April showers bring May flowers? April storms and downpours can wreak havoc with your home if you are not ready. In this article we will guide you step by step through the inspection process of your home’s exterior in preparation for the spring rains.
Grab a notepad, a small regular blade screwdriver and a pair of binoculars and let’s take a walk around the outside of your home.
To begin, If you feel comfortable climbing up on the roof you can do your inspection of the roof and the gutters at the same time, otherwise, walk out to a place where you can see one side of the roof. Using your binoculars scan the roof looking for missing or loose shingles, loose flashing around skylights and chimneys, etc. Write down your observations on your notepad along with the date. Continue around the house until you have covered all sides.
You will need your ladder to climb up to the gutter level, near the downspouts making sure the gutters are clear. You should take a hose up with you and run it into the downspout making sure the water flows out of the bottom of the downspout. If your downspouts are connected to an underground drainage pipe this may take a substantial amount of water. Continue around the house until you have inspected each downspout.
Starting at your front door, stand about 10′ from your house and begin slowly walking clockwise around your house looking at the frame of every window, and door, and every point where dissimilar materials come together, including the soffit and fascia. Make sure all the caulk joints are completely sealed. If you have wood window frames and you see paint peeling away from them take your screwdriver and push the blade into the wood. If it penetrates more than 1/16″ with medium pressure you have lost the battle. The wood has absorbed enough water and is beginning to decay and will not hold paint any longer. If you do apply paint the moisture in the wood will not allow the paint to bond and when the moisture leeches out it will push the paint off. Your only choice is to call a siding specialist and have the wood wrapped with aluminum to keep it from degrading any further.
Make sure you stop to look into every window well and remove everything that could potentially clog the drain at the bottom of the well. Make sure that the grate covering the drain pipe is intact. If you find one missing pull the garden hose over and run a lot of water through it to make sure it isn’t plugged. A sure way to tell if it is draining properly is, with the hose running into the window well drain pipe, walk down to the basement and look into the sump pump pit. There you should see the water running into the pit from one of the pipes which empty into the pit. If water is not running into the pit you have a blockage and sooner or later it will back up.
You will also want to look for ground that has settled over the winter and is sloped towards the house. You will need to step away from the house to do this. If you take a ruler or a short straight board and hold it out at arm’s length facing the house. Focusing on the ruler first to make sure you are holding it level. Now focus further away on the ground which you can see below the ruler. You will be able to easily tell which way the ground is sloping. You want a positive pitch away from the house, to insure proper drainage.
Make detailed notes of everything you see. When you do this walk around in the fall, look at your notes from the spring. This will help you to see problem areas that may require more attention. Each and every house is different so take your time walking around your home, Talk to your neighbors to see what problems they have and what remedies have worked and have not worked. Remember a few hours and a couple dollars spent on preventative maintenance now will save you thousands in repairs or lost value come resale time.