Your home's spring tuneup essentials
While you’re washing windows and organizing closets, don’t forget to give your home a maintenance walk-through and take a few steps to keep it running smoothly and efficiently.
As the weather warms and flowers start blooming, some homeowners are prepping their spring-cleaning checklists. And even if you don’t plan to scrub every nook and cranny in your home, there are some springtime tasks you shouldn't skip.
"Houses don't last when people don't take care of the obvious, and a small problem becomes a big problem," says David Lupberger, home-improvement expert for ServiceMagic and past president of the Master Builder Group, a design/build remodeling company. (ServiceMagic is an MSN Real Estate partner.)
There is always plenty of work to do, but you don't want to dedicate every beautiful spring weekend to working around the house. We've put together a list of what home-maintenance experts deem the essentials for spring. It will only take a couple of hours to evaluate your home with this checklist and determine what you'll need to do. If maintenance is needed, dedicate a few hours each weekend and you'll be done in no time.
As Lupberger suggests, let's "start high and work our way down."
Your first stop is the roof. If you want to tackle this task yourself, make sure you know what you're doing and are comfortable using a ladder and walking on an often-steep incline. You'll want to check the shingles for any curling, warping or cupping, and for any granule loss or cracking, says Joan Crowe of the National Roofing Contractors Association. Also check the flashing, those metal pieces that serve as a transition from the roof to a vertical surface like a chimney.
"Do a visual inspection and see if anything is loose," Crowe says. "Make sure everything is secure. Circle around the house and take a looksee."
Article continues below
But Crowe strongly recommends that homeowners don't climb up there themselves.
"Hiring a professional is always the best way to go," she says.
When hiring a contractor to inspect your roof or make repairs, make sure you check their credentials and references. Ask for proof of insurance and get information about the materials they'll be using and any warranty that comes with them. You can find more information on finding a reliable contractor on the consumer section of the NRCA site.
You often can find a problem with your roof by hunting around in the attic for leaks and moisture. If there is a moisture problem, Lupberger says you'll typically be able to smell it. Keep an eye out for any black mold or green algae, which can be killed using a mild solution of bleach and water. Crowe recommends hiring someone to handle this task, since full eradication can be difficult.
While you're up in your attic, look around for potential animal nests. Sometimes there are small openings that critters can creep through.
Another attic task: Check your insulation. Make sure it's not covering intake vents, Crowe says. And be sure you have enough. Lupberger says the recommendation for homes is R-38, which is 12 inches of blown-in insulation; if you have any less than that, your home isn't running efficiently. Unless a homeowner is experienced in installing insulation, Lupberger would recommend hiring a pro to handle any augmentation.
"As you move into summer, it'll keep your home cooler and you'll use less electricity for your air conditioner," Lupberger says.
You may have dutifully cleaned your gutters in the fall, but a spring check is even more important. Many homeowners would be surprised to learn that more water damage happens to gutters in the spring.
The freeze-and-thaw cycles of winter, and the snow loads, may shorten the life of your gutters and downspouts," rendering them inadequate to handle heavy spring rains, , says Tony Cobb, president of the National Rain Gutter Contractors Association.
- On our blog, 'Listed': Can’t move? Maybe you should remodel
As you're clearing debris from the gutters, be sure to check a few other things:
- Make sure the back of the gutter is secured and that no water is leaking behind the gutter.
- Make sure your downspouts are secured to your home and that there is no blockage. You can check for blockage with a leaf blower (listen for the sound of resistance inside) or by tapping on the downspout and listening for a hollow sound.
- Make sure water is diverting at least 3 feet away from your home's foundation. Check for any low spots next to the foundation. Keeping water away from your foundation is the most important job of gutters and downspouts.
Cobb reminds homeowners that cleaning the gutters is a dangerous job that kills and seriously injures hundreds of people every year. Hiring a seasoned professional who is comfortable climbing a ladder is the best way to ensure safety. The organization has a contractor locator on its site at nrgca.org.
Have done these chores for years and would never hire anyone for most of these. If a person owns a house he/she should take the time to learn how to do routine maintenance on it. You can always find a course at the local community college if you need to be taught from a teacher/student perspective, or if you are real good at understanding what you read there are great books written about anything you would need to know. So why you are checking the insulation in the attic, grab your tape measure and find a spot to build an extra tool storage area. When you get older it's nice to have basic tools on all floors if you can.
It's really annoying that you insist that people call a contractor for most of the jobs in this article. I really doubt that the chances of falling off the roof are very high. Most people would be fine to do the work themselves and save the cost!
Steps to maintaining a home to last. 1. build according to the building regs. They are there for a reason. 2. Replace or repair as needed. You can pay me now, or pay me later. 3. Find another place to live because the house needs too much work. And I thought owning would be so much better than renting. Ha!
My house originally was built off the ground. It has water damage. Imagine how the additions on the ground get wet when 12-24" of water surrounds the house. And this house was recommended to the owner as an investment. Frankly, if I were an investor, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole now that I know it's in a floodplain. Then the person he bought it for built more under the flood level and sold it to me, the unsuspecting sister in Christ. It's a good thing he moved to Oregon.
I can fix all sorts of things, but it won't do any good with 2/3 of the house under the flood level.
And no, drg, you are not off on a tangent. You got married and thought you were going to live the American dream. You got the American nightmare instead. I thought I was helping a brother in Christ move to be with his family. Instead, I got him out from under a house he couldn't pay for and didn't build correctly . Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive.
To kill mold use Hydrogen Peroxide 3% diluted 1:1 a bottle costs about $1 at a drugstore/supermarket.
Bleach only bleaches the mold, doesn't kill it.
Google mold hydrogen perioxide for more info.