Spring is a great season for renewal in your home. It is a time to clean out after a long winter and get your house and yard ready for warmer months ahead. Regular home maintenance is necessary to avoid major unexpected costs. Maintenance left undone can be a major detriment to a homes value in the future and creates a lot of red flags in a potential Home Inspection.
Below you'll find tips and tricks that are useful and relevant to the season ahead!
Tree's and Landscaping
When we drive through older neighbourhoods, one of the biggest pleasures is looking at all the mature trees and landscaping while we imagine how nice it would be to drive home everyday under the canopy of majestic trees. Trees and landscaping are beautiful but can have a significant impact on our houses and condos and require regular maintenance. Here are some concerns we as Home Inspectors help our clients understand.
Large shade trees are wonderful for helping our homes stay cool in the summer while still allowing the sun's rays to help heat our home in the winter. If you are buying a house with large trees nearby, every fall you need to clean the leaves out of the gutters. Failure to do this can cause concentrated water in winter rains and snows to run off in unexpected places and possibly enter your home or basement. During a home inspection, we check to see if the gutters are free of debris and advise our clients if maintenance is needed. If you are not comfortable with cleaning your own gutters, there are many products you can add to your gutters to help keep leaves out.
Falling or waving branches can physically damage our homes and overhead electrical wires. Wind driven rains, particularly on the West Coast, can then drive water into damaged areas creating more damage. Tree branches contacting buildings also provide a path for unwanted critters to access our roof where they may find access to warm attic spaces. During home inspections, we recommend trimming tree branches back from buildings to avoid damage.
Tree root networks can be as expansive as the branch networks above. Roots can visually affect things near the surface like walkways and driveways, but they can also do costly hidden damage to water pipes, gas lines, and foundation drainage. In worst cases, roots can crack and shift foundation walls causing thousands of dollars in damage. Unfortunately, underground damage from trees cannot be seen a home inspection but if you have trees branches that reach your home, you risk having tree roots there as well.
Smaller Bushes and Vegetation
Smaller bushes and shrubs need to be trimmed back from our home’s siding materials to encourage proper drying, prevent mechanical damage, and to help prevent critter access. Vines can be particularly bad as they inhibit drying of surface materials, and can cause damage where vine's creepers grab the building. We always recommend removal of wall climbing vines in home inspections.
Smaller bushes and flowering plants have a tendency to overgrow their space much sooner than larger trees. Don’t be afraid to remove and replace these regularly. Not only will you help prevent damage to your home, but you will have a fresh look to your landscaping every few years.
Garden Beds, Grading, and Lawns
Soil is an excellent conductor of moisture and should never be in contact with the siding of our homes. Even if you have non-organic siding like vinyl, stucco, or brick, you need to keep soil off the siding as wicking water will get into plywood sheeting behind the surface or can cause freeze/thaw cracking in the materials. Garden beds and lawns always need to be 6-8” below the level of siding against our homes to prevent water from wicking or splashing up in rains. During home inspections, if we cannot see 6-8” of concrete foundation visible from grade level we alert our clients of the possibility of hidden damage.
Your lawn and property needs to be sloped to direct water away from buildings or towards appropriate drainage. Water that is allowed to flow towards buildings will enter in foundation cracks or potentially cause foundation shifting. During home inspections, we will report on grading that runs towards the building and advise improvements.
Good landscaping is an important part of the curb appeal of your home but like many other systems of your home, it has a regular maintenance schedule that you need to keep up with or you can run into large costs in the future. If you are looking to buy a new home, a professional home inspector will help you to know what maintenance is required now and what to watch for as you own your home into the future.
Spring is a great season for renewal in your home. It is a time to clean out after a long winter and get your house and yard ready for warmer months ahead. Regular home maintenance is necessary to avoid major unexpected costs. Maintenance left undone can be a major detriment to a homes value in the future and creates a lot of red flags in a home inspection.
This maintenance list is not exhaustive or tailored to your home but is a good place to help you get started on maintaining your home:
- A Special note about Strata’s
- If you are in a strata, many common exterior maintenance items are covered by your strata fees. We have highlighted common items covered by strata management with a “✪”
- Make sure your window screens are properly mounted and free of holes
- Turn back on any outside hose bibs/taps that may have been winterized
- Prepare your central A/C for the season (remove covers, activate power)
- Disconnect your humidifier (especially important if you have central A/C as it may cause your A/C to ice up)
- Clean out your wood burning appliances and fireplaces. Now would be a good time to have the chimney cleaned out too.
- When heating season is over, turn off your furnace and fireplace pilot lights where and when possible
- Repair any exterior areas where water may have lowered the grade level next to your home and check your visible foundation for any new cracks ✪
- Repair and fill any damage to the exterior of your home to prevent pests from entering ✪
- Repair and paint any trim, fencing, facia that may be in need of service ✪
- Put some lubrication on door hinges and garage door moving parts
- Apply spring fertilizers to the grass ✪ and get the patio furniture out of storage
- Test the pressure relief valve on the hot water tank to ensure correct operation
- Flush out your hot water tank to remove sediment
- While you were at all this organizing, perhaps it is time to clean behind the fridge and the stove, and …
These areas of your home should be checked as frequently as possible regardless of the season.
- Ensure you have fire extinguishers charged and in proximity to the kitchen
- Regularly check stair handrails and all guardrails to ensure they are secure and can hold an adult’s bodyweight in a fall
- Test your smoke detectors and replace batteries as needed
- Test your ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI)’s on your breaker panel or at each outlet to ensure they trip correctly when the test button is pressed.
- Ensure all your home’s air intakes and exhausts (e.g. dryer vents, furnace air intakes) are not blocked ✪
- Check and clean the filters in your range hood and ensure the vents are not blocked
- Replace your furnace filter every 6-8 weeks during heating season and during cooling season if you have central A/C or a heat pump
- For hot water or steam heating systems, check your expansion tank to ensure it has not become water logged
- During or after any prolonged rain period, check to ensure drains and weather seals are keeping or draining water as needed to protect your home ✪
- Monitor caulking in kitchen and baths and maintain as needed
If you have any concerns about maintaining your home for spring, consider calling in your local home inspector to help you learn about your home and regular maintenance.