Spring is finally here and if you’re like me you’re starting to think about preparing the yard and servicing lawn care equipment. Perhaps you’re boxing up winter clothes and getting out spring and summer attire, or cleaning out the garage preparing for a yard sale. These are all normal seasonal activities, but don’t forget about your largest investment; your home.
I know home maintenance doesn’t rank very high on the spring list of activities, however it is essential to do a few basic things in order to keep your home and wallet happy. A few dollars spent each season will save potential expensive repairs down the road. So with that said, I thought I would share my own personal list of spring maintenance tasks.
1) Inspect Your Property: My personal favorite because it’s quick and free. Start outside and visually inspect the exposed foundation for settlement and cracks. Then go into the crawlspace or basement to examine the below grade portion. Small cracks that follow the mortar joint are usually not a big deal, but take pictures as you find things so that you can monitor over time to see if the cracks are stable or changing. If you notice something that you have concerns about, then contact a home inspector or structural engineer to get a professional evaluation. One thing I should mention here is before you go into the crawlspace or basement, run each exterior hose bib for a few minutes. If they froze during the winter, you will notice right away and not flood your crawlspace or basement, which could be an expensive problem.
Back outside, look at the exterior walls for cracking, wear, peeling paint or areas where the siding material has been compromised. Winter weather can be extremely harsh and it is very important to maintain the exterior weather shell to keep moisture from penetrating to the wood framing members or siding. I would much rather prep and paint a few small spots than repaint the whole house or worse, replace moisture damaged wood siding. Don’t forget about the roof covering. No need to climb a ladder and risk injury. I suggest a good pair of binoculars and examine the roof for damaged shingles. Repairing a small area or a few singles you find damaged is significantly less expensive than the water damage that could occur if ignored.
2) Clean Your Gutters: Now it’s time to get dirty. Clean out your gutters at least twice a year; spring and fall. Maintaining clean gutters is an important step in preserving your roof deck and shingles as well as keeping your exterior siding and foundation dry. If your home has multiple levels and you don’t feel comfortable on a ladder, then please call a local reputable handyman. They do a good job, for a reasonable price. But make sure they flush, as well as clean the gutters, and verify they drain properly.
3) Clean the dryer vent duct as well for two reasons. One, a lot of house fires are caused by excessive dryer lint build up and two, your driers performance depends upon it. If you’ve noticed that your clothes are taking a long time to dry and your dryer is not too old, there’s a really good chance the vent duct is clogged. A simple cleaning can dramatically increase your dyers’ efficiency and reduce the chance of a fire. I prefer a leaf blower and have personally used this technique for years. There are companies, however, that will professionally clean and they do a great job. I recommend this option if your vent has multiple angles or turns and is mostly vertical.
4) Clean your refrigerator coils. This is often overlooked but is important for the longevity and efficiency of your refrigerator/freezer. Your fridge works much like your AC in that it exchanges heat through a system of coils. If these coils are covered with dust and pet hair, they can’t perform efficiently and the unit has to work much harder to produce the same level of cooling. Simply slide your fridge out and use a vacuum.
5) Have your cooling system professionally serviced. Spring is the best time to have this done before the summer cooling season. If you wait until summer it may be difficult to get an appointment, parts are less available, and you may spend a few uncomfortable nights on the couch while your wife and kids are at a hotel. Don’t forget to replace the filters at the beginning of every season as well to keep your HVAC running at maximum efficiency.
A little home maintenance will certainly go a long way towards protecting your largest investment and its expensive components. But the sad reality is that most people spend more on annual vehicle maintenance than home maintenance. If you’re thinking of selling your home in the future then consistent home maintenance is the key to getting the maximum return on your investment.