Spring Home Inspection
As life slowly returns to the earth…
Its time for you to take your annual walkabout the house to learn what winter has done to your home – unbeknownst to you – over the winter!
Much can be learned from a visual inspection. Your house is trying to talk to you…so open yours eyes and listen!
Trees. Everybody loves their trees and loathe to cut them down or back, but keep in mind that trees and tree limbs should not overhang the house and branches should not touch the roof of the house in any way. Damage will ensue to your shingles or siding materials when you disregard this immutable law of home ownership.
Gutters. Winter and Ice are very hard on gutters. Look for burst seams in the gutter and leaking from standing water in the corners. For those of you unfortunate to still have the spike & ferrule gutter attachment systems – look for loose and missing spikes – which are sure signals – that your gutters are slowly being forced off of the house and will eventually fall to the ground – without your intervention. The Spike & Ferrule Attachment system is an obsolete method of attachment which requires that your gutters be pierced in two places and causes fascia rot and water to be introduced into your house – every time it rains.
Downspouts. Often overlooked – downspouts play an important role in keeping your basement or crawlspace dry. Downs are often completely packed and blocked-up with last fall’s leaves/needles/dirt and debris. Sometimes the only effective remedy is to dismantle a blocked downspout and clean out the elbows and pipe. Check the downspout back seam to see that it is not burst from ice expansion and contraction. Most downs should have a 3’ kicker – the part that touches the ground should stick out away from the house at least 3’. Remember also, that you should have a positive grade so that water moves away from your foundation wall and not back towards it. With a negative grade water has no where to go – but down. Hydrostatic pressure can force water into and through your basement walls – even if they are sound!
Roof: Stand back and visually inspect your roof. Look for missing and cracked shingles – especially at the eaves. Ice dams are generally the culprit. When water gets up underneath the shingles it lifts the shingle when it freezes. Freeze/thaw cycles are very hard on modern shingles which lack flexibility due to low oil content – become brittle and break easily. Curling of shingles at the bottom edge is the first sign of impending roof failure and is caused by lack of ventilation and insulation in the attic. If you notice long dark vertical streaks on your shingles – that is algae eating away at the limestone content in asphalt shingles. It is estimated that 80% of new roof jobs are the direct result of damage and or appearance problems caused algae growth. Don’t go with any roofing contractor who does not include an attic inspection along with his price and evaluation.
General: Look for algae and mildew growth on your siding. Sometimes it’s a good idea to power wash your house for general cleaning principles but especially before you paint. Don’t go with any paint contractor who does not intend to power wash your home (and use detergent) before he starts to paint!