Spring Home Maintenance? Keep that Water out!

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One thing I’ve had drilled into me through my home inspection journey is that water is the single biggest enemy of your home. Therefore, it’s no surprise that most of the spring home maintenance checklist that follows has to do with keeping water out of your building envelope.

Here are nine key areas to inspect. Ignore at your own peril!

Roof, Eavestrough and Downspout

The roof and gutter system is the first line of defense in keeping water out of your home. Check the roof shingles for curling, worn, or lifting shingles and repair as necessary. While you’re up on the roof or ladder, make sure the eavestrough is free of any obstructions such as leaves or branches. Any debris will seriously affect water shedding capabilities. Also, make sure all downspouts are clear and have at least a six foot extension leading water away from the house.

Check Landscaping for Proper Drainage

Ideally, the ground should drop 1 inch for every 1 foot that you move away from the house for the first 5-to-10 feet around your house. While this is not always possible, the ground should never be sloping upwards as you move away from your house foundation. If winter soil settlement has occurred, add some soil to avoid water from draining down against your foundation wall.

As you inspect the grading around the perimeter watch for any overgrown bushes or trees that are in contact with the exterior cladding. These need to be pruned back to leave an approximate 1 foot barrier so the house can properly dry between rainfalls.

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Caulking and Weather Stripping

Check all the windows, doors and screens to make sure they are in good repair. Inspect the weather stripping and pay special attention to the caulking. A small crack in the caulking or sealant around a window can cause huge problems inside your walls before you even know it.

The same goes for all protrusions that penetrate your exterior walls, such as vents, A/C tubing, and dryer ducts. They all have to be sealed properly to prevent water from entering the building.

Starting to see the common theme?

This is also a good time to check any vent screens to make sure they are clean and have no blockages.

Driveway and Walkway

Inspect for winter frost settlement and cracks. Again, we want to lead water away from the foundation.

Decks and Fences

Inspect the deck and fence for signs of weathering and damage and repair or refinish as needed. This will extend the longevity of your deck.

Inspect Basement for Moisture Intrusion

Moving inside, check your basement for any moisture intrusion. If the basement is unfinished this will be easy. Look for any new cracking that may have occurred over the winter. Watch for damp or wet looking areas, especially near the bottom of the walls and corners.

If the basement is finished, again, check the corners for dampness. Lift a corner of the carpeting if possible. Inspect the walls and baseboard for any staining that may point to wet walls behind it. What do your senses tell you? Quite often, the basement will feel damp, the air will be musky.

Humidifier Maintenance and Bypass

It is imperative with today’s tighter built homes that the humidifier be turned off in the summer, and the bypass is switched to the closed position. The relative humidity rises in the summer. By keeping your humidifier on you will be introducing excessive moisture into the house which makes your ventilation system less effective, and can create a whole host of problems.

Another potentially expensive problem you will run into is frosting or freeze up of the evaporator coil for the central air system. This can seriously affect your A/C system, increase operating costs, and lead to rust issues inside your air handling system.

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Turn the dial to the off position in summer and on in winter.

HRV and Furnace Filter

Help your house breathe by replacing the furnace filter this spring! This should be done at a minimum every three months for a 1 inch filter. For the larger pleated filters, they can last six months to a year before needing replacement.

The HRV system will also need service. Remove the core and filters and clean according to the manufacturers instructions. You can usually find them on the inside of the door on the unit.

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Service your Sump Pump

The sump pump is the last failsafe in the fight to keep water out of your basement. If you open the access hatch and it is not bone dry, that means you have active water under your foundation. Keep the sump pit clean of debris and test the pump by lifting the float until it kicks in. It is always a good idea to replace the pump every 5-7 years and have a back-up system or high-water alarm installed.

When placing the lid back on, make sure the lid is tight and screwed down. You want a good seal to prevent any gasses from entering the house.

Use this checklist as a guide this spring to keep your home healthy and happy. Thanks for reading!

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