Well, spring has almost sprung so it’s time for some spring home maintenance. We’ve all heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is true with just about anything in life – including our homes. If we will give our home a regular “checkup” and do some routine maintenance, it will better retain its value and do a better job of protecting us. Both the passing of time, the weather, and our neglect are very tough on our homes, and a little TLC can go a long way in preserving our largest investment. Here are some suggestions.
As a home inspector, the one problem that I see more frequently than any other is water damage. Because of this, the main thing that I will advise you to look for is any place that rain water can get into your home, such as damage on your roof or a piece of loose, missing, or damaged siding or trim. Walk around the exterior of your home and look at it from the ground to the roof to see if there is anything obvious that needs to be addressed. Use a pair of binoculars or, if you’re able, climb on the roof to check it for missing or damaged shingles, rubbing tree limbs or any other damage. Look at all of your exterior walls, around windows, at the soffit and fascia boards for rot or other damage. Clean out your gutters and check them to make sure that they are not sagging, loose, or leaking. Make sure they discharge the water away from the home. Look for any warped or splintered boards on porches or decks.
There are also some things you can do inside the home. Animals love attics during the cold of winter, so check it for any evidence of animal activity. If you find any, then you need to determine how they got into the attic and take measures to prevent future access. Also, if you found evidence of rodent activity, look further for any damage that they may have caused such as damaged wiring or insulation. Next, check your faucets for leaks, and check under the sinks for any leaks in the drains. Make sure you have a clean filter in you air conditioner. While you’re at it, go ahead and make sure all of smoke detectors are working.
If you have a pier-and-beam home, then one of the most important places to inspect is underneath the home. Many people are of the mindset of “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to certain areas of the home such as the crawlspace under the home, but you simply cannot afford to think like this. I agree that it is not a pleasant place to be, but it is critical to inspect the crawlspace. I have crawled around under thousands of homes, and so far, although I have encountered a few animals and a lot of insects, I have never been stung, bitten, or sprayed. If you just can’t do it, then hire someone to crawl around and inspect underneath your home. While underneath, look for animals and animal access points. Look for wet spots around plumbing that would indicate leaks. Look for other wet areas that could indicate that rain water is getting underneath the home. Wetness underneath the home can lead to settling, mold, rot, and termite infestation.
There are also a few simple things that you can do that can save you some money on your utility bills. You can start with your air conditioning unit by cleaning off any leaves or dirt that is built up on the unit. Cleaning off the fins of your air conditioning unit once or twice a year with a spray nozzle attached to your water hose is also a good idea. It can help the unit to operate more efficiently. From inside your home, look around the edges of your exterior doors. If you see light coming in, then air is also coming in, so the weather-stripping may need to be repaired. Look in your attic and make sure that there are not areas that have little or no insulation. Even small, uninsulated areas can add up and allow a lot of extra heat into the home through your ceilings.
Most of the things listed above should be done more than once a year. I can assure you that in my 16 years of inspecting homes, I have seen thousands of homes with serious damage that could have been prevented if only the homeowners had taken time once or twice a year to follow the steps listed above. However, since they didn’t, many of them either had to spend thousands of dollars on repairs or reduce the price of their home in order to sell it. Don’t let this happen to you. Do your home maintenance inspection, and repair the problems that you identify. It can save you a lot of money and headaches down the road.
If you have any questions or comments about spring home maintenance, please leave a comment or reach out to Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional Home Inspector and Owner of Morgan Inspection Services
TREC # 6231