With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. Now that the threat of winter storms has passed, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. We spoke with an expert to get helpful tips on what to watch for this season, from proper irrigation to mosquitoes and termites (oh my!).
1. Clean gutters and downspouts. After the last frost has passed, it’s important to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned and repaired. ‘Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause the wood trim at the eaves to rot, and that can invite all kinds of critters into your attic space,’ says Victor Sedinger, certified home inspector and owner of House Exam Inspection and Consulting.
Having your gutters and downspouts cleaned early in the season can also help prevent damage from spring rains. ‘Gutters and downspouts should be clean and running free,’ Sedinger says. ‘If your downspouts are installed properly, water is diverted away from the house so that no water collects around your foundation.’
2. Reseal exterior woodwork. Wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures will last longer and stay in better condition if they’re stained or resealed every year or two. Take this opportunity to make any needed repairs to woodwork as well.
3. Check for signs of termites. Beginning in March and going through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. ‘Termites swarm in the spring,’ Sedinger says. ‘If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites. Call a licensed professional pest control company. You’ll save money and trouble in the long run.’
4. Inspect roof. Winter storms can take quite a toll on the roof. When spring arrives, start by making a simple visual inspection of your roof. ‘It doesn’t require a ladder, and you certainly don’t have to get on a roof to look,’ Sedinger says. ‘Use binoculars or a camera or smartphone with a telephoto feature if you need to.’ Look for missing shingles, metal pipes that are damaged or missing or anything that simply doesn’t look right. If you notice anything that needs closer inspection or repair, call a roofer.
5. Paint exterior. If you’re planning to repaint your home’s exterior this year, spring is a good time to set it up. Want to paint but can’t decide on a color? Explore your town and snap pictures of house colors you like, browse photos on Houzz or work with a color consultant to get that just-right hue.
6. Inspect driveways and paths. Freezing and thawing is rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscaping materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, and schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.
7. Check sprinkler and irrigation systems. Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water – and save your plants. Sedinger shares these tips for checking your watering system:
- Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property.
- Make sure none of the heads are broken or damaged.
- Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems.
- Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water.
- If you don’t know how to maintain your sprinkler system, call a professional to do it. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.
8. Prevent mosquitoes. In recent years, we’ve become more aware of the potential danger mosquitos can pose to our health. ‘West Nile virus and Zika virus are just the latest diseases caused by these winged pests,’ Sedinger says. The best way to prevent mosquitos around your home is simply by getting rid of any standing water. ‘Walk around your property [and peek at your neighbors]. If you see anything or any area where water stands, fix it, tip it, get rid of it or maintain it regularly,’ Sedinger says.
9. Check screen doors and windows. Screens are designed to let the breeze flow in and keep bugs out – but they can only do their job if they’re free from holes and tears. Before setting up your screens for the warm months ahead, be sure to carefully check each one and repair any holes or tears, no matter how small. You can find screen repair kits at most hardware and home improvement stores.
10. Schedule air-conditioning service. ‘Home inspectors see a lot of air-conditioning systems that are just not taken care of,’ Sedinger says. ‘Just because it gets cool doesn’t mean it’s working efficiently.’ To get the longest life out of your cooling system and keep it running as efficiently as possible, change the filters at least once each season, and hire a licensed professional to service the equipment before the start of summer.