Spring Home Maintenance Tips

By MICHAEL EDLEN | Special to the Palisadian-Post

Winter has finally arrived, just in time for spring to begin. This is an excellent opportunity to do a wellness check around the home and take actions that will correct conditions likely to create issues affecting the house if not taken care of soon. Here are some suggestions for owners to consider:

Roofing and deck repairs: If your roof or decks have not been inspected in a long time, spring rains may be damaging to your structure. We have recently had several homes in escrow that were found to have substantial wood dry rot and/or mold that resulted from roof or deck leaks. While the inspector or contractor is checking the integrity of those areas, he can also examine the condition of the flashings around chimneys, flue pipes, vent caps and any other place where the roof and walls intersect. They can also look for overhanging tree branches that could damage the roof.

Check gutters and downspouts: Look for areas where fasteners may be loose or where the gutter has sagging. Clean leaves and debris so the system is ready for rains.

Check for signs of leaks around windows: Sometimes water starts to get into wall cavities through small openings around windows where the paint or caulking has cracked or worn. Mold can easily begin to grow inside the walls under such circumstances.

Consider having an inspection done of your plumbing system: Older galvanized pipes can begin to leak, waste lines under the house might start to corrode, or under-counter fittings may become loose and start dripping every time the sink is used. Many of these conditions will cost far more if not taken care of sooner rather than when a serious problem becomes apparent.

Have a termite inspection done: It is prudent to have a pest control inspector check every few years for dry-wood termites, subterranean termites or dry rot wood damage. Often an inexpensive treatment and minor repair, work can be done when such issues are discovered early in their development.

Fans and air conditioners: These systems should be periodically checked to be sure they are operating properly. Condensers should be examined to be sure there is no debris buildup or damage. The condensate lines and bypass lines should be checked to be clear of any blockages.

Furnace filters: These should usually be checked at least twice per year to be sure they are cleaned or replaced before they are choked with dust and other particles from the heating or cooling season.

Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: These alarms must have batteries checked twice per year. While checking them out—and replacing batteries as needed—the covers should be cleaned to assure maximum effectiveness if they are ever needed.

Check and adjust sprinklers: Run each set of in-ground sprinklers through a full cycle and watch where and how the water is hitting. Adjust or replace any sprinkler heads that are hitting the side of your house or getting into foundation vents.

Check your landscaping, fences and gates: Have your gardener or landscaper inspect and trim any damaged or cracked branches, and remove and dispose dead plant material. Check to see if fence posts are still firmly in place and that gates close and latch properly.

Consider having a professional inspection of your home: Many of the above issues—and far more—would be checked out by a general building inspector. The cost for this typically may be in the $750-$1,000 range, and we often recommend that our clients hire such professionals before we begin to market their homes. It could be useful for a homeowner to have such an inspection done every several years in addition to the general suggestions above on an annual basis.

Additional specialized inspections could be done: If your home is 50-plus years old and if there have not been any inspections in recent decades, you may benefit from investing around $250-$300 to have a visual scoping done of your sewer line and chimney. Discovering and repairing a broken sewer line or chimney can save far more money than the cost of repairs.

Edlen has been involved in 1,300-plus inspections of local homes and he is glad to recommend professional inspectors to help owners identify potential or actual problem areas. He may be reached at 310-230-7373 or through their new website,