Your Spring Maintenance To-Do List
YOUR SPRING MAINTENANCE TO-DO LIST
By Bryan Baeumler - Special to The Star
It’s official, the spring showers and singing birds are here! And if you’re anything like me, you have a to-do list on the fridge, a wish list taped to the bottom of the to-do list, and an even bigger list of plans for more projects in your future.
With all of the things we have to look forward to (or push off until tomorrow), it’s easy to forget the basic tasks around the house that will not only maintain and protect your investment, but keep you safe and lower operating costs. Before you start any new projects, here’s a quick refresher of things that should be a priority on your spring maintenance list.
Most people have a mechanical room in their homes where the furnace and hot water tank live. We don’t tend to spend a lot of time in there. Unfortunately, it’s also where we tend to pile up Christmas decorations, sports equipment, and any other items we don’t want to stare at every day — including dust. Storing too many items around the furnace is not only a fire hazard, but it restricts the amount of air it needs to operate efficiently.
Now is a good time to clear out or organize the mechanical room and replace the filters on your furnace and/or HRV (heat recovery ventilator).
The air in most homes is much dirtier than the air outside, which means filters quickly clog up with debris. Clogged filters allow more dirt to circulate through your home, while reducing the efficiency and lifespan of your furnace. Actually, these filters should be checked and replaced monthly!
While you’re in there, clean out and empty the humidifier and close the damper (some units have a summer/winter setting). Also, test the water temperature and pressure relief valve on your hot water heater. If the valve is stuck and the temperature of your water is too high, you literally have a ticking time bomb in the basement.
If you have a cover on your outdoor air conditioner, remove it and clean out any leftover leaves or remnants of gall. Turn on the air conditioning and verify that everything’s working properly — the first sweltering day of summer isn’t the time to find out it didn’t make it through the winter. Have a professional HVAC company service the air conditioner every two to three years. They’ll ensure everything’s in working order and check your coolant levels. Trim back any plants or bushes that might interfere with airflow across the coils, and you’re good to go.
While you’re outside, play in the dirt. Adding soil to the area around your foundation will help direct groundwater away from your foundation and will help keep your basement dry. Make sure all of your downspouts are in place and extended as far as possible from the house to take care of the water coming off the roof.
Also check and clean your eaves troughs — leftover leaves and other material can cause water to back up onto your roof or over the edge between your soffits. To be effective, they have to be empty.
Walk around the house and clear any debris from drainage ditches and window wells. Inspect the exterior of your home and foundation for any cracks or damage that may have occurred over the winter and, if necessary, get them repaired as soon as possible. Get out the clippers and cut back any trees or bushes that are in contact with your home — there’s a lot less material to deal with before the leaves are out.
When you’re wandering around the exterior, repair and replace any patio stones, above-ground deck supports or other landscaping that may have moved over the winter. During the deep freeze, moisture in the soil freezes and expands with surprising force which can push upwards. When the soil thaws, it contracts and often compacts slightly which can cause shifting of items on the surface. A good stomp is usually sufficient for the odd unruly patio stone, but shifting decks or fences may require you to dig a little deeper to repair them properly. In most areas, frost doesn’t penetrate more than 48 inches into the earth, which is why that’s a standard minimum for footing depths.
Open valves and check outdoor hose bibs for any leaks or other damage. A cracked pipe can cause a lot of costly damage very quickly, so it’s a good idea to have access panels in finished ceilings or basements to double check.
Also, check and clean out your sump pit — it’s your last line of defence for groundwater looking to find it’s way into your basement. A proper weeping tile system around your home will direct water into the sump pit, which is then pumped away from the house or into the storm sewer. If the pump is getting old or shows signs of weakness, replace it. Also consider installing a battery back-up system. Even a sump pump in perfect condition won’t save your basement from a flood without power. I learned this the hard way.
Spring is also a good time to increase the R-value of the insulation in your attic. A lot of people don’t think about insulation in the spring or summer, but you should. During winter, the attic can be a major source of heat loss. In summer, a roasting hot attic that’s not insulated properly will make your air conditioner work harder, which ultimately means more money out of your pocket. When it’s below zero, or above 30, the attic isn’t a nice place to be, so spring and fall are perfect times to get up there and make a difference.
We all have plans to renovate and update our homes, but it’s a good idea to put in the little time it takes to maintain them. A little work now will keep them operating at their best the way they are before starting any new projects and adding to the many lists on our fridges. You can find more information on suggested maintenance and schedules (including items that should be looked at every month) on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s website, www.cmhc.ca. Check it out!
Make a list of regular maintenance items for your home, and put it on top of the to-do list. While you’re at it, open some windows and let in some of that fresh spring air!
Bryan Baeumler is the host of Disaster DYI (Thursdays at 8 p.m.) and House of Bryan on HGTV. His column will appear every two week in New in Homes & Condos. You can contact him via his website www.baeumler.ca or following him on Facebook or on Twitter @Bryan_Baeumler.