Though it may seem like winter will never end, we will soon be trading our winter coats for light jackets, and wind chill warnings will be a thing of the past. It may not feel like it, but Spring is right around the corner. In fact, this weekend is the beginning of Spring time - Sunday, March 9th marks the start of daylight savings time. We will be losing an hour of sleep, but gaining sunlight, which, many would agree, is definitely a fair trade.
As we mentioned last November, our semi-annual clock changes can serve as excellent reminders for home maintenance and safety items. They occur right as the weather starts to change, and their frequency helps with important tasks that can easily get overlooked. So before you begin to think about spring cleaning, consider these chores:
Test Your Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
We recommend testing your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on a monthly basis, and changing these devices’ batteries twice a year. The upcoming time change is a great opportunity to get this task out of the way. You should have at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home, although having more is encouraged. As you go around your house adjusting various clocks – on the microwave, on the stove, by your bed – change each detector’s batteries as well. While you are doing this, check the expiry date printed on the smoke detector. If the unit is past this date, or if it is more than ten years old, it should be replaced. If there is no expiry date, it’s probably more than ten years old.
Not every home comes equipped with a carbon monoxide detector, which means you might not have one. If you don’t have one, it’s not only a good idea to get one, the Ontario government passed a law three months ago making these devices mandatory in every home. Carbon monoxide detectors help to protect homeowners from the dangers related to carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas, and high concentrations of it can be deadly. Because of its nature, it is very hard for people to identify its presence. Carbon monoxide detectors sample the air of your home at specific time intervals. A microchip inside the detector stores the reading and keeps track of the level of carbon monoxide that the detector is exposed to over time. If it detects an unsafe level it will notify you in a manner similar to a smoke detector: loud beeping. And like a smoke alarm, it requires the same degree of regular maintenance, so check your carbon monoxide detector on a monthly basis, change its batteries twice a year, and check the expiry date. Carbon monoxide detectors often have only a seven-year life span.
Check Your Attic for Evidence of Leaks & Condensation
How often do you go into your attic? You might think it’s a bit spooky up there, or it may be tricky to access, but start feeling brave and do some stretches, because we advise that homeowners check their attic at least twice a year to see if there’s any evidence of leakage or condensation build-up. The seasonal freeze/thaw cycle can be hard on houses, and the brunt of winter weather abuse is taken on by your roof. Damaged shingles and flashings can leave your home vulnerable to water intrusion and leaks. In addition, improper venting can allow condensation to build up. From your attic you’ll be able to roughly determine how your roof is doing, and if the venting is working, by the amount of moisture you encounter. You should investigate your attic at least twice a year, preferably during the Spring and Fall, to see what effect the more dramatic seasons can have on your roof.
Keep Your Downspouts, Gutters & Storm Drains Free of Debris
One of the most important ways to prepare your home for Spring is to ensure that your water management systems are intact and functioning properly. The extreme snow, wind, and ice storms we experienced this winter may have rendered your gutters, eavestrough, and downspouts ineffective – either breaking or moving them, or filling them with debris. As you perform maintenance around your home this weekend, take some time to check your gutters to make sure they are clear of leaves, twigs, or excess snow, so water can effectively drain through them. While checking your gutters, look at your downspouts to see if they’ve suffered any damage. They should extend at least six feet from your home, so that they can effectively direct water away from your foundation.
Spring is a time of heavy rain and rapidly increasing temperatures, and although presently it’s still cold and frozen, this will not last. As you prepare your own water management systems for the change of season, it might also be valuable to check the City’s. The same snow and debris that can obstruct your gutters and downspouts can also affect your storm drain. When checking your gutters and downspouts make sure your storm drain is unobstructed so that your curb or sidewalk doesn’t experience any flooding during periods of major rainfall.
Additional Spring Chores
When the weather does finally warm up and there is no question that spring has arrived, there will be some additional maintenance for homeowners to perform. These chores can include:
- Turning exterior water faucets back on
- Cutting back trees and shrubs from your house walls, roof, and air conditioning systems (as needed)
- Changing your window and door panels from glass to screens
Although we are losing an hour on Sunday, that does mean we’re one step closer to Spring. We’d like to encourage homeowners to complete the tasks above to ensure that their home is ready for the change in seasons. Want more Spring tips? Check in with us on Twitter & Facebook for more home maintenance advice.