By Christopher Wittmann, CR
When the topic of “spring cleaning” is discussed, thoughts naturally turn to the inside of your home, such as organizing and discarding no longer used items. The experts at Callen encourage you to also clean the exterior of your home this spring.
“A Wisconsin winter can cause issues for your home’s exterior, so your outdoor chores will likely be comprised of a heavy dose of maintenance as well as the more traditional indoor cleaning and clearing type tasks,” said Christopher Wittmann, CR, exterior product specialist for Callen.
To assist in getting your exterior ready for the outdoor season, Christopher suggests completing the following tasks this spring.
Clean the Gutters
Gutters do their job best when kept clean. “During winter, snow and any leftover leaves or debris may freeze in the gutter,” Christopher said. “Clean out any debris, including in the eaves and roof valleys, to ensure that water can flow freely. Then check for proper drainage away from the home by ensuring that all downspouts are fully secured.” Christopher suggests that, since the weight of the ice and snow in the gutters can compromise the integrity of their fastening to the house, also inspect the connection of the brackets to ensure the gutters aren’t pulling away from the fascia.
Christopher suggests installing a gutter protection system, such as GutterTopper, which Callen has installed on homes throughout southeastern Wisconsin for more than 15 years. “With GutterTopper, water flows smoothly into the gutters even during the heaviest downpour while leaves and other debris stay out,” Christopher said. “Plus, Gutter Topper is equally effective in the winter time since it reduces the amount of ice and snow build-up inside the gutters.” Gutter Topper is available in a full array of colors, so you can coordinate with your roof and gutters.
Inspect Hose Bibs (Outdoor Faucets)
Hose bibs left undrained or unprotected during winter have been known to freeze and crack, creating a leak inside the wall. If this occurs, it is necessary to repair the pipe and install an inside shutoff valve for drainage. “Before winter temperatures set in, it is best to turn off the inside valve (if equipped) and open the outside spigot to allow water to drain out and not freeze during the colder months,” Christopher said. “When you secure your garden hose to the hose bib and turn on the water, pay special attention to the connecting points and inspect for any water leaks in the event that those connections were compromised.”
When spring arrives, people want fresh air in their homes, so naturally they open the windows. Before that is done, clean the screens, as properly maintained screens create maximum airflow into the home. To clean, first try spraying the screens in a tub to eliminate the dust and debris that clings to the mesh. If the debris doesn’t come off, lay the screens on a flat surface and use mild soap and water with a soft brush to gently remove dirt and grime. Clean both sides of the screen and the interior and exterior of the frame. Allow the screen to dry fully before reinstalling.
Most decks require regular upkeep, so it is important to evaluate its condition and make needed repairs. “Examine the structure carefully to ensure it is safe, fixing cracked railings, splintered planks, and loose nails,” Christopher said. “Use a spray nozzle attached to a garden hose to clean the deck to remove dirt and mildew. If the dirt and grime doesn’t come off, the use of a pressure washer or a brush and mild cleaning detergent may be needed.” Reseal the deck if necessary. If the deck area includes lighting, remove debris, clean the fixtures, survey that the bulbs are securely screwed in, and check that all fixtures are working appropriately.
Clean the Garage
For some homeowners, the garage is purgatory for their belongings, where surplus materials take up residence. Cleaning out the garage will provide additional space for warm weather equipment like bikes, outdoor games, and gardening equipment. “Discarding no longer used items and organizing the materials that you decide to keep will allow you to more easily locate what you need, when you need it,” Christopher said. “Eliminating clutter in the garage and storing flammables such as oil, gasoline, paint, propane and varnish in a shed or at least in a metal cabinet in the garage will prevent garage fires.”
Rot is the biggest thing to look for in a wooden fence, along with loose rails and any kind of wobbly parts. “Inspect the posts where they meet the ground. If it appears that the wood is weak, it can cause the whole fence to come down”, Christopher said.
Wash the House
Spring is usually a good time to wash off the dirt and grime that accumulated on the exterior of the house. “To reduce streaking, be sure to start at the bottom and work your way up, being especially cautious around the electrical service entrance, the lines and conduit feeding the power meter,” Christopher said. “Avoid spraying upward and angle the spray away from doors, windows, and vents, especially soffit vents.” He also suggests using a spray nozzle attached to a garden hose first before using a power washer since “the high water output from a pressure washer can compromise the integrity of the siding by tearing off the wood or strips of the finish from hardboard siding and also allowing water to penetrate into the sheathing underneath causing mold and mildew. If dirt and grime aren’t coming off very easily, use a mild detergent and soft brush first to remove or loosen it up before spraying it again.”
“Regardless of the size and condition of your home, exterior spring cleaning can make it fresh for the new year,” Christopher said.
Callen’s exterior product specialists have plenty of ideas enhancing your home’s exterior. Call Callen, the leading remodeling company in Brookfield, for inspiration on how to get started.