From desert flowers in the Southwest to crocuses in the Northeast, springtime is arriving.
No matter what part of the country you live in, spring is a great season to take stock of your home’s exterior and start planning any warm weather maintenance projects. A little bit of time invested on a pleasant day is all it takes to help keep your home in top condition.
You can start with one walk around the house and property to get a general picture. After that, walk around the house a few more times, armed with a notepad, a camera, and binoculars (yes, binoculars). Eventually, you can finish with a look inside the basement and attic as well.
In the attic, you can reduce cooling costs by checking your ventilation to ensure good airflow. Assess the soffit on the underside of eaves, and also check inside the attic for obstructions over vents. After you check the flashing on roof for leaks, take a look inside for evidence of leaking around roof openings, and damp spots on insulation.
Brickwork and Stonework
Examine joints between bricks or stones for chipped mortar, cracks, and vegetation, which mean that water is infiltrating. Also check for efflorescence, a whitish cast that can be removed with a wire brush. Check bricks for spalling (chipping). If needed, you can generally reseal masonry with a water resistant barrier.
You can inspect the roof by climbing up for a closer look, or you can also carefully observe the details with binoculars. Look for nail pops, shifted shingles or tiles, and cracked or missing shingles or tiles. A qualified roofer may be needed to replace cracked/buckled/loose shingles or tiles, or simply to replace fasteners. Also examine all the openings in the roof.
Check the caulking and weather stripping on all doors and windows to see if you can see light from the inside, and to see if the material is chipping or otherwise damaged. You may be able to save quite a bit of energy by adding weather stripping, re-applying exterior caulk, and replacing aged window glazing putty. Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows and doors to see if sill replacement is needed.
Check the deck for any warped, loose, or splintered boards. If it’s faded or worn, spring is a good time to clean, stain, and reseal the surface.
On the exterior, examine the foundation from top to bottom for any masonry cracks. If you see cracks, you can contact a foundation specialist, who may be able to bond the crack chemically before more serious damage occurs. Check the basement for a musty smell, water stains, or damp surfaces.
Regardless of your siding material, do an overall check for damaged siding, carefully examining the areas under eaves and near gutter downspouts. If you have wood siding, inspect the paint for peeling or spots that will require stripping and repainting. Also watch for cracks and openings that allow woodpeckers or insects to infiltrate. Insect wings, mud tubes, and damaged wood are all clues that it might be necessary to contact a pest control expert.
Examine the complete gutter system to make sure that it is well secured and sound, that gutters and downspouts are free of debris, and that downspouts drain away from the foundation. Water stains on the exterior walls indicate gutter problems, so you’ll need to look at both the siding and gutters if you see this damage.
Once you’ve completed your inspection, you can make a list of DIY projects, or call in professionals for another look or an estimate. In the long run, regular spring maintenance inspections can help you keep your home efficient and sound, and can give you the peace of mind to enjoy those spring flowers.