Say goodbye to winter and hello to spring as those temperatures continue to climb higher and higher. While for many the tell-tale signs of spring around the corner is a cause for celebration, when it comes to your home these warmer temperatures aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be. Winter’s harsh conditions can take a toll on your house meaning that spring showers can be potentially catastrophic if you’re not properly prepared.
In order to avoid hefty repair fees, here are six things you should do around the house to get ready for spring.
1. Examine Roof Shingles
Depending on where you live, snow, ice and constant temperature fluctuations can take a toll on your shingles. If they aren’t treated, the heat of the summer sun will only make conditions worse. Cracked or raised shingles can lead to leaks in the roof, especially around skylights and chimneys.
A way to avoid these problems is to inspect your shingles in early spring. It’s a lot easier than you think, as you don’t need to climb up on the roof and inspect each shingle individually. All you need to do is use your sharp eyesight or a pair of binoculars and give your roof a once-over.
It’s important to look for shingles that have shifted or moved along with any that have begun to raise from warping or a loose nail. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to talk to your local roofer and arrange an inspection.
2. Inspect gutters and eavestroughs
Fall and winter weather can wreak havoc on your gutter and eavestroughs systems. Yaron Sombul, president of Tip Top Eaves, says that damages are significantly reduced the more often the system is inspected. Sometimes a fix is as easy as a quick cleaning or re-caulking job. However, problems, if left unattended for prolonged periods, could result in more costly repairs.
“Often times during the winter season ice can build up in the gutters causing the nails to loosen and the gutters to become bent out of shape,” says Sombul. “Not only is this a problem for the gutters but it can lead to water leakage, which can potentially damage the home.”
According to Sombul, one of the best times to do an inspection is during heavy rain, which is typically in no shortage during the spring season. If the water is flowing properly through the system then all the water should run away from the home and there should be no water runoff from the roof.
A thorough inspection should include looking at the gutters and seeing if any look bent out of shape or loose. Sombul also recommends paying close attention to your downspout. A damaged downspout can lead to poor drainage and water damage to the foundation of your home. Sombul suggests making sure the gutters are clear and that the downspout has not expanded over the course of the winter.
3. Service the AC unit/HVAC system
Photo: Open Grid Scheduler/Flickr
It’s a good idea to have your HVAC system serviced at least once a year and a good time to do that is in the spring following harsh winter weather. Frequent servicing will ensure your system is working at peak energy efficiency and will be functioning properly to cool you down during the hot winter months. Also, a serviced unit will have a longer lifespan, saving you the time and money on replacing it.
Depending on where your HVAC system is placed, it can accumulate dust, dirt and animal fur in coils and filters. This buildup could cause a five per cent loss in efficiency each year if it isn’t serviced and cleaned. Replacement and repairs of a HVAC system could cost thousands of dollars but many companies often offer discounts for yearly servicing and can be as low as $50.
So, even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong with your system, it’s a good idea to get a check up to save you money in the long run.
4. Check for faucet and piping leaks
Photo: Thirteen of Clubs/Flickr
Cold weather can cause major damage to pipes and drains around the house. Water can freeze in the pipes and cause cracks and leaks that could lead to more serious problems. In the spring, it’s recommended you take a trip around the house and check all plumbing.
It’s a good idea to first take a look at any exposed piping. Are there any cracks? Are there damp spots around the pipes? If so, it’s important to call a professional.
The next step is to check toilets, showers, faucets and any other area that deals with running water. If there is no visible trace of a leak the next step is to listen for any sound of running water. Not only is this important to prevent damaging leaks, but a leaking toilet could put a major dent in your water bill.
The final step is to check the water meter. Turn off the meter and write down the reading. Then wait 15 minutes and make sure that faucets and appliances aren’t running during this process. Any significant changes during the 15 minutes could mean there’s a major leak that needs to be taken care of.
5. Inspect caulking on windows and door seals
Harsh winter winds and the constant flux in temperatures can crack the seals and caulking around your windows. When spring rolls around, it’s important to do a thorough check around every door and window to avoid future repairs.
Service Manager Rob Kennedy from Muskoka Windows and Doors suggests opening and closing windows and doors multiple times to see whether they are still operating properly. Kennedy then recommends examining the hardware, cleaning the dust and grime off the hinges, checking for loose screws and looking around the sashes and glass for any mildew stains.
The next step is to inspect screens for any tears or holes then check for any caulking that has shrunk, cracked or pulled away from framing.
“Caulking is critical to preventing water from entering your home,” says Kennedy.
Finally, inspect weather stripping and doors closely as it’s common for doors and windows to get stuck in the stripping in the winter causing tears or alignment issues.
Not only is a thorough inspection important to ensure there are no leaks, but a properly functioning window and door system means less energy loss and a lower energy bill. If there are cracks in the window and door casing then your HVAC/air conditioning system will have to work harder to keep the house at a proper temperature.
6. Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
While it may not be something you think about often, the US Fire Administration recommends changing smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm batteries twice a year. A good way to remember this is by doing it once in the spring when the clocks spring forward and again in the fall when the clocks fall back.
The National Fire Protection Association said that between 2009 and 2013, 46 percent of fires in which the smoke alarm was present but did not operate was because of battery issues. And, carbon monoxide is considered a silent killer and cannot be detected any other way other than an alarm.
In order to keep your household safe, change those batteries during your spring cleaning.