Spring Thaw Maintenance Top 5

Can you feel it?  That’s right, that slight anxious feeling when we see the mercury rise ABOVE freezing!  We’re all itching for spring!

However, with the warmer temperatures and eventual  thaw (I promise, it will eventually); there are things to be done.  Time to start on the dreaded Spring Cleaning.  Here at HIP, we’re kicking things off with a Spring Thaw Checklist.  Don’t let those home inspection and maintenance tasks get you down. Here are the top 5 items to help you target the areas that need your attention first and out enjoying the warmer weather when it finally arrives.

  1. Caulking
    • Inspect and refresh any caulking around windows and doors.  Start by brushing along the area where the window meets the wall to remove any dust or debris that will hinder your visual inspection. Examine the entire caulked area and look for cracks or caulk that has pulled away from the surface of the wall or the window frame.  While looking for worn caulk, push gently with an unsharpened pencil or wooden dowel and note if the caulk returns to its original shape after the pencil or dowel is removed. The dowel is used to check that the caulking still has its elasticity. Elasticity is the ability of the caulk to stretch and not break the seal from around the window. If excessive cracking is observed or the caulk has lost its elasticity, the window will need to be re-caulked.
    • If the caulking needs to be replaced, the old caulking will need to be removed first. Even though it may seem appealing to simply apply new caulk over the worn caulking, don’t do it because it will be impossible to ensure a proper seal.
      To remove the caulking from around the window you will need to have a utility knife, a putty knife or a painter’s 5-in-1 tool.  On painted wooden framed windows, lightly score the line between the paint and the caulk to eliminate paint damage while removing the caulk. Slide the putty knife into the caulking, tilt the putty knife so the blade is at an angle and pull the putty knife along the caulked seam. When the caulking gives way and you can grab it with your fingers, pull gently on the caulk. The majority of the caulking will pull easily away from the window frame. If the piece breaks off, re-insert the putty knife and restart the process.  Any caulking that remains after the initial removal can be scraped away with either the putty knife or the utility knife. 
    • To reapply window caulking, the first step is to make a 45-degree cut across the nozzle of the caulking tube. The hollow nozzle has a taper that is smaller at the top and grows larger as it reaches the caulk tube. Make the cut so that the hollow opening matches the size of the caulk bead required to fill the gap around the window. Start by cutting up high and make additional cuts until the nozzle hole diameter is the appropriate size. Then place the caulking tube into a caulking gun.  Gently squeeze the handle of the caulking gun, while the nozzle is pointed at the gap, about 1/8th inch away from the window gap. Next, drag the caulk gun along the entire length of the seam. After all seams have been caulked, use a wet finger or a Popsicle stick to smooth out and finish the caulk.
    • And Hey, while you’re already working with the caulk gun, why not inspect the bathroom areas as well.  Note this may require a different type or style of caulk.
  2. Furnace/Humidifier
    • Furnace Filters were originally designed to remove airborne particulate and dust that could harm your furnace’s internal components.  Today, consumers can choose from filters of many materials designed to improve air quality and even the scent!  Furnace filters should be examined monthly and replaced immediately as necessary. 
    • Be sure to buy the proper type and size filter for your home and furnace.  Periodic maintenance and occasionally installing a new furnace filter will keep your home’s heating system working at its best and enhancing indoor air quality.
  3. Gutters
    • Depending on the surroundings of your home, gutters should be cleaned twice each year.  Keeping gutters clear of debris will help to ensure that water does pour into or down areas you don’t want it.
    • The easiest way to clean gutters is to have someone do it professionally!  This generally costs around $100.  If you’re a do it yourself sort of person, you can save yourself some money. 
    • Start by removing debris from the gutters.  This can be done by hand or using a garden hose and spray nozzle or a leaf blower.  Be sure to use protective gear when using these methods. 
    • Lastly, inspect the downspouts to be sure they are free of anything that will block the flow of water. 
    • Gutter guards do not always prevent debris from entering the gutters or downspouts.  When purchasing, be sure they are removable for necessary cleaning.
  4. Roof
    • Roof repairs can be quite costly.  A quick but thorough look around your roof can help you catch would be problems before they cause significant damage.   Inspect your roof for missing, damaged or loose shingles.  Curling, Cracks or Tears, even loss of Texture are all signs of wear.
    • Carefully examine areas of flashing such as a chimney to be sure all pieces are properly connected and complete.
    • Examine Gutters, vents and overhangs.  Looking for rotted areas or signs of open joints.
    • Note any areas of the roof that may appear to be sagging or growing moss.
  5. Attic
    • Your attic might be one of the places within your home that you never visit.  However, it can be the one place that easily tells you the condition of your roof.
      1. Now that you’ve inspected the roof thoroughly, take a look at it from the inside.  Again, look closely around areas of chimney, skylights, or valleys. 
      2. From the attic, look for any evidence of leaks.  Dark stains can indicate areas where water has been leaking.  Assess any dark areas.  Dry, firm wood indicates an old leak that may have been repaired or remedied.  Damp, wet or soft wood, may have already begun rotting.  Assess again during heavy rain.
      3. Check for sagging areas between rafters as well as the rafters themselves for sagging or cracking.

As always, when in doubt, it’s best to contact a professional.  Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make and one that you’ll use every day.  Best to keep it in tip-top shape and be sure to give it the attention and maintenance it needs.