By Greg Stopher

I don’t want to say it, mostly because I’m having so much fun this summer but fall is around the corner. I really enjoy fall because even though the days get a little shorter and a little cooler, hunting season is here, fish can be easily taken on a fly rod, skis are getting waxed, and skates are getting sharpened. Fall is a great time to prepare your home for the winter months and to get caught up on the yearly maintenance items for your home. This will be a two part series – Part I is focused on the home’s exterior maintenance items and when they should be done. Next month – Part II will be focused on interior maintenance.

While the weather is still nice it’s a great time the get the exterior of your home in tiptop shape. Yearly and bi-yearly maintenance to your home’s exterior will help maintain durability and keep the inhabitants healthy. Unlike building a home from the ground up I like to do home maintenance from the roof down. The roof takes on the biggest brunt of weather, although if your home is on Douglas that is questionable with the winds coming up the channel. Asphalt roofs can be cleaned with a number of eco-friendly over-the-counter roof cleaners and a garden hose. Sometimes a light soft brush will be needed to remove the sticky moss. It is not recommended to remove moss and algae from asphalt shingles with a high pressure washer because it removes the granules that give a roof its durability and longevity. High pressure will only shorten the life of a roof. While on the roof, check all the flashing and any penetrations through the roof to ensure that there will not be any leaks. More caulking is not a long-term solution – a roof needs to be flashed properly. A steel roof can be maintained in much the same way as an asphalt roof, although it is important take extra precaution because it can be very slick to walk on. Complete all roof maintenance in the early fall before the frost hits.

After the roof is cleaned where does all the debris go? Well it’s likely in the gutters. Gutters are the next item on my list of home maintenance items for the exterior of the home. Clean the gutters and make sure all the roof water is going into the gutters. Make sure the gutters are draining and sloped properly to the down spouts. It is important to complete gutter maintenance in the fall as well as in the spring to ensure that the snow and ice throughout the winter did not knock anything out of whack.

Next, it is good to check all windows and doors making sure that there are no leaks or broken glass. Make sure all seals on the windows and doors are working properly. Check to see if they are sealing tightly, keeping the heat in and the water out. Proper flashing and caulking plays a big role in how windows perform on the exterior of the home. The exterior of the windows and doors should be checked at least once a year. However, in older homes they should be checked in both spring and fall.

Now it’s time to do a walk around to check the siding and paint. A sign that something may be wrong will be bubbled or peeling paint, as well as bubbled or bowed siding. Another thing to look for while inspecting the siding is any sign of critters and insect intrusion. With the introduction of exterior insulation many homes have become an attractive place for insects and little animals, like shrews and mice to burrow into. This could greatly affect the insulating value of your home. Another part to check in relation to the siding and exterior is where decks connect to the side of a home; this is where I often see problems, including rot. This connection can take a beating from the weather and water splashing against the home often creates water problems and intrusion especially if the deck is not flashed and connected properly to the home.

Drainage around a home plays a very important role in keeping a home dry and healthy. If the slope around your home is not adequate, water has the opportunity to enter the home if it is below grade or if the home has a crawlspace. A home needs about a 2% slope away from it for proper drainage. This slope equates to about a 1-inch drop for every 4 feet. Check your gutter downspouts. The downspouts should extend approximately 4’ away from the home or into a separate drain that extends away from the home, so any roof water draining will not back into the home.

Vents and intakes are another very important item and usually need a quick cleaning twice a year. Dryer vents are very important to check because lint build up can become a fire hazard and affect the efficiency of the dryer itself. Other exhaust vents include kitchen and Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) System vents. These should be cleaned and checked to confirm that all flappers are working properly. If your home has a HRV system, you will need to check the intake as well. The intake of a HRV will often collect a lot of insects during the summer months. The interior maintenance of HRV systems will be covered in more detail in next month’s article.

One quick check of your outdoors spigots will save a lot of grief in the spring thaw. Make sure all hoses are detached from the hose bib before temperatures start to drop. When a hose is left on the spigot, water cannot drain properly out of the cold part of the hose bib with a hose attached, thus freezing just inside the wall cavity. When the spring thaw comes the frozen hose bib that is cracked by the ice expanding will release about 7 gallons of water per minute into your home, properly flooding it.

One of the last things to check on the exterior of a home is bushes and trees. Walk around you home and make sure all bushes and trees are trimmed back from the home. Any trees, shrubs, or bushes in contact with a home can create problems with moisture, insects, or just plain rub a house the wrong way. Look for any dead limbs or trees that could fall when the Taku winds come blowing. This type of maintenance will help keep roofs and gutters clear.

Set aside one day in late summer or early fall to do all your outdoor maintenance. These maintenance items usually only take a day or possibly a weekend to accomplish. Next month I will go over a checklist for all the interior maintenance to help you maintain a healthy, safe, and durable home.

Greg Stopher has over 16 years of experience in the construction field and earned a degree in Construction Technologies from the University of Alaska – Southeast. His company, Stopher Construction, LLC, is a general contracting company specializing in remodeling, custom finishes, additions and new home construction projects. He can be reached at 907-321-2350.