It’s been a long, hard winter, but our top early spring maintenance tips will help make your home shipshape again as we head into warmer times.
You won’t get everything done in a weekend, so space the tasks out and tackle them a bit at a time. And, as always, be safe: if there’s anything you don’t feel comfortable with, call in a pro.
Exterior caulking has two essential jobs: it stops water infiltration, which can cause rot around windows and doors, and it helps keep energy costs in check by reducing the loss of heated and cooled air from your home. That’s why it’s important to inspect the condition of caulking every spring and fall.
Replacing weathered caulking is a DIY job for many homeowners, as you’ll discover here.
If you haven’t yet cleared all that snow away from your foundation, you better hop to it. The stuff is going to be melting fast, and even if your property is well graded, there’s the chance of water pooling around your home and seeping into your basement.
Shovel the snow well away from the foundation so it can’t melt and flow back toward your home. Don’t forget to shovel out window wells.
If you have a lot of ice near the foundation, you may need to chisel out drainage channels for the water to flow away. Your best bet for the job is a proper ice chopper, not a shovel.
Choppers are less than $20 at hardware and building material stores, their long handles will save you a lot of stress and strain, and they usually last for years.
Catch basins and more
Clear debris and ice from catch basins, swales and natural points of drainage on your property. The city has also asked for residents’ help in keeping over 100,000 catch basins on roadways and green spaces clear, especially because of the flooding risk this spring. The map of city catch basins is here.
Got a sump pump?
If you have a sump pump, check the pump, float & discharge line and test that it’s working. You don’t want to discover there’s a problem after water has started coming in.
Slowly pour several litres of water into the pit to ensure the pump turns on. The lifespan of a sump pump is about 10 years, according to most sources. If yours is nearing retirement age, it may be a good idea to replace it before it has to start working overtime.
And if your basement is prone to water infiltration from spring runoff, lift anything that could be damaged off the floor.
Did you remember to check your smoke detectors and change the batteries last weekend when the clocks went ahead? If not, do it now before you forget.
Also, check the expiry date of your detectors, which should be indicated on the back or side of each device. Battery-operated detectors are generally good for about 10 years.
See this warning about using the correct batteries.
Get at those gutters
As soon as it’s safe to work on a ladder (that means when all the ice and snow are gone), clean your gutters of leaves and other debris, check your downspouts for good flow and tight connections, and make sure any downspout extensions take the water away from your home to a lower part of the yard.
More tips on gutter cleaning here.
Don’t forget your attic
After all the snow and ice this winter, you need to ensure there are no leaks in the attic. Look for wet spots or water staining on the underside of the roof and moisture or mould on the insulation.
While you’re at it, check for mice and other critters that may have taken up residence in the attic. Mice can probably be eliminated with traps, but anything bigger like a squirrel will likely require the services of a pro.
Beyond the attic
Building on the previous point, it’s important to look for leaks and mould in all areas of your home. Check windows, doors, bathrooms and other areas where water damage could occur.
Address mould issues immediately.
For minor surface mould, often found on window sills and around bathtubs, treat with Concrobium Mold Control, which comes recommended by both our home improvement columnist, Steve Maxwell, and celebrity contractor Mike Holmes.
If you have a large amount of mould, contact a remediation company to dispose of it properly. More on dealing with mould.
Once you no longer need your furnace to come on, shut down and clean your furnace humidifier. It’s always best to follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for specifics, but in general, you’ll want to unplug the device, empty and thoroughly clean the water reservoir, including descaling, replace the filter or pad and clean the unit’s housing.