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Exterior Maintenance – Apr/May2016

Exterior Maintenance - Apr/May2016

Inspect the outside of your home to build a reno and repair to-do list

Now that spring has (finally) sprung, it’s time to head outdoors and inspect the damage that winter has done to your house. Some of the repairs can be handled by a competent DIYer, while others will require some professional help.


You’re going to want to start at the top with the roof. If you’re not comfortable climbing ladders, just get your hands on a pair of binoculars and take them outside with you. From a spot across the road and from your yard where you can get a clear view of the roofline, scan your roof from chimney to eaves.

Make sure there’s a cap in place at the top of your chimney, and all the bricks seem solid and mortared in. Look for any shingles that are missing or that have edges starting to curl up. If more than a couple are missing or damaged, call in a pro for repair or replacement advice. And keep in mind that if you go with a metal roof, you’ll never have to replace it again. (See Jim’s Pick on page 66.)


Next, follow the line of the eavestrough across your house. Is there any debris clogging it? (Saplings growing in the leaf mulch are a good indicator you’ve left it too long!) You also want to watch for any sagging sections or pieces that are pulling away from the house. If you do try to reattach any loose parts yourself, make sure you maintain a gentle downward slope towards the downspout.

Now follow the downspout to ground level. Is it still connected to the storm pipe? If so, you’re going to want to disconnect and cap those. Otherwise you’ll have a basement-flooding situation just waiting to happen. Extending the outflow portion of the downspout far away from the foundation walls is potentially the biggest bang you can get for your DIY buck. If the water is able to run down against the foundation, all it takes is a few mid-winter freeze-thaw cycles to develop serious problems. Most DIYers should be able to take care of this job with parts you can find at your local building supply centre. Don’t forget to cap off the hole leading to the drain.


Next, cast your eyes on the exterior of each of your four walls (or at least as many as you can walk around and have a look at). Inspect the condition of the bricks and mortar around them. If a lot of mortar is missing or can easily be flaked away, you probably need some tuck-point repair work. A lot of homeowners think that tuck-pointing is a DIY job, but it’s usually not. You can usually tell the DIY tuck-pointing jobs.

If you have siding, you’ll be looking for wood rot or, with vinyl and aluminum cladding, broken or missing pieces that will allow moisture to get in behind to the interior.

Take a close look around the perimeter of all your windows and exterior doors. You’re looking for signs of rot in wood-frames, gaps in the caulking around the frame, and missing or damaged weatherstripping. For secondfloor windows, you might want to inspect the sills and exterior caulking from the inside.


Give all the door hinges a drop of lubricant. If you have vinyl windows that slide horizontally, a squirt in the track will help them move smoother. Do the same thing for patio doors or if you have a retractable screen door. If your aluminum screen door doesn’t close properly, it could be that the pump needs to be adjusted. There’s a little screw on the end of the pump that you can use to increase or decrease the tension. If you search on YouTube, there are a number of videos showing you how to do that.


…. if there are signs of decay over large areas, it may be time to think about replacing the deck.

If you have a deck, you’ll want to walk along all the boards, feeling for any that are loose or spongy. If it’s one or two boards, a reasonably handy person could replace those. But if there are signs of decay over large areas, it may be time to think about replacing the deck. Pay careful attention to railings and stairways. You don’t want anything to be wobbly there. If you do need to replace any screws or other hardware, if the deck framing is pressure-treated, make sure you use approved fasteners, otherwise they will corrode over time, leaving you another task on a future spring cleaning to-do list