It’s all starting to come out of hibernation–plants, flowers, lawns, and even your home. Winter plays havoc on houses, and spring should be a time to toss on some shorts and take a walk around your house to get that spring chore list in order. Here are few additional areas to pay attention to:
Remember that ice dam on the roof last winter? Remember how hot your attic was when you went up there to check the antenna wire last summer? Proper attic ventilation can help with both those problems, and spring–while it’s not too hot or too cold–is an ideal time to take care of any necessary work.
Attic ventilation should equal approximately 1 square foot of vent area for every 300 square feet of attic, so first figure out roughly how many square feet your attic is, and then divide by 300. The total vent area should be roughly split between high and low vents, so now divide that number by two.
Take some measurements to see if you have an adequate amount of vent area in both the eaves and high on the roof, and add more as needed. Also, check the condition of existing vents to see that the screen is intact, flashings are secure and well sealed, and there are no other problems that need correcting.
Permanent, in-ground sprinklers are great, as long as they’re properly adjusted. Run each set of sprinklers through a cycle, and watch how and where the water is hitting. Adjust or replace any sprinklers that are hitting your siding, washing out loose soil areas, spraying over foundation vents, or in any other way wetting areas on and around your house that shouldn’t be getting wet.
Soil is also susceptible to being washed away or redistributed by heavy winter rains and melting snow. Now is the time to check and see if the grade around the outside of your home has been moved around by winter’s fury, which can result in runoff getting into your basement or crawlspace, or running into neighbor’s yards where it shouldn’t go.
Look for areas where soil seems too high or too low in relation to your home, as well as for marks on your siding, foundation, walkways, and other areas that might indicate if soil or water is in a place it shouldn’t be. A 4-foot builder’s level placed on a long, straight board can help you check grade and slope–redistribute soil so that for every foot horizontally you have at least 1/4 inch of fall away from the house.
CHECK YOUR HOUSE NUMBERS
Can someone find your house easily, especially in the dark? Spring is a great time to check that your house numbers are clearly visible from the street, that they are painted a contrasting color from whatever surface they are mounted on, that they are somehow hit by exterior lighting at night, and that they are not obscured by overgrown foliage.
FENCES AND GATES
Fence posts are especially susceptible to ground water saturation, and will loosen up and tilt if the soil around them gets soaked too deeply. Check fence posts in various areas by wiggling them to see how solidly embedded they are. If any are loose, wait until the surrounding soil has dried out from winter’s rains, then excavate around the bottom of the posts and pour additional concrete to stabilize them.
As always when it’s time to change the clocks, you want to check your smoke detectors. Replace the batteries, clean the covers, and test the detector’s operation before it’s too late. If you have gas-fired appliances in the house, including a water heater, now is also a great time to consider adding a carbon monoxide detector, which are inexpensive and easy to install, and are available at most home centers and other retailers of electrical parts and supplies.
Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.