It seems as if we were just putting the patio furniture away and bracing for those blustery winter winds to start. There were a few lingering snowflakes last week but it looks like spring has finally arrived! The warm weather has me thinking of home improvement projects you should tackle this season.
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you’ll want to tackle those projects now so you’ll be able to relax once the warmer temperatures arrive. If a contractor is needed, it’s important to get “on the list” before schedules start to book up.
Here are some of the most critical home improvement projects you should address right now:
We often take for granted that our home’s roof is safe and secure until we notice water stains inside. Canadian winters can take a toll on your roof, so once winter loosens its icy grip, it’s time to inspect for damage. Use a pair of binoculars to look for these problems without dragging out the ladder:
- Missing or broken shingles
- Rusted flashing
- Buckling plywood
- Curling or blistering shingles
- Cracked caulking or rubber boots at vent pipes
- Moss or lichen growth
Taking care of minor roofing problems quickly can head off major leaks and extend its life. Replace damaged, missing or loose shingles right away. Make sure to re-set any nails that have popped up.
Re-caulk metal and vinyl flashing around vents, chimneys and skylights. Replace any rusted or deteriorating flashing or vent boots.
Remove moss or lichen with a granule moss killer made specifically for roofs. Spread it along the edge of the roof, sweep away dead moss and clear gutters of leaves, moss and debris to reduce regrowth.
While you’re on the roof (with a harness of course!), check out the gutters. If you find a large amount of coloured asphalt grit, your shingles are shedding their protective covering. If your roof has 3-tab shingles and is more than 15 years old, it may be time to replace it. While the average replacement cost is around $7,600, according to the Remodeling 2016 Cost vs. Value Report, it will add significant curb appeal and can provide a 70% return on investment.
Replace your roof safely and efficiently by hiring a professional contractor. This major renovation project will often require removal of the original shingles, adding more venting and/or replacing damaged plywood underneath. Schedules fill up quickly, so be sure to request bids early to prevent costly water damage from spring rainstorms.
2) Gutter repairs or replacements
It’s easy to forget how important your gutters are in keeping your home leak-free. Rainwater and snow run off the roof, collect in the gutters and downspouts and is then carried safely away. This simple device stops water from eroding soil or pooling along your foundation. It also protects against a wet basement or crawl space by reducing hydrostatic pressure build-up.
Typical problems to watch for:
- Leaky corner joints
- Gutter sagging or pulling away from the house
- Disconnected or short downspouts
- Rusty or corroded galvanized steel gutters
Falling branches or sharp tools can puncture gutters and rust can eat through steel gutters creating holes. Patching holes right away will stop them from growing larger. You can use roofing cement with a metal patch (be sure to use the same material as the gutter or the gutter will be etched away through electrolytic corrosion).
Apply exterior-grade polyurethane caulk to leaky corner joints. Repair a sagging gutter by replacing loose gutter spikes with something that won’t pull out, fill oversized holes with caulking and re-drill, or replace with a new hanger system.
Reconnect downspout sections with new clips. Redirect or add a longer downspout section to keep water from pooling or eroding soil near the foundation.
Hire a professional roofing or gutter contractor to replace rusty galvanized steel gutters with corrosion-free aluminum.
Were you surprised at how high your last heating bill was? Did you notice more drafts than other years, especially near the windows? If so, you’ll want to inspect the exterior caulking at the window seals. Severe winter weather can cause it to deteriorate and allow water infiltration. If this happens, not only are your windows at risk of rotting, but you can experience water damage inside your home as well. If your windows are more than 15 years old, you may need some replacements.
Replacement windows can be expensive, but new technologies such as low-emissivity coatings (Low-E) and argon gas between panes can reduce heat loss in the winter and keep your home cool in the summer—which will result in reduced heating and cooling bills. Consider replacements if your windows have any of these issues:
- Difficult to operate—sagging frames or worn out mechanisms may make opening and closing your windows impossible.
- Constantly collect condensation—the seal may have been broken on the panes of glass allowing moisture to collect between or on the inside of the windows.
- High maintenance—do your wood windows constantly require scraping and painting? New window materials such as vinyl or composite are maintenance-free.
- Hard to clean—many new windows can be cleaned from the inside so dangerous ladders are never needed.
- Rotting—this is a major concern that requires window replacement.
Spring is the perfect time to tackle a window replacement project, but lead times can be lengthy, so get in touch with a reputable window contractor early. Still worried about the cost? Some companies offer special spring promotions and financing packages. Make sure you do your window replacement research before you decide to go with a specific company. With the ROI on window replacements close to 80%, you’ll recoup most of your money when you sell.
Spring-time temperatures will give you an opportunity to walk all the way around your home to see any damage Mother Nature imposed on your siding too. Look for loose, missing or damaged siding. This is a crucial spring renovation project as any gaps in the siding can expose the plywood underneath, leading to mildew and rot as well as compromise the structural integrity of the building.
New and improved siding styles and colours are available to fit every architectural design. Schedule a consultation with a professional siding specialist for low-maintenance, attractive siding selections.
If you have a wood deck, you know that every winter takes a toll on this structure. Snow and ice sitting on the deck floor and railings for an extended period of time can damage the finish which can lead to rotting.
Before you begin reviving your deck, replace any broken, splintered or rotting pieces. Look for protruding nails, loose screws or fasteners or mildew growth. Inspect the support framing under the deck for any rotting, decay or insect damage. Next, power wash it with a special deck cleaner, allow it to dry, then apply stain or sealant. Don’t forget to give the railings and balusters a fresh coat as well.
Stay safe. Be sure to consult with a decking specialist if repairs are beyond your capabilities.
Like every other yard in your neighbourhood, your landscaping has likely taken a hit from severe winter weather. Before everything starts to sprout, clean up yard debris and leaves, remove dead or broken shrubs and trees, and thin out overgrown bushes and plants.
Aerate your lawn. You can rent a machine from your local home improvement centre that will remove plugs in your lawn to loosen soil and allow it to grow a healthy root system. Re-seed bare spots, apply fertilizer and water the grass.
Visit your local garden centre to select updated shrubs and bedding plants appropriate for your growing zone and sun exposure. This will make your yard easier to maintain and keep it looking its best. Consider adding some landscape lighting to show off your hard work day and night.
Getting a jump on these exterior home improvement projects early will improve your home’s curb appeal and free up time this summer to really enjoy it. What are you waiting for? Get started today!
Serge Bojinski is a home improvement blogger and editor at RenoHood.com. He strives to ease homeowners lives searching for home improvement answers and quality service. Follow him on Twitter @SBojinski