and this factor can certainly justify calling for professional help. A home handyman may become adept at dealing with such immediate repairs, to avoid further damage or loss, until a professional can be summoned.
Another related issue for avoiding costly repairs (or disasters) is the proper operation of a home, including systems and appliances, in a way that prevents damage or prolongs their usefulness. For example, at higher latitudes, even a clean rain gutter can suddenly build up an ice dam in winter, forcing melt water into unprotected roofing, resulting in leaks or even flooding inside walls or rooms. This can be prevented by installing moisture barrier beneath the roofing tiles. A wary home-owner should be alert to the conditions that can result in larger problems and take remedial action before damage or injury occurs. It may be easier to tack down a bit of worn carpet than repair a large patch damaged by prolonged misuse. Another example is to seek out the source of unusual noises or smells when mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems are operating—sometimes they indicate incipient problems. One should avoid overloading or otherwise misusing systems, and a recurring overload may indicate time for an upgrade.
Water infiltration is one of the most insidious sources of home damage. Small leaks can lead to water stains, and rotting wood. Soft, rotten wood is an inviting target for termites and other wood-damaging insects. Left unattended, a small leak can lead to significant structural damage, necessitating the replacement of beams and framing.
With a useful selection of tools, typical materials and supplies on hand, and some home repair information or experience, a home-owner or handyman should be able to carry out a large number of DIY home repairs and identify those that will need the specialized attention of others.
When a home is sold, inspections are performed that may reveal environmental hazards such as radon gas in the basement or water supply or friable asbestos materials (both of which can cause lung cancer), peeling or disturbed lead paint (a risk to children and pregnant women), in-ground heating oil tanks that may contaminate ground water, or mold that can cause problems for those with asthma or allergies. Typically the buyer or mortgage lender will require these conditions to be repaired before allowing the purchase to close. An entire industry of environmental remediation contractors has developed to help home owners resolve these types of problems.
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