Spring Checkup List
Enough winter already! I don't know about you, but I am ready to have "a little spring in my step." This has been a difficult and unusual winter when it comes to the weather. It's time to take a walk around the house and find out what damage the weather has caused to your home.
Let's face it, sub zero temperatures on a windy night and no matter what you saw or heard, you did not run out to see what was going wrong with your house.
The Story Behind the Many Fires and Carbon Monoxide Problems This Spring
You probably have noticed that there have been a lot of fires and carbon monoxide problems in the news lately. This is fairly common in November, but not usually in the spring. The long winter and extreme cold has been tough on budgets, furnaces and chimneys. Some of these were caused by improper space heater use to reduce fuel bills.
The extra wear this year can loosen mortar in brick chimneys and cause holes in metal chimneys. Birds and animals falling into chimneys while trying to stay warm is another source of blockage. Any of these can result in carbon monoxide staying in the home instead of going up the chimney.
The same problem can occur with blocked clothes dryer vents. Whether it is lint or animals trying to stay warm blocking those vents, they can be source of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Blocked dryer vents are also a major cause of dryer heaters overheating and failing. I can tell you personally a partially blocked dryer vent can result in a $200.00 repair bill for heater element replacement.
Walk Through Your Home and Listen Before You Look
Listen for unusual noises. If you hear a rubbing or scrapping, something is being worn that you really do not want to wear out. Limbs hitting your roof or siding will damage those surfaces. If you delay repairs, even if you can replace the damaged surfaces, they are not likely to perfectly match and will always look like a repair.
When the sound you hear is a flopping noise, it is likely loose siding, soffit, wires, fixtures or another part that is far cheaper to secure back in place than replace.
A scratching noise usually signals the presence of an animal of some sort. You do not want any animal living in your walls or other cavity in your home. The possible outcomes are that they will use those cavities as a bathroom or even worse they will die in your home. Both of these will create an unwelcome odor and difficult job to first find and then remove them.
If you hear a sound of water spraying, hissing or running, it could be a pinhole leak from a frost damaged pipe. These can easily occur in outside walls and crawl spaces. If a leak goes unnoticed for even a short time, you could be facing major repairs and mold problems.
Now Go Look Around the Property
· Check for loose siding, shingles, gutters, downspouts, soffit and fascia. Securing loose materials is cheaper and looks better than replacing them with new materials that will not match faded components.
· Branches, limbs, leaves and other debris blocking gutters will result in wall and foundation leaks. At the same time you are looking up, check for loose shingles. A leaking ceiling is a bad way to learn about roof leaks.
· After looking up at the roof, take a look down and identify and seal spaces between the house and patio or sidewalks to avoid wet basements
· Check for openings in your fences, particularly if you have pets.
· Retaining walls that have moved or pushed need repair before they fall or cause damage.
· Stand back and check chimney conditions. Loose brick is a safety hazard, chipping brick can be a sign of blocked or oversized chimneys.
· Check railings to make sure that they are secure. A railing that comes loose can cause more injury than no railing at all if they come loose while being used for support.
· Check peeling paint which often indicates that there is leakage into a wall or overhang.
· Look for hanging limbs. They can damage whatever is below them when they finally come loose.
· Check that the decks are secured. Every year we have stories about decks and balconies falling.
Look in Your Attic, REALLY !
Condensate and mold was the new major problem in attics this year. Many homeowners had the unwelcome experience of finding mold in their attic where they never had it before. You need to make sure that your house was not one of those houses.
If you are one of the many people who experienced what looked like water leaks and wet areas where there really should not have been water leaks, you probably were experiencing condensate problems.
A water glass filled with ice is expected to get condensate on the outside of it on the Fourth of July. That same temperature difference occurred in many attics where moist interior air met the sub zero cold roof and wall areas. It was the temperature differential that caused water to drip in areas where it never condensed before.
Homeowners Insurance and the Ravages of Winter
There are a lot of things to consider when dealing with homeowners insurance. The best advice is to read your policy. A little known fact is that a call to report damage can could count as a claim even if there is not any money paid on that claim. The most common insurance company position is that consequential damage such as mold is covered if it is a result of a covered claim. In other words, if you have your roof blow off and there is mold because of the roof being off, there is mold coverage. If you have mold in your attic because the venting is inadequate, there would not usually be coverage. A lot more needs written on the topic of insurance, but the quick lesson here is that promptly reporting winter damage, the better chance of a claim and costs for any consequential damage being paid.
The bottom line here is that taking a look around the home can save you money and inconvenience on repairs. Besides, it is finally a great time of year to spend some time outside.