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Helpful Spring Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Spring Maintenance
It is that time of year again. Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Clean debris from the gutters and downspouts. Re-establish good slope and secure anygutters that may have sagged from ice and snow. Caulk any joints that leak. The maincause of moisture in basements is poor drainage (e.g. gutter, downspout and surface water).
  2. Inspect drainage around the house. Be sure that downspouts direct water away from the foundation. If necessary, re-grade to carry water away from the home.
  3. Make sure other exterior drains (e.g. window wells and stair way drains) are clean and ready for the spring rains. This will be a frequent need.
  4. Clear any debris away from storm sewer inlets?
  5. Test any sump pumps to verify operation.
  6. Heavy rains and freezing soils can increase pressure on foundations. Filling foundation cracks can reduce moisture penetration and allow for monitoring of movement. Proper exterior drainage is the best defense against water in basements and crawl spaces.
  7. Examine any retaining walls for movement. Check wooden walls for insect infestation and rot.
  8. Spring is a good time to have a termite inspection.
  9. Vented crawl spaces should have the vents open during the warm time of the year. Lack of
    ventilation can increase humidity levels and promote rot, rust and pest infestation. You may
    wish to consider covering the soil in the crawl with plastic and sealing it to the foundation to
    minimize moisture from the soil.
  10. Look at sidewalks and driveways for cracking, settling and deterioration. Correct the
    unevenness in walks to prevent trip hazards and seal cracks. You can expect some movement in the concrete flatwork with the freeze thaw cycles.
  11. If you turned off water any exterior faucets last fall, spring is the time (when danger of
    freezing is past) to turn them back on. Inspect the faucets for any damage that may have
    occurred during the winter and repair as needed.
  12. Spring is a popular time to plant new shrubs and trees. However, placing plants too close to
    the house can encourage pest infestations and damage exterior cladding materials. Plan to
    have a least one foot of space between the house and the vegetation when the plants are
    fully grown. Large trees should be no closer than 10 feet to the foundation.
  13. Check the exterior siding materials for any deterioration. Paint any wood materials that are
    exposed or poorly protected by degraded paint. Tuckpoint open mortar joints in the
    masonry. Inspect vinyl siding for any cracking that may have occurred during cold winter.
  14. Inspect doors and windows. Caulk gaps to keep rain out and conditioned air in. Check
    wooden frames and sills for rot. Repair as needed. Repair or replace damaged screens.
  15. Examine masonry chimneys for deteriorated mortar, bricks and stucco. Check metal
    chimneys for rust. Tuckpoint, seal cracks or paint as necessary to prevent water entry and
    protect materials.
  16. Spray the exterior coils of the air conditioner with a garden hose to improve efficiency. Clear
    any debris that may be blocking drainage slots at the bottom of the unit. Replace any insulation that has worn off the larger refrigerant line in order to maintain system efficiency. We recommend a spring check by a qualified HVAC contractor as a way to maintain the unit.
  17. Shut down the humidifier. If applicable, drain the unit, clean it and leave it empty during the
    summer to reduce the potential for mold. Close any damper related to the humidifier.
  18. You may have adjusted the heat distribution in your house for the winter to decrease the
    heat supply to the second story. Reverse this situation if you will be cooling a second floor
    during the summer. As a general rule, you should adjust dampers and registers to send
    about 2/3 of the conditioned air to the upper floor. Even single story homes may need some
    adjustments to provide for optimal comfort with the changing seasons.
  19. Do not allow the furnace filter to become dirty. Standard disposable filters should be changed every one to two months. For other types of filters, read the instructions regarding cleaning or replacement intervals.
  20. Have the irrigation system professionally opened and the backflow preventer checked by a
    licensed installer.

 

About the author:

Gerry is a licensed Professional Engineer in four states; Missouri, Illinois, Colorado and Kansas. He first began his home inspection career in 1976 and has been active in ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) since 1978. In fact, Gerry’s membership number in ASHI is 87 compared with most of the memberships numbers which are in the 1,000’s. Gerry has performed over 16,000 inspections. Gerry can be reached by email at gloesch@bpgwi.com or by phone 314-249-8370.

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