Winter’s in Tennessee can be unpredictable at best. One day its 70 degrees and the next the doors on your car are frozen shut. This is can be exceptionally harsh on your Nashville home. Here are 6 spring cleaning tips to help you keep critters and water out, conditioned air in and your wallet from severe damage.
Exterior caulking is the last line of defense to keep water from seeping into the nooks and crannies of your house. This can cause, rotting wood, mold, electric fires, insulation damage and create an inviting place for insects to make their home.
The huge fluctuations in temperature mixed with the tendency for ice in Middle Tennessee makes for a “worst case scenario” for caulking. Most inexpensive painters caulk is not designed to expand and contract with hot and cold, which means when the house expands, the caulk will have to choose a side and stick with it. Walk around your home and look for air gaps. If possible take a screw driver or ink pen and poke the caulking to see if it is soft and pliable or dried and ridged. If it’s dried and ridged it is more likely to have failed.
Sherwin Williams has one of the best caulking products on the market called Sher-Max Lifetime warranty urethanized caulking. It is designed to expand and contract, and it adheres to all types of surfaces from brick to glass.
Bird Nests or Animal Damage
Cold weather gives woodland creatures incentive to find someplace warm to live. Birds will find their way into dryer exhaust vents, openings in roof gables, Gaps in your siding and even in gutters underneath different types of gutter guard systems.
Squirrels and raccoons will look for wood areas that are accessible from your roof line where they can scratch their way in. Most likely its an area where warmer air is permeating through the wood sending out a calling card.
When walking around your home during your spring cleaning, look for signs of bird droppings on your siding and dirty areas where critters have been climbing in and out as well as signs of nesting.
It’s always best to evict the tenants before they decide to have kids. One of the best materials to patch holes after a rodent is accustomed to coming in is aluminum. You can buy a sheet of rolled aluminum from Home Depot or Lowes in the roofing section, cut out an appropriate size piece with aviation snips and and nail it in place with white aluminum nails.
You can try to replace the wood with a new piece, but determined squirrels can scratch back through in a matter of hours.
Wood expands and contracts depending on temperature and humidity. Over the winter your caulking is under attack and the wood is like a giant sponge when it comes to melting ice.
Usually wood will be ruined by spring is there are any issues prior to winter, but if the damage started in winter, you may still be able to save hundreds of dollars of carpentry work by fixing the caulking now.
If you do find rotten wood, it is essential to get it fixed. Rotten wood is extremely porous and allows humidity, and sometimes flowing water, down into your walls and siding. This can cause damage to your drywall, electrical system, insulation, windows and can cause mold and mildew damage.
Most homes have a pattern to the wood that fails. Replace any of the wood that you can with a rot free PVC material whenever possible. It is more expensive, but it is basically plastic made to look like wood, so it will never rot again. Detailed brick moulding and shingle moulding are also produced from PVC because it is such a common area of rotting trim.
If PVC is unavailable, the next best material to use is cedar due to it’s rot resistant qualities. You can also use a weather treated board if that is your only option, but you will need to allow the weather treated board 3-6 months to fully dry before painting it. Painting a weather treated board too soon will result in peeling paint and warping wood.
Deck and Fencing Water Resistance
If you know the last time your deck was stained, you may be in good shape, but it’s always a good idea to do a physical inspection every spring to make sure that there is no raw exposed wood first thing in the spring.
Look around for flaking, discolored stain that has chipped or peeled in the freeze thaw cycle of the winter. Grab a cup of water from the kitchen and sprinkle it over the deck floor and on the hand rails. Look to see if the water soaks in or beads up on the surface. If the water soaks in, it is time to reseal your deck.
Be sure to use a good quality product like Sherwin Williams Super Deck. Their products come with a great warranty and have a great durability to daily use. Avoid sealants that have paraffin wax mixed into the sealer. This will cause you major headaches when it comes time to reseal your deck. Decks should be sealed every 2 years with a maximum of 5 years between coats. If you see gray wood, you have waited too long!
Water Hose Valves
The freeze thaw cycle can be brutal to your hose connections, especially if your home does not have the newer style anti siphon connectors. Take a close look at your hose connection to see if it has any cracks or slow leaks.
A good way to protect your hose connections is to turn off the valve inside, if possible, in the fall. Cover the connection with an insulated cover available at any hardware store. Be sure to disconnect any hoses, as they will actually guarantee that ice will back up into the valve.
Check Your Driveway and Sidewalks
Nashville and the Middle Tennessee area is notorious for aggregate stone driveways and sidewalks. They are sealed with a clear or brown tinted polyurethane to keep water from penetrating small cracks in the surface.
The ice can wreak havoc on this relatively weak coating over the winter causing water to get in and under the surface of your concrete. Cracks will develop on the surface and sometimes all the way through the slab if enough water gets in.
In addition, water can cause the surface rocks to cut loose, leaving a bowl shaped depression where the rock use to be. Make sure to pressure wash and seal your aggregate driveway every 2 years minimum to protect it from the damage of water and ice intrusion.
After you've checked off your spring cleaning checklist, you may consider adding a fresh coat of paint. Learn how to choose the perfect paint color for your Nashville home.