Home Maintenance Tips
Winter in the Pacific Northwest means
rain -- and time to make sure your home is going to shed all
that water for another season. Here's what you can do to ensure
your home stays dry and safe from water damage.
First rule: Work safely! Situate your ladder on stable
ground at all times. Scoop all the crud out of the gutters
all the way around. If you have trouble reaching all the
debris you can try moving it along with a strong spray from
the hose to a more convenient location. Be careful not to
hose the debris into the downspouts.
Once the gutters are cleaned out make
sure all of the downspouts are clear. Next, use your hose
to run some water through all gutters. Look for leaks or holes
in both gutters and downspouts. Make
sure that all of the downspouts are connected firmly to the
gutters and directing the water downhill and away from the
house. If they are pouring out next to the house or allowing
the water to run back to the foundation you will need to correct
this with splash blocks or drain lines .
If your downspouts terminate into drain
lines, now is a good time to run some water into these drains.
If they back up you'll have to call someone to roto-root out
the lines. If they don't back up and you see water or moisture
in the basement or in the crawlspace then there is a problem
with the line and it will need repair.
Before you put the ladder away
take another look in the gutters. Has the water run out?
If there is standing water in the gutters they will tend
to leak at the corners and rust out prematurely. They will
need to be realigned so that they drain towards the downspouts.
Some simple maintenance can lengthen
the life of your roof. The trick is to do this before there
is a problem. While you were cleaning the gutters you may
have noticed that the same fir needles and leaves that had
filled your gutters have built up on your roof. Most often
this debris tends to build up in valleys, and behind horizontal
surfaces like chimneys, skylights, and vents. Flat and low
slope roofs are most vulnerable. It is important to regularly
clean off any debris that has built up on the roof. How
often you have to do this depends on your home's surroundings
and style. We have lots of roof moss here
in the land of the rain. You tend see it on the north side
of the roof or in shaded areas. Moss will suck life out
of your roof. It works like a sponge that soaks up moisture
and holds it against the roof. It breaks down the fibers
in the roofing material that can result in leaks and damage
not only the roofing material, but also the sheathing, and
The answer is to eliminate moss from the
roof. Treat the roof with a moss killer first. It's important
to follow the instructions on the label as most of these products
are harmful to other plants, and can be corrosive to your
flashing and gutter metal if it is not cleaned off properly.
Some people say they have had success with broadcasting powdered
Tide detergent on the roof to kill the moss; it's worth a
try. When the moss has been killed, brush or scrape it off
the roof (before you clean the gutters). Be careful not to
damage the roofing material. Composition roofs deteriorate
rapidly wherever they lose their imbedded stone protection,
so be gentle. After you've done this the first time it will
be easier next time. But if you would like to avoid doing
it again you can install zinc galvanized strips or copper
ridge on the roof. These can help inhibit the growth of fungus
Trim overhanging branches away from the
roof to eliminate the shady condition. And while you are at
it, it is a good idea to trim any and all plants away from
the building in general. Plants touching or too close to the
building will hold moisture against the siding and roof creating
a conducive conditions for wood destroying organisms like
fungal rot, termites, carpenter ants or wood boring beetles.
Leave a 12" clearance and let your house have some breathing
One last roofing item. One of the most
commonly found defects is missing or improper flashing. Some
roofers have a habit of installing a new roof over the old
flashing rather than replacing it or at least weaving the
old flashing into the new roof properly. Then they cover the
flashing with tar to seal it. This is a temporary solution
as the 25-year roof now is depending on tar that may last
a couple of years to seal all the roof penetrations. This
means that you have to go up and check it every year to see
if it has cracked and needs more tar. The permanent solution
is to properly install the right kind of flashing at the chimney,
wall junctions, vents and skylights. Have a professional do
this for you.
FALL CHECK LIST:
- Check the caulk around all
your windows and doors and caulk any voids.
- Touch up paint where it is needed.
- Clean debris out of window wells.
- Replace glazing on windows where
it is missing or cracked and replace broken window panes.
- Insulate any plumbing pipes
that are exposed in the crawlspace or any unheated space.
- If you were planning to insulate
the walls of your home and haven't done it yet, now is
a good time. There are plenty of reputable companies that
will blow in insulation for a reasonable price.
- Have your chimney inspected and
cleaned if you burn a wood stove or use you fireplace often.
- Stack your cord wood away from
- Service your furnace. Furnaces
need regular tune-ups to
keep them running cleanly and safely. If you have a gas
water heater, have it done at the same time.
- Relax knowing you are ready
SPRING & SUMMER CHECK LIST:
- Clean and service the air conditioning system.
- De-winterize outside faucets.
- Check the roof for any repairs needed before the rainy season.
- Planned paint jobs should be started now.
- Any exterior major home improvement projects should be started now.
- Repair any damaged screens.
- Replace any insulated glass where the thermal pane window seal has failed as evidenced by fogging between the sealed glass.