A house is a building. We transform that building into our home by choosing the color of its walls, decorating it, filling it with furniture, by living in it. We love, give birth, and die in our homes. On our journey of life we celebrate and mourn and dance and dream in them.
That building is a kind of living thing itself. Analogous to our own bodies that building must breath, circulate liquids, be cleaned, be warmed and cooled, and be groomed to sustain us and our families, friends and pets, and to maintain its value once we are ready to move on to another home.
The journey itself is home.
This column will be about how to nurture and sustain the building that resides at the center of all of this life.
Here are some simple actions to take to maintain your home as spring arrives.
Check your roof for any damage that winter may have caused. Freezing and thawing, hail, tree limbs falling, and wind can all damage your roof in winter. Give your roof a visual inspection from the ground, with binoculars if necessary. Repairing minor dings might be something you can do yourself – if you are comfortable and capable on a ladder – or have a roofing professional have a look if you see anything that concerns you. Things to look for are: missing shingles, obvious holes, and areas where the shingles are warped or cupping. Also look for areas where moss and lichen may be growing. This is a good time to have that cleaned off and any trees that overhang the roof trimmed back so they don’t drop debris on the roof and cause more of that growth. If you are doing the cleaning yourself do it gently so as not to remove the granular particles on the shingles. That will just speed up the aging of the roof surface.
While you are at it clean and repair the gutters. Water that that overflows the gutter rather than flows through it can seep behind the siding and cause rot or make its way into the basement. Make sure that the downspouts have extenders that lead water well away from the foundation. If your house has a French drain makes sure it is flowing and unobstructed where it discharges.
Check your windows and doors for any aging or missing caulk and any areas around the frames where the paint is peeling. Catching those conditions early and re-caulking or scraping and painting will prevent further damage and is much easier when it is at the just a touch up phase instead of a larger whole house needs it state.
Trim any shrubbery back from the house, making sure there is at least six inches of clearance between vegetation and the siding of your home. Be sure to remove any vines that are growing up the side of your house; on the exterior the vines can damage the siding and serve as a pathway for insects which can do their own damage. Underground the roots of the vines can make their way through the structure right into your basement or crawlspace. This leaves a route for both insects and water where you do not want them. Recently I was inspecting a home and found vine roots inside the electrical panel – obviously not good!
On the other hand spring is a good time to think about new plantings and where a well placed shade tree or two might create relief and reduce cooling costs. Trees that shade the house from the morning or afternoon direct sun can result in real savings overtime by reducing the temperature inside the house a couple of degrees during the hottest months – particularly if they diffuse light that pours in through windows. Trees that serve as a barrier to prevailing winds in the winter can save money on heating in the winter as well.
Inside your house this is a good time to clean out your dryer vent, a clogged vent is a fire hazard and contributes to dust and allergen accumulation. Change your HVAC filters (which you should be doing every three months if needed, especially if your heating and central air system uses the same air handlers) and if you haven’t done it already schedule a visit with your HVAC company for cleaning and maintenance of the mechanicals.
Last, but not least, be sure to take time to just relax and enjoy the comfort of your home!
Keep your eye on this space for information and tips! Questions? You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.