Seasonal Maintenance

The seasonal maintenance pages offer the homeowner suggestions for maintaining the interior and exterior of their home throughout the year during each season: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.

Winter Maintenance

Winterize your sprinkler system in the event of a freeze:

  • Turn off your main sprinkler system valve. If you can't locate it, turn off the right hand valve on your backflow device.
  • Go to your sprinkler control unit and, with the manual button, activate the first zone for approximately 30 seconds. This will de-pressurize the system.
  • Turn the sprinkler controller to the OFF position.
  • When you are ready to begin using the system again, just open the main valve you closed previously, and activate the sprinkler controller by turning to the automatic position.

Precautions for protecting your water pipes in the event of a freeze:

  • Remove all garden hoses from hose bibs.
  • Insulate or wrap all exterior pipes and hose bibs.
  • Let inside faucets drip slowly to keep water from freezing in the pipes.
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors under sinks open to circulate warm air around pipes.
  • If you are going out of town, turn the water off at the water meter. Drain the water from the house by opening all interior and exterior faucets after turning off the water supply. Set the heating system thermostat "ON" to keep pipes warm inside the house.

Make sure those exterior holiday lights work when you need them:

  • Before the holiday season arrives and you start decorating with your lights, it is important to check the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets on the interior and exterior of your home.
  • These outlets are installed as a safety feature to control the electrical current to "wet" areas of your home, such as, bathrooms, kitchen, garage, and at the exterior of the house. Their purpose is to sense any extra load on the circuit and to cut power to the circuit to prevent an extended electrical shock.
  • There is a reset button on the GFCI outlet itself. Push the button to reconnect power to the outlet.
  • If the breaker continues to cut off, you should contact your electrical company to check for a possible short or other malfunction.


Spring Maintenance

Check exterior doors for damage and wear from the winter weather:

  • Look for peeling paint or hairline cracks in wood. Natural finish wood entry doors exposed to rain or the sun will need to be refinished periodically.
  • Check for wearing of weatherstripping. The weatherstripping on your exterior doors will occasionally require adjustment to maintain a good seal. A well-sealed door should be somewhat hard to open and close.
  • Check for dulling finish and scratched hardware. To maintain the polished metal and prevent corrosion, regularly wipe all metal parts with a soft cloth to remove dirt and grime. Then apply a car wax to the metal surface in accordance to the wax manufacturer's instructions.
  • Garage doors should have all moving parts oiled about once every three months. In addition, make sure to oil the springs, rollers, cable drum and side bearings of metal doors. Springs may rust or break. Replacements can be found at many local hardware stores.

Check the exterior of your home for needed paint and caulk. All exterior materials require repainting and recaulking periodically.

  • Trim boards may pull away from one another or from other materials. Recaulk trim boards and/or siding with a good exterior-grade caulk before repainting to prevent leaks and improve the appearance of your home.
  • Make sure the area to be caulked is free of dirt, grease and debris.
  • Exterior paint is particularly subject to fading or chalking from sun and weather. Wood trim will develop minor cracks and raised grain as it ages and dries. Raised grain can result in peeling paint.

Check your roof, shingles, flashing and gutters after the winter weather.

  • Leaks can occur where the roof joins the chimney. Metal flashing protects this area and prevents water from leaking into the house. Flashing should be inspected for signs of rust. If rust appears, remove it with a wire brush, then paint with a metal primer coat and suitable top coat. If flashing is cracked at the edges, repair with flashing cement or similar compound from you local hardware store.
  • Inspect the roof and shingles for weather damages, such as, curled, loose, or missing shingles. Remove debris from the roof to avoid possible discoloration and deterioration.
  • Clean out rain gutters and downspouts of leaves, debris and blockages, especially, in heavily wooded areas. Run water from a hose into the gutter and check the water exit at the downspout to ensure that it flows away from the foundation. Inspect the general condition of the gutters: paint, rust, leaks and loose connections, hangers and clips.
Summer Maintenance

Air conditioning systems need attention at this time of the year:

  • Now is the time to have your air conditioning system checked and serviced before the extreme summer temperatures begin. This service needs to be scheduled with your A/C company, but you can do preventive maintenance yourself on the system. Return air filters should be changed every six to nine months. Remember to always turn off the unit before removing the filter, and be sure the filter is properly secured when putting it back into position.
  • It is important to protect your outside unit from damage. Keep your lawnmower chute pointed away from your condenser while mowing. Also, landscaping should not be placed too close to the units. This allows your units the necessary air circulation.
  • Another area of preventive maintenance is the secondary drain for the air conditioner. This drain is installed as a safety measure. If for some reason the primary drain becomes clogged, the condensation will flow to the secondary drain line that exits the house through a pipe at the soffitt or siding. If you should notice this drain dripping, you should contact your air conditioning company to check and determine why the primary drain is not working.

Summer temperatures are hard on trees and extra care should be taken:

  • Maintenance of trees includes proper watering, feeding and pruning when necessary. Newly planted large trees require more attention than a tree that has been established a while. These trees can go into shock if not properly watered. Too much water is as harmful as too little water.
  • A recommended watering schedule for large yard trees would be:
    -> No rain: Hand water, which means to allow a deep, slow, soaking no less than twice weekly.
    -> Rainy: No watering necessary
  • A recommended water schedule for your small curb trees would be:
    -> No rain: Hand watering every other day should be sufficient. Allow the ring around the tree to fill with water slowly. Water no less than three times a week.
    -> Rainy: No watering necessary.
  • The condition of the leaves on the tree is important. If the leaves are brown and spongy cut back on the watering. If the leaves are brown and crisp, additional water is needed.

Maintaining the area around the foundation of your home is important:

  • It is important to maintain an even moisture level in the soil around the foundation of the home. In the summer months when weather might be especially dry, it is recommended you water the perimeter of the slab/foundation. If the ground at the foundation becomes too dry and large cracks appear in the soil, the soil under exterior beams could shrink and cause settlement.
  • It is important to maintain and keep positive water drainage routed away from your foundation. Often swales have been provided to make certain water drains away from your home. These swales must be kept clean and clear and landscaping should be done keeping this in mind.
Fall Maintenance

Wood fencing and gates need attention in order to function properly:

  • Now would be a good time to check your wood fencing and gates for any needed repairs before the fall weather begins. It is the nature of wood fencing and gates to absorb water (swell) and then dry (shrink). This normal process will loosen nails and other attachments over time and will require occasional tightening to maintain firm attachment to supporting members.
  • Where wooden gates and fences are painted or sealed with stain, you must maintain these finishes to prevent deterioration. A new coat before the fall weather begins would be suggested.

The water heater on the interior of the home should also be serviced:

  • Once a year it is suggested that your water heater be serviced to determine that it is safe to operate and does not have a leak. The water should be flushed once a year to remove sediment deposits in the tank. You can contact your plumber about providing this service.

Now is the time to check and do any needed maintenance to your fireplace:

  • Before using your fireplace, open the damper and visually inspect inside the firebox to be sure the damper is fully open. Some dampers may stick in the closed position even though the lever seems to work correctly. Make sure your fireplace has a tightly fitting damper that is kept closed when it is not in use. An open or loose fitting damper can allow a large percentage of the heat to escape up the chimney.
  • If you have a gas fireplace, it operates on a standing pilot ignition system. If at any time the pilot light goes out, your fireplace will not operate. Follow manufacturer instructions for lighting the pilot. Once the pilot is re-lit and you want to light a fire, it is not necessary to turn the gas on full. The force of the gas may blow out the match if gas pressure is too high.
  • It is important to know that when burning your fireplace unit, it is normal for the mantel or the marble surround to get hot. Children and adults should be alerted not to touch the unit while it is in use.

This time of year is a good time to check all smoke detectors in the home:

  • Smoke detectors should be checked on a regular basis to determine that they are working properly. Dust or vacuum detectors and the area around them to keep dust and debris from interfering with sensors.
  • Batteries and the sensor operation should be tested regularly in smoke detectors. It is a good practice to change batteries twice a year and in all of the detectors at the same time. Smoke detectors that are hard-wired models should be tested after any power outages. Be sure to reset detectors after testing, depending on the model installed.