Updated: Feb 18
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"- Benjamin Franklin
Homeowners often neglect to implement simple and inexpensive home maintenance repairs or don't know what they should be inspecting for to keep their home in a healthy condition. We are all guilty of this, including myself. Annual maintenance can prevent water intrusion and or catch minor problems before they become serious issues. This can be done easily and inexpensively. Water intrusion promotes mold growth and annual maintenance can reduce water intrusion.
Here are 9 easy and inexpensive things you should be doing annually. You should think of this as an annual physical for your home and schedule your homes appointment with you around the beginning of spring. The goal of this annual inspection is to prevent problems or catch problems early and remedy those problems before they become something more serious.
1). Clean out those gutters: Clogged gutter can backfill under your drip edge and wick your roof decking and or cause overflow of the gutter system, pouring water directly unto your foundation. Inspect your gutter bi-annually- once in the spring and mid way through the fall. Gutter screens are inexpensive and easy to install yourself, simply tucks under the shingle and either snaps on to the lip of the gutter of is screwed onto the lip. Hell, even hiring handyman to install gutter screens is inexpensive and can provide you with years of unclogged gutters.
2). Keep shrubs, bushes, debris and landscape cut back at least 15" from your home: anything in direct contact with your home is a great way for water to wick your wood and finds its way into the homes structure (not to mention...PEST like termites). Keep everything cut back at least 15" away from your foundation and walls. Don't stack firewood, building material and debris against your home!
3). Inspect downspouts and downspout extensions: Make sure your downspouts are properly secured and have an extension that directs the water away from your home. Make sure they are at least 5'-6' and run down grade. If you don't have extensions, they are extremely inexpensive at your local hardware or home improvement store. Pick one up, cut one end at a 30-45 degree angle, push unto downspout elbow and put one screw on each side. Boom done!
4). Inspect and reseal caulking on the exterior of your home: Just as it says. Inspect the caulking around your home and re-caulk where necessary. Do not caulk over existing caulk, remove old caulking the best you can and reapply new caulking. Inspect all windows and doors, pipe intrusion (HVAC, water and electrical penetrations into the exterior of your home), check where stone veneer meets the siding and exhaust vents. Apply a silicon caulking for exteriors (cannot usually be painted) or an acrylic latex if you plan on painting it.
5). Inspect and replace weather stripping: inspect your doors, garage door and windows weather stripping and replace any deteriorated, insufficient or missing weather stripping. Make sure your doors and windows seal tight when closed. Weather stripping is inexpensive, easy to install and can be found at your local home improvement store.
6). Annual healthy home inspection or "water intrusion inspection" of your home: Annual healthy home inspections are inexpensive and range anywhere from $225.00-$450.00 depending on the size of your home. Hire a professional to do a annual moisture intrusion inspection or annual healthy home inspection. They will inspect the entire exterior envelope of your home and will identify intrusion points, damaged or missing elements, structural issues, grade issues and basic maintenance issues. They will document them for you and give you recommendations on how to fix or if need be, hire a professional to replace or repair.
7). Inspect your siding: This only takes 30-45 mins to do on an average sized homes. Inspect the exterior envelope of your home on a bi-monthly basis or after every major storm. Start at your front door and work counter clockwise around the house until you get back to the front door. This will help you identify miss pieces, broken pieces, missing flashing, punctures, rot/decay and missing soffit/fascia. If you find anything missing, broken, decayed or punctured they need to be addressed immediately. Almost every repair can be done yourself at very little cost, however, there are those hard to reach or "scary" parts that you might need to hire a handyman service to repair. Handyman services are far less expensive than a contractor and for these types of repairs a contractor is not needed.
8). Inspect your homes foundation: You are looking for cracks in the foundation. A good rule of thumb is vertical and diagonal cracks are pretty normal and hairline factures are nothing to worry about, but, horizontal cracks could be the signs of something more serious. If you see hairline cracks there's no need to worry. You should monitor those cracks to see if it expands. If it doesn't expand then you can simply apply a coat of paint compatible with masonry or concrete to seal it. If you see a vertical or diagonal crack larger that 1/8" but less than 1/2" then you can seal it with a concrete or masonry silicon caulking, which can be found at the local home improvement store. If you discover a horizontal crack or any crack 1/2" or larger, a bulge in the wall or bow in the wall than you should consult a professional.
9). Replace and paint exterior trim: Inspect your window trim, brick mold, corners and anything else that is painted on the exterior of your home. look for peeled or deteriorated paint and signs of decay. If you discover an issue, fix it immediately. Make sure you replace decayed wood not just paint or encapsulate it. If you just need to repaint then make sure you scrape away the old paint first and put a fresh coat of superior quality exterior paint or hire a professional to install aluminum flashing around the window trim or door brick mold. If you choose to repaint, don't go cheap on the paint, buy the good stuff! The cost is worth its duration.