Problems such as damp, loose tiles and flaking paint may not seem that serious now, but by attending to these common problems as soon as they occur, you can save yourself a lot of money in eliminating the possibility of expensive repairs later on.
The exterior of your home is battered by wind, soaked by rain and continuously baked by the sun. As the protective skin of your house, it is essential that the exterior is kept in good repair to prevent possible problems. With regular - preferably annual - maintenance, you not only save money on costly future repairs, you also ensure that the inside of your home stays warmer in winter and cool in summer.
An annual inspection of your home is vital and will ensure that you stay on top of any jobs - small or large - that need to be taken care of.
It’s not that difficult to spot potential problems if you regularly take a closer look at your home exterior. Here is a list of items that should be inspected at least once a year:
1. Roof repairs
Few homeowners take the time to take a closer look at the roof and a quick glance from a distance might not reveal hidden problems. A better inspection can be done with a stepladder or by access to your roof space.
Something as small as a cracked roof tile or roof tile that has slipped out of place can have disastrous consequences. The sooner you can fix this up, the less chance of damage to the property.
Whether you have a clay tile roof, IBR roof or flat roof, you should be able to spot potential problems that could cause damage in the future. On an IBR roof, check wear on roof washers and inspect flashings around the edge. Flat roofs are notorious for leaks, so always be on the lookout for any roofing material coming loose or lifting up.
With older homes it is vital to inspect flashings around skylights and chimneys or along roof junctions where the mortar tends to come loose and crumble. These are repairs that shouldn't be put off.
2. Gutters and downpipes
Climatic change has brought about a drastic change in weather patterns, and no matter where you live, you will have first-hand experience of increased flooding or drought. Excess rains and flash floods can quickly overpower your gutters and downspouts and cause or reveal problems.
It’s difficult to spot problems with gutters and downpipes during the dry season, so when possible, go outside when heavy rains occur to inspect these areas on your house. With the aid of an umbrella you can check to see if there are any leaks or overflow caused by blockages - all of which will damage the integrity of walls and plaster and could lead to serious damages.
By cleaning gutters regularly you can at least tick this off your 'to-do' list.
3. Damage to walls
Checking exterior walls for damage will reveal problem areas that can be attended to before they become serious. Walk around the base of your home’s exterior and be on the lookout for spots where walls, pools, or where trees and large shrubs can damage walls. It's easy for you to cut back or trim large trees that have become overgrown and to dig out drainage if your garden becomes waterlogged with heavy rains.
You will find an article on Home-Dzine that deals with French drains or how to use landscaping materials to handle poor drainage in a garden.
While checking exterior walls, also check for loose, damaged plaster and bricks, or areas where paint is bubbling or peeling. Your local Builders supply cement and sand for mortar to repair or replace damaged mortar and plaster, and you will also find a selection of products that can be applied to remedy damp.
4. Inspect windows and doors
Inspect windows and doors, steel or wood, for signs of rust and rot. Windows are often forgotten, especially in a double-storey home where they are not easily inspected, but should not be left untreated. Annual maintenance on steel or wooden window frames will prevent possible problems and eliminate the need to replace them at a later stage. Check the frames themselves for loose panes and areas where glass putty is cracking and then check around the frames for any gaps in the surrounding bricks or plaster.
On wooden window frames it is also important to check for rot or insect infestation, as both can cause severe damage if not attended to as soon as possible.
5. Plan of action
Compile a list of problems encountered during your inspection to decide what you can do yourself or if you need to hire a specialist. If the list is extensive and you simply don't have the budget to do everything at once, determine the order of importance for each project then try to schedule repairs so that you don't have to worry and can complete the work as quickly as possible.
Bear in mind that prevention is always better than cure, and an annual inspection will allow you to spot potential problems before they become serious issues. Don't let a problem escalate - in some cases a temporary fix will see you through until you can afford a more permanent solution.