Spring Maintenance Guide 2020

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After a seasonally-appropriate spring snowstorm, gusty winds, driving rains, flood warnings and power outages - all during a pandemic - we are forecasting a warming trend to settle in as we continue to shelter-in-place. Traditionally, this time of year signals the start of home and property maintenance, after a long Maine winter. Tidying up your property is an excellent family activity everyone can join in on.

 We have compiled the following Spring Clean-Up Recommendations to get you started:

The Property:

  • If you contract with a seasonal lawn service, now is the time to check-in with them about their policies and service changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Grab a rake and remove accumulated wet leaves. Although leaving wet leaves on your lawn will not suffocate emerging spring lawns, removing them will eliminate the chance of growing snow mold, which is a pink or gray fungal disease that can potentially attack your grass. If you maintain a compost, simply add the leaves to that. Leaf composting is one of the smartest things you can do for your garden.

  • Collect, remove, or pile up tree branches that have been fallen down over the winter and during our recent high winds and snow storms. For Portland residents, the annual curbside collection of leaf bags and other yard waste will be held Monday, April 27 through Friday, May 8, 2020.

  • Reseed your lawn and plant bulbs. Locate and fill in unsightly bald patches while the weather is mild. You’ll want to fertilize your lawn in May when the grass turns green. To stay in compliance with the City’s Ordinance, here is a list of approved products compatible with organic lawn care maintenance along with lawn care tips. Now is also the time to plant perennials. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is a great resource to learn more about what to plant and when.

The Home:

  • Inspect your foundation for cracks. According to Roy Berendsohn, Senior Home Editor for Popular Mechanics Magazine, any crack wider than 1/16 inch is a problem, especially if it admits water or increases in width or length, or if its faces grind against each other with changes in temperature and humidity. All of these indicate foundation movement and that's not good.

  • Walk your driveway and look for cracks in the concrete and driveway for signs of water pooling. Hairline cracks are common as a driveway ages and weather takes its toll. Cracks will continue spreading, widening, and deepening, which can lead to bigger problems down the road.

  • Check the roof for signs of loose or broken shingles. Curling siding and roofing is a sign of excessive moisture. Any damage or signs of wear call for immediate action to keep water from seeping under the shingles and rotting the wood sheathing beneath Here are Step-by-step instructions for the three most-common asphalt-shingle repairs

  • Look up at the chimney for signs of wearAccording to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, your chimney should be inspected annually, and cleaned periodically depending upon how often you use it. It is recommended that open masonry fireplaces should be swept at 1/8" of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system.  This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home.

  • Clean out Gutters. It is well worth spending a few hours up on a ladder to perform seasonal gutter maintenance to prevent water damage, rot, and other long-term issues: 

    1. When gutters and downspouts are blocked with leaves and debris, rainwater may not drain properly creating overflow that runs directly on siding and roofing creating potentially leaky spots.

    2. Discourage critters: Gutters clogged with leaves can make desirable homes for rodents, birds, and insects opening up your spaces to unwanted infestations.

    3. Reduce the risk of a cracked foundation. When water is blocked from traveling away from your home, it can pool around the foundation of your house. This water can crack your foundation when it expands and freezes in the winter months.

  • Check Moisture Levels often. Left unchecked, high moisture over time can cause costly rot damage to your foundation and siding. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the ideal indoor humidity level is around 40% and no higher than 50%. At these levels, the air is both comfortable and healthy to breathe.  Investing in a good moisture meter is a helpful tool to measure your home’s humidity. Here are the most common signs that the moisture level in your home is too high:

    Mildew and musty odors
    Visible mold spots
    Rotting wood & curling shingles
    Exterior paint peeling in large sections
    Allergies are more intense

And finally…..

  • Winterize and store your snowblower for the season and bring out the lawnmower and weed eater out of storage! After sitting all winter,  lawn care tools will probably require some tune-ups. Given that many local repair shops are closed at this time, you can troubleshoot small engine issues yourself at home by consulting free online resources such as the Chilton Library Small Engine Repair Reference Center. This step-by-step repair database has basic maintenance and repair information for lawnmowers, watercraft, ATVs, motorcycles, tractors, snowmobiles...plenty to keep you busy!

  • For a complete list of routine maintenance items, check out  The Annual Home Maintenance Checklist

Our team of real estate professionals works with a variety of local landscaping, pest removal, and home repair experts. If you need local guidance on property maintenance, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our Team is here for you.

Be well.

Brit and the Vitalius Real Estate Group