5 ways to prepare your home for spring

For the Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/03/08

Despite the lingering cold weather, the first day of spring officially arrived on March 20. Once again it is time to go out and assess the condition of our homes after the winter weather. Here is my list of five spring "hot spots" to check.

1. Gutters and downspouts: With any luck, we will have some good soaking rains this spring. Since no one likes to spend time outside in cold weather, there is a good chance that your gutters and downspouts are full of leaves and other debris. Overflowing gutters can deposit excessive amounts of water against the foundation of your house, resulting in water leaking into basements and crawl spaces. It is time to make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clean.

Kris Jensen / AJC
Clean out and prepare gutters and downspouts for hoped-for rains in the coming months.

2. Decks: Winter weather can be especially hard on exterior wood surfaces. Check the decking and railings on your deck for cracking or splitting wood. Badly damaged wood should be replaced. Since the summer sun is also hard on exterior wood, spring is a good time to apply a coat of sealer on the decking and railings. A number of good products are available at home improvement and hardware stores; however, my favorite wood sealer called Total Wood Protectant must be purchased from the manufacturer. Information about this product is available online at www.woodsealants.com.

3. Trees: Especially if you have trees close to your house, now is the time to inspect them. You probably can find simple things like dead branches on your own, but assessing the health of a suspect tree may require the assistance of a certified arborist. Our ongoing drought has affected the health of many of our trees. If you have any trees on your property that you suspect are not healthy, I recommend having them inspected.

4. Termites: Warm weather is when termites begin to swarm. A swarm of termites looks like a series of black flying ants. If you are working in the yard and see these flying insects, you should notify a licensed pest control company as soon as possible. Since the Georgia Association of Realtors contract no longer requires termite letters when you purchase a home, some recent homeowners may not even be aware of the potential damage that can result from termite infestation. I strongly recommend that you have your house bonded by a licensed pest control company.

5. Air conditioner: First of all, make sure that you have changed the filter in your furnace. The same filter serves your air conditioner. This filter has been working hard all winter and likely needs to be changed or cleaned. Spring is also the best time to have your air conditioning system checked by a licensed heating and cooling contractor. When choosing a contractor, make sure they are licensed by the state. It is a good idea to ask friends and associates who they use and are happy with.