Take advantage of the moderate temperatures to get a head start on what should be part of your annual spring home maintenance routine.
Start your exterior inspection with a walk around the property for a general inspection of the homes exterior elements. This is the right time to inspect your roof and chimney and other elements. Winter can be tough on your roof and sometimes branches and other debris get on the roof and in the eavestrough. The winter can also take its toll on windows, walls, foundations gutters and decks.
Start with your roof
You don’t need to climb up there yourself if you don’t have a ladder. With binoculars and a keen eye, you can probably spot trouble. Look for any shingles that have shifted, appear loose or have missing tabs. These factors usually indicate that some fasteners may have failed and need replacing. Check for any cracked or missing shingles and nail-pops. When nails push the tabs of the shingles up this can allow water to get in where those nails are coming through. Any of these items will need to be repaired to keep your roof at peak performance. For more details on roofing conditions check our recent article on residential roofs here.
If you have a masonry chimney, check the joints between bricks or stones and for cracks in the chimney cap. Any missing cement from the joints or areas with any vegetation growing indicates water infiltration. You should also look for a white calcium powder on the bricks surface. This is efflorescence and it means the concrete has absorbed water and needs to be resealed. Consider re-sealing masonry with a clear, impermeable or water-resistant barrier material. Its simply brushed on, let it absorb for 15 minutes, then reapply—it may need a couple of applications. You also should inspect the chimney flashing. This is the metal pieces around the base of the chimney where it meets the roof. These should be sealed to the chimney with roof tar and rest under the first layer of shingles. If this has deteriorated or cracked you can remove the old tar and using a caulking gun to reapply.
Whether you have wood siding, stucco or brick, look for trouble spots, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains normally indicate that your gutters are not adequately containing roof runoff. If you have wood siding, check for openings, damaged areas or knots that have popped out, making way for carpenter ants, woodpeckers and other critters that may nest in or burrow through.
When inspecting the exterior of your home, be sure to examine the foundation from top to bottom for masonry cracks. If you do find any cracks they usually require a foundation specialist to fix. It. They use a two-part epoxy injection system that will thoroughly fill the crack and keep it water tight.
Leakage around windows will admit warm summer air and let cooled indoor air escape, so be sure to check that any caulking and weather stripping you have in place has remained intact. A tight seal is the first line of defense against air and water leakage. When you see windows with condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-glazed windows, the weather seal has been compromised, and either the glass or the window will need to be replaced. Check the caulking around the window frames. This will sometimes pull away and crack with the expansion and contraction of the window and walls over time. Removing and replacing old caulking is a great way to improve the energy efficiency of your windows and door.
Spring-clean your windows—inside and out—with a store-bought or homemade window cleaner (one cup rubbing alcohol, one cup water and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar will work just fine) and either a squeegee or a soft cloth. Never use abrasive cleaners or a high-pressure spray washer. You don’t want to scratch the glass or crack the caulking around each unit. If screens were on all winter, remove and clean them with mild detergent. Lay them on a dry surface, like a driveway to air-dry before putting them back on.
Decks, Porches and Patios
Your first step is to look for any obvious signs of deterioration like cracks and splits on the surface. It doesn’t matter if its concrete, wood or composite decking. Any slips and cracks will allow water to penetrate and begin to break down and deteriorate over time. Your best defense is to repair these minor issues before you need extensive repairs or replacements.
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