Spring house maintenance tips
Tai Poutini Polytechnic Carpentry Tutor Rick King
A little work on your house now could save you a lot of time – and money – in the future. Spring is a great time to do a once-over of your property, checking key areas like windows, cladding and the roof, to make sure your place is ship-shape.
There are plenty of jobs you can do yourself to keep major issues, like leaks or rot, at bay. New Zealand has a proud history of DIY and it’s great that people are keen to give it a go. The key is knowing when you can take on a job yourself, and knowing when it’s best to call in some professional help. The hourly rate can sometimes seem steep, but the skills and expertise a professional brings to the tricky jobs can save you time and money in the long run.
Below are a few tips and suggestions to give your home a spring once-over and make sure you’re looking good for summer.
As well as letting in the light, your windows can take a bit of a hammering keeping the weather at bay all year.
For wooden frames, give all your windows a once-over, checking for:
- Putty condition – any cracks or breaks can be filled ahead of sanding and painting.
- Frames – sometimes water damage is hidden beneath the paint surface, so look for any sagging and use a screwdriver to check for softness. If you find any issues, this is one of those times professional help can pay dividends.
- Easing – has the wood expanded or shifted? Painting can add a thickness to frames that makes them difficult to open. For old windows that have been painted over, you might need a chisel to get them moving again, but be careful you don’t do more damage than good.
Aluminium frames also have some common issues that can be addressed:
- Check the vinyls around the outside for cracking or drying. A glazier can replace these for a reasonable price.
- Checking sticky sliding doors means you can spot any issues with the rollers and have those replaced reasonably easily, before any costly damage occurs to the frame itself.
Flashings keep the water out and dryness in, so it’s essential you check them every year. A little drip is easy to fix, but a couple of years of water damage in the building frame is a massive problem to deal with.
- Focus on the corners, looking for any movement or cracks and lines in the paint.
- Flashings over the top of windows are the most important so keep any eye out for any spots of rust. This is a particular issue near the coast as sea salt can cause real issues.
You can fix a lot of spouting issues yourself – just make sure you have safe access and take the right precautions. And don’t forget: if you can’t remember when you put your spouting up, it’s too old.
- Plastic spouting can creep lengthways up to 20mm or 30mm a year, so check for alignment.
- Focus on the joins, looking for drips. You can clean these out an reseal with a special sealer/adhesive, but make sure you are thorough with the clean.
- Check brackets for sagging; they can come unclipped, particularly in some of the high winds we have here on the Coast.
- Your local hardware store will offer a pamphlet that sets out all the different spouting sections with reference numbers so you can go in an easily order what you need.
Do a walk-round to check your cladding. Most new options wear pretty well, but there’s always work to be done on weather boards.
- Different finishes on the paint can be a pointer to problems underneath the boards.
- Check under windows in particular for water damage.
- Weather boards might look the same, but they come in different sizes depending on when your house was built.
- This is a good time to call in the professionals to make sure the job’s done right. You can let them deal with any water issues, and still do all the priming and prepping for painting yourself.
Make sure you have safe access before you do a walk-over and if you don’t feel comfortable, get help.
- Check all the nails and screws to see if any have come loose or rusted out – this is where the water will get in.
- Our salty West Coast air can play havoc with iron rooves, check the outside corners and underneath for spots of rust.
- Ridge flashings and roof valleys need specific attention to ensure water-tightness, but it’s not always easy to spot problems here unless you know what you’re looking for.
- Get up in the ceiling and check the roof from underneath – just be careful where you put your feet!