As mother nature replaces cold and snow with wet spring weather, it’s time to step out of hibernation. Like every season, spring poses a unique set of challenges to both the exterior and interior of your home. We have the tips you need for when you inspect your home to ensure your roof, windows, and foundation keep you comfortable and dry as you anticipate the warmer days ahead.
Stay on top of roof and gutter maintenance.
When it comes to preparing your property for the spring thaw and subsequent precipitation, your roof works hard to keep your home secure and dry, so roof maintenance should be a priority. When you inspect your home, ensure your roof is ready to handle the thaw with these inspection and maintenance steps.
- Watch out for excessive snow accumulation. A well-maintained roof and eavestrough system can typically withstand an average amount of snow melting off your roof. However, large amounts of snowfall, particularly on flat rooftops, can increase the chances of a collapse. If you’re concerned about the accumulation of snow and ice on your roof, it’s safest to call a professional to clean your roof without damaging it.
- A poorly insulated attic can cause ice dams. Before the final spring thaw, check for patches of melted snow on your roof that aren’t near any vents. Uneven melt is a sign that your roof may be in jeopardy of ice damage which occurs when an improperly insulated attic causes snow to melt on one part of your roof and refreeze in another location.
- Check your roof for damage that will leave it vulnerable to spring leaks, including damaged and missing shingles, weatherstripping and caulking, as well as the flashing that surrounds the perimeter of chimneys, vents, skylights and valleys of your roof.
- Care for your gutters. If icicles have been hanging from your roof this winter, it’s a sign that your home’s gutters are clogged. Clean out your eavestroughs to keep melting snow and rain flowing off your roof and away from walls and foundation. Clogged eavestroughs can also lead to water accumulating under your shingles, which can cause significant roof damage.
- Perform ongoing eavestroughs maintenance. Plant growth (i.e. messy debris falling from trees) and animal activity increase as the weather warms; you’ll want to check your eavestroughs and ventilation stacks regularly for blockages throughout the season.
- Inspect the condition of ventilation stacks. Ventilation stacks remove excess moisture away from your attic, so it’s important that they function properly to keep your attic mould and water-damage free.
- Look for leaks in your attic. To ensure water hasn’t already found its way under your roof’s shingles and into your home, check your attic for holes letting in daylight and, most likely, water as well—signs of leakage in your attic range from obvious drips and puddles to damp support beams and mould.
Performing a complete and safe roof inspection can be a demanding task. Hiring a licensed inspector to inspect your home can help you identify any issues so you can schedule repairs before spring showers make winter damage worse.
Prepare your windows for spring weather.
Your windows are another part of your home that need special attention as you tackle spring weatherproofing. Washing and repainting your window fixtures are a staple of spring cleaning that help them function at their best. As you complete this maintenance task, here are some steps you can take to prepare your windows to handle the spring thaw with ease.
- Remove snow from surrounding your basement windows and vents. Installing basement window covers can also help keep moisture away from one of the most vulnerable entrances to your basement.
- Inspect window screens for damage and repair or replace them to keep the elements, insects and other creatures out of your home.
- Inspect the weather stripping where the bottom of your window sash meets the window sill for damage. The stripping that faces the outside of your window is most likely to need replacement as it’s the most exposed to the elements.
- Inspect the interior and exterior of your windows for sealant cracks or holes and repair with silicone caulking. Be careful to leave the weep holes uncovered so they can adequately drain water. Pay special attention to the condition of the caulking around your basement windows as well.
Protect your foundation.
Unfortunately, your home’s foundation isn’t completely waterproof. Improper drainage, excess precipitation, and structural weaknesses can lead to significant water damage that could be more expensive to fix than a damaged roof. Fortunately, visually inspecting your foundation to decide when to bring in a professional doesn’t require a ladder or assessment from a distance. You can take some simple steps to make sure your foundation is in good shape this season.
Your home’s grading is a crucial line of defence against foundation water damage. Check that the ground surrounding your foundation is at least eight centimetres higher than the earth that’s two meters away from your home. This five-degree slope helps keep water flowing away from your walls and basement. Even before you start measuring, if you spot pools of water gathering at the base of your home, a grading problem may be the cause, but other environmental and structural issues could also be the culprit. Here’s what you can do to keep your foundation strong, and your basement dry this spring:
- Shovel snow away from your home. Do your best to keep snow away from your home’s perimeter as melting snow can seep into your foundational walls’ porous concrete.
- Maintain clear drainage channels. Keep an eye on how water flows away from your home and into storm drains. Remove any blockages, including unmelted snow and ice if necessary.
- Check on your downspouts’ performance. Your eavestroughs need to divert all the water running off your roof somewhere. Make sure your downspouts aren’t pouring water directly onto your foundation. It’s considered a best practice to extend your downspouts so they can carry water at least six feet away from your home.
- Install a backwater valve to keep your basement dry. It’s crucial to take measures to protect your foundation from the possibility of flooding during a spring storm. A backflow prevention valve will help keep sewer backup from infiltrating your basement.
- Consider a sump pump. Having a sump pump installed in your basement with a backup battery is another excellent way to stave off flooding during a heavy storm.
Finally, look out for cracks in your cement, cinder blocks and brickwork when you inspect your home. Sizeable cracks in your home’s cement or brickwork make your house particularly vulnerable to the elements. Tiny cement cracks are a normal part of the curing process. However, fractures large enough to fit a dime and cracking that runs like a staircase between bricks should be inspected by a professional.
A specialist can also check for signs of horizontal cracks in the below-grade foundation and broken foundational footing, which can be indicated by vertical cracks running along adjacent walls. If you’re unsure about a small crack in your foundation or an interior wall in your basement, mark it with tape and monitor it for growth over several months. Small cracks that aren’t expanding can often be fixed with DIY foundation repair products.
Whether you prefer to inspect your home and complete maintenance projects yourself, call for professional assistance, or have a housemate complete them while you work on the spring cleaning—protecting your home from rain and storms is an essential part of maintenance as the weather becomes warmer and wetter. A comprehensive home insurance policy, including overland flood insurance, is an additional way to protect your home from the thaw and extreme weather this spring.
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