It was bound to happen… after weeks and weeks of writing about our seemingly never-ending winter, we’ve been thrust into summer-like temperatures (and even some heavy-duty humidity!) this week. Such is the life of the happy southern home-owner. And, while few of us are going to miss Winter 2014, it does give us a bit of home-maintenance whiplash to go from “let’s batten down the hatches as we prepare for freezing temperatures, ice and snow” to “how do we make sure our homes are ready for hot, hot weather and humidity?” As you might imagine, I have some ideas to help as you get ready to enjoy summer while protecting your home!
Let’s take a “top-down” approach to this warm-weather checklist. First, check your roof for loose, warped or missing shingles. Make sure that flashing around chimneys, skylights and overhangs are securely sealed. Constant contractions caused by freezing and thawing might have caused roof damage that you can’t see from below. If you’re not comfortable climbing around on your roof, contact your roofing professional and ask for a thorough inspection. There is usually no (or a minimal) charge for this and it is crucial to make repairs to your roof before heavy rains from summer storms cause interior leaks and water damage.
Similarly, clean your gutters of winter debris. Many folks think that a once-yearly, autumnal gutter cleaning is sufficient, but it’s not just fall leaves you need to remove. Twigs, branches and all kinds of natural blockages can find their way into our gutters during winter snow and wind storms. Animals love to use our gutters to stash their post-hibernation snacks. In addition, gutters and downspouts might have taken a hit from heavy ice and snow. Ensure they are still securely attached and connected to your home.
Inspect the exterior of your home thoroughly. Siding, concrete, even brick and mortar have been expanding and contracting throughout the previous season. Siding can come loose and must be repaired or replaced quickly. Cracks in mortar, your driveways, sidewalks and steps must be patched up before water and humidity can seep in and cause damage. Also, check that windows and doorframes are property sealed and watertight.
If you’ve been thinking of painting your home’s exterior, now is the time! A new coat of paint not only gives your home a boost of curb appeal, but a good, quality exterior paint will protect wood, trim and shutters from exposure to the elements. Heat and humidity can cause exposed wood to warp, buckle and crack, so an ounce of prevention in the form of a few coats of new paint is well worth your time, effort and money.
If you have exterior or underground drains (gardens, patios, garages, etc…), check them for blockages. Backups in your drains can cause nasty, costly flooding. Give your property a thorough-once over and make sure that the grading of your yard slopes away from your home’s foundation. It might seem excessive, but cold weather, compressing snow and a constantly freezing and thawing ground can cause your yard to actually change shape. Specifically, make sure that the ground around your foundation has not sunk or settled in a way that would allow summer storms to create a moat around your home.
Last, but not least, arrange for a detailed HVAC inspection. A qualified technician can service your units properly, give you a heads up on possible summer complications and make the best recommendations to ensure the interior of your home is nice and cool all summer long. Be sure to replace HVAC filters, too.
Most of this to-do list is “inspection” only, so it shouldn’t take long for you to climb up and around to make sure your home is ready for summer. If necessary, make a few phone calls to home maintenance professionals and then retire to your porch with a big glass of sweet tea, knowing you and your home are ready to greet summer with open arms!