Jon Eakes
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Seasonal Home Improvement Tips

Spring – March

Spring, like fall, is a transition season, as well as a time all its own. We should probably call it the 'Joyous Season' as people celebrate coming out of winter, animals bring new offspring into the world and plants send out new growth. However, it can be a bit frustrating figuring out just when winter has ended and spring has begun, as plants, animals and commuters often get caught in cold, even snow-covered, spring mornings.

We need to be on the lookout for sudden and unexpected cold snaps. You probably don't want to store away the frost protection materials for your plants until we are far into spring. You may want to have some food reserves for any birds near you who would normally be feeding off of nature by now, but could run into serious food supply problems with a cold snap. You might even want to turn off the pilot lights on your furnace later than you would like in order to avoid chilly mornings or frozen pipes.

As for the normal rites of spring, this is the