Do You Have Your "Ladder" Checklist?

By: Home Improvement Contributor Tina Gleisner

Spring is when you want to inspect your home for problems that occurred over the winter. It is also a good time to prepare for rainy periods by insuring that all water will run away from your house. If you don't have the time or don't feel comfortable tackling these chores, you can hire someone to do the work. Safety always comes first.
Exterior "Ladder" Checklist
Many outside tasks require working from a ladder. Again, only if you have a safe ladder and are comfortable, should you conduct these inspections yourself.

  • Roof - Inspect using a ladder and repair or replace damaged or missing shingles .
  • Chimney & Vent Pipes - Inspect these openings on your roof and repair as needed. Replace flashing or caulking when extensive cracks appear. New water stains in your attic will signal roof leaks.
  • Gutters - Clean and make any adjustments or repairs to insure water is carried away from your foundation. If your gutters fill up quickly with debris, consider using a product like Gutter Stuff.
  • Siding - Caulk gaps between siding and trim to keep water out. Repair or replace siding as soon as there are indications of underlying water damage. I have repaired siding problems ignored for too long, resulting in serious damage to underlying structural wood. The most frequent causes:
    • Infestations of carpenter ants, which explore until they find high humidity environments with ample food, i.e. wood siding and/or hidden support structure.
    • Masonite siding which disintegrates easily once it gets wet, and is found in homes as new as 5 years to roughly 20 years old.
  • Wood trim - Inspect and repair or replace damaged pieces of wood trim. Common projects involve areas with high exposure to water that should be painted every year. We recommend replacing the wood with a composite like Azek that does not contain any wood content, so that rot will not return.
    • Window sills - Silt on sills holds water that causes damage that is easy to repair when first observed but after many years, may sometimes require new windows.
    • Kick plates under doors - Water hits steps or decks and bounces back up saturating this vertical strip of wood under doors. Unless kick plates are painted every year, the wood can rot after only a few years.
  • Windows and doors - Caulk around windows and doors to keep water out. Inspect doors and windows to make sure they are operational and glass clear and secure.
  • Paint - Check for peeling paint. Often one side of the house needs to be painted more frequently due to more direct sunlight or higher humidity when foliage blocks the sun.

Exterior "Ground" Checklist
Some projects might be a little easier when you're standing on the ground. More complicated tasks that use compressors, compound miter saws, and such, might be better left to a professional like My Handyman.

  • Screen Doors/Windows - Put away storm doors/windows and install screen doors/windows after making needed repairs.
  • Power Wash - You can pressure wash vinyl siding. You should only pressure wash wood siding and decks when you plan to paint or stain them.
  • Decks - Review deck, stairs and other outside rails to make sure they're secure. Address nail pops and replace rotted boards and stain (recommended) or paint to protect decks/railings from the elements, helping them to last longer. We have gotten great feedback from customers where we installed Azek Deck (previously called Procell).
  • Drainage - Make sure downspouts drain away from the house and check the perimeter of the house to make sure water isn't settling next to the foundation, where it is more likely to cause damage.
  • Foundation - Look for evidence of cracks or settling and make appropriate repairs
  • Check Operability - Check that all exterior lights, garage door(s) and gates are working. Repair those with problems.
  • Open Water Valves - Turn on outside water faucets and irrigation systems. Repair leaks found to avoid wasting water.
  • Clean - Clean windows, outdoor furniture, garbage cans and debris where vents/downspouts end.
  • Yard - Inspect hose bibs, pipes and shut-off valves, repairing any damage caused over the winter.
  • Landscaping - It's time for raking, mulching, pruning and preparing/planting this years garden.

Interior Spring Checklist
While you want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, there are numerous small tasks that need to be dealt with inside. Here's your MUST-DO INTERIOR checklist.

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