Winter is hard on homes. Spring is fast approaching and the best time to inspect the home’s exterior for damage caused over the winter.
Start with a visual assessment of the full exterior and compile a list of any noticeable damage or areas that need improvement. Pay special attention to the roof and gutters, siding, paint, windows and doors, chimney, the deck or porch, and fences.
Roof & Gutters
The roof and gutters are a home’s first line of defense against the elements. Being proactive about maintaining them will protect your home and help to prevent future costly repairs.
Check for the following during your inspection. If you suspect any concerns, or your roof is nearing 20 years old, you should have a professional inspection.
- Replace curling, buckling, cracked, or missing shingles
- Ensure flashing is firmly adhered around skylights, vent pipes, and chimneys
- Clean debris from roof and valleys
- Apply moss retardant, if needed
- Ensure gutters are secured and sloped correctly for proper drainage
- Clean gutters and downspouts to prevent leaks and back-up
- Seal all gutter seams where leaks are evident
We don’t often think about maintaining siding until we see mildew, cracks or holes, and even broken or missing pieces. With a little preventive care, siding upkeep or repairs will be minimal, the product will last much longer, and the outside of the home will continue to look its best (think curb appeal!). The proper siding can also increase energy efficiency and the home’s value.
Vinyl siding is an affordable, resilient, and versatile product. Although mostly maintenance free, vinyl siding must be checked regularly for cracks and broken or missing pieces. It should also be washed regularly to prevent dirt and mildew build-up.
Fiber-cement siding is a cost-effective material that emulates wood and requires little maintenance. Annual inspections are recommended to spot any cracked or broken siding. Where accessible, cleaning when needed with a low-pressure garden hose is usually adequate. Avoid pressure washing.
Cedar or wood siding is a popular choice in the Pacific Northwest. Make sure the siding is properly sealed or painted as moisture is wood’s worst enemy. Termites or other pests can be detrimental; regular inspections are recommended. Other things to look for are cracks or breaks in the wood, which can lead to moisture leaks. Like all siding, cleaning the exterior regularly is important and will help you notice any potential areas in need of repair.
While every type of siding requires slightly different care the most important thing is to prevent moisture from getting past the siding, thus shortening the lifespan of the product and its effectiveness to protect the home. Regular inspections and cleaning will minimize siding repairs or the need for siding replacement.
Paint on the outside of a home is more than just for show. In addition to providing a visual pop, a quality exterior paint job acts as a protective layer between the home’s siding and the elements. If the paint starts to flake and deteriorate the siding becomes more susceptible to damage.
Regular check-ups are important to make sure the paint isn’t chipping, thus exposing siding, or window and door frames, to potential rot or mold. There are special paints with additives to help prevent mildew or mold from building up on surfaces. Regular cleanings will also help. Staying on top of minor repairs and regular touch-up painting will help maximize the overall life of the paint job.
Windows & Doors
The ‘eyes’ of a home allow natural light inside, an especially important feature during long winter months. Depending on how energy efficient they are they can also let in unwanted cold or heat. Regardless of how energy efficient your windows and doors they still require some routine maintenance to be the most effective.
Check doors and windows for air leaks. Keep door and window tracks free of dirt. Check for condensation, mold, and properly working locks and hinges. Once a year clean all frame surfaces, tracks, check for sealed joints, and ensure all windows and doors open and close with ease.
Although not all homes have a chimney, those that do are often older so maintaining it is even more important. If you use the fireplace regularly during the heating season, the chimney should be cleaned annually. Doing so in the spring will avoid the fall rush.
From the outside, inspect for any mortar or brick damage. Cracked or crumbling mortar should be removed and replaced, known as re-pointing. If you find significant mortar or brick damage it is generally best to consult with a professional.
When the first warm days of summer arrive, you’ll be grateful your deck is ready to BBQ or to simply relax and enjoy the weather. A thorough cleaning and inspection is the first step.
Different types of decks require slightly different cleaning methods. Choose an appropriate cleaner for your type of deck. They vary for wood and composite surfaces. Most of the time a soft to medium bristle brush or push broom is a sufficient tool, followed by a rinse with the garden hose. If using a pressure washer, avoid damaging the deck by using the right tip or nozzle for the job.
Once the deck is clean, inspect for rot. Make sure all wood posts, beams, planks, and stairs are secure. Re-secure or replace any loose, broken, or rotted sections. Applying a sealer to a wood deck will ensure its longevity.
Just as you inspected the deck, walk the full perimeter of the fence and check for any weak spots, loose nails or planks, or loose and damaged posts.
If your fence is constructed of wood, mildew can be a nuisance. Scrub the fence with a mildew cleaner to prevent build-up. If you want to give your fence a facelift and extend its longevity, paint or stain the fence every few years.
Have Some Fun!
Home maintenance doesn’t have to be all ho-hum. While you’re at it, use the opportunity to enhance your personal outdoor space in ways you will enjoy for years to come.
An easy and inexpensive way to make the most of your outdoor space is to add or build a fire pit. A cozy fire extends the amount of time you can comfortably spend outdoors and provides a conversational gathering place for family and guests.
Ensure your backyard and deck have ample lighting to keep the party vibes high. The choices are endless from landscape lighting, to LED patio lights, to solar options.
If you really want to go all out, consider an outdoor kitchen. This more substantial improvement will elevate your dining experience and creates a space for year-round entertainment.
Making exterior home maintenance part of your spring routine will keep your home well-maintained and looking beautiful. Preventive care will save time and money in the long run.