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Spring Time Home Checklist

How homeowners can catch early signs of deterioration

Ward W. Melville    |    Insurance

When spring arrives after a long winter, most people are ready to get outside and enjoy warm weather activities. But before heading outdoors, homeowners should consider spending a few hours to inspect their homes for early signs of deterioration or weather damage. Taking the time to perform simple home maintenance after a long winter could help homeowners avoid big repair bills later!

Begin in the basement and or crawlspace…

On or after a rainy day, exterior foundation walls and floors should be thoroughly inspected to look for early warning signs of deterioration, loose mortar, moisture or leakage. Whether concrete or a block wall, it’s important to check the foundation for areas that appear to bow inward. If the walls are smooth, one way to check for this is to run a taut string line from corner to corner. If the bow is greater than a quarter of an inch, a foundation specialist should be hired to mitigate the problem. A few minutes spent inside the basement or crawlspace with the lights off looking for hints of daylight, could be a good indication of where pests may be invading. For concrete slabs, homeowners should look for missing or deteriorating drain covers and identify areas which appear to be heaving upward. And let’s not forget the water heater which should be securely strapped according to code, inspected for signs of corrosion or leaks and flushed out per the manufacturer's instructions.

Also on a wet day, homeowners should head to the attic and look for evidence of water penetration such as ceilings with brown circle marks. A general contractor or roofing contractor should have this issue resolved as soon as possible since water penetration not only causes damage to the inside of a home, it can also create mold which is detrimental to a family’s health.

It’s time to head outside…

Drastic weather can cause serious damage to any roof. Those homeowners with safe access to their roofs should check for loose, damaged, or missing shingles. If the home has a flat roof, it should be inspected for signs of open seams, blisters, debris, standing water or bald areas. For any type of roof, a licensed professional should be contacted if repairs are needed or the homeowner is in doubt or has no safe roof access.

Now on to the landscaping. Overgrown vegetation around structures and fences should be trimmed back and grading checked for proper pitch away from structures. Windows, doors and any wood structures like decks and patios should be given the once over looking for warped boards, chipping paint, and lose or elevated nails. All railings should be safe and properly secured.

While nothing may seem out of the ordinary in a home inspection, taking notes and photos of all findings is a good way for homeowners to monitor and prioritize items  that may need future repairs.

Basement / Crawlspace

  • Foundation walls and floors:
    • Bowing
    • Deterioration and loose mortar
    • Diagonal and horizontal cracking of concrete and masonry block walls
    • During wet weather and look for moisture or leakage
    • Chipping paint (Interior/Exterior)
    • Wall penetration for pest invasion
  • Foundation Floors:
    • Heaving
    • Missing or deteriorating floor drain covers
  • Venting:
    • Foundation vents blocked or missing (Interior/Exterior)
    • Dryer vents clear, blocked or missing cover plate outside
  • Plumbing:
    • Water heater - Flush per manufacturer's instructions
    • Water heater - Leaking and corrosion
    • Water heater - strapping is secure per code and manufactured specifications
    • Missing or damaged insulation around piping
    • Water main shutoff freely moves and/or leakage

Exterior

  • Chimney:
    • Loose, deteriorated brick
    • Missing mortar
    • Flashings around all roof penetrations and sidewalls
  • Roof:
    • Missing, lose or damaged shingles
    • Flat roofs with open seams, blisters, debris, standing water or bald areas
    • Evidence of water penetration in attic and ceilings after wet weather
    • Antenna, satellite dish, electrical supports and flashings for leak sources
    • Fascia and soffits for deterioration and damage
    • Gutters and downspouts are free of debris
  • Landscaping:
    • Vegetation trimmed around structures and fences
    • Proper grade pitched away from structures
    • Lawn sprinkler system adjusted properly, leaky valves, missing heads
    • Well water tested by a certified lab for safety
  • Decks and Attached Structures:
    • Loose/elevated nails
    • Chipping paint
    • Warping of boards
    • Railings properly secure
  • Windows and Doors:
    • Flaking/chipping paint
    • Deterioration of brick molding
    • Proper operation or hardware

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