Spring is finally here and with the long, cold winter we’ve had here in Ontario, we are all ready for sunshine, flowers and warmer weather. We need to ensure we don’t neglect our homes as there are certain things that should be done in preparation for each season. By maintaining our homes, we maintain or even add value to our homes, fix the small problems before they become big ones, and you’ll have fewer surprises along the way.
We’ve put together a checklist of items you should consider doing to your home to help maintain it.
This is a common thing most people do but there are some elements to spring cleaning that often get overlooked. Dust or vacuum chair rails, window casings, window rails where the windows slide open and closed, tops of wall-mounted cabinets and ceiling fans. Launder or dry-clean fabric draperies and use a damp cloth to clean wood and vinyl blinds. Vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses, and consider renting a carpet cleaner—anything you can do to remove settled dust, mites, and allergens will make for a cleaner and healthier home.
If you have a stucco or texture ceiling, lots of dust gets trapped there that you often can’t even see. Consider hiring a contractor to scrape the stucco ceiling and skim it smooth or at least vacuum the ceiling to minimize the dust.
2. Inspect the basement
Check for cracks in the cement walls and look for signs of leaks. While you are down there, it’s also a good idea to check your sump pump if you have one, check the washing machine hoses, inspect the basement windows for mold and leaks, and look for signs of pests. Have a look at your dryer vents inside and outside. Lint can easily get trapped inside causing a fire.
3. Clean out the Gutters and Downspout
Clogged gutters can cause water damage and prevent water from properly being directed away from your home. Remove any debris, patch holes in your gutter with exterior grade caulking, and check your downspouts to ensure they are properly directing water away from your home. Now’s the time to also consider installing a leaf guard to prevent the debris from building up in your gutters.
4. Inspect the Foundation from the Outside
Your foundation is often the source of water issues in your basement. Do a walk around of your home’s exterior, and check for cracks in the foundation as well as inspecting the exterior walls, siding, and brick for damage. If you identify issues, contact a foundation specialist to take a look.
5. Spring Yard Maintenance
It’s time to get the lawn mower out, change the engine oil, and get the blade sharpened so it’s ready for the lawn cutting season. Head to your local hardware store to stock up on landscaping supplies such as yard bags and grass seed, and pick up the tools you need to thatch, weed and clean out your garden beds.
Have a look at the slope of the land in your front, side and back yard. The grading of your property should be away from your home to prevent pooling of water around the foundation. If you see improper grading, either call in a landscape professional or pick up extra dirt at your local nursery to build up the grading near your home.
6. Mechanical Room
Clean the furnace filter and clean the humidifier. Check the water heater for leaks. Turn on the exterior water supply but only after the threat of cold, freezing weather has passed.
If you have not drained your hot water tank recently, you should consider doing it now. This will flush out sediment and calcium deposits that settle on the bottom of the tank. This is especially important if you have a gas or oil fired tank as the extra sediment on the bottom of the tank can affect the efficiency of the unit. Make sure you turn off the power source to the hot water tank and wait about two hours before you drain the water. This will keep you and your hot water tank safe during the process.
7. Check the Attic and Roof
After a cold winter, it’s important to check the attic to make sure no leaks have developed. You will also want to make sure no mice, insects or other critters have nested over the winter. Check to make sure the insulation is intact, and look for signs of mold and water damage. Outside, have a look at the shingles and make repairs as needed. Look for missing shingles, shingles that are curling or lifting, metal pipes that are damaged or missing, or anything that simply doesn’t look right.
8. Air Conditioner
Remove the winter cover and clear debris from the coils. Make sure it’s ready for summer by turning it on for a bit. Check the pipe coming from the house and ensure it is insulated properly.
9. Garage Doors
Lubricate the door track, rollers, hinges and check the weatherstripping. Tighten any loose bolts. If you have an automatic door opener, do a test to ensure the door will stop if something blocks the sensor. Also, test the down pressure sensor.
To do these tests, stand outside of the garage door while someone else stands at the controls by the house. Click the control to open the garage door. Now close the garage door and stick your foot across the bottom sensor. This should trigger the door to stop coming down.
Next, with the door fully open, click the control to close the door. Raise your hand up to try to stop the door from coming down any further. Just like putting your hand across an elevator door to stop it from closing, your hand should stop the garage door from closing. If either of these tests fail, you need to adjust the unit. Call in a professional if you are unsure of any of this. This is a key safety factor that could save a life.
10. Reseal any exterior wood work
Any exposed wood on your home should be painted or stained to maintain it. This includes decks, fences, gazebos, railings or siding. Look for any soft spots in the wood or rot, especially on decks. This requires replacement of the wood, not just sealing with paint or stain.
11. Inspect driveways and pathways
Inspect driveways and paths. Freezing and thawing is rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscaping materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, and schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.
12. Check windows
Check screen doors and windows. Screens are designed to let the breeze flow in and keep bugs out – but they can only do their job if they’re free from holes and tears. You can find screen repair kits at most hardware and home improvement stores.
Also check the drain holes on all your windows. These are located on the outside of your window sills. These can get plugged with bugs, etc. which can cause water to back up and make its way into your home.
Doing regular, seasonal maintenance on your home is the smartest thing you can do to maintain or add value to your home.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
Looking after the small problems in your home before they become big ones can save you a lot of money in the lifetime of your home. If you would like to learn more tips about renovations, home maintenance and more, sign up for our mailing list to receive information from our experts twice per month. Click this link for a one step subscription.