Clean GuttersWhat? Again? Yup, consider this the early-spring edition of a twice-yearly (at least) outdoor maintenance task (a big reason folks love single-story houses). Look in gutter bottoms for loose granules that signal your asphalt roof may need replacing (see Roof Inspection, below).
Got gunk in the downspout gooseneck? Ream it out with a garden hose. Take off any nozzle and have a helper turn on the water when you’re ready. Shove the hose into the downspout to power out of gooseneck bends. Make sure your downspouts channel water at least five feet from foundation walls.
Inspect Your Roof If you’re cool with heights, do an inspection from a securely set ladder. If not, use a pair of binoculars. You’re looking for: curled and missing shingles, rusted and pitted flashing, and cracked caulk around pipe collars, skylights and other roof penetrations.
If your roof is relatively flat and you’re confident about working on a roof, do the repairs yourself. Steep roofs require safety equipment, such as a harness. If you’re unsure, opt for safety first and call in a pro. Expect to pay a licensed roofing contractor $100 to $200 for minor repairs; $300 to $500 to replace flashing and boots.
Repair PaintKeep painted surfaces in good repair by scraping off any chipped and peeling paint and spot painting exposed surfaces. “The worst thing you can do is leave wood exposed, because that’s when it will begin to rot,” says Brian Gummel, president of The Painting Company in Edgewater, Md.
Pressure wash your home's exterior and look for any chips in the paint. Exposed wood can rot, so give worn areas a new coat.
Trim Overgrowth Spring is a good time to trim branches of shrubs and trees away from your house —get an early start before leaves grow and while you can see individual limbs. Keep branches 5 to 7 feet away from your house so they can’t conduct moisture onto your roofing and siding. You’ll also help discourage squirrels and raccoons from exploring ways to nest in your attic.
Always use clean landscaping trimmers and cutters to prevent the spread of plant diseases. Clean off blades with a little bleach on a rag, and dry the cutting surfaces thoroughly. Keep tools sharp to prevent tearing bark.
Ensure Good DrainageGood drainage is the soul of a happy house. To keep your hacienda smiling (and help put the kibosh on mold, mildew, termites and basement leaks), check to make sure the soil slopes away from foundation walls at least six vertical inches over 10 feet. That’ll move rain and snowmelt far enough away to prevent problems.
Check Foundation VentsA house with a crawl space has vents along the foundation walls. The vents provide air circulation that helps dissipate excess moisture and prevent mold growth. The vents have screens that keep critters from taking up residence under your residence. The screens usually are recessed and become catch-alls for leaves, twigs and assorted debris.
Spring is a great time to clean out foundation vents and check screens for damage. Clean the vents by hand or a shop vacuum. Repair any damaged screens knowing that a rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, and mice can get inside a hole barely bigger than the diameter of a pencil!