Once spring has sprung, take some time to give your home a check-up along with its annual spring cleaning. Adding these home maintenance tips to your routine can help your house operate more efficiently.
Outside the house
- Check the A.C.: Have a qualified HVAC contractor, preferably one that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America organization, come out and give your air-conditioning system a tune-up. To help lower your energy bills, do this every year to ensure the system is running at its manufacturer-rated efficiency. Also make sure to inspect your system's condensate drain hose, especially if you live in a humid climate. This hose could become clogged with algae and sediment, and your contractor may charge you more to clean it out. Avoid this extra cost by checking the hose periodically yourself. Use a wet-vac to suction any blockage out from it.
- Roofs and gutters: The hot summer sun can quickly damage a roof's shingles, so you may want to call a contractor if you haven't inspected your roof in several years. Clean out the leaves and other debris that have collected in gutters and downspouts. Then check to see if the gutters are safely attached and haven't sprung any leaks. Also, make sure the downspouts are positioned to direct water away from the home's foundation.
- Right the foundation: For further basement flood protection, inspect the foundation around your house before the spring rains. Inspect the foundation around your house, and seal cracks or imperfections or call a contractor if necessary. Also look for low areas in the yard near the foundation that might pool water during a heavy rain. Level these yard depressions by filling them with compacted soil. Tend to any other 'ponding' areas around the yard, too, because after a hard rain, standing water can develop. These puddles can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Seal the deck: If you have a patio deck, inspect the wood for stains, discolorations, or warping. If you find any, consider resealing the deck. To verify that your old application still works, pour some water onto the dry deck and check to see that it beads up. Most deck-sealer manufacturers recommend resealing annually, but if there are no immediate problems worth addressing, you can likely wait until the following spring to reseal. Check for any sharp edges, splintered wood, or rotting wood. Also look for rusting nails or any nails that are coming out or weakening their connections. And be sure to check the railings and stairs to make sure they are secure and not wobbly.
- Ready the soil: Spring is the season to prepare for new growth in your garden. Rake beds of leaves and other leftover winter debris. Use a hoe to churn and loosen the soil, and mix in compost for nutrients. If you'll be planting new seeds, follow the instructions provided on the seed packet for the best results.
Inside the house
- Water heater: Look around the base of your water heater for evidence of leaks. The average lifespan of a water heater is 8-12 years. If your water heater is over 5 years old, it should be checked monthly for any leakage or rusting at the bottom. If water leakage or rust is found, the water heater should be replaced. If you live in an area with particularly hard water, you may need to periodically drain the water heater to remove sediment buildup in the tank.
- Basement and attic: Does your attic or basement smell musty? If you have an attic, check it for leaks from the roof. Inspect the underside of the roof and the insulation closely for any discoloration, deterioration, or dirt stains, as the leaking water might have dried up.
Check the basement walls, floor, and trim for water stains or any signs of seepage through the foundation. There are a number of flooding causes; read more about wet basements for preparation. While you're down there, keep a close eye on your sump pump, making sure it is still in good working order, and has a battery backup in place if necessary.
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