Spring Into Home Maintenance

When the spring weather beckons, it’s easy to concentrate on the great outdoors-whether digging in the garden or taking a bike ride. It’s also a good time to check the condition of the home’s exterior.

While it sounds optional, outdoor maintenance is a critical step in keeping a home in good condition and repair. It’s great to have clean windows or blooming flowers, but it is even better to have windows,gutters,and air-conditioners functional and in top shape.

Check the roof for overall condition. Also inspect flashing, eaves and soffits. Make any needed repairs to keep water and critters out.

Walk around the perimeter of the home to inspect siding and any entry points, such as cable wires or electrical service going into the home. Make sure wires and pipes are secure and there are no gaps for insects or rodents to enter the home. Trim landscaping away from the siding, including tree branches, bushes, and mulch, keeping everything at least 12″ from the siding. Tree limbs and branches need to be trimmed so they are not touching the roof.

Gutters and downspouts are convenient repositories for leaves, dirt, sticks and sometimes even a bird’s nest or two. Pulling out leaves and debris from gutters will keep rainwater flowing away from the foundation. In addition, making sure that the ground around the foundation slopes away from the house will also help prevent seepage or flooding.

A caulk gun is another important springtime tool, useful when sealing or caulking is  required. If caulking has started to crumble or dry out, it should be scraped and then re-caulked as needed. Areas to examine include window sills, door sills, thresholds and siding.

When the weather heats up, it’s good to know the air-conditioner is available to cool thing down. After fall and winter, leaves and debris often accumulate on the outdoor condenser. To make sure it can run unimpeded, the electric power to the outdoor condense should be disconnected and then the unit can be cleaned using a vent brush, power blower, garden hose, or even the brush attachment on a vacuum. The air-conditioner should be handled with care, however, so as not to bend any moving parts. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before opening things up.

On a nice, sunny day, it’s time to hit the deck-with pressure water or other cleaning method. Fortunately, a pressure washer will make quick work of a dirty deck as well as mold and mildew that may have accumulated since the previous year. (Unfortunately, many homeowners have caused property damage or personal injury with a pressure washer, so use extreme caution.)

At the same time, the deck can be inspected for wood decay or weakening of the deck structure. If it seems that there is a possibility of a wobbling deck, it’s best to call a carpenter or deck pro on the double. It’s not smart to risk the possibility of a deck collapse. If the deck needs staining or sealing, spring is the time to conquer that task as well.

But also inspect patios, porches, stairs and railings for stability. All outside surfaces can be checked for weathering, cracking or peeling paint, and repaired before more damage is done.

Before insect season arrives with vengeance, looking over window or door screens can save a lot of future itching and scratching. The screens may need to be cleaned first, and then they can be inspected for tears or holes. There are a variety of “home remedies” that can be used to patch screens including applying a dab of clear nail polish to a small hole or tear in a vinyl or fiberglass screen. The polish will seal the damaged area. Clear silicone adhesive will also do the trick. For larger holes, screen repair kits are available at many hardware stores for under $4. If screens need to be replaced, the old pieces can be saved to use as patches in the future.

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