Spring maintenance checklist: How to inspect your home for winter damage
When the last snow has fallen and temperatures finally hold above freezing, it’s a good idea to check your home for signs of damage from winter weather. The following inspection checklist is based on HomeAdvisor service requests that spike as the seasons turn. No matter how diligent you were getting your home ready at the start of winter, there’s a chance one or more of the projects will crop up on your springtime to-do list.
INSPECT THE DECK
Heavy snowfall can take a toll on a deck’s structure, making it vulnerable to collapse when you’re grilling for a crowd this summer. Walk the deck to check for soft spots, especially around the ledger board, where the deck connects to the house. Also, be on the lookout for popped fasteners, which will need to be screwed back in. And if the deck is covered in mildew, give it a thorough cleaning with a scrub brush or pressure washer.
Even with these maintenance measures, it’s possible your deck won’t be ready for another season. The North American Decking and Railing Association (NADRA) estimates that half of the 50 million decks in the United States are past their useful life. A full deck replacement costs just over $7,000 on average, according to HomeAdvisor’s Cost Guide.
LOOK FOR ROOF LEAKS
Winter freeze/thaw cycles make a home vulnerable to leaks once the spring rains start to fall. The roof is the most obvious failure point. If you have a shingle roof, check for missing shingles that were blown away by winter winds. Flashing around chimneys and pipes is also susceptible to stiff winds. Paying for professional roof repairs costs about $800 on average - nothing to sneeze at, sure, but much better than the $7,500 you’ll pay for a new roof, per HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide.
SPOT FROST-HEAVED DRIVEWAYS
Here’s another common fallout from freeze/thaw cycles. Water gets under paved surfaces on warmer winter days, then freezes when the mercury drops, leading to cracks, fissures, and worse. Fixing cracks and potholes in asphalt costs between $100 and $300, according to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide. Unfortunately, this is a short-term fix for a more serious issue, likely related to sub-base failure and poor drainage. Homeowners spend around $2,000 dealing with these root problems.
CHECK FOR BASEMENT FLOODING
Water trapped between frozen soil and basement walls can find its way into the basement itself. Establishing a foundation grade, with soil sloping away from the house, will direct rainwater out of harm’s way. It’s also important to inspect your home’s gutters, downspouts, and leader pipes to make sure they’re effectively directing water away from the house. Hiring a pro to repair gutter systems costs $330 on average, according to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide.
WATCH FOR LAWN PROBLEMS
If your region got hit with blizzards this winter, ugly gray circles on the lawn is a sign of snow mold. They happen when voles and other critters take advantage of snow-covered lawns to feed on grass blades and roots. A thorough spring cleaning should help address the eyesores. Start by dethatching the lawn, which will reverse the effects of snow mold. Then remove excessive vegetation near lawns to give voles less room to hide once the last snows have melted. Spring yard cleanup is a perfect DIY task, since it doesn’t require a lot of specialized tools, or you can hire a lawn service company for a few hundred dollars, per HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide.
Dan DiClerico is a reporter for HomeAdvisor, an online marketplace connecting homeowners with trusted service professionals to complete home projects. Visit HomeAdvisor.com
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