When we are in winter survival mode it is easy to put off until tomorrow what it’s too cold to do today. This is particularly true with respect to inspecting our homes to be certain that everything is in good repair. When it comes to home maintenance an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why it’s a good idea to spend one of the first beautiful spring days strolling around your home making an inspection of the exterior. It doesn’t take but a few minutes to inspect the following exterior features that can become problematic over the winter:
o Roof: From the ground do a visual inspection for evidence of damage, checking for cracked, curled or missing shingles. If you notice any vines or moss growing on your roof this is a sign of moisture. If you notice any signs of damage call a contractor for evaluation and necessary repairs. While the contractor is on the roof, have him clean leaves from roof valleys and any limbs or other debris that has accumulated over the winter. Also, check your attic and be certain that your vents are unobstructed and free from debris or animal nests. Also check for roof leaks which will be discernable by signs of moisture or discoloration on your rafters or wet spots on your insulation.
o Chimneys: Examine outside of chimney for damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
o Siding: Examine the siding for signs of disrepair, Pay special attention to the area under the roof eaves for signs of water or discoloration, indications that ice dams might have created leaks along the roof edge. Have your siding cleaned to remove salt, mildew and grime that may have accumulated over the winter.
o Decks: Check for loose or buckling boards which may need repair Also check for water stains where the deck ties to the house. Ongoing water leakage can lead to wood decay, weakening the deck structure and the house. If you have any doubt about the structural integrity of the deck, call a professional to investigate. Pressure wash your deck to remove mold and mildew. You may do it yourself or hire a contractor. If doing it yourself remember that if you see wood damage, like raised fibers you need to increase the distance between the spray nozzle and the decking.
o Garage Doors: To check that the door is balanced, release it into the manual mode and lift it by handle. The door should lift easily and smoothly and stay open on its own about 3 feet off the ground. If it doesn’t, hire a garage-door technician to counterbalance its overhead spring. Next, set the reversing force on the opener as low as possible.
o Driveways: This step is especially important for our area where freezing and thawing during the winter months. Nip cracks in the bud in the driveway and paths before weeds take up residence. Home centers sell patching materials and fillers designed for asphalt and concrete surfaces which will work for small repairs. For more extensive damage you’ll need to hire a professional. For walkways ensure they are in good repair and free from uneven surfaces, mossy patches or holes.
o Gutters: Clear gutters of debris and check them for corrosion, joint separation, and loose fasteners. Flush out downspouts and unclog leader pipes. Leaders should extend at least 5 feet to direct water away from the foundation.
o Foundation: Examine your foundation. Look for cracks and discolorations that point to a water leak or moisture source. Seal and treat as necessary. Small fissures are generally normal, but large or gaping cracks signal potential foundation failure. Consult a structural engineer if you notice any significant signs of structural damage.
o Outside faucets: Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced.
2. Have air conditioning serviced. Now is the time to have a qualified heating and cooling contractor service your air conditioning unit. Clean equipment operates more efficiently and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance. Also, remember to keep your filters changed throughout the spring and summer to ensure good airflow.
3. Don’t forget your septic system. Have your septic tank inspected and pumped as necessary. This can prevent a major issue down the road which could result in soil consolidation, plumbing repairs and extensive cleanup.
4. Clean windows. Boost natural light throughout your home by cleaning the windows, inside and out. For second-story windows hire a service to clean the outside, or use a hose attachment to clean them yourself (while standing safely on the ground!). Check your window screens for damage as well.
5. Tune up lawn mower and gas grill. Make sure all of your outdoor equipment is clean and in working order. Stock up on the types of fuel you will need to run your lawn mower and gas grill.
6. Spiff up the porch. Inspect the floor and repaint if needed. Sweep away dust and cobwebs, wipe down the light fixtures, get a new doormat and prepare your containers for spring planting. If your porch furniture or cushions have been in storage, set them out now.
7. Landscaping. Take a look at your trees and shrubs to see if any look diseased or weakened. Pay particular attention to those that have dangling limbs that need to be removed.