Living in the Pacific Northwest we obviously tend to have cold, soggy winters—like the one we just had. This type of weather can wreak havoc on your home’s exterior and interior for that matter. Now that Spring has arrived it’s the perfect opportunity for you to get outside and do a little sleuthing around your home.
Here are a few things you should consider looking into to help lessen the shock to your wallet come later in the year. Remember, don’t let the little things go as they can cost you the most in the end. As I always like to say, “Homeowners are never out of the woods when it comes to preventative home maintenance.”
Spring Home Maintenance Checklist Items
- Roof: This is a big one. Every roof is different. Whether you’ve got shake, tile, or composite it’s important to do a visual inspection of skylights, vents, flashing, and the roofing material itself. My man Bob Villa offers this great idea: “Binoculars are a wonderful aid to getting a closer look at the skin of the house, especially the roof. You’ll be able to see curled or discolored shingles and shingles that are losing their granular surface.” If heights aren’t your thing, call a qualified roof inspector.
- Gutters: Well, you’re already on the roof so why not check out those gutters while you’re up there. Get your gloves on and grab a small hand brush and get a sweeping. Make sure the gutters are clear of debris including leaves, stray roofing material, etc. Clearing your gutters will ensure your drain pipes don’t get clogged. If possible, run a hose up on the roof and shoot water down the drain pipes. A couple of years back my gutters started showing signs of rusting in the base of the gutter channel. My solution, use a Zinc-based rust inhibitor primer. By coating the interior of the gutters this protects the metal and prevents it from oxidizing. The zinc primer should last you 7+ years before you have to paint it again. Just remember to thoroughly hose out your gutters and allow to dry before applying the primer.
- Attic: Who doesn’t love crawling up into the attic? Better do it now before the summer heat sets in. Be sure to look at the insulation, making sure you have the appropriate depth needed to insulate your home. Additionally, you’ll want to look at the interior of your siding and roof paneling to ensure no water seepage is present.
- HVAC: As the most expensive system in your house you need to make sure your heater and air-conditioning system is clean and functioning properly. Hopefully you’ve been cleaning the filters regularly, every month is ideal. This helps with the intake of air as a clean filter puts less stress on your system and can help with the quality of air you and your family breathe. A good rule of thumb is to get your HVAC system serviced every Fall by a licensed HVAC professional. As for your AC unit most are located on the sides of our homes, some on the roof. Check for any damage to the coils and a new coat of rust proof paint might not hurt either. In the winter just be sure to cover the unit up and secure with a tarp when not in use as to protect against our cold and rainy winters.
- Refrigerator: You want an energy hog? You’ve got one (only if it’s not properly maintained). Okay, maybe newer refrigerators aren’t as guilty as older, and I mean much older refrigerators, either way it is best if you keep yours in peak operating condition. Check the door seals for to ensure they are air tight. Clean the coils regularly, this will help it run more efficiently. Oh, and if you’ve got an old regrigerator circa 1950-70’s out in the garage a.k.a. “the beer frig”, it might be time to retire that baby. Older refrigerators are notorious for sucking energy.
- Siding and Paint: This really depends on the type of siding you have as some are more susceptible to wear than others. Be sure to look for nail heads popping out, warped siding, cracked caulking, paint chipping, you get the idea. If you discover cracked caulking remove and replace with new caulking. If your siding is warped this is a good indicator that you have water damage. As for paint chipping, it might be time to finally splash on a new coat.
- Windows: You need them and man are they a pain to keep clean. Spring is a great time to grab a bucket and soap and get a scrubbing. While you’re at it check the locks, seals, and ensure they open and close properly. If you notice “fog” in your windows, you’ve got a broken seal. Not to worry, this can be repaired by a licensed window professional. If your window is cracked (like my 9 ft. tall bay window is…thank you very much), be sure to get a qualified inspector out to take a look at the cost of replacement and to ensure the window is safe.
- Hot Water Heater: Now this is one that not many people think of. You like to take hot showers right? Let’s keep it that way shall we. Be sure to drain your hot water heater at least once a year. This will help remove any sediment that has settled at the bottom of the tank and reduces the chance of overheating and causing damage to the interior glass lining. If you need guidance on how to drain and clean your tank, please consult the one true source of all information…YouTube. There are a ton of how-to videos to help you.
- Plant a Shade Tree: Spring is a great time to plant a tree (or any plant for that matter). But, how can planting a tree help save on your energy bill? Easy, you just need to know where to plant it. Start by determining which windows on your house receive a lot or constant sun throughout the day. Obviously the south/southwest side of your home will receive the most but you may have other spots too including the west and northwest sides. Planting a tree near a window will help eliminate the sunlight that hits the window thus heating up the inside of your home. Just remember, before you plant, make sure you know how large the tree will grow once it reaches maturity. If you’re not sure, talk to arborist before planting.
- Check your GFCIs: GFC…what? Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or commonly known as GFCI are electrical outlets that protect you and your family from harmful or sometimes deadly electrical shocks. You can identifty them as they have ‘Test’ and ‘Reset’ buttons on them and are typically located anywhere water and electricity can mix: kitchen, bathroom, garage or basement. Their purpose is to shut power down anytime a disturbance is detected. Learn how a GFCI works. As homes age, it’s a good idea to check and make sure these outlets are functioning correctly. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Comission recommends you test them monthly. While you can replace a GFCI yourself, it is highly recommended you hire a qualified electrician. Checking these regularly and replacing if need be can help protect your family and your wallet should an electrical appliance ever come into contact with water.
I hope this list has shed a little light on the topic that is spring home maintenance. In all honestly this list could go on forever however these are some of the more crucial items you should be looking at. Other items that didn’t make the list but may make yours are: faucets, basements, crawlspaces, doors, and fireplaces. Here are a few other Home Maintenance Tips For Spring from HGTV.
If you’ve got a great spring home maintenance tip please post it on our blog. We’d love to hear some tips from our members!
Posted by: Ryan Jones
About the author: Ryan has been with Unitus Community Credit Union since 2007. He started his credit union career in Sacramento, CA before finding his way to Oregon. He manages Unitus’ digital presence including social media. A native Californian, Ryan grew up in Monterey, CA. He and his wife moved to Oregon in 2006 and have two beautiful children and three furry house pets.