Winter is a tough season on our homes especially here in Alberta. But spring sometimes isn’t much better! Even worse late spring and early summer bring the highest risk of flooding. But proper maintenance of your home can help prevent or reduce damage to your home – andkeeps your insurance costs down saves you money and lets you enjoy your home for longer.
Here is our simple guide to spring maintenance for homes in Alberta. This walks you through the essentials to help you maintain and protect your home.
1. Inspect and Repair
Giving your home a good inspection after a hard winter helps you catch any small issues before they become major problems. You should inspect your entire home for cracks holes and any evidence of damage especially the:
- Driveway or pavement
- Window and doorways
- External Drainage
- Outlets and cords
Holes and cracks allow water mold and pests the opportunity to get in and further damage your home. It’s best to repair any holes or cracks you find immediately. You can use a concrete sealant to carry out minor repairs in your driveway and foundation. A big bucket costs around $30 from your local hardware store.
Your siding and roof should be free of damage. If there are any loose shingles get them replaced. Your siding and roof are the front line of defense against pests and weather and are very important to maintain.
Your window and doorway caulking can also be easily repaired by removing old caulking and applying a new seal. This will help keep moisture out and prevent drafts as well.
Check all of your drains including eaves troughs to ensure they’re free of debris and are draining properly at least 2 metres from your home.
Check your outlets and cords both inside and outside your home. The cords should not have any damage – make sure if you’re using a cord outdoors that is suitable for the purpose. If anything is hot to the touch you may have an issue and should call an electrician.
2. Test Your Plumbing
You should check to see your plumbing is working correctly. This includes checking for proper drainage and for the presence of any leaks. You should check:
- Backflow Valves
- Sump Pumps
- Hot water tank valve
- Water shut off valve
First check for leaks from any internal and external faucets. Leaks are bad for the environment cost you money and threaten your home with water damage. If you’re not sure if there is a leak leave a glass bowl or bucket underneath to see if any water accumulates over the next 24 hours. You can try replacing the faucet washer first and tightening up your plumbing if there are minor leaks. You may need to replace the faucet or shower head or call a plumber if this doesn’t fix it or the leak is substantial.
Next you should check that all of your drains (sinks showers toilets floor) are operating properly. They should be clear of debris and drain quickly. If they are slow you may have debris caught in the pipe. You will need to clean it or call a plumber.
If you have a backflow valve (to prevent sewer backup) you should also inspect and clean it. Wear rubber gloves and remove the cover (most valves have this) and give it a quick clean. Also check the ring around the lid and the floats for any sign of damage or poor performance. Replace if the ring shows any signs of wear or the floats are not working properly (they should float).
If you have a sump pump check the pit and pump itself. There should be no debris – clear it out if there is any. The way you test if a sump pump works will depend on the model. One method is to pour water into the sump pump pit until the float device rises and activates the pump; it should shut off when the water level recedes. You canlearn more here.
You should also test your hot water tank pressure valve. Place a bowl underneath the valve and turn it on; if it’s working water will come out. Never test with your hands as the water will be scalding!
Your home’s main water shut off valve should also be tested. You want to know that it can be shut off if you need to use it!
3. Clear Out Debris
Make sure to clear out debris such as leaves and dirt from window wells drains and eaves troughs. This will help ensure proper drainage and help keep pests away. You should also check your street’s storm drain and call your municipality if there is debris or slow drainage.
Keep on top of snow removal over the winter season and try to pile it away from your home to reduce the chance of water damage.
4. Spring Clean Inside and Out
Most people are familiar with a big spring clean after a winter of being cooped up inside. But are you extending this to the exterior of your home? Giving your house outbuildings and decks a good wash is essential. Not only does this keep things clean but it also prevents mold mildew and pests from settling in.
Use a power washer or a hose and sponge with biodegradable soap and scrub! Make sure you rinse well. You can use a spray with rubbing alcohol and water for any spots of mold or mildew just make sure you scrub and rise thoroughly.
This is best done on a warm sunny day so that everything can properly dry (and you don’t freeze while you’re washing).
5. Prepare your A/C and sprinkler systems.
If you have an air conditioner or sprinkler system you’ll want to get them de-winterized and ready for summer. For an A/C unit unwrap it and check it for debris infestation and damage. If it has a drain pan inspect it and empty if needed. Check the connection hoses for any visible tears rips or holes. You may need to replace these.
Your sprinkler system should also be serviced. Test to ensure the system is working and there are no issues with the pipes. To conserve water don’t use it before it is necessary. It should also be programmed to water at night or early in the morning so your lawn and garden can absorb the most moisture.
6. Take care of your lawn and garden.
Your lawn should be graded so that it slopes away from your home. This ensures proper drainage and reduces the risk of water damage to your home. If standing water is an issue look into grading your lot or flood landscaping to help manage the water. Sump pumps are also helpful for this issue.
7. Change furnace filters.
Inspect your furnace filters and change them out if needed. This is generally done every 3 months but it will depend on your furnace filter and home. This is usually very easy to do it’s just a matter of sliding out the old filter and sliding in the new one.
8. Check your emergency equipment.
Ensure your fire and carbon monoxide alarms are working. You should also check your fire extinguisher. Review your emergency kit and ensure it is fully stocked. This is also a good time to review your emergency plan and make any adjustments as needed.
Spring is also a good time toreview your insurance coverage with your broker. If your insurance needs have changed it’s important to update your coverage. Insurance companies are also always offering new products or adjusting existing ones. Your broker can help you ensure that you have the best coverage for your budget and needs.