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Spring Home Maintenance Guide for New England Homes

Outline Map New England

As New England transitions from the harsh winter to the refreshing spring, it's crucial for homeowners to prepare their homes for the season ahead. The unique climate of Springfield MA, with its harsh winters and variable spring weather, demands specific and careful attention to home maintenance. This detailed guide covers all you need to ensure your home is safe, efficient, and ready for spring.

1. Detailed Roof Inspection and Care:

Slate Roof and Chimney

Shingle Damage Assessment: Examine shingles for cracking, blistering, or missing pieces. Winter storms and heavy snow can cause significant damage. Assessing the extent of any identified damage is critical for preventing potential leaks and an increased risk of damaging building materials. Regular inspections, particularly after severe weather, can help in identifying and addressing problems early, ensuring the longevity and durability of your roof.

Chimney and Flashing Check: Inspect the chimney for mortar deterioration, cracked/damaged chimney masonry, crown/wash condition along with ensuring the flashing is securely attached and free of rust or damage. This check is vital to prevent water from seeping through vulnerable spots and causing interior and/or chimney damage. Regular maintenance of these areas helps in preserving the condition of the chimney and roof.

Gutter System Overhaul: The obvious of cleaning, checking for gutters sagging, verifying proper alignment, and ensuring gutter guards are intact and have not come loose if installed are essential that goes without saying. A well-maintained gutter system is important for directing water away from the foundation, preventing soil erosion around the property and deterring water from entering the building. Regular inspections and timely repairs can mitigate water damage risks and maintain the effectiveness of your home’s drainage system.

2. Exterior Siding and Masonry:

Brick Deterioration Siding

Siding Inspection: Look for warping, rotting, or insect damage in wood siding. For vinyl and other materials, check for cracks or loose pieces. Proper maintenance of siding is essential to protect your home from the elements and maintain its aesthetic appeal. Regularly inspecting and promptly addressing any signs of damage can prevent more extensive and costly repairs in the future, ensuring the longevity of your home's exterior.

Brickwork and Stonework: Examine masonry for deterioration/loose/separated mortar joints or loose bricks/stones, which can be exacerbated by freeze-thaw cycles. Regular inspections and timely repairs of these issues are crucial to maintain the structural stability and aesthetic value of your property. Address any issues you uncover, this can prevent water infiltration and possible damage, ensuring the longevity and safety of your masonry exterior.

3. Foundation and Basement Vigilance:

Foundation leak water on floor

Detailed Foundation Inspection: Look for new cracks or shifts in the foundation. Pay special attention to areas where snow and ice accumulated during the Winter months. Ensuring the integrity of the foundation is essential for the overall stability of your home. Regular monitoring, especially after extreme weather conditions, can help in early detection of potential issues, allowing for timely repairs to prevent extensive damage and costly repairs.

Basement Waterproofing: Check sump pumps, drainage systems, and always have a dehumidifier up and running to handle New England’s humid seasons. Sump pumps should be tested on a monthly basis to replace every 3-5 years even if they are operation. You don't get a second chance if your sump pump fails damaging basement areas if it is finished. Consider a dehumidifier that is sized appropriately to the square footage of the basement/crawlspace area(s). I am not a fan of getting one from Home Depot or Lowes. I recommend a commercial unit that will auto drain. Lots of people don't empty the bucket leaving standing water in the basement (kind of defeats the purpose, huh). Ensuring these systems are functioning properly is essential to prevent water accumulation and protect your basement from moisture-related issues. Regular maintenance and timely upgrades can safeguard your home from mold, mildew, and structural damage, providing a dry and healthy living environment.

4. HVAC System Tune-Up:

Gravity Furnace

Professional Inspection: A thorough inspection by a professional can identify issues that are not obvious to the untrained eye. Oil heating systems should be on a 1 year maintenance cycle and gas heating systems every 2 years. Relying on their expertise can provide peace of mind and ensure that potential problems are addressed before they escalate. This is good to do after the major heating season is over and before the colling season starts. Think about scheduling this in March/April. If the cooling system needs repair, you will thank yourself knowing that it will function as intended prior to the summer cooling needs. Regular check-ups by a qualified inspector can save time and money in the long run, safeguarding your property's value and your family's safety.

Vent Cleaning: Clean and inspect all vents, especially dryer vents, to prevent fire hazards and improve efficiency. Accumulated lint and debris can pose significant risks and hinder the performance of your appliances. I just scheduled my dryer duct cleaning as I tend to have this done yearly if i remember. It usually costs between $150-$250. Price is easily justified versus dealing with a fire. Regular cleaning and inspection of these systems are essential for ensuring safety, prolonging the lifespan of your appliances, and maintaining optimal energy consumption in your home.

5. Landscaping and Outdoor Spaces:

Overgrown Vegetation

Tree and Shrub Care: Prune dead branches to prevent damage from spring storms. Assess tree health to avoid potential hazards. Proper maintenance of trees and shrubs not only enhances your property's aesthetic appeal but also ensures safety by reducing the risk of falling limbs. A falling limb, especially on your roof or incoming electrical service line can be costly. Regular pruning and health assessments can protect your property and provide a healthy environment for your greenery to thrive.

Lawn Revitalization: Treat for pests, reseed sparse areas, and consider a soil test to tailor fertilization. A healthy lawn enhances your home's curb appeal and provides a safe, enjoyable space for outdoor activities. Addressing issues promptly and adapting your care based on the specific needs of your soil can lead to a lush, vibrant lawn. Regular attention and proper treatment are key to maintaining its beauty and health throughout the year.

