April showers bring more than May flowers – they also bring a risk of water damage if your house is unprepared. The combination of early spring rain and melting snow can be tough on any home, especially if it’s already taken a beating over the previous winter. Here are a few areas to check as the weather warms.
- Gutters – Let’s face it: nobody likes cleaning gutters, but it has to be done from time to time, and rarely is it more important than in the spring. Check to make sure your gutters are clean, free-flowing and clear of debris. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to tighten loose gutter fasteners, check for corrosion and make sure the joints are all securely connected.
- Downspouts – Winter storms can damage or disconnect gutter downspouts, and it’s important to make sure they’re attached and functioning. Downspouts are important because they direct water from your gutters out away from your foundation, and if you are unsure, you can always test them by taking a hose up to your roof and watching to make sure the water flows the way you want it to.
- Foundations – A cracked foundation is troubling for a variety of reasons, and while most turn out to be harmless, if you’ve got a serious crack then a little leakage might be the least of your worries. Still, spring is a good time to check for cracks because the cycle of freezing and thawing over the course of a winter can put a lot of stress on your foundation. If you find a crack, mark it with take and check back in a month or two to see if the crack has moved. If not, you can seal it up with an epoxy-injection kit, but if the crack is changed you should call a structural engineer immediately.
- Landscaping – Make sure the ground slopes away from your house on all sides. If water pools around your foundation, it’s only a matter of time before it gets in, and spring is a key time to check and deal with drainage issues. If you find low spots around your house, start by clearing away all mulch and debris from the area, then add enough soil to create a slope of at least half an inch per foot away from your house. Stamp down the soil firmly to make sure it stays put.
- Roofs – Leaks are easiest to spot from the inside, so inspect your attic for stains, wet spots, water damage, mold and mildew. And if you’re up for it, you can also check the roof itself for loose, damaged or missing shingles and inspect the seal around chimneys, skylights and other openings.