Spring is in the air - is your house ready?

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | May 30, 2014

Budding trees, sprouting flowers, and even house cleaning are all items people have long associated with spring. But when winter is finally over, the season of rebirth should bring something else to mind for just about everyone who owns a house: spring home maintenance. It's time to see just how much damage might have been caused by the previous season's cold temperatures and wet conditions and get ready for the hot summer that's just ahead on the calendar.

Your spring home maintenance check-list

Since home types and locations differ, coming up with a spring home maintenance list that fits all can be difficult. However, there are plenty of universal check-ups you can do for your home (and if one doesn't apply to you, just skip to the next!).

  • HVAC checkup - Your furnace has been heating your home all winter, but when was the last time you used your air-conditioning? While you may not need it in the early spring, it probably won't be long until outside temperatures are approaching triple digits. When that happens, HVAC contractors are going to get very busy. Beat the rush by scheduling to have your system serviced now.
  • Roof inspection - Winter winds and frozen precipitation can be very tough on your home's roof, and to make matters worse, it's often almost impossible to see what's going on up there. It's usually a good idea to have your roof inspected before spring showers cause interior damage that could quickly get expensive. If you can see where shingles are missing or there are water stains on interior ceilings, definitely call a roofing contractor.
  • Inspect gutters and downspouts - If you live in an area that receives a lot of snow and freezing rain, this can be a very important spring home maintenance item. As that frozen precipitation slides off your roof, gutters can be dented, loosened, or knocked completely off the house. When any of this happens, your roof drainage system, at least in that area, may be totally out of commission. That means that rather than roof water being directed away from the foundation, it could be ponding at the perimeter of your home and that's never a good thing. Even the best basement waterproofing system can eventually leak if saturated long enough. Fortunately, it's normally fairly easy to inspect your gutters and downspouts for damage. However, if you have a two story or taller house and suspect a problem, calling a contractor may be the safest solution.
  • Check walks and driveways - You probably learned in science or physics class that water expands when it reaches a frozen state. If you want proof, look no further than the concrete or paved driveway and lead walk at your home. Winter's frigid temperatures often freeze the water sitting beneath them and the result can be cracks and gaps. And once water has a way to get in from the surface, those defects may quickly expand regardless of the outside temperatures. Small cracks and gaps can often be repaired with caulk or a suitable patching material. However, you may need to bring in a contractor for extensive damage.
  • Caulk windows - Spring is when many homeowners take a weekend to clean winter's grime off their windows and exterior doors. While you're at it, check their exterior caulking and seals. Cracked caulking and leaking or missing seals can allow hot air inside this summer and that translates to higher cooling costs. Clear silicone caulk available at most home improvement stores can be ideal for touching up around windows and doors, and in many cases, you may be able to find caulk to match your siding or trim color. Window parts should be available from the manufacturer.
  • Inspect outside faucets - While you may have drained your home's outside faucets and hydrants before winter's first freeze, it never hurts to inspect for leaks when you pressurize them again this spring. Even a small crack or pinhole can turn into a huge leak when the water is turned on once again. Open the valve allowing water to the various lines slowly and then looks for puddles or wet sheetrock. The same is true for lawn irrigation systems - once water has been reintroduced to the system, look for soggy areas in your lawn. If you find a wet spot, there's a good chance a pipe has a leak.
  • Check exterior siding - Just like the roof, your house's exterior siding can take a beating during the winter months. This can be especially true if you have wood siding. If you have brick, stone, stucco, or vinyl siding, check for caulking that may have cracked or come loose where vents or electrical boxes protrude. New silicone caulk the same as was used for the windows and doors can applied. Wood siding requires a little more detective work as cracks and gaps that appear in the siding itself should be repaired.

While this list might not work for every home and all regions, it should be enough to correct most issues - at least until it's time to perform your summer home maintenance.

About the Author

Jeffrey Anderson has a Degree in English from V.M.I., and served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He worked in Residential and Commercial construction management for 25 years before retiring to write full time. He spends his time writing, remodeling his old farmhouse, and in animal rescue.