Our winter rainy season in New Jersey is reliable. It’s a good idea to schedule a check-up for your home every fall to be prepared for any problems that might arise.
It’s the perfect time to clean gutters, scope out arrangements for your Christmas lights, and troubleshoot for any repairs that can be completed before the wet weather arrives.
Do You Need Fall Maintenance?
Fall maintenance is an important aspect of taking care of your home, and because Jersey’s weather is so drastic, it’s essential.
If you have a ladder, a flashlight, some binoculars, and some time, you’ll be able to run through our fall maintenance checklist in an afternoon.
Here’s what to watch for – from bottom to top.
1. Take a Trip Around Your House
It doesn’t have to be raining to make it possible to spot problems. Because of this, the first step of our fall maintenance guide is to check the outside of your home.
– Check the Perimeter
Walk around the perimeter of your house and look for areas where standing water has occurred.
These might be spots where grass doesn’t grow, where the soil has worn down, or where the concrete has shown signs of staining.
– Check the Gutters
Now, look up. Often, the source of the problem is your gutters.
If they are clogged or not functioning properly, they’re going to let water pool up and flow into the wrong areas – like onto to the sides of your home, or into your foundation.
Water that continues to cascade down your exterior walls can cause:
- rotting fascia boards
- deteriorating stucco and mold
- foundation damage
- interior wall damage
If your gutters are full, you’ll want to check these areas for any possible wood damage – before more rain comes, and the problem gets even worse.
Look for any visible signs of wood rot, black mold stains, or marks that will indicate where decay has started, and note where they are.
2. Keep Looking Up: Inside
Back inside your home, cast a careful eye on your walls and ceilings.
You may want to use a good flashlight for high ceilings or darker rooms. Look for any stains that seem out of place.
If you find one, do your best to see if it follows a pattern. It’s often difficult to determine the source of a leak from just the ceiling, but it will be helpful to know the direction it is coming from.
Note the locations of these spots in relation to the attic space or roof.
– Check the Attic
If you have attic access, take your flashlight and continue your check for possible problems.
If you’ve already found water stains downstairs, head to the areas over the spots you’ve located.
Look for additional water stains, mold, and continue to trace them upward, if possible. If you see more evidence of water incursion, mark it down.
3. Move On Up to the Roof
Once you’ve checked out the attic, head back outside for some fresh air and head up to the roof.
If you’ve never looked around much on a roof, you’ll notice that there are quite a few places where water can start leaking in – now is the perfect time to get everything sealed up and watertight.
– Check the Roof Vents
The first fall maintenance step is to check out your roof vents. The plumbing vent will look a lot like a pipe that is sticking straight up out of your roof.
These have a rubber “boot” at their base where they attach to the roof.
The problems that can pop up here are cracking and breakage of the boot, or loose flashing around the vent. Of the two, a defective boot will be the most obvious.
You’ll want to replace any of these that show signs of damage.
– Check the Attic Vents and Roof Structure
The second type of vents is designed to keep air circulating under the roof, in the attic.
These can be a turbine style, a ridge vent, or a style that extends along the peak of your roof. The covers for these vents can become damaged or need to be totally replaced.
Look for bent, dented, or missing covers that will lead to rain getting inside your attic.
Also check for loose or damaged shingles, flashing that has come off the roof, or any areas that need to have the caulk replaced.
– Check the Chimney
Fall is the perfect time to check on your chimney – before the first fire!
On top – make sure that the chimney guard is intact, and that the cover isn’t bent or missing.
On the chimney itself – look for cracked or missing bricks, loose flashing, missing mortar or caulk, and any loose or missing shingles.
Chimneys are a prime spot for leaks to start, so always view them with a critical eye.
– Check the Skylights
Skylights can also cause leakages. During your fall maintenance, it’s important to check this area.
If you’re lucky enough to have them, give the perimeter of each window a check to see if there is visible shingle damage or other indicators that there might be a water incursion.
You’ll want to make sure that the flashing is intact, and that there is no loose caulk around the units.
– Check Specifics for Your Type of Roof
As for the rest of the roof, you’re looking for things that aren’t like the others.
If you have shingles, they should be flat and overlapping neatly. Look for any areas where they are curling up, cracked, or look worn.
If there are sections where there are several shingles that are damaged, it’s likely that you have an existing roof leak, or one on the way.
– Check the Roof Valleys
Check the roof valleys for any evidence that there has been water backing up behind leaves or other tree debris.
This is a good time to make sure that they are cleared of any lingering leaves, branches, and seed pods.
Once they are cleared off, look for any of the previous problem signs that could indicate it’s time for a roof repair.
It’s also a good idea to check your gutters for any grit that has accumulated – this is a sign that the shingles are starting to break down.
The Final Assessment
Once you’re done with your bottom-to-top fall maintenance tour, you’ll know if and where there are any problems.
If none spotted – well done!
If you do note any problems with previous water damage, or needed repairs, now is the best time to schedule a visit from a qualified roofing contractor.
They’ll be able to make any small repairs, check out your roof, and proceed with your roofing replacement, if necessary.
It’s great to head into the holiday season and winter without the worry of rains forcing you to make sudden repairs.