Exterior spring home maintenance tips: prevent costly repairs and ensure a trouble free summer.
Finally, the cold weather is over! Right? Maybe or maybe not. Most of us in the Pacific North West know that dry, warm weather is never a guarantee for the entire spring/summer season. This is why it is so important to take advantage of this weather to tackle exterior spring home maintenance. Finish these tasks to enjoy an efficient and attractive home.
Make a plan:
I always like to have a plan when tackling exterior spring home maintenance. Therefore, I start by inspecting and maintaining the upper areas of the home. Next, I check out to the sides or walls of the home and finally, I tackle the surrounding property. Having a plan makes thing go smoothly and helps to reduce becoming overwhelmed.
Start from the top:
Roof: Don’t stress, you don’t actually have to go onto your roof. Just grab a pair of binoculars and use your eyes to spot problems. Do it from the ground or from a ladder placed against the gutters. Look for shingles lifting, this is when fasteners fail and allow wind driven moisture into the home. Alternatively, do you see bulging, cracking, loose or missing shingles? If so, the shingles need replacing. This is an often-overlooked area in exterior spring home maintenance, but it is important to take a look at your roof occasionally to make sure it is at peak performance.
Check Flashing: A flashing is a metal strip used to seal gaps around penetrations and at the edges of the roof. It prevents moisture from leaking under your roof shingles. Both age and weather can loosen and damage flashing over time, which can lead to internal damage to the home. The 3 most common roof leak areas are the chimney, around skylights and in valleys of the roof.
Chimney: Do you have a masonry chimney? Look for signs of water infiltration such as loose mortar or vegetation growing on the chimney. Do you see white chalk like staining spilling out of joints onto the brick or stone? This is efflorescence, a sign the chimney needs attention.
Gutters: Please clean your gutters. Again?! Yup, this should be done twice yearly to maximize the performance of your roof drainage system. Remove leaves and debris and then fix any loose or damaged seams. Also confirm that your down spouts are either terminating into a dedicated storm drainage system (not your perimeter drains!) or have a extensions that terminate at least 5 feet away from the home.
Next the middle:
Exterior Walls: No matter what kind of siding your house has, look for problem spots, especially under the eaves and gutters. Seal all gaps around penetrations to reduce moisture and insect ingress. Check the walls for mechanical damage, like cracks or bulging, and have it repaired.
Windows & Doors: Examine the windows and doors for hardware damage, cracked or broken glass, and evidence of broken seals between panes. Also, clean out any slider door tracks and make sure that the drainage holes in the tracks are clean. To minimize air leaks, check and repair any damaged caulking/weather-stripping around all exterior windows and doors.
Air conditioner/Heat pump: Do you have central air-conditioning, or a heat pump? Have the unit checked according to the unit’s manufacturer. Then schedule inspection/maintenance every two or three years. Replace any filters and clean debris or vegetation from the exterior condenser or heat pump.
Deck & Stairs: Clean or sweep debris off decks and stairs. Then check the level of stairs and decks. Often decks and stairs sink or heave due to winter frost. Re-level or repair any areas out of level. Any warped or loose deck boards? Repair or replace them immediately to prevent trip hazards.
Foundation: This is very important! Every year walk around your home and pay close attention to your foundation walls. Make sure that the soil around the home evenly slopes 1 inch per foot, for at least 6 feet away from the foundation walls. Any thin vertical cracks? Seal cracks to prevent water from seeping into the home and deteriorating the strength of the foundation. DIY crack sealing usually won’t be effective, so hire a foundation specialist. They will typically use a two-part epoxy injection that chemically bonds to the concrete.
On to the property:
Patio/walkways & Vegetation: Clean and remove any organic growth (moss) build up. If organic growth is persistent, a bigger issue is apparent and needs further investigation. Do you have any trees, bushes, or plantings that are in contact with the home? Cut them back! Vegetation holds moisture against the home which can deteriorate the walls. Plants also provide access for insects and wildlife to the home, so cut back vegetation at least 2 feet away from the home.
Be observant and stick to this exterior spring home maintenance plan, it could save you time and money in the future.
Author: Geoff Bohaker at Shelter West Home Inspections