Spring’s official start is March 20, and, as they say, it traditionally comes in like a tiger out like a lamb. In Chicago, the spring storms are notorious for wreaking havoc on homes and flooding basements.
Get Dwell recommends that homeowners take some simple steps to help make sure your home is safe and secure this spring.
Get Ready for the Rains - Outside Your House
Job number one? Ensuring your roof drainage system is clean and functional after winter’s cold. Runoff from the roof is a home’s largest watershed and homeowners need to make sure downspouts are cleared, that downspouts haven’t pulled away from the house and that downspout extensions that take water away from the house haven’t broken or fallen off.
It is also important to check all drains around your property — in outdoor stairwells, driveways and elsewhere — to ensure they’re clean of debris and working properly. Window wells are one of the main entry points for basement flooding. If you currently have flat drain caps, which can easily be clogged by leaves or by a random wind-blown grocery bag, be sure to install domed drain caps which will give you an extra layer of protection. Homeowners should also look for evidence of ponding next to the house. During freeze/thaw cycles, standing water can lead to cracking around the foundation, in window wells and in pavement that abuts the house. Make sure window wells haven’t pulled away from the house.
Get Ready for the Rains - Inside Your House
Every spring, homes in our area flood because their sump pumps aren't working properly, or at all. Many homeowners don't notice because the sump probably hasn't had to work since last fall. So make sure you check your sump pump and it’s back-up battery. Performing a test is easy: add water to the sump pit until the sump float is lifted high enough to engage the pump. Do not operate the pump for more than a few seconds without water in the sump pit. If your sump pump isn’t working, contact a professional promptly.
Check and Seal Exterior Penetrations
Every house has several penetration points, including A/C hoses, HVAC exhaust vents and dryer vents. The freeze/thaw cycle can cause the seals around these points to crack and fail, allowing bugs, rodents and other creepy crawlies an entryway into your home.
Examine Fencing and Gates
Strong spring winds blow down fencing every year, causing additional damage to homeowners' and their neighbors' property. Look at your fence closely for signs of deterioration or damage. Give each post a little push - does it move? If so, the post is rotted and it needs to be replaced or the next spring storm may bring it down. Gates may also need care in the spring or they too can get damaged in a high wind. Adjust latches and hinges to close correctly and consider an auto-close mechanism which will ensure the gate closes automatically.
Change Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Batteries
Daylight savings time, which has come and gone, is a reminder to change smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries. Remember, even hardwired detectors have batteries. Remember, too, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – even if you’ve been diligent about changing batteries in the past, it’s hard to say when a particular set is going to discharge.
While you have the ladder out, this spring is a great time to change your old light bulbs to newer, energy-savings ones. If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, it would save enough energy to light more than three million homes for one year. That would prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions equal to that of about 800,000 cars!
Have a question about these tips? Need repairs or maintenance to get your home ready for the warmer weather? Talk to Get Dwell. We would be happy to help.