Beyond Landscaping

When it comes time to get ready for spring, make sure your exterior home maintenance checks out

By Dawn Klingensmith  

When the thermometer starts ticking upward, the experts say it’s important to give your house a good going-over from top to bottom to keep things running smoothly and prevent damage.

For most of us, our home is our biggest investment and when it comes to that investment, the bottom line is that if you take care of your home, it will be worth more when the time comes to sell it.

Being proactive with springtime home maintenance can save you large sums of money.  Small issues with homes do not typically fix themselves and ultimately lead to larger, more costly repairs. 

When it comes to home maintenance, homeowners have to think outside the box – literally. Regardless of what season it is, home maintenance always starts on the outside of the house and always starts with the roof.

For starters, check your roof shingles and flashings. Ninety percent of roof leaks are actually flashing leaks. 

Flashings may come loose or crack and should be repaired or replaced immediately to avoid leakage into the home and consequential damage to the interior roofing elements.

Roof shingles should be inspected to make sure that there is no damage from snow and ice. 

Next, it’s essential to check your gutters and downspouts, which most likely are full of leaves and other debris. Overflowing gutters can deposit excessive amounts of water against the foundation of your house, resulting in water leaking into basements and crawlspaces.

Paula Taylor, owner of the Freehold NJ based company, Smart Maintenance, reminds us that, “Other springtime projects to consider include painting or power-washing siding, sealing decks, patios and porches, resealing your driveway, and re-grading your foundation.”

Spring also is a good time to check doors and windows. “Proper insulation and weather-stripping around existing windows or replacing old windows with more energy-efficient ones can help keep your home cool and comfortable and lessen the workload on air conditioners or central air,” Taylor says. 

Likewise, adding extra insulation to your attic, walls, ceilings and hot water heater can reduce your heating and cooling costs. 

Leaking air makes your heating and cooling systems work harder and longer, using more energy. Check cable lines, pipes, electrical outlets and switch plates for seeping air.

Spring-cleaning involves more than ladders and hand tools, however. Vacuum your upholstery and draperies to remove any dust, pollen or dander, and thoroughly clean your ceiling fans. Clean your carpeting with an organic rug cleaner to remove any residual pet odors and dust mites. And dust thoroughly to further reduce airborne allergens.

Spring is an ideal time to paint.

Because you can open the doors and windows for extra ventilation, the warmer months are also ideal for repainting interior walls. Painting a room a lighter and brighter shade can have a huge impact not only on that room but the entire house.

The spring months also are ideal to undertake a major remodeling job because you will have less of a need to keep the home warm if there are any wall or window openings during the renovation.

Those on a tighter budget but who are seeking simple ways to improve their home’s energy efficiency can easily replace their incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones and install fixtures that can accommodate the latter.

The weekend-warrior homeowner can tackle most of these projects with the exception of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, which should be checked and serviced by a professional.