Lawn Irrigation Maintenance: Inspect and clean sprinkler heads and adjust watering schedules according to seasonal needs. You can have your lawn company inspect sprinkler heads and system/zone operation, optimization and identify issues that arose over time. Regularly check for leaks or blockages in the system to ensure efficient water usage and coverage. Proper irrigation is crucial for maintaining a healthy, green lawn, especially during dry spells and to support fertilizing. A well-maintained irrigation system conserves water, saves money, and provides your lawn with the right amount of hydration to thrive in varying weather conditions. If you have an old sprinkler control panel, consider upgrading to a digital/smart unit that can be controlled by your phone and manage watering cycles by season and weather conditions. The first year I installed my unit, it saved so much water it paid for itself after one season!

6. Windows, Doors, and Skylights:

Leak and Draft Inspection: A homeowner can use a candle or incense stick to detect drafts around window and door frames. Identifying and sealing these leaks can significantly improve your home's energy efficiency and comfort. Exterior caulking/sealing around window frames should be revisited every 3-5 years and reapplied as these areas tend to degrade over time. This simple, yet effective inspection can help reduce heating and cooling costs, prevent moisture damage, and maintain a consistent indoor temperature throughout the seasons.

Screen Repair: Check and repair any tears in screens to keep insects out as the weather warms. Ensuring that your window and door screens are in good condition is crucial for maintaining indoor comfort, allowing fresh air in while keeping pests at bay. This is usually the time that storm windows are put away for the season and screens are installed. If you identify a broken storm window that occurred over the Winter, consider replacing the glass now rather than waiting for the Winter. Timely repair or replacement of damaged screens can enhance your home's functionality and livability, especially during the warmer months when insects are most active.

7. Interior Check-Up:

Attic Trusses

Attic Inspection: Take a look in your attic to check for signs of leaks, condensation, or animal intrusion. A thorough examination of your attic space is crucial for detecting early signs of moisture damage or pest issues. Keeping this area dry and secure prevents mold growth and ensuring that insulation remains effective. Regular attic inspections can save you from costly repairs and maintain the overall health of your living space.

Safety Devices: Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and consider upgrading to smart detectors for enhanced safety. Ensuring that these devices are functioning correctly is crucial for the safety and well-being of your household. Smart detectors offer additional features such as remote monitoring and alerts, further enhancing the security of your home.

8. Plumbing and Water Systems:

Plumbing Leak

Pipe Inspection: Regularly look for signs of leaks, corrosion, or damage, especially in areas prone to freezing for example (hose bibs and crawlspaces). Ensuring that your pipes are in good condition can prevent water damage and costly repairs. Proper insulation of vulnerable pipes can also safeguard against freezing and bursting during cold spells.

Water Heater Maintenance: Periodically flush the water heater to remove sediment that can hinder efficiency and shorten its lifespan. Checking the pressure relief valve is also crucial to ensure its operating correctly, preventing potential overpressure issues. Don't test this valve but look for corrosion at the end of the pipe for evidence of past leaking or current leaking. Look for tank leaks in general, around the bottom, seams or at the pipe connections. If leaking is observed, have a licensed plumbing contractor evaluate and replace if necessary. These maintenance steps can extend the life of your water heater, improve energy efficiency, provide consistent hot water supply, and prevent unintended consequences if the water heater fails.

9. Pest and Rodent Prevention:

Interior and Exterior Inspection: Regularly examine your home for potential entry points and signs of infestation, focusing on vulnerable areas such as basements, attics, and garages. Look for cracks, holes, and gaps in the structure where pests could enter. Monitoring for signs like droppings, nesting materials, or damage to wood and insulation can help in early detection of issues.

Professional Consultation: For comprehensive protection, consider scheduling a seasonal inspection with a pest control professional. Their expertise can identify not just the obvious issues but also hidden problems, providing tailored solutions to safeguard your home. Professional advice and treatment can be especially beneficial in preventing infestations, ensuring your living space remains healthy and pest-free.

10. Personal Safety and Emergency Preparedness:

Black Cute Cat

Review and Update Emergency Plans: Regularly review and, if necessary, update your family's emergency plans. Make sure every member knows the procedures and safe spots in case of a fire or severe weather, like thunderstorms or tornadoes. Conducting drills and discussing scenarios can help ensure that everyone is prepared and knows how to respond swiftly and safely. Don't forget your furry friends! Family members are irreplaceable, this does not take much effort and can save a life.

Check and Restock Emergency Supplies: Go through your emergency kit periodically and replace outdated or used items. Ensure you have fresh batteries, functional flashlights, chargers for electronics, a first aid kit, non-perishable food, water, and necessary medications. Additionally, having a weather radio in good working condition is crucial to receive timely alerts and information during severe weather conditions. Maintaining a well-stocked and updated emergency kit can significantly increase your family's safety and comfort during unexpected situations.

Wrapping Up:

This guide offers practical spring maintenance tips for Springfield, MA homeowners to tackle the unique challenges of the local climate. By being proactive, you can protect your investment, improve safety, and enjoy spring in New England worry-free. For professional assistance or specific concerns, we can help at Cosmic Property Inspections, LLC. We offer home maintenance inspections, including roof and chimney inspections using our drone, as well as answering any questions you may have.

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