April 23, 2020| Lester Yat
After a too-long, storm-filled, stress-laden winter, the temptation to pull out the lawn chairs and bask in the spring sunshine is strong. After all, the next round of wind-driven snowstorms is months and months away.
Now is the time to watch the grass grow and flowers bloom, and maybe begin to think about preparing the community’s swimming pool for the summer that’s just around the corner.
Not so fast! By June, it’s all too easy to forget about the gutters that were loosened by ice dams and window flashing that allowed water to seep into living spaces. The time to inspect your buildings and grounds is now — while winter problems are still fresh in your mind, summer demands haven’t hit the “to do” list, and contractors have the time to prepare thoughtful bids.
Taking the time to draw up an inspection check-list, and running through it twice a year, will keep you on top of maintenance and repair needs.
Where to begin? Why not start at the top? Check the roof for small branches and leaves, stains, missing shingles, popped nails, damaged vent pipe collars, and flashing that has deteriorated or slipped out of place. Examine all gutters and downspouts to be sure they’re not blocked with leaves or debris, and that granules from roofing shingles haven’t accumulated there.
Don’t forget the chimneys and pipes! Deteriorated flashings or covers can let water seep into the building — and those winter winds may have compromised anchors on those structures.
Moving down the building, look for damaged or missing pieces of siding, or loose or damaged cornerboards. Check the trim around doors and windows for damaged or rotted wood and any penetrations where water might find its way inside.
See anything suspicious around the foundation? Is rainwater being carried away from the building? Are there cracks that will invite water problems during a spring storm? Are foundation windows secure and undamaged?
As contractors moved those huge piles of snow around, was there damage to parking lots, curbs or lawns? Did all sign-posts and mailbox stations survive unscathed? Are roadway drains clear of debris to avoid flooding during a spring downpour?
After touring the exterior, move inside and travel the same route, from top to bottom, looking for any winter damage or signs that problems could be brewing. In the attic, check for blocked sources of ventilation, and any gaps in the insulation on the attic floor. Wet insulation is an obvious sign of water infiltration that needs to be solved immediately.
If melting snow and ice have made it through the attic, there are likely to be signs on the ceilings below. Check for cracked paint, discolored plasterboard, water stains and peeling wallpaper.
Winter’s woes may be behind us — for a while — but Mother Nature still has surprises in store: spring rains, summer heat and thunderstorms, and potential hurricanes in the fall. Taking time twice a year for a top-to-bottom inspection can avert a crisis when the next storm blows through your community.