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,” says Kathleen A. Kuhn, president of HouseMaster Home Inspections, a home-inspection service in New Jersey. “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,” says Kevin Sapp, district manager, Residential Mortgage Services, Inc. “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, Kuhn says. “Regardless 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, Kuhn says.
“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.”
Sapp also says 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, says Gino Chiapparelli, a mortgage professional with Luxury Mortgage. “Overflowing gutters can deposit excessive amounts of water against the foundation of your house, resulting in water leaking into basements and crawlspaces.”
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.
Likewise, adding extra insulation to your attic, walls, ceilings and hot water heater can reduce your heating and cooling costs, Kuhn says.
“Leaking air makes your heating and cooling systems work harder and longer, using more energy,” she says. “So, 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,” Chiapparelli says. “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.”
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,” Sapp says.
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 renovation,” Kuhn says.
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, Sapp says.
The weekend-warrior homeowner can tackle most of these projects, says Kuhn, with the exception of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, which should be checked and serviced by a professional.