Homeowner Orientation: Your Spring Maintenance Guide

Spring is an important time for home maintenance. Your new home has just endured the cold of winter and now needs to be prepared for warmer temperatures and increased humidity.

Our Spring Maintenance Guide includes a breakdown of items for inspection inside and outside your home so that you can be sure it is always running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. 

Home Interior

Adjust the thermostat.

Spring months mean warmer, rainy days and the occasional return of a winter chill. Prepare for changing temperatures by using a programmable thermostat or by adjusting your thermostat throughout the day. In order to reduce the cost of your energy bill, try to find a happy medium between temperature and comfort. You’ll want to keep your thermostat as low as you can, reducing it further at night. A dirty thermostat can increase your energy bill as much as 7%, so it’s important to regularly clean your thermostat by removing the cover and using compressed air to dust between contact points. Fortunately, if you have a smart thermostat, it does not need to be cleaned.

Clean or replace furnace filter, humidifier and heat recovery ventilator (HRV).

Furnace filter: A clogged furnace filter will impact airflow throughout the house; be sure to replace it every three months.

Humidifier: Ensure the equipment is off before servicing (consult your user manual). Remove the cover plate on the front of the unit, then detach the filter. Gently clean so as not to remove the protective coating that helps retain moisture, then reinstall.

HRV: Ensure the equipment is off before servicing (consult your user manual). Gently clean and dry the HRV filter before reinstalling. A light vacuuming of the HRV unit may be required, as some dust and debris from the exterior can make its way in.

Check air ducts, and remove covers and vacuum dust from vents.

It’s crucial to have your air ducts cleaned if they’re visibly contaminated with mold, pests or vermin, or are clogged with a significant amount of dust and debris. To lightly clean your vents, turn power off to your heating and air conditioning system, unscrew the vent, and vacuum to remove dust or dirt.

Maintain HVAC systems. 

If your home has central heat and air, schedule an appointment with your HVAC technician bi-annually to inspect, clean and service all systems. Ideally, you should have the heating system checked in the fall, and the air conditioning checked in the spring. An HVAC technician will be able to spot any potential problems before they cause potential damage to your system, saving you from costly repairs or high utility bills. The HVAC technician should also check the ductwork for any signs of damage, and clean and service the furnace and A/C compressor.

Check the sump pump (if installed) for discharge, and clean.

Your sump pump is the heart of your basement’s waterproofing system. It removes excess below-grade water away from your home’s foundation. Since spring comes with rain, you’ll want to ensure it’s draining properly. To check for discharge and clean, locate the pit inside the house. Open the pit and use a shop vacuum (or a machine that can tolerate water) to remove any build-up of stone or sediment, which can clog the pump over time. Once the pit is cleaned, pour a bucket of water in to ensure that the pump is operational, then close and seal the lid. If you’re uncomfortable with cleaning the sump pump pit, consult a professional plumbing service for maintenance.

Check and reset the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

GFCI outlets help prevent electrical shock, as they’re specially designed to cut power from the outlet when an imbalance or power surge flows through them. To test, locate the two rectangular buttons between the cord slots. Press the test button with your finger; you will hear a snap that trips the outlet and cuts off the power to the two plug connections. Once you’ve confirmed that the safety function is working properly, press the reset button to restore power to the outlet.

Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they’re working correctly. A good time to do this is during the transition to Daylight Saving Time. Your home has a dual-function smoke alarm (hard-wired with battery backup) that should be replaced only when the unit’s lifespan has been exhausted, approximately every 10 years. Be sure to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when necessary.

Check your fire extinguishers.

Check your fire extinguishers to ensure there are no leaks and that the pin is in place.

Check your plumbing. 

Inspect the caulking in your sinks, shower, and bathtubs for deterioration, and replace them if necessary. Check your ceilings for water stains or mold, which could indicate water damage. Look under your sinks to make sure there are no signs of leakage. Check your faucets for any dripping and ensure the flapper in your toilet tank is not worn out. A worn-out flapper makes your toilet run more frequently. Address any issues that you come across, and consider hiring a plumber or mold removal expert if required.

Inspect basement or crawl spaces for moisture.

The use of a dehumidifier and air conditioning unit greatly help to reduce moisture levels in the home. Cold cellar vents should not be obstructed or blocked to allow airflow.

Check the water heater for leaks.

For gas heaters, if rust is present without signs of a leak, condensation may be forming inside the tank. Call Enercare for any servicing matters.

Inspect the attic.

A well-maintained attic can reduce heating and cooling costs and extend the life of your roof. Because most energy loss in the home happens through the attic, it needs to be properly insulated. Check for moisture stains and mold on the walls, ceilings, or wood surfaces and smell for mildew. Make sure the insulation is not damp, contaminated, or compressed. If you find signs of water damage, schedule an inspection with a professional to help protect your home against mold and structural damage and to improve air quality.

Give your home a thorough spring clean.

Dust and allergens build up over the winter, so come springtime, make sure to do a thorough cleaning of your home to ensure proper air quality. 

Here’s a checklist to get you started:

-Wash the floors and vacuum carpets

-Dust blinds and wash curtains

-Dust and clean light fixtures and lamp shades, and replace burnt-out light bulbs

-Wash baseboards, ceilings, windows, window sills, doors, and walls

-Transition your wardrobe from winter to spring; store away your winter gear including coats, gloves, boots, and warm clothes

-Wash the garage and organize items

-Clean and organize living spaces

Home Exterior

Remove snow and ice from overhang and vents.

Ice dams form when the snow melts, runs down your roof, and refreezes near the edge. To prevent injury, consult with a professional to clean snow and ice from your home’s overhang and vents.

Check eavestroughs and downspouts.

During the winter, gutters and downspouts often fill with ice, grime, and sediment; this can potentially damage eavestroughs. Clogged gutters can cause your roof to leak or water to infiltrate your house. Check them in the spring for leaks and pooling, and to ensure that no sections are only loosely attached to the roof. Remove debris and use a hose to flush out eavestroughs. Using a hose will prove if all downspouts and their extensions are functioning correctly (if the extensions are weak, water will soak into the ground right at the foundation, and lead to a damp basement).

Check the roof for damage or leaks.

Examine your roof’s shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during the winter. Shingles that are cracked, buckled, loose, or missing granules need to be replaced. Inspect the roof’s surface, flashing, and soffits. Consider installing de-icing cables to prevent ice dam formation. Repair any weak areas.

Inspect the chimney for signs of wear.

If you have a fireplace and chimney, it will need maintenance. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, inspect the chimney annually and clean it. A chimney removes dangerous gasses from your fireplace or furnace from your home, which helps to keep the air breathable. To clean your chimney, first, clear out and seal the fireplace, then climb to the roof and remove the rain cap. Use a wire brush with an attached extension or use the dual-line method to clean the chimney flue from top to bottom. When finished, reattach the rain cap and then remove any dust or debris from the fireplace. If you’re uncomfortable with heights or climbing onto your roof, call a professional chimney sweep company to do the job.

Check your siding for structural cracks or water pooling.

Inspect the façade and foundation of your home for any structural damage, such as paint chipping, holes in the brick, or water pooling. Take a close look around your home, and make repairs as needed. Inspect exterior caulking and weather stripping around windows, doors and mechanicals, and fill cracks and edges. Also, consider painting the exterior of your home. Paint protects your shingles from water damage and rotting. If you plan to hire a professional, schedule the job in the spring so that it gets done by the end of the summer.

Inspect your windows and doors screens.

Clean your door and window screens and repaint door sills, window sills and thresholds if needed. Repair or replace any damaged window screens to prevent bugs from making their way into your home.

Wash the exterior of your house.

Over the winter, the exterior of your home can get dirty. With time, any grit stuck to the façade can damage the masonry and paint. The spring is a good time to give your house a thorough wash. On a warm and dry day, close all the doors and windows, and cover hedges with plastic sheeting. Avoid using a power washer, as it could damage the siding or stonework. Instead, use an ordinary garden hose with a siding cleaning kit and wash the exterior of your house. Spot-clean difficult areas, and be sure to use detergent sparingly as it may be harmful to plants.

Your Property

Turn on the exterior water supply, which was previously shut off.

Before the first frost, you should have winterized your exterior water hose bibs. Remove the insulation from outdoor faucets and check sprinkler heads. Turn your exterior hose bibs back on, checking for any damage that may have occurred over the winter months.

Take care of your lawn, plan lawn care services (as needed), and store your snow blower.

For a verdant lawn, fertilize the grass in early spring and re-sow to replace dead patches. Remember that freshly-laid sod needs to be soaked with water to ensure the roots catch; this should be done daily until the roots successfully take (this can be checked by gently trying to lift a small section). Routine lawn-cutting should also be practiced; the spring is a good time to sharpen your lawnmower blade and to change its engine oil and spark plug. If you’re planning to hire lawn care services, renew your annual contract. If you have a snow blower, early spring is the time to store it. Drain the fuel or add a stabilizer, and check and clean the motor.

Start working on your garden.

Rake any leaves that survived the winter and lay down mulch in your flower beds and underneath hedges. A thin layer of mulch will help to control the spread of weeds and prevent your plants from drying out. Plant your perennials and give them plenty of water. Later in the spring, when the grass turns green, fertilize your lawn.

Clear any dead plants or shrubs from the house. 

If you didn’t trim the trees or shrubs in the fall, do so now. Plants can find their way into cracks and holes on the exterior of your home, which can cause damage over time. Pay special attention to any vines on the exterior of your home, and be weary of weeds that pop up in the cracks of laneways and driveways. If your property has any trees, inspect them for any signs of illness or dead branches. Ensure that they don’t interfere with any electrical lines, and have them professionally trimmed if needed.

Inspect your driveway for cracks.

Snow, salt, and motor oil can all contribute to driveway damage. Fill any cracks you come across, and remove stains caused by motor oil or radiator fluids. Use kitty litter to absorb fresh oil stains followed by dishwashing detergent and warm water.

Inspect your deck or patio for damage.

Sweep your deck and inspect it for signs of cracked wood or loose nails. Make any necessary repairs. Remove leaves or debris and clean your deck thoroughly. Wet the deck with a garden hose, apply a cleaning agent, scrub it with a broom, and then rinse. Treat a wooden deck with borax to protect the wood from rotting. After the wood dries out over a couple of days, stain and seal it. If your deck is painted, consider applying a fresh coat of paint. Set up any patio furniture.

Following a seasonal maintenance schedule diligently will keep your home in the best possible condition so that you and your family can get the most enjoyment from it. To ensure you never miss home maintenance tips and tricks from us, follow us at @cachetcommunities on Instagram.

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