Top spring maintenance tips for your home

Yellow flowers peak out of the ground near the Ottawa river. Buildings are seen in the distance.
Spring flowers near the Rideau River. Photo by Charlie Senack.

By Patrick Langston, All Things Home

While we could still get a dump of snow, spring has officially been here since mid-March and that means it’s time for seasonal home maintenance. 

Tackle a bit at a time, enlist family and friends when you need to, and remember it’s better to hire a pro for anything you’re unsure about or that could be dangerous. 

Roof: The roof is your home’s first line of defence against the elements and needs regular inspections. Use binoculars to check for damage like broken or missing shingles or faulty flashing. With climate change increasing the intensity of summer storms, remember to check again after severe weather. It’s a long way from the roof to the ground, so call in a professional if you spot problems. 

Gutters: A clogged gutter or downspout prevents water draining away from your home the way it should. That can lead to plants taking root in the gutters, damaged fascia and soffit, and pools of water around your foundation. If you are careful, cleaning gutters from a ladder isn’t difficult. If your home is a bungalow, you could try one of the extendible gutter cleaning gizmos sold at building materials stores.

Attic: Check for wet spots or water staining on the underside of the roof and moisture or mould on insulation, any of which could mean a leak. When you’re in the attic, watch for signs of mice or squirrels like droppings or bits of chewed garbage. Mouse traps usually do the job for small critters, but bigger animals may require a pest control expert. 

Basement: To prevent flooding, check your sump pump (YouTube brims with how-to videos), clean your window wells (you can get inexpensive transparent covers at building materials stores) and make sure the grading directs water away from your foundation (again, the internet is a good source for how to identify and rectify problems). And make sure you have a backwater valve in case the sewer backs up — ask your plumber if you’re unsure whether you have one. 

Back and front yards: When was the last time you checked your trees for damaged or weakened limbs that could fall on your house, your car or even a person? Tree care that involves climbing is best left to a professional. While you’re outside, see if steps, porches and decks are in good shape and that walkway and patio pavers don’t present a tripping hazard. If you have a deck, it may be time to give it a protective coating for good looks and a longer life.

Door and window care: Spring is a great time to check the door and window caulking that keeps out water and increases energy efficiency by preventing outside air infiltration. Caulking is an easy DIY task once you know how. While you’re inspecting the caulking, watch for rot in window or door frames. Window and door installers are busy in summer, so make an appointment immediately if needed.

Air conditioner: Central air conditioners work hard during Ottawa summers. Preparing yours now minimizes the chance of a failure on a steamy July night. If you are not a natural DIYer, hire a professional to inspect and maintain it annually – the $200-$300 you spend will be well worth it. 

Smoke detectors: If you didn’t check your smoke detectors and change the batteries when the clocks went ahead, now is the time. Also, check the expiry date on the back or side of the device: battery-operated detectors usually last about 10 years.

Anita Murray and Patrick Langston are the co-founders of, Ottawa’s go-to resource for homeowners and homebuyers.

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