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Avoid costly home repairs with a little spring maintenance

With the snow and ice finally retreating from what has been a particularly brutal winter in many parts of the country this year, Canadians are now eagerly awaiting the return of spring. But before you set out the patio furniture and fire up the grill, be sure to give your house a good once-over to identify any damage left behind by old man winter.

A little preventative upkeep now before issues have a chance to become more serious is often the difference between a simple maintenance project, and a large, costly repair further down the road.

Starting at the top

Your home’s roof is the first line of defense against nasty weather, so it naturally takes the brunt of winter storms. A breach in this defense can be catastrophic and what may start out as just a small leak, can soon turn into serious structural damage. A regular check on the state of your roof is an important way to avoid very expensive repairs.

Shingles are especially susceptible to the ravages of winter storms and any missing or damaged shingles can very quickly lead to serious water damage to your home. In addition to looking over your shingles, don’t forget to check the flashing around chimneys and vents.

While you’ve got the ladder out, take the time to clear away any debris that may be clogging the eavestroughs. Be sure to pay special attention to where downspouts connect to eavestroughs as vegetation tends to collect in these areas and can block the downspout. Backed up gutters can cause water to seep under the shingles and damage the roof.

Taking it to ground level

With a check of the top of your house now complete, it’s time to get back on the ground. Walk around the perimeter of your house checking all painted surfaces for peeling paint. Carefully examine the caulking around doors and windows as cold weather can cause this material to crack and fall away. Be sure to repair any gaps in the caulking not only to help conserve energy, but also to prevent moisture from attacking window sills and frames.

Visually inspect the foundation for any signs of damage that could allow water to make its way into your basement. In our damp climate, basements are especially vulnerable to leaks and the repeated freezing and thawing cycles we experience each year can put tremendous pressure on your home’s foundation.

Be on the lookout also for any low areas in the ground around your home’s foundation where water could collect. Ideally, the surrounding area should slope away from your house so that water drains well away from the foundation.

When water is permitted to collect near the foundation, it can seep through even the tiniest of cracks and, over time, the crack will only get wider. Once these larger cracks develop, you will have no choice but to dig down to the foundation in order to repair the damage which, as you can guess, is a very expensive undertaking.

Driveways and walkways

Winter is especially cruel to paved driveways and walkways. Water that seeps through cracks in the asphalt will freeze during cold weather and the expanding ice can cause larger cracks to develop. Repeatedly driving and parking on these cracks will further weaken the asphalt and can even cause pieces of the asphalt to crumble and break away.

Treating your driveway now with a good sealer can help protect your parking area in time for next winter. If you already have broken asphalt, you can purchase “cold patch” from most hardware stores to complete an emergency repair. Simply clear away any loose pieces of asphalt from the damaged area and fill with the cold patch product. Tamp down to compact the material and force it into the broken asphalt.

Wooden decks and fences

Wooden decks and fences are very vulnerable to weather and while cedar or other pressure-treated woods are more resistant to weather damage, without sufficient maintenance even these materials will deteriorate over time. Reapply stain or sealant as required and replace any sections of wood showing signs of rot.

Financing home repairs

Dealing with an unexpected home repair bill can place a burden on any budget. To help manage the cost of repairs or to finance a large renovation project, many homeowners turn to a home equity line of credit. Known as a “HELOC”, a home equity line of credit is a specialized loan that offers several unique benefits. For starters, it is secured by the equity you’ve accrued in your home so it typically comes with a lower rate of interest than a non-secured personal loan or line of credit. Also, it is set up as a revolving line of credit allowing you to continuously borrow any amount you wish up to your approved limit, while only paying interest on the actual amount you borrow.

Home Trust offers a version of a HELOC through our Home Trust Equityline Visa credit card which secures the credit limit of the card through a mortgage on your property. With this card, you’ll have all the advantages of a revolving line of credit, but you’ll also receive additional benefits available exclusively to Home Trust Equityline Visa cardholders. These benefits include a 1% cash back on all purchases made with the card as well as preferred interest rates based on your credit history and property value.

To learn more, see the Home Trust Equityline Visa website.

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