Many homeowners will have taken this past long weekend as an opportunity to get some much needed spring cleaning done. The beginning of warmer weather brings with it many chores – some cosmetic (like cutting the grass and pulling weeds), and some more practical (like cleaning the gutters and changing the screens on your windows). When it comes to spring cleaning, we encourage homeowners to focus on function over fashion, and ensure that their home systems are working well and ready for the change in season, before tending to their gardens.
Spring is usually a rainy season, and this one is shaping up to be on par with typical precipitation trends. As such, most of the practical spring chores we advise homeowners to undertake relate to water management and keeping your home dry. As the skies start to darken and the air becomes more humid, consider the following items and make sure they’re checked off your spring cleaning checklist before it pours:
- Get the dirt and leaves out of your gutters – We mention your gutters almost every time we address water issues and maintenance tasks to complete around your home, but that’s because clean gutters can make a huge difference to your roof and your home. If your gutters are full (of dirt, leaves, garbage, twigs, etc.) then water can’t pass through them, causing it to build up and pool over onto your roof. Taking the time now to clear your gutters can help to decrease the frequency of roof leakage and keep your shingles in good shape.
- Make sure your downspouts are doing their job – Gutters and downspouts go hand in hand, or at least they should. When you’re cleaning your gutters, check the status of your downspouts. They should extend all the way down to the ground and then at least 6 feet away from the home. A downspout’s task is to direct the water that has collected in the gutters away from your home. If your downspout extension is not long enough or facing the wrong way, that can be the difference between a wet and a dry basement.
- Keep your home on higher ground – Having a properly extending downspout is one thing, but your lot has to have the grading to back it up. If your downspout directs water away from your home and your lot slopes towards your home, despite the downspout’s direction, the water is going to follow the slope of your lot – back to your home. To combat these grading and drainage issues, make sure your lot slopes away from your home.
- Ensure your window wells are more window, less well – Like your gutters, window wells can get clogged with all sorts of debris. And it’s similarly important to make sure that you keep your window wells clean. However, unlike gutters, window wells don’t have a downspout. They drain from the bottom, and should have several inches of gravel to facilitate this. If you are consistently having difficulties with window well drainage, consider installing a drainage pipe. This pipe, filled with gravel (to prevent it from collapsing, but still allowing water to pass) will extend down to the drainage tile around the perimeter of the footing (if one exists). Alternatively, you could install a clear plastic dome to keep water and debris out of the window well altogether.
We know we preach the importance of maintaining your water management systems regularly, but in our 36 years leading the Home Inspection industry we’ve come to understand that water is the number one enemy of homes. These systems should receive your attention at every season change, especially during the spring as it is typically a very rainy time. For more spring advice connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.