Make your home shipshape

The snow’s gone, crocuses are popping up all over the garden, and you thrill to the sound of chirruping birds as they welcome the warmer morning sun. Yup, it’s spring. A time of renewal, and a chance to get things done around the house without having to don extra layers of clothing. One of the most important rites of spring any home-owner should perform — and one many overlook — is a thorough check-up of your dwelling. Our winters are long and severe, and can cause potentially disastrous damage to a building’s structure.

Whether you perform this duty yourself or hire a professional home-inspector to do it for you, the following list will help ensure your home — the biggest investment you’ll ever make — remains shipshape for years to come. First stop…

The roof:

  • Check for missing, loose or damaged shingles, or any open seams, blisters or bald areas on flat roofs.
  • Thoroughly clean gutters and downspouts, making sure water is diverted away from foundation walls.
  • Look in the attic for evidence of water penetration after wet weather.
  • Check fascia and soffits for deterioration and damage.


  • Check foundation walls, fors, concrete and masonry for cracking, heaving or deterioration.
  • Inspect chimneys for loose, deteriorated, or missing mortar.
  • Check grading for proper slope away from foundation walls.
  • Check basement and crawl spaces for moisture or leakage after wet weather.
  • Inspect all wood areas for weathering, including decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings.
  • Check foundation and attic vent screens for damage.
  • Trim vegetation from structures

Doors and windows:

  • Look for broken glass and damaged or missing screens.
  • Check all windows open and close properly, and hardware is in working order.


  • Inspect faucets, hose bibs and supply valves — any evi-dence of leaks around sinks, showers, toilets and tubs?
  • Inspect water heaters for leaks or corrosion.
  • Have a septic tank? If so, arrange to have it cleaned every two years.
  • Well water should be checked for contaminants.
  • If you have a water softener, arrange to have it serviced at least every other year.


  • Periodically check exposed wiring and cable, and replace if worn or damaged.
  • Check extension cords and plugs for damage and wear, and replace as necessary.
  • Trip circuit breakers every six months and ground fault inter-rupters monthly to insure proper protection.
  • Learn the location of electrical service panels and label each circuit.
  • If fuses blow, circuit breakers trip frequently or any appli-ance sparks or shorts out, contact a licensed electrician for repairs.


  • Inspect ceilings and surfaces around windows for evidence of moisture during wet weather.
  • Check tile joints for adequate grout.
  • Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet base.
  • Check ceiling areas beneath bathroom for leakage.
  • Stairs and railings should be checked for any loose members.
  • Test smoke alarms periodically per manufacturers instruc-tions (if you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, now’s the time to get one — some models double up as smoke detectors, so consider an upgrade).
  • Know the location of all gas-shutoff valves.

Heating and cooling:

  • Ensure the area around cooling and heating equipment is clean and clear of debris, and have these systems serviced annually.
  • Ensure all filters are clean, and replace or clean as necessary.
  • Make sure all outside vents are clear of debris.