Home Maintenance To-Do Twice A Year | Part One

Last month we covered how important it is to keep up with home maintenance.  We focused on what type of maintenance to do every month.  Here at Vertical | Design + Build we understand how important your home is to you.  That is why we want to provide you with some resources that will help you properly care for your home.  Now, we would like to share some home maintenance tips that you can look forward to doing twice a year. This time we will be discussing how you can inspect your home with a strong focus on the exterior.

Exterior Home Maintenance Tips

Roof – For roofs, visually inspect all surfaces from the ground or a ladder.  Inspect your roof for any broken or missing tiles or shingles.  Do not walk on the roof as it is dangerous and could cause damage.  Identify anything that might cause leaks or other problems. 

  • Look for any torn, broken, missing, or cracked shingles or tiles, accumulated debris, gaps in flashing, exposed joints and obstructed vent pipes. 
  • Avoid walking on roof tiles – they will crack.
  • Shingle granule deposits found in gutters are normal and common to new roofs.
  • Check to see that sealed joints around skylight frames are not cracked and are in good condition.  
  • In your attic, look for water stains on the underside of the roof and any wet insulation.  Be safe, many attics do not have floors.  If you step on the insulation or the ceiling, you may get seriously injured.  
  • Consult a qualified roofing contractor, as necessary, for any roofing issues that need to be addressed.
  • After a storm like snow, ice, high winds, and heavy rains.  Check for water stains under the overhang and in the attic.  If there is any damage, call the company you have your homeowners insurance with.

Chimney – If you have a chimney, look for any open gaps between the house and chimney, cracks in mortar or stucco, and any minor settlement.

  • Seal gaps with an appropriate caulk and repaint to match as required.
  • If needed, consult with a mason to repoint or repair mortar and stucco. 
  • Never burn pressure-treated wood, Christmas trees, plastic, or flammable liquids in the fireplace.
  • Keep the flue closed when not in use to reduce cooling and heating losses.
  • Clean chimney flue once a year. 
  • When you clean out the ashes – store them in a metal container to reduce the risk of fire.
  • As colder weather starts to return be sure to do the following steps before starting your first fire of the year in your fireplace. 
  1. Check to see if any of the “fire clay” (mortar) has fallen out.
  2. Ensure the damper works properly and closes tightly.
  3. Check the flue with a flashlight for soot build-up. For heavy soot deposits, consult with a professional chimney cleaner.

Gutters & Downspouts – Leaves and debris can accumulate with every changing season.  You can hire a gutter cleaning service or DIY it.  

  • Be sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris.  If you choose to do it yourself, carefully climb up to the gutter and scoop out any debris you may find with a small hand shovel.  
  • Also, check to see if your downspouts are clear.  Sometimes clearing these with a water hose makes things a little easier.  You may need to disassemble the downspout to clear it properly. 
  • After cleaning, consider installing a downspout filter device to keep out debris. 
  • Make sure gutters are sloped to drain toward downspouts and that water drains a minimum of five feet away from the foundation as it discharges from downspouts. 
  • When on the ground, inspect the gutters from underneath and look for leaks, rust spots, or holes. Caulk as necessary.

Exterior – Inspect the outside of your home. Over time, normal weathering and minor settlement can cause cracking, peeling, warping, and crumbling in some or all of these materials. 

  • Assess the condition of the siding, paint, masonry, stucco, or Exterior Insulated Finish System (EIFS) and wood trim. Check for warped siding, gaps in wood trim, and peeling or blistering paint.  Look for cracks in brick, stone, and stucco. Contact a qualified contractor familiar with the manufacturer’s specifications of repair for homes clad with an Exterior Insulated Finish System (EIFS). If needed, consult with a siding contractor, to repair warped siding.
  • Identify any areas where mortar has fallen out.  A white powdery substance known as efflorescence may appear from time to time and it is considered to be normal. Consult with a mason, as necessary, to repair cracked brick or mortar and traditional stucco problems.
  • Sand, scrape, wire-brush, caulk, stain, repaint, and apply wood preservatives where necessary. 

Doors & Windows – Your doors and windows must be in proper working order for security and weather resistance.

  • Walk around the house and inspect each caulking joint at your window and door frames – between two different siding materials (like brick or stucco) or around piping that enters the home.  
  • The original caulking will shrink and crack over time due to normal weathering. Confirm that caulked joints are still properly sealed and haven’t cracked, pulled apart, or fallen out. If necessary, clean the old joint out with warm soapy water and a toothbrush and reapply the same caulking material to achieve a proper seal. You can consult with your local hardware store to select the right type.
  • Clean the tracks of the windows and sliding glass doors before applying silicone lubricant.

We hope that you find this information helpful.  Next month we invite you to take a look at maintenance tips for your home’s interior that should be done twice a year.