April showers bring May flowers — but they can also bring weather-related damage to your home if you’re not prepared. Taking steps to weather-proof your home before spring can help avoid potential problems. Consider adding these four low-cost repairs to your spring to-do list:
1. Check your roof and gutters
If you live in an area that sees a fair share of snow and/or ice in winter, it may create a headache come spring. Give your roof a thorough once-over to check for loose or damaged shingles. If you spot any that need repair, consider whether it’s a DIY roofing job or if you’ll need to call a pro.
Repairing a roof yourself can save money, but it can lead to unexpected problems if you’re not knowledgeable about what you’re doing. If you’re torn on whether to hire a pro, consider these factors:
- The degree of visible damage (and the potential for additional damage)
- Time involved to complete the repair
- Potential safety hazards that could make a DIY repair dangerous
- Cost of materials needed to complete the repair
Consider getting a free estimate from two to three roofing professionals before making a decision.
While you’re checking the roof, clean out your gutters if needed. Use a hand trowel to scoop out leaves, twigs and other debris. You can use a garden hose to flush out any remaining muck or dirt.
2. Service your HVAC system
Depending on where you live, spring may bring some wide temperature swings between morning and evening. Making sure your HVAC system is running efficiently may help keep your utility bills from inflating as you bounce from cold to warm and back again.
It can cost a few hundred dollars for a professional service crew to come out and give your system a tune-up. If you want to save money, you can get your heating and air system in shape for spring by:
- Cleaning and/or replacing interior air filters
- Cleaning connecting air ducts of leaves or debris
- Checking fuses, breakers and the thermostat to make sure the unit is running properly
- Clear away any leaves or debris surrounding the outside unit
Remember to turn the power to your unit off first before tackling any maintenance.
3. Seal cracks around windows and doors
If you’re still using heat and air in the spring, you don’t want it to float out the window. Using foam or silicone sealant to caulk around windows and doors can keep drafts and bugs out, while keeping the air conditioning or heat in. It’s an inexpensive fix that may be a huge help in minimizing energy costs.
You may also want to apply some waterproof sealant to your basement walls. Heavy rains can seep into the ground, potentially leaking into the basement. Sealing the walls may prevent mildew and mold from growing when it’s damp outside.
4. Pay attention to landscaping
Trees can be a problem in spring if rainstorms knock branches onto your roof. And an unevenly graded lawn can lead to puddling and flooding as winter snows melt. You’ll want to weather-proof your home to avoid both those possibilities.
Check the trees on your property and trim back or remove overhanging or broken branches. Consider removing dead trees altogether and pruning shrubs as well.
To grade your property, use spray paint to mark the high and low points of your yard. You can then mark off the corners using inexpensive wooden stakes and nylon string. A line level can tell you where the low spots are, which you may need to fill in with dirt to avoid drainage problems.
Spending some time — and perhaps a little money — to weather-proof your home can help you enjoy the spring season with less stress. If you need to take on some more expensive repair projects, you may consider tapping into your home equity. Before applying for a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, you may want to do some financial health checking, including looking at this article on how to improve your credit score.
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