Certain home maintenance tasks should be completed each season to prevent structural damage, save energy, and keep all your home’s systems running properly. After a long, cold winter spring is an excellent time to get outside and perform a fresh inspection of the whole house. Give all your major exterior systems—roof, siding, gutters, drainage—a close examination to make sure they’re working properly and are in good shape.

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Key maintenance tasks to perform

Monitor your gutters and drainage. If debris has accumulated over the winter, you’ll find out when the snow melts and spring rains arrive. Remove any blockages and look for signs of bending, damage, and areas where water has been diverted onto the roof or siding. You can usually make minor gutter repairs yourself for under $50 by adjusting or reattaching brackets, gently hammering out bent areas, and replacing damaged sections of gutter if necessary.

This is also a good time to walk around the house and make sure the soil slopes away from the foundation at a rate of at least 6 vertical inches over the first 10 feet. If you have standing water or mushy areas, consider re-grading, adding berms (raised areas), swales (contoured drainage ditches), or installing a French drain (a shallow trench that diverts water away from the house). Try to identify whether your problem is improper sloping or gutter overflow.

Inspect your roof and chimney for winter damage. Shingles may need repair after a rough winter. Look for loose chimney bricks and mortar, rotting boards if you have a wooden chimney box, or rust if you have a chimney with metal parts and flashing. Inside the house, check your skylights to make sure there are no stains that indicate water leakage. If you suspect a problem, call a roofing contractor or a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America for an estimate for repairs.

Examine siding for signs of winter damage. Check for loose or rotting boards and replace; inspect the areas where siding meets windows and doors and caulk any gaps. Give your siding an annual cleaning using soap and water, a brush, and a garden hose. Also, make sure your house number hasn’t been damaged or obscured by dirt and is easily visible to emergency personnel.

Schedule your spring air conditioning service. Get ready for the air conditioning season with your spring tune-up. If your system wasn’t running well last season, be sure to tell your contractor, and make sure he performs actual repairs if necessary rather than simply adding refrigerant. Also make sure your air filters are changed and vacuum out your floor registers.

Check kids’ outdoor play areas. Give your children’s swing set a close look. Tighten bolts and make sure things are still properly put together and safe to use. Make sure no sharp edges or splinters are sticking up and clean off any mold growth with a household-strength 1:9 solution of bleach and water.

Check your GFCIs. A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protects you from deadly electrical shocks by shutting off the power anytime even a minimal disturbance in current is detected. They’re the electrical outlets with two buttons in the middle ("test" and "reset") that should be present anywhere water and electricity can mix: kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages, and the exterior of the house. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends monthly testing, which you’re likely to remember if you incorporate it into your spring routine.

Pay a visit to the attic. During a spring rain, check for visible leaks, water stains, discolored insulation, and rotting or moldy joists and roof decking. If detected, call a handyman or roofing contractor for an estimate for repairs. If you have an attic fan, make sure it’s running properly and that the protective screen hasn’t been blocked by bird nests or debris.

Spending a weekend or two on home maintenance can prevent costly repairs and alert you to developing problems.

The Stark County Association of Realtors welcome you to visit our website at www.starkrealtors.com for a complete listing of realtors and affiliate members who are sure to meet your professional needs. The Stark County Association of Realtors members are honored to service the Stark and Carroll County communities.

If you have any questions or comments on this article, please contact me by email at president@starkrealtors.com.