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With the arrival of winter and spring just around the corner, now is the time to start looking into a home maintenance plan.  These maintenance plans are a great idea for any home owner, from somebody who just doesn’t have the time to clean & replace filters, to the home owner that doesn’t have the capability to hop up on the roof to clean the gutters and make repairs.  These maintenance plans are a low cost preventative to expensive repairs in the future.

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While a home owner can take care of most of these items, it’s always nice to leave it to a trusted professional.  Below are several examples of the routine maintenance.

 

Exterior Walls

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Whether you have wood siding, stucco or brick, look for damaged areas, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts.  Water stains normally indicate that your gutters are not adequately containing roof runoff.  With wood, check for any damaged areas or openings that clear the way for carpenter ants, woodpeckers and other critters.

 

Seal holes where insects and varmints can get in, that includes openings around the foundation, especially entry points for wires and pipes.  To prevent insects from getting into your house, you should keep moisture away from the foundation and eliminate sources of standing water, according to the National Pest Management Association. Termites cause $5 billion in property damage every year in the U.S., according to the NPMA. These destructive insects need moisture to survive, which is why the NPMA advises fixing leaking faucets, pipes and air conditioning units; repairing fascia, soffits and rotted shingles; trimming tree branches away from the house and replacing weather stripping around windows and loose mortar around basement foundations.

 

Chimney

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Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage.  Have any bricks fallen out, or is vegetation growing?  Both can be evidence of water infiltration.  Efflorescence, a white calcium-like deposit, is another sign of trouble.  You should also have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

 

Foundation

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When inspecting poured-concrete foundations, keep your eyes peeled for cracks. If cracks in the foundation exist, routine caulking won’t do the job. You’ll want to hire a foundation specialist, who can employ a two-part epoxy injection system that will bond those cracks chemically.

 

Windows

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Leakage around windows will admit warm summer air and let cooled indoor air escape, so be sure to check that any caulking and weather stripping you have in place has remained intact.  If you experienced condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-glazed windows during the winter months, that could mean the weather seal has been compromised, in which case either the glass or the window will need to be replaced.  Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks.  Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.

 

Gutters

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Make sure they don’t have holes and all the downspouts are still attached and taking water away from the house. “Gutters are one of the most valuable and affordable methods for homeowners to protect their homes from the elements,” says Allison Hester, editor of eClean Magazine, an online trade publication for the home cleaner industry. “By channeling water off the roof and directing it to a location away from the home, properly working gutters help protect the home’s shingles, wood under the eaves, siding, flooring and landscaping from a whole host of problems and expensive repairs.” Clogged gutters can also cause mosquito infestations, mold and mildew from decomposed leaves and other problems.

 

Attend to Leaks

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Spring is a good time to check for leaky faucets, clogged drains and sweaty pipes.  Check under kitchen and bathroom sinks to make sure connections on pipes and hoses are secure and sealed.  Look for water stains around the dishwasher and check washer machine hoses for cracks, bulges or dampness.

 

Air Conditioning

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Just as you readied your furnace for fall, spring is the time to make sure that air conditioning units are in good working order for the warmer summer months.  Change the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely.

 

Attics

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Search for signs that insects and critters have colonized. Also, search aggressively for mold, which often takes the form of gray or black blotches.  Proper insulation and good ventilation will deter mold growth in the attic, so take action now to prevent the problem from developing in the warmer months ahead.

 

Basements

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Dampness in a basement suggests higher-than-normal relative humidity, inadequate ventilation and the need for a dehumidifier.  Check the base of poured-concrete walls for cracks and evidence of water penetration.  Use a flashlight to examine exposed framing.  If you see what looks like tunneling on the wood, call your trusted contractor.

 

Decks and Patios

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Look for warped, loose or splintered boards, and do a good sweep to remove any leaves and debris that might have accumulated between boards.  If the finish on your wood deck is faded or worn, now is the time to clean, stain, and reseal it.  If you have composite decking, follow manufacturer’s recommendations on seasonal care.

 

Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

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There should be at least one of each detector on every level of your house, and they should be working. Be sure to replace batteries, if necessary.

 

Clean your refrigerator coils and dryer vent

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The Electrical Safety Foundation International notes that these chores not only improve the efficiency of the appliances, but also guard against electrical hazards.

 

After a long, dark winter, nobody wants to be stuck doing chores.  A maintenance plan with a trusted contractor will allow you time to go outside and play in the sunshine!

 

BY: Ryan Faborito

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