4 essential home maintenance jobs for spring

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | April 21, 2016

Gutters on a sunny houseWinter can be tough on your house. It brings harsh cold, blustery winds, snow and ice, and of course, a slow-down in any sort of exterior maintenance. When the spring sunshine finally starts, it's time to get out there and repair all those things that didn't fare very well under Old Man Winter's reign.

Inspect the roof

Your roof takes the brunt of the winter weather, so it's the first place you should look for damage in the spring. Invest in a good pair of binoculars and examine every inch of the roof, looking for broken or missing shingles, damage to fascia or soffits, discolored areas, or anything else that looks out of the ordinary. Inspect any area that has flashing as well.

Then go up into the attic and take a look around. You're looking for any areas of discoloration, damp insulation, or any other obvious problems that indicate a roof leak. Take a good, long look at any areas where water is more prone to enter, such as around chimneys. If you see a problem, call a pro immediately -- roof maintenance is not something that can wait.

Check out the gutters

All winter, water and ice have pummeled your gutters. Snow is beautiful but it's also ridiculously heavy, which means it can easily pull gutters away from the roof. Drainpipes that got clogged up with leaves and other debris can cause a water backup, and that water can freeze in the cold temps, leaving you with busted drainpipes in the spring.

Check out every inch of your gutter to make sure it's still firmly attached to the house. Are the gutters leaning? You might want to fix that before the heavy spring rains begin to fall. Check out the drainpipes by dumping some water in each one (just fill up a gallon jug with the garden hose and pour it in). If there are any leaks on the way down, or if the water doesn't come out at all (uh oh!), it's time to clean or replace them.

How's the siding?

If your home has siding, you might already be aware of the damage that can be wrought by a whopper of a winter storm. The wind is the biggest consideration, as it might gradually pry up a siding panel or two. Walk along the perimeter of your home and look for any siding that might have shifted. Be on the lookout for any cracks or bulges as well, as these might indicate water infiltration behind the siding.

Look at the base of the siding, too. Over time, yard debris tends to migrate to buildings, where it builds up and can harbor pests or hold excess water. Remove any debris that might be touching the siding or foundation -- this helps prevent those problems and keeps your property looking neat.

Repair the landscaping

Winter can be very hard on landscaping. Ice has a habit of bringing down trees, even big ones. Snow accumulates and seeps into flower beds as it melts, sometimes leaving them a soggy mess. The wind can wreck all sorts of havoc. The cold temperatures can kill off tender young branches. Walk every square foot of your property, making note of all the things that need to be straightened, repaired, or even removed.

While you're at it, look for subtle clues that there might be problems you haven't noticed yet. For instance, what killed that particular shrub, when all the others are fine? Why is that section of fencing leaning? Is there water pooling around it, and if so, where did the water come from? The idea is to make note of everything and get to know your property very well, so you can pinpoint problems before they become big issues.

Calling in the pros

Though most home maintenance can be done by the handy homeowner, major home repair is often the realm of contractors. There are some repairs you should not attempt, such as work on the roof or replacing gutters that require more height than a basic ladder. Some repairs require specific equipment, such as a chainsaw to cut through a large branch or siding tools to replace a panel. The professionals will have this equipment and know how to use it, thus making your life a lot easier.

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a freelance writer and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.