Spring home maintenance tips: Start with the exterior: foundation, roof, gutters and landscaping. Then check out the air-conditioning and other mechanicals.: Start with the exterior: foundation, roof, gutters and landscaping. Then check out the air-conditioning and other mechanicals.
When spring has sprung, it’s a good time to conduct some exterior maintenance in your home.
Spring home maintenance tips: #1 Check damage from the winter on the exterior of the home.
The freeze-thaw cycle we go through in the winter can be tough on a even a well-maintained home. And a lot of problems occur in the winter but go unnoticed until spring because you don’t tend to walk around the house in the winter.
Also, because spring is a rainy season, it’s best to tackle any problems early on.
Spring Home Maintenance checklist
What follows is a checklist of exterior problems that can spring up after winter, and the way to remedy those problems.
For example, the first step of a spring tune-up is to make a visual inspection of the house.
Especially look for trees branches that are now dragging across the roof or a wall. Trim them back. As spring comes, you’ll get a lot of wind and the scraping will damage the roofing materials and siding materials. Eventually, the branches can wear a hole through the siding or roofing and start a leak.
Also, check the perimeters of exterior doors and windows to make sure caulking is still in place. If it’s missing or is worn away, recaulk.
Check windows. Make sure that the glazing compound that seals the glass panes to the wood structure is also in good shape. If not, reglaze.
Also, use a pair of binoculars to check out the upper level of a two-story house. Watch for places where animals might have tried to get in. Look for roof shingles that may be starting to curl. And, check the masonry on the chimney to see that the mortar is still in place between the bricks.
Spring home maintenance tips: #2 Check the Foundation
Next, inspect the foundation around the house.
The freeze and thaw cycle may have moved a sidewalk, patio or driveway. Check to make sure that it is not sloping towards the house. Instead they should slope away from the house. If not rainwater will pool against the house. It should run away from the structure, Otherwise, you risk water entering the house through the foundation.
Slabs can be re-elevated so that they slope in the correct direction. Or they may need to be torn up and rebuilt. Both types of work will probably require the services of a professional.
In the meantime, you should seal cracks where the sidewalk meets the house. You can use roofing cement, a thick black mastic. It’s not attractive but it serves the purpose.
Where there are no sidewalks, check to make sure that the ground also slopes away from the house. You can use dirt. Place it around the home to pitch the ground away from the building.
Spring home maintenance tips: #3 Check the gutters and downspouts
Next, clean out the gutters even if you cleaned them in the fall. Oak trees will keep a lot of leaves through the winter and then start dropping them off in the spring. And with spring storms, you want to make sure they’re all cleaned out.
Also, check the gutters to make sure they’re firmly attached to the building.
Ice and icicles put a lot of weight on the gutters. This weight may pull them away from the building, allowing water to drop behind the gutters and on the building. Also check the facia board to make sure it hasn’t pulled away.
Loose gutters can be reattached by pounding in the spikes that fasten the gutters to the house. Extremely loose gutters should be positioned on a decline so that the water drains towards the downspout.
Seal any leaks with gutter caulk and plug holes with patching kits. Replace any gutter sections with numerous leaks.
Also, check the seams of the downspouts to make sure they haven’t been split by ice expansion. When seams split, they allow rainwater to splash on the exterior walls of the home.
One way to check for seam splits is to plug the end of the downspout and fill them up with water.
Unfortunately, splits seams usually can’t be repaired or patched. Instead, you may have to replace the length of damaged downspout.
Spring home maintenance tips. #4 Check the shingles
Next, while you’re up on the ladder checking the gutters. You can also check the lower level of roof shingles. As you check, make sure that they weren’t damaged by ice dams found in the gutters.
When ice accumulates in the gutter it can start moving up the roof. As it does, it gets under the roof tiles, pushes them up and pulls the nails out. And water starts to come into the attic through the nail holes.
If the shingles are loose, gently pick up the first layer of tiles and secure the level of shingles underneath with roofing nails, suggests Wall.
Next, to help minimize basement water seepage and flooding, consider disconnecting the gutter downspouts where they enter the ground and connect with municipal sewers (first check with your local municipality to see what they recommend).
Cut the downspout with a hacksaw about a foot above where it enters the ground. Then remove the pipe that enters the ground. Then place an elbow pipe over the bottom end of the vertical pipe. The elbow should rest just above the ground. Place an extension over the elbow, so that water is directed towards an area where rainwater can drain. Secure the pieces with sheet metal screws.
Then plug the drain hole with crumbled up newspapers and an inch or so of mortar cement.
Next, inspect painted surfaces for flaking, bubbling, or discoloration of the paint – again damage from the freeze-thaw cycle. If you find a lot of flaking and bubbling, it may be the year to scrape and repaint the surface.
Spring home maintenance tips. #5 Check wooden porches and steps for damage
Next, if you have a wooden porch or front steps, check winter damage. If you’ve spread rock salt on the surfaces, the salt damages these surfaces. Look at the porch flooring for curvatures or bowing. If they have taken on water, they may be swelling.
If the paint has worn away in high traffic areas, you’ll need to repaint the porch or steps. If you don’t you may not get a uniform color.
Or, you can paint the high traffic area in a different color stripe. You can also paint up to a corner that turns so you won’t notice the change in color.
Spring home maintenance tips: #6 Check decks and patios
Next, if you have a deck, check the surface for small cracks, another consequence of the freeze-thaw cycle. Also, look for patches of mildew – a green algae growth – or gray or black spots.
Either or both of these problems means the deck needs to be clean, treated and sealed. Although pressure-treated wood is immune from termite and fungus damage, it’s not immune from water and ice damage
By: Jim Sulski