by Paul Bianchina
6 features that need most attention
Spring is always an ideal time to be checking the exterior of your home and catching up on any maintenance items that have come to light since last summer.
As always, maintenance begins with a stroll around the house and a careful examination of its condition.
Take a tablet with you, make some notes as you go, and then sit down and work up a list of things to take care of — sort the list in order of the most pressing items first — and then list the tools and materials you’ll need for each task.
By sorting and organizing your list in this manner, you can take what may sometimes be a long list of projects and make it a lot easier to undertake.
Roof damage is an obvious area of concern. You’ll want to actually go up on the roof so that you can make a thorough and careful inspection of several different things, so if you’re not comfortable with the height or steepness of your roof, consider hiring an experienced, licensed roofing company to do the inspection for you.
As you walk around the roof, look for missing or loose shingles, including ridge cap shingles. Examine the condition of the flashings around chimneys, flue pipes, vent caps, and anyplace where the roof and walls intersect.
Look also for areas of overhanging trees that could damage the roof in a wind storm, as well as buildups of leaves, pine needles, and other debris. If you have roof damage in a number of areas, or if the shingles are of an age and condition that makes patching impractical, now may be the time to consider having the entire roof redone.
Also, remember that if the shingles have been damaged by wind or by impact from falling tree limbs or other items, repair of the damage may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance.
Siding can suffer damage from exposure to sun, wind and rain. As you work your way around the house, you’ll want to look for areas of siding that may be loose, cracked or sagging. In the case of plywood siding, look for areas of delamination — separation of the layers of plywood — or for an overlap seam that may be working loose.
In addition to examining the siding, check the condition of any wood trim, and the condition of both paint and caulking. Peeling or missing paint will need to be spot primed and painted, and the caulking around windows, doors, and trim may need to be cleaned out and replaced to prevent moisture and air from creeping into open gaps.
Heavy snow and rain can often cause the soil around your home to move — washing away in some areas and piling up in others. This type of alteration in the grade levels around your home can result in drainage problems and potential damage to your home, so look for areas of water staining on the concrete, or dirt or water stain patterns on siding — if they’re present, plan on moving and contouring some soil to redistribute the drainage patterns.
Ground water can play havoc with fences and gates as well — soft, wet soil allows fence posts to loosen up and eventually sag or fall over. Check fences by wiggling the posts to see if there is movement — if there is, plan on removing soil around the base of the posts and pouring additional concrete to reinforce them. This is also the time to check the condition of fence boards and the condition and operation of gates.
Once you’ve completed your examination of these and other areas of your home’s exterior and completed any necessary repairs, spring is also the ideal time to undertake a good exterior cleaning. In addition to gutters and roof, remove and store your storm windows and clean your windows; use a broom or water to remove cobwebs and dirt from under eaves, as well as on siding and exterior doors; pressure wash patios and walkways (pressure washers can be purchased or rented); and care for exterior wood decks.
Every spring and fall, you want to check your smoke detectors. Replace the batteries, clean the covers, and test the detector’s operation before it’s too late. If you have gas-fired appliances in the house, including a water heater, now is also a great time to consider adding a carbon monoxide detector. CO2 detectors are inexpensive and easy to install, and are available at most home centers and other retailers of electrical parts and supplies.
See Paul Bianchina’s feature, The Do’s and Don’ts of Deck Cleaning.
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