The weather seems to be warming up a little bit. Also, the days are getting longer and overall we’re getting closer to spring.
What always goes through my mind at this time of year, is what kind of damage around my house has been done by Old Man Winter. Freezing and thawing conditions, sleet and rain, cloudy skies can all have a negative impact on the house structure. Add to this, our winter has been a little more severe than usual.
My thinking is, in order to maximize the enjoyment time of the warmer months, I need to address as quickly as possible any repairs that may need to be done. So, it’s time to start looking around to see what we may have to address around the outside of our house. The sooner we get things rolling, the quicker we will be able to enjoy the warm weather.
In order to help you out, I have a list of items that may have been negatively impacted by the cold and if not addressed may get progressively worse. This list is in no special order, but keep in mind these are common discoveries when we inspect homes at this time of the year.
First and most importantly we need to look at the roof. As soon as the snow melts see if there are any missing pieces, any cracks in the valleys, missing pieces of ridge cap, etc. If your roof is more than 10 or 15 years old, you need to be a little more critical and it is recommended not to walk on older shingles which become brittle with age. I have seen these areas damaged more underfoot than from the elements themselves. If there is any evidence of leaking into the interior (most often showing up in the attached garage, inside attic spaces, at chimney’s or skylights, etc.), you may want to have a professional who is licensed and insured review the area and temporarily patch any suspect areas.
While looking at the roof, we need to also check out the gutters and downspouts. These take a real beating during the winter with ice dams, hanging icicles, holding up the additional weight of frozen water. What we are looking for is if they all appear to be secure. Are the gutters still pitching slightly to shed water? Are there any bent or damaged sections? Does the system need a cleaning? Are all the downspout extensions still secure and discharging water 3 to 4 feet away from the foundation? If you have a gutter guard or screen, is it still secure and in place?
Also let’s look at the brick chimney. Are any of the bricks showing surface damage or spalling? Is there any missing mortar? Are any of the bricks loose or falling out? The tops of chimneys take the most beating because they are flat and catch falling rain or snow. The water saturates these areas which then freezes and thaws, expands and contracts and over the years can crack or break brick. The tops of all chimneys typically have a bed of beveled mortar call coping. This coping has been placed there to shed water, but is often damaged through the years and may need to be re-sealed. Look for water stains or white efflorescence stains near the top. If they are present, the coping needs to be re-sealed.
Let’s also look at any flashing that is usually present around roof penetrations (such as chimneys, skylights, plumbing stacks, vents) and where vertical joints of different construction materials meet (such as brick and siding, around windows). Flashing is usually partially hidden, but look around these penetrations areas and see if you can identify any visual irregularities such as warping, shrinking, separation, pulling away, etc.. If you see any such area, it will typically lead to water sneaking into the interior.
Near the gutters and downspouts, houses have what we call cornice. This is the roof overhangs, trim around doors and windows, decorative trim around siding, etc. In newer homes, these areas are often metal clad and would be of minimal concern. If they are wood, they often become saturated and start to deteriorate. If possible you want to not only look at these areas, but also probe suspect locations with a sharp object (screwdriver, ice pick, etc.). If they show deterioration, they should be cut out and repaired. This type of deterioration never gets better but allows openings to form, possible infestation, etc.
Finally, lets talk about exterior painting of wood cornice and trim that takes a real beating during the winter. Usually, older houses have more painted areas that are not metal clad. My old historical house has a lot of old “Colonial Blue” painted trim and I have it touched up every year. I do this because I dread having everything painted at once and the yearly touch-up provides a fresh cosmetic appearance overall. Walk around and identify any areas that are bubbling up, peeling or otherwise need attention.
Well, that’s it for now. Next week we’ll add more items to our list. Think spring!
Photo Source: https://www.thetimesherald.com/story/life/2018/02/16/wait-spring-fix-winter-damage/110483166/