While it may not hold the same appeal as March Madness, now is the perfect time of year to get a head start on deferred winter home maintenance. So dig your work boots back out the closet and start your spring with our handy home checklist!
The most important chore – and the most dreaded – is cleaning your gutters before the onset of April showers. Gutters are designed to do one thing: channel rainwater away from your home. Clogged gutters overflow and can lead to damage of your roof, siding, and even your foundation. As soon as the weather allows you should remove dirt, leaves and sticks that have built up during the past few months. It’s also a good idea check your gutters with a simple level. Though most of Pennsylvania enjoyed mild winter weather this year, the weight of ice buildup from even temporary freezing conditions can pull gutters away from roof and off balance, slowing drainage. A functional gutter should have a gentle slope in the direction your downspout. If it doesn’t, you can make simple adjustments yourself; but if there are any burst seams or damage to the roof-line, professional repairs may be needed.
While you have your ladder out, give the roof a once over. The winter brought high winds to Pennsylvania and with them a greater chance of wear and tear. Clean away debris caught in roof valleys – which can trap moisture and lead to rot – and check for shingles that are uneven or loose. Some effort and the proper nails can take care of small issues, but more serious damage may require professional attention. You can also look for leaks from the inside out by venturing up into your attic and examining ceiling joists and insulation for any signs of water. If you have an attic ventilation fan make sure it’s clean and in working condition. Ridge or gable vents should also be inspected to make sure proper airflow is maintained. Remember: even a small amount of moisture buildup can cause a large amount of damage in the form of mold, mildew or decay.
Your hard-working HVAC system is next on the checklist. Homeowners with forced-air should remove any accumulated debris from exterior units, change air filters on interior units, and give vent covers a vigorous dusting – all a simple steps to help maintain maximun air quality and flow. If your house is heated with hot water, do your best to clean the nooks and crannies of your radiators. Modern baseboards are more straightforward: simply turn off the system, remove the individual unit covers and vacuum the coils with a brush attachment. A trickier chore is to flush sediment from your water heater. The savvy homeowner may feel comfortable with a DIY approach, but you can also give your local heating professional a call – and while you have them on the phone, don’t forget to schedule your furnace maintenance as well.
Save the easiest chore for last: assess your backyard for drainage issues. Simply take a walk after a spring rain of at least 1” to check for any laying water. Soggy areas far away from your house may not need anything more serious than a small rain garden. Any problem sites close your home’s foundation, however, are cause examine your site grading and look into more extensive solutions.
Though the list may seem daunting at first, these chores can help you avoid more serious issues in the long term. So while you’re waiting for those first spring daffodils, take the time to give your home some TLC – it will thank you by maintaining its comfort and value for years to come.