• Team Bibeau’s Guide to

    Spring Maintenance!

    Every now and then we take our cars in for oil changes, have the tires rotated, the brakes checked or maybe a general tune-up. Our homes are machines too, shelter machines. They deserve and will benefit from periodic service as much as our hard-working cars. Our shelter machine is more complex than most of us realize. We tend to look at homes from a viewpoint of aesthetic or social considerations. Beneath the painted and ornamented surface, are hard working systems willing to work for years, harnessed and regimented, without complaint? But there always comes a day where these loyal friends need help. Let’s see how we can look into their needs now, and on a semi- annual basis, so the possible crisis may be headed off. Let there be harmony and good cheer in our homes!

    OUTDOOR MAINTENANCE

    Divert Water

    Gutters do their job best when clean. Check yours for foliage build-up, particularly if trees hover over the roof. The rainy season is a prime time to ensure all drainage areas remain unblocked by leaves and/or debris. Trapped moisture can leave a house susceptible to moss and mildew and cause major damage to your roof and walls. While you’re at it, make sure the downspout is clean and pointing 2-2-1/2 feet away from foundation walls.

    FOUNDATION:

    -Check that crawlspace, what’s going on under there? Do you have standing water? Mold or fungus?

    Put a vapor barrier down if do not already have one and use a mildewcide /fungicide now. Be sure your crawlspace is getting fresh air. Have any critters taken up residence?

    -Identify and basement leaks. -Do your basement walls have any cracks that need sealing? If any cracks are 3/16’ or wider, or if you have any long horizontal cracks, better consult an expert now. -Is your basement or crawlspace insulated?

    -Check your mail mailbox, fencing, walk ways, patios, arbors, ect for needed maintenance.

    -Does your deck need to be cleaned and sealed? Are the hand rails sound?

    -Have your asphalt drive way sealed.

    -Replace worn or missing fibrous expansion strip between your concrete driveway and garage floor.

    Retain the Roof

    It’s easy to take for granted the one thing that shields you from the elements. But doing so could cost you unnecessary repair costs. Be diligent about roof maintenance. After the next rainy day, inspect your ceiling for wet spots. Ask a licensed professional to inspect your roof for wear and tear. "If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, it’s time to replace the roof," according to Dan Cornwell, president of CC&L Roofing in Portland, Ore.

    Check Your Paint Job

    Look for chipped, cracked paint along the exterior of your home. "The worse thing you can do is leave wood exposed, because that’s when it will begin to rot," says Brian Gummel, president of The Painting Company in Edgewater, Md. Scrape off any failing paint. Sand it down so there are no rough edges, prime the bare wood surface and paint it with a high quality paint product. Don’t wait until siding accumulates too much dirt. Brighten up the house with a good power washing.

    Love Your Lawn

    Rake up the excess leaves you didn’t get around to last fall. Too many can suffocate your grass and stop it from growing. "Pull up weeds, and remove foilage from the lawn, shrubs and any plants," says Neal Julien, landscaping expert with Neal Works Landscaping in Capitol Heights, Md. Pull up dead flowers and replace them with a low-maintenance variety such as pansies, begonias or mums.

    INDOOR MAINTENANCE

    Keep the Air Fresh

    With warm, sticky days ahead, do yourself a favor and give your air conditioning unit a little TLC. Not only does it cool you down, but an efficient air conditioner removes moisture and humidity from your home, which in excess, can damage its foundation. So if you aren’t changing air filters monthly, start now. A unit free of dust and dirt runs more efficiently, saving you money on your energy bill. While you’re there, check hose connections for leaks. Make sure the drain pans are draining freely. If you suspect a problem, contact a certified technician.

    Watch Windows and Doors

    Investigate all doors and windows for leaks and drafts, particularly near the corners. Look for peeling and chipping paint, which can signal water intrusion. Seal any open areas between the frame and the wall to keep out water, which can deteriorate building materials. Neglecting these tasks can open up potential for environmental hazards like mold growth, experts say.

    Control Pests

    Keep garbage and debris under control around the exterior of your home. "Do what you would do inside, and get rid of junk," says Genma Holmes, owner of Holmes Pest Control in Hermitage, Tenn. Inside, check the house for entrances and gaps where mice and insects may be tempted to come through. Seal up cracks, even if you just did so in the winter. Mulching the yard this spring? Use a liner underneath. "It’s good to keep a barrier between your mulch and your home," she says.

    Take a Peek at the Plumbing

    Except for a coffee maker, anything dripping in your house is a bad sign. Check for leaking faucets or sweating pipes, clogged drains and faulty water drainage systems. On laundry day, look at the washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or dampness. Check under the kitchen sink for leaks, and make note of wetness around the dishwasher. Inspect your water heater for leaks and corrosion.

    Tackle the Tiles

    While you’re in spring-cleaning mode, pay attention to worn grout between floor tiles in the bathroom or kitchen. A small crack in the grout or caulk can lead to an expensive repair later. If necessary, re-seal as soon as possible. For the bath, get into the habit of wiping down shower walls and tub after each use to eliminate soap and scum build-up.

    FRAMING/EXTERIOR

    -Look for signs of insect activity, especially in crawlspace framing and around the floor framing perimeter

    -Look for cracks joints or rafters

    -Look for sagging headers or tilting walls: then get expert advice.

    -Is your brickwork in need of mortar repointing? Are there damaged bricks that need to be replaced?

    -Resealing is usally done ever 5-8 years

    -Secure any loose sections of vinyl or aluminum siding: replace damaged sections

    -Add inulation to floor of your unfished attic

    -Repair damaged stucco.