The Slackers' Guide to Spring Home Maintenance
Preventive maintenance is crucial to the value of your home. Keep your place in tip-top shape with regular check-ups to save you the headache and cost of emergency repairs.
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Gutters do their job best when clean. Check yours for foliage build-up, particularly if trees hover over the roof. The rainy season is a prime time to ensure all drainage areas remain unblocked by leaves and/or debris. Trapped moisture can leave a house susceptible to moss and mildew and cause major damage to your roof and walls. While you’re at it, make sure the downspout is clean and pointing 2-2-1/2 feet away from foundation walls.
Retain the Roof
It’s easy to take for granted the one thing that shields you from the elements. But doing so could cost you unnecessary repair costs. Be diligent about roof maintenance. After the next rainy day, inspect your ceiling for wet spots. Ask a licensed professional to inspect your roof for wear and tear. "If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, it’s time to replace the roof," according to Dan Cornwell, president of CC&L Roofing in Portland, Ore.
Check Your Paint Job
Look for chipped, cracked paint along the exterior of your home. "The worse thing you can do is leave wood exposed, because that’s when it will begin to rot," says Brian Gummel, president of The Painting Company in Edgewater, Md. Scrape off any failing paint. Sand it down so there are no rough edges, prime the bare wood surface and paint it with a high quality paint product. Don’t wait until siding accumulates too much dirt. Brighten up the house with a good power washing.
Cut Shrubs and Trees
Trim overgrown trees and hedges away from your home to discourage the growth of mildew and moisture. Branches should be at least 7 feet away from the exterior of your house to prolong the life of your siding and roof. Get rid of out-of-control vines, as they can help crack siding and allow moisture and pests entry into your home.
Love Your Lawn
Rake up the excess leaves you didn’t get around to last fall. Too many can suffocate your grass and stop it from growing. "Pull up weeds, and remove foilage from the lawn, shrubs and any plants," says Neal Julien, landscaping expert with Neal Works Landscaping in Capitol Heights, Md. Pull up dead flowers and replace them with a low-maintenance variety such as pansies, begonias or mums.
Keep the Air Fresh
With warm, sticky days ahead, do yourself a favor and give your air conditioning unit a little TLC. Not only does it cool you down, but an efficient air conditioner removes moisture and humidity from your home, which in excess, can damage its foundation. So if you aren’t changing air filters monthly, start now. A unit free of dust and dirt runs more efficiently, saving you money on your energy bill. While you’re there, check hose connections for leaks. Make sure the drain pans are draining freely. If you suspect a problem, contact a certified technician.
Watch Windows and Doors
Investigate all doors and windows for leaks and drafts, particularly near the corners. Look for peeling and chipping paint, which can signal water intrusion. Seal any open areas between the frame and the wall to keep out water, which can deteriorate building materials. Neglecting these tasks can open up potential for environmental hazards like mold growth, experts say.
Keep garbage and debris under control around the exterior of your home. "Do what you would do inside, and get rid of junk," says Genma Holmes, owner of Holmes Pest Control in Hermitage, Tenn. Inside, check the house for entrances and gaps where mice and insects may be tempted to come through. Seal up cracks, even if you just did so in the winter. Mulching the yard this spring? Use a liner underneath. "It’s good to keep a barrier between your mulch and your home," she says.
Take a Peek at the Plumbing
Except for a coffee maker, anything dripping in your house is a bad sign. Check for leaking faucets or sweating pipes, clogged drains and faulty water drainage systems. On laundry day, look at the washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or dampness. Check under the kitchen sink for leaks, and make note of wetness around the dishwasher. Inspect your water heater for leaks and corrosion.
Tackle the Tiles
While you’re in spring-cleaning mode, pay attention to worn grout between floor tiles in the bathroom or kitchen. A small crack in the grout or caulk can lead to an expensive repair later. If necessary, re-seal as soon as possible. For the bath, get into the habit of wiping down shower walls and tub after each use to eliminate soap and scum build-up.