Preventative Maintenance is truly essential to the uninterrupted enjoyment of your property year round. There are many things to consider as the snow melts away to reveal new cracks in the masonry, inadvertently weathered shingles on the roof, and a few new pools on the deck. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Inviting the expertise of an experienced general contractor as the seasons change will help to put your mind at ease.
Prevention is a primary goal of any maintenance program and is typically achieved by a combination of scheduled maintenance and seasonal inspections. Scheduled maintenance on building systems should be completed periodically throughout the year and seasonal inspections are an accompanying layer of protection for your home and investment. In both spring and fall, it is essential to inspect interior and exterior architectural elements as well as all components related to electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems. A detailed inspection may also reveal any structural issues resulting from the earth settling or drainage problems which should be addressed.
Spring maintenance inspection should include a thorough walk-through of the residence with first-class focus on elements such as:
Roof, gutters, snow guards, & flashing :
- The roof should be inspected for damaged and weathered shingles, replacing any that have been compromised over the winter. This will prevent further damage caused by inclement weather or the freeze/thaw process. Ultimately, the goal is to prevent leaks which could cause significant damage that will require costly repairs.
- Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned and inspected for leaks or broken seals. Any damage should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent damage to the fascia, soffits, trim and other exterior finishes which could ultimately lead to water intrusion inside the residence. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the water is being directed away from any structures to prevent unwanted settling, foundation damage or water intrusion. Introducing water to the structure may also compromise the indoor air quality if excess moisture in basements or crawl spaces have introduced mold.
Chimney and fireplace:
- Inspection of the chimney should include items such as the chimney cap, flue piping, flashing, sealants, exterior finishes and the transition from the chimney to the roof. Damage to any one of these will inevitably lead to a much larger problem and ultimately an unwanted water leak.
- Proper function of the fireplace and flue should be evaluated. Gas fireplaces should be tested for proper draw, burning and venting. Wood burning fireplaces and associated flue and venting should be thoroughly cleaned seasonally. The frequency of cleanings will depend on usage, but it is a good idea to clean and inspect even if it is not used often in case a critter has made its home there. Fireplace maintenance will prepare you for those unseasonable chilly nights or an early winter.
- Evaluation of site drainage is important to prevent structural issues and/or water intrusion. Depending on the severity of the winter weather and springtime conditions, drainage conditions may change annually and affect not only your foundation but patios, driveways, walks and landscaping. Catching drainage problems early and rerouting surface or ground water could mean the difference between a few hundred dollars and thousands depending on the severity of the damage.
Air conditioning units:
- Periodic maintenance of your air conditioning unit will ensure that the unit is functioning at its peak at all times during the peak of the summer months. Maintenance of air conditioning units should be completed by a licensed HVAC technician that will change filters, inspect and charge the refrigerant, and service motors and other mechanical components. It is also a good idea to have duct work professionally cleaned so pollutants are not circulating inside your home.
Exterior hose bibs:
- Inspect hose bibs for indications of freeze damage and proper function. A hose bib that is not functioning well can cause water damage inside or outside of the residence that could require costly repairs.
Windows including associated drainage, seals, caulking and screens:
- Windows should be inspected to ensure that all seals are intact. If a window seal is broken, not only will that impair visibility through the window because of fogging, it could also compromise the entire window unit. Replacing a pane of glass is often much less expensive than replacing an entire unit.
- Window caulking/weather stripping/flashing and drainage should be inspected for signs of leakage or air infiltration. Weep holes should be cleared to prevent damage to sills or other exterior elements. Caulking will prevent air infiltration which will ultimately improve the energy performance of your home.
- Screens should be inspected and repaired as necessary since we tend to love the cool Colorado air but dislike the critters that come along with living in such a beautiful place.
Painted and sealed surfaces:
- Resealing or re-painting exterior surfaces is the best way to increase the longevity of your exterior building elements. The inclement weather and intense sunshine here in Colorado tends to wear these surfaces more quickly than in other environments so it is important that this is addressed or at least inspected annually.
- All flatwork related to the driveway, walks, patios and landscaping should be inspected for signs of heaving, settling, cracking, etc. Heaving may be a sign that a tree or part of the landscaping needs to be reworked. Settling may indicate a drainage issue. Cracking will inevitably lead to more damage due to water infiltration and the freeze/thaw process. Mitigating these issues early will save a signification amount of time and money in the long run. This will also prevent unnecessary tripping hazards.
- It is important to note any broken limbs, obviously diseased trees, or trees and shrubs that may be touching the structure in any way. The general contractor can advise for practical landscaping choices. Heavy spring snow is certainly capable of damage to trees which can then compromise anything around or under that tree.
Spring Maintenance: A General Contractor’s Checklist is intended to remind you of all the seemingly minor issues that can happen over time as seasons change. While the areas previously addressed for spring maintenance are mainly about preventing damage to the property, there are safety measures to be considered at all times of the year that will be reviewed with any seasonal maintenance inspection:
- Is your home prepared for fire danger?
- Has remaining firewood been moved away from the structure to prevent fire or infestation of critters?
- Are the dryer vents clean?
- Are all of the life safety devices working properly?
- Are all hand and guard rails secured?
- Is your radon mitigation system working properly?
- Is your lighting protection system working properly?
- Are your electrical outlets functioning properly?
As a general contractor we wish to share our experience and offer our expertise. We’d like to ensure that our clients and our community have a seamless transition into the summer months, and know that we are available to them. Please contact the Shaeffer Hyde offices at 970-845-5656 or click to send us a message and Request a Consultation.