Save Money & Prevent Costly Home Repairs

Yikes! Don’t Let Little Problems Around Your House Turn Into A Money Pit!

spring cleanPerhaps you’ve heard the old expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Indeed, those words still hold true today!  As a Realtor, I’ve seen firsthand that deferring home maintenance can be very risky, as even small issues can have the potential to become more serious and expensive in a heartbeat. (And should you ever need recommendations for contractors and handyman services, just call or text me!)

To help you protect your most valuable asset — your home — you’ll want be on the lookout for these potential issues:

Clogged Gutters

Clear gutters of debris and check them for corrosion, joint separation, and loose fasteners. Flush out downspouts and unclog leader pipes. Consumer Reports recommends that leaders should extend at least 5 feet from a downspout, to direct water away from the foundation.

Leaky Roof

Leaks typically occur around an inadequately flashed chimney, roof’s edge, skylight, or other opening. They’re easiest to spot in the attic; inspect the rafters for water stains. Patching leaks is best left to a professional. While the contractor is on the roof, ask them to clean leaves from roof valleys to inspect those seams as well.

Examine the siding under roof eaves, and the ceilings in the rooms below, for water or discoloration which indicates that ice dams might have created leaks along the roof edge during winter.

Inspect the roof for cracked, curled, or missing shingles, and correct these issues right away.

Dirty Air Conditioner

Disconnect electric power to the outdoor condenser on your air conditioner and clear it of leaves and debris with a vent brush or power leaf blower. If the cooling ‘fins’ are exposed, be careful not to bend them. Inside the home, vacuum the all vent covers and the air intake register to ensure good airflow. Change air filters on a regular basis, to improve system efficiency and to help reduce allergens in the air.

Foundation Issues

Hairline cracks in foundation walls might be the result of concrete curing or minor settling, and aren’t automatically cause for alarm. Mark them with tape and check them again in a few months. If they’ve worsened, call a structural engineer. Fill in holes in siding and foundation walls with expandable insulation foam to reduce drafts and guard against damage from moisture.

Check that the ground around the foundation slopes away from the house (about 1 inch per foot). This is especially key each spring, as mulched flowerbeds can build up in height over time. The pros at ‘This Old House’ recommend removing and composting that old mulch, then re-grade the slope to correct the issue.

Look for pellet-shaped droppings or shed wings from termites (Ewww!  Definitely report it to your exterminator right away!) Be sure to clear the areas around your home’s foundation of leaves, in which unwelcomed critters can nest and take up residence.

Hazardous Deck

Look for water stains where the deck ties to the house. Ongoing water leakage can lead to wood decay, weakening the deck structure and the house. If you have any doubt about the structural integrity of the deck, always call a pro to investigate it for you.

Rid your deck of moss and mold, and pressure washers can be a quick and effective way to do this. Remember, if during cleaning you see minor wood damage (like raised wood fibers), be sure to increase the distance between the spray nozzle and the decking to reduce further problems.

Faulty Garage Door

To check that the door is balanced, release it into the manual mode and lift it by hand. The door should lift easily and smoothly and stay open on its own about 3 feet off the ground. If it doesn’t, have it checked by a pro.

Weakened Trees

Inspect trees for broken branches. If the limb is high up, hire a licensed arborist. If you can reach it from the ground, take it down using the three-cut technique, which prevents bark from tearing and creating an open wound on the trunk.

Check tree trunks for signs of “sun scalding,” which typically affects the south and the southwest sides of smooth-barked trees, such as maples. Inspect for roots poking through the soil, a possible sign that the tree is starting to list and may have a greater risk of toppling over during windy conditions.

If your region had heavy snowfall in winter, look for bending branches. Make a mental note and check that they bounce back and produce leaves in the spring.

Cracked Pavement

Address cracks in the driveway and paths before weeds take up residence. Home centers sell patching materials and fillers designed for asphalt and concrete surfaces. These DIY fixes might not do the trick on surfaces that have ruptured from the effects of frost heaving. For those, you’ll need to hire a professional to pour or pave a new surface over stabilized soil.

If your home has a path that was dry set (as opposed to set in mortar), brush stone dust or sand in the joints to lock the pavers in place and prevent weeds from invading.

Hope you find this checklist useful! As part of my client appreciation program, this month I’ve mailed another cost-saving and practical resource (‘Watch Out For Ordinary Wear and Tear’) to my clients to help them keep more of their hard-earned money in their wallets. If you’d also like a copy, just send me an email at, or call or text me at 757.876.5328.

Here’s to helping you save time and money, while protecting your most important asset,


Tammy Thrift, Realtor

Serving Your Real Estate Needs, From Colonial Williamsburg To The Chesapeake Bay!

Actively licensed with Long & Foster in the Commonwealth of Virginia (USA)


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