Summer Maintenance Advice
wood shake roofs
- Clear debris from the roof valleys, roof fields, and spots where debris likes to snag, like the upper rim of skylights
- Pressure washing of mildew from shakes if this hasn’t been done in the last 3-5 years
- Replacement of any split or rotten shakes at roof fields and ridge-caps.
- Check ridge-caps for stability and re-secure if loose.
- Apply an anti-fungal spray with a pump sprayer. This does not have to be done every year. If it is put on thick it can last from 3-5 years.
Caution: Wood shake roofs can be very slippery. Use a good quality ladder to access the roof, use golf shoes with metal spikes or extremely good lug soled boots to walk on the roof. Start spraying the anti-fungal spray at the highest spot on the roof and work your way back to your ladder. Watch out for the change in traction when the anti-fungal spray is applied. Never walk on any area with wet spray!
driveways, patios, and service walks
- Check for cracks. Those less than ¼-inch can be sealed using concrete crack filler. Pressure-wash the crack free of all debris and let it dry. Then apply concrete crack filler to the crack. Overfill it slightly, as the filler will suck back into the crack slightly as it cures. This will last 3-4 years. For a more permanent fix, and for all cracks bigger than ¼-inch wide, use one of the mortar mixes you can mix up in a bucket or wheelbarrow and apply with a trowel.
- If concrete has moved and trip hazards have developed you have several options. You can have a company mud-jack settled concrete back up into place. They put a nozzle under the dropped slab and pump liquid mortar and sometimes limestone under the slab to hydraulically raise it back up. Another option for trip hazards is to mark them with bright yellow paint so they eye is drawn to them and feet can adjust to them.
- Check for trees that have roots that are heaving or breaking up your patio, driveway, or service walk. Consider having them removed if they are doing this type of damage.
- Nothing is more useful than a deck. Nothing requires more maintenance. The deck should be checked every summer for a proper seal of preservative, paint, or stain to wood surfaces. This includes handrails, balusters (the vertical members of your railing system) and the decking boards themselves. Re-stain, paint, or preserve as needed. No wood grain should be open to the weather. For heavy grain, sand it flat and then apply your covering.
- Re-secure any screws or nails that have backed out.
- Re-secure any balusters or posts that have come loose at their bases.
- Check the bolts, and every deck should be bolted, at the ledger boards the deck was built off of. Tighten any bolt heads that have come loose.
Plants, Trees, & Shrubs
- Trim back any that are touching the home. Keep trimming them every few weeks throughout the summer as they will grow quickly.
hot water tank
- Check the seismic restraints to make sure their bolts are secure where they enter the wall or bolt to studs or concrete. If you do not have the newer seismic restraints which are two metal bands that wrap around the tank, then please get the install kit at any hardware store and install them.
- Drain the tank by hooking a hose up to the drain spigot at the bottom of the tank and aiming that hose either into a bathtub or down a driveway. Open the valve and let about 5 gallons of water out. Let it flow for 2-3 minutes then shut the valve handle and take the hose off. BE CAREFUL! THE WATER COMING OUT OF THE TANK CAN BE IN EXCESS OF 130 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT AND CAN CAUSE HORRIBLE BURNS!
- Look for foundation cracks. Those less than ¼-inch can and should be sealed using concrete crack filler. Those larger should be sealed with mortar. If they are larger than ¼-inch or if there is any out of plane movement with the two pieces of concrete on opposite sides of the crack, you should have a licensed foundation contractor evaluate your foundation for possible repairs.
forced air furnace
- Have the furnace serviced by a licensed Heating and Air Conditioning company. Make sure they have a warranty and that they fill out a service sticker and leave it on the front or side of the furnace. This should be done every two years if you have a mid-efficiency furnace (it will have a metal exhaust flue) or every year if you have a high efficiency furnace (it will have a PVC, or plastic, exhaust flue).
- On the years you are not having the furnace serviced, check and replaced the furnace filter as needed.
- If you have electrostatic (electronic) furnace filters, clean them. They can be run through the dishwasher or they can be submerged in a bathtub that has been filled with hot water and liquid dishwashing soap that cuts grease. MAKE SURE THESE FILTERS ARE TOTALLY DRY BEFORE YOU PUT THEM BACK IN YOUR FURNACE! If you do not, the water can start to rust the inside of your furnace.
- If you have a simple filter system and you are wanting more filtering, consider the small electrostatic filters that are put underneath the heat registers in rooms. Simply pull the heat register up out of its opening, thread the filter behind the louvers of the heat register, and put the register back in place. Be warned, however, that if you put filters at each register you can void your furnace warranty. Put filters in the rooms you use the most and leave others unfiltered. All the air returns to the furnace through the same cold air return, so all the air will get filtered eventually.
- Before you enter your crawlspace make sure it is safe to do so. Mice, rats, snakes, stinging insects and more can move into your crawlspace if they get the chance. Take off the hatch covers then use a rake or other tool to clear the opening of leaves, sticks, cobwebs, etc… Next, shine a powerful flashlight into the crawlspace on all sides of the hatch looking for hazards. If none are found you can enter, but we recommend protective gear be worn. Home inspectors wear bump hats (hard hats) to protect their heads, good boots, coveralls, good gloves that keep dampness out, and a good respirator or charcoal filtered mask. There are reasons for this. It is not uncommon to find rat or mouse urine and fecal matter in a crawlspace and you need to protect yourself.
- Once in the crawlspace look for the evidence already mentioned that rodents, snakes, or stinging insects have taken up residence. If they have, call a pest control company to help you get rid of them.
- Look to make sure all your insulation batts (rolls) are still in place under your sub-floor and put them back if they are not.
- How do your foundation walls look? Are there any cracks in the concrete that are over ¼” inches wide? Are they new? A structural engineer should be called if there are any new significant cracks here.
- Are there any water leaks visible, either from the potable water lines, or from the drain-waste plumbing? Is there water visible on the plastic vapor barrier below bathrooms or plumbing joints? If so, call a plumber.
- Is there standing water in the crawlspace due to groundwater or drainage issues? If your crawlspace is getting seasonal or routine water in it, you will want to have a contractor come put in a sump pump system to keep your crawlspace dry all year round.
Cover your hose bibs with insulated covers. This not only can keep your water lines from freezing up in a severe winter cold snap, it can keep the hose bib shut-off valve from being damaged. This damage commonly leads to a dripping or leaking hose bib that cannot be shut off.