Q: Can an unusually wet winter damage my home?
A: According to Paul Sullivan of the National Association of Home Builders, winter weather can damage a home in ways that aren’t always easily visible.
Our homes are among our biggest investment, and to protect them, you may need to hire a qualified professional to repair or replace damaged components before the problems get worse.
Sullivan recommends several areas that require a homeowner’s attention.
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Inspect the roof. Check for loose, warped or missing shingles, and make sure the chimney flashing and skylight seals are intact. Simple repairs made early can save you from more costly work later.
Clean and repair gutters. Storms can cause debris to clutter your home’s rain gutters, so it’s important to start the new season by clearing your gutters and downspouts. Check that they are still securely attached to the house. Blocked or loose gutters can allow water into your home and damage trim.
Since we tend to get rain and wind nearly year round, it’s a good idea to clean your gutters at least twice a year. You will also want to remove leaves from underground or exterior drains to help prevent backups.
Look for leaks. Some of the most common areas for leaks are also places that you don’t regularly focus on, such as attics, crawl spaces and washing-machine hoses.
Check under sinks for damage caused by frozen or cracked pipes, and check the water heater for signs of corrosion. It’s a lot easier — and often much less costly — to replace a water heater that is more than 10 years old than it is to wait until it bursts and floods your garage or home.
Inspect the exterior. Look for pieces of siding that may have been loosened by winter storms, and examine the exterior caulking on door and window seals to make sure they are still watertight. It’s also a good time to patch cracks in concrete driveways, sidewalks and steps to keep water out and prevent further expansion.
Look at your home’s grading and be sure your yard still slopes away from the house to keep excess moisture away.
Check the HVAC system. Have it serviced by a qualified heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technician and replace your HVAC filters. You don’t want to find out that it isn’t running properly after the hot weather has arrived — repairs are likely to cost less before summer arrives.
Touch up or repaint. The nicer weather makes this the perfect time to beautify the exterior of your home. Not only will it look more attractive, but a fresh coat of paint also protects your home from the elements — like next year’s big winter storm.
HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to email@example.com.