When the seasons change and cold weather starts setting in, it is a good time to perform some maintenance tasks to prevent water leaks. Regular preventative duties now can reveal potential problems that should be repaired before the temperature dips. A visual inspection throughout the house will also ensure specific areas are ready to provide protection against upcoming rain, snow, and sleet.
Since an undetected small water leak can cause enormous damage over a period of time, we’ve put together a home maintenance checklist to work through. It covers outdoor tasks as well as indoor inspections that will ensure all systems and areas are ready for the change in seasons.
Exterior Home Maintenance Checklist
The roof is probably the most obvious area to inspect for potential water leak problems. While spring rains brought more water to the area, the hot, drying summer sun could have caused damage that should be repaired before autumn winds and winter snow and ice form. Check for cracked, loose, or missing shingles, low spots or dips that can cause ponding. Also, inspect all along the roofline and fascia area to be sure pests or critters haven’t dug an access hole. Any water not properly draining off the roof can cause interior damage to the wood construction, drywall and insulation.
Flashing around skylights and chimneys should be inspected to be sure of adequate coverage. If there are gaps or rust is forming, repair or replace the flashing to prevent water seepage.
Clean downspouts and eaves and remove any debris or leaves that may be clogged inside. Buildup here can restrict water flow and potentially cause ice dams during winter months. Also, check for missing or loose pieces, or damaged joints.
Shut off and drain exterior water valves and consider placing a cap or covering over them. Often, burst water pipes occur when this task isn’t completed, because water freezes inside the valve.
Cracks in siding, masonry, and around window frames should be repaired or caulked. Water can seep in, freeze, or cause mold growth.
Check weather-stripping around windows and doors to prevent water seepage and air leaks. Remove damaged weather stripping and apply fresh as needed. For older homes, check the window glass for cracked glazing and repair the glazing. These areas will let cold air in, but also moisture and condensation that can potentially turn into a mold problem.
The Environmental Protection Agency has an extensive document that can be downloaded, addressing how to control moisture inside buildings. While written towards building contractors, there are some helpful explanations and organizational tips. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-08/documents/moisture-control.pdf
Interior Home Maintenance Checklist
Check attic insulation for adequate coverage, and make sure the vapor barrier is facing towards the inside. The vapor barrier helps prevent condensation from dripping through the attic to the ceiling in the room below.
Inspect the HVAC system and have a seasonal service check completed to be sure it functions properly with no water dripping from the system. Central humidifiers should be checked for leaks or cracks, and also serviced to ensure the best functionality.
Adding humidity to the air is sometimes needed during dry winter months. Clean portable humidifiers thoroughly during seasonal use. This will prevent bacteria and mold spores forming inside the tank that then get transported via the fan throughout the house.
Appliances that use water should be checked seasonally also. Hoses and connections on dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines and water heaters should be checked for dry rot or worn spots. Make sure there are no kinks in the water supply hose leading to the appliance, as this can create a pinpoint hole that eventually turns into a constant leak.
Conduct a quick plumbing inspection around the kitchen and bathrooms. Check for drips or leaks around the pipes and hoses, and any corrosion that might indicate worn pipes.
Dehumidifiers may still be needed in a basement over the winter months. Ensure the humidity level within your home averages around 40 percent to reduce the risk of mold spores growing on drywall and other porous surfaces.
Basement sump pumps should be tested at least every season to ensure the motor functions well enough to drain the tank. Consider a battery-operated backup system to prevent sump pump failure if there is an electrical outage.
Finally, as a precautionary measure, make sure everyone can locate the main water shutoff valve for the house, and knows how to shut it off if a situation requires it.
It’s important to do everything possible to prevent water leaks, but if you notice any signs of damage, ServiceMaster Restoration by All-Action is qualified to repair the water damage, test for potential mold growth, and treat that as needed also.