Homeownership carries with it responsibilities to not care just for your structure, but for your family within. After all, a house just isn’t a home unless it’s full of happy, healthy people. And as with personal health, sometimes prevention of small problems can prevent larger problems down the road. Here’s a checklist for how to ensure both house and household are well cared for in warmer months.
- Natural Damage Prevention
Now that it’s a little more pleasant to be outdoors, it’s time to check the surroundings of your house for damage that may have occurred over the winter due to weather. Do a quick inspection around the foundation and around any weak points and where the roof meets walls. Inspect any plants near enough to the house that their roots could cause damage. It’s also time to check the surrounding area for potential problems, like weak nearby trees or dead limbs that could fall during a storm. Hire a tree service professional to remove potential dangers.
- Clean Vents
The winter months can mean staying bundled up in warm clothes, but that makes it doubly necessary to tackle the vents in your dryer and exhaust outlets. This happens less frequently during winter months, but is even more essential once warm weather arrives, as the wool and heavier materials from winter will have deposited more lint than normal. This will help your dryer function more efficiently, and will diminish the risk of fire.
- Outdoor Tool Maintenance
After a season or two of resting in the shed or garage, home tools will need maintenance before spring and summer use. Take the lawn mower and any other motor-powered tools to get serviced, asking that filters be changed, along with spark plugs, and any moving parts be oiled. Blades should be sharpened, and that goes for manual pruning shears and other garden tools. Any grills or cooking tools should be checked routinely after any significant time of disuse, like winter months — check for cracks in pipes and tubes, and make sure fixtures work properly for gas grills.
- Patio & Driveway Maintenance
Check for any visible cracks in patios, driveways or any paved outdoor walkway. Identify small cracks and fill with crack sealant material — this can be done without hiring a professional, and is important because the plants can start to grow in the cracks, and water can seep in. Warm weather’s the perfect time to prepare for winter, when water between the cracks can freeze and exacerbate the damage. Also check these surfaces immediately after a rain to see where water is pooling. It’s also time to check the status of your asphalt driveways’ coating, by using specific sealants to protect against sun and rain.
- Pest Prevention
A close eye’s needed after winter, when many animals look to take refuge from the elements. Walls, attics, crawlspaces and basements provide perfect spots for pests, unfortunately. You’ll want to look for evidence of insects — small amounts of sawdust, damaged wood and termite tubes can indicate carpenter ants, bees, wasps and termites. Woodpeckers may try to gain access to these pests, causing damage to the house. Squirrels, roof rats, mice, opossums and even bats can make their way into attics or crawlspaces, and even into walls. Look for damaged wood, chew spots or holes. While minor patches can be down on your own, it’s advisable to call a pest control professional for an initial check to ensure your patches aren’t actually sealing animals into the interior of your house. It’s also time to spray the exterior and interior base of the house, as well as any access points, with a home prevention chemical to prevent future insect incursions.
- Water Damage Prevention
Excess moisture is one of the top threats to a home, and spring is when to start thinking about preventing the damage, especially as the temperatures rise and the likelihood of mold and mildew increases. Not only do these microscopic growths threaten human health, they also damage the structure of a house and provide easier inlets for pests like carpenter ants, silverfish and cockroaches. Check around the foundation of the house following a rainfall to spot standing water. Make sure gutters and downspouts are clean and free of debris. Check attic for any moisture and roof leaks, and seal windows and caulk bathrooms.
- Gardening, Beds and Vegetable Plants
Early spring will provide the prime opportunity to rework your home’s plants — either decorative or utilitarian and fruit/vegetable producing. First, ensure that any shrubbery or decorative plants are not growing too close to the house’s foundation, walls or windows, as this can cause structural damage and allow pests easier access to your home — prune as necessary. Plant perennials and seasonal flowers as well as spring and summer vegetables; in late summer, plant fall and winter fare. Consult a gardening professional for seasonality and growth recommendations in your part of the country. Freshen mulch and fertilizer in beds.
- Heating and Air Conditioning
A home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system gets a serious workout during the winter months, keeping house interiors warm and filtering atmospheric particles. Spring is the time to call a professional for a ventilation cleaning; they’ll be able to remove any accumulation that built up over the winter months, and prep the air conditioning system for the demands of summer. That includes the interiors of the system, patching any vents and tubes that need it, and clearing the external HVAC system of any dead leaves, branches or vines.
- Access Points
The cooler temperatures in fall and winter can cause a home’s materials to contract, particularly wooden frames. Spring and summer make for a perfect time to update and check for air leaks around doors and windows, or around the trim. Depending on the condition, caulking and/or weather-stripping may need to be removed and replaced. Additionally, installing double-pane windows can help to insulate your house in both warm and cold weather.
It may seem counterintuitive, but when the weather’s warm is the perfect time to think about when it won’t be. It’s usually easier for contractors to work from late spring through early fall due to weather concerns, so if there are any jobs around the house needed to get ready for the winter — upgrading the heating system, for instance — now’s the time to patch holes, plug leaks and get ready for the coming cool. And at the end of summer, make sure your chimneys get their annual inspection and sweeping/cleaning.