We’ve weathered another winter and spring is now here. Baseball has returned, leaves and blossoms are popping, and it’s time to get out and see what winter did to your home. This article should help provide tips for needed maintenance around the home this time of the year:
1. Have your air conditioning system professionally serviced to make sure it is ready for summer. Air filters should be replaced every 30 days (fiberglass type), about every 90 days (paper pleated type), or yearly (large media type). I recommend, at least, the 90 day pleated air filter. A dirty air filter puts extra wear on your air conditioning system. Ensure there is at least 24" of clearance on all sides of your exterior compressor unit. Vegetation, stored items, etc. limit air flow that the A/C system needs to work properly. A/C systems should only be run when the exterior temperature is at least 60°F.
2. Perform a general exterior inspection of your roof, grading, gutters/downspouts, trim, siding, etc. Winter can do interesting things to your home and its best to find and fix anything that may increase the chances of leakage or other damage before it can happen. Make sure your roof covering, roof flashing, stack vent boots, ridge venting, and trim are in good condition. Damage to any of these items can spell a leak. Check for rotted wood around door and window trim. If uncomfortable on a ladder, call a professional. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear and discharge at least 4' from the foundation of your home, porch, or deck.
3. Wait until the threat of freezing weather has passed before you turn on your exterior hose bibs or connect your hoses.|
4. Ensure that your home has sufficient insulation in the basement, crawl space, and/or attic. Access panels to unfinished attics should also be insulated since these locations are a common cause of heat gain or heat loss. Attic access panels or doors are almost never insulated; most homes can use more attic insulation to help lower utility costs and increase interior comfort. The current insulation standard for attics in our area is R-38 (minimum). This corresponds to 11" of cellulose, 13" of fiberglass batt insulation, or 14" of blown-in fiberglass. Thickening your attic insulation makes it more difficult for heat from living space to penetrate into your attic (winter) or for attic heat from finding its way into your home's living space (summer). Adding more insulation will pay for itself if done properly.
5. Ensure that your sump pump is working properly. During spring and summer, prolonged rains or heavy thunderstorms are not uncommon. You want to be sure that your sump pump can do its job. If your sump pit has no pump installed but does have water accumulation, have a proper sump pump installed with a check valve and ensure that its drain discharges outside at least 4’ from the foundation. You may even consider a battery backup for this system in case thunderstorms knock out your power. This is especially important in finished basements. Keep in mind that some areas have ordinances or codes that forbid discharging sump pumps into the public sewer. Sump pumps should only be drained to grade in your yard.
Doing these sort of proactive measures in the spring will allow you to enjoy more time outside relaxing and less time working.
As part of a home inspection, the home inspector should provide some guidance as to the basics of home maintenance. Personally, I provide maintenance recommendations in my reports so that my clients have an idea some of the things they should go on a regular basis to help minimize future maintenance and help lower their utility costs.
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© 2018 Matthew Steger
Matthew Steger, owner/inspector of WIN Home Inspection, is a Certified Level 1 Infrared Thermographer, an ASHI Certified Inspector (ACI), an electrical engineer, and a US Dept. of Energy Home Energy Score Assessor. He can be reached at: 717-361-9467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WIN Home Inspection has provided a wide array of home inspection services in the Lancaster, PA area since 2002. This article was authored by Matthew Steger, ACI - owner of WIN Home Inspection in Lancaster, PA. No article, or portion thereof, may be reproduced or copied without prior written consent of Matthew Steger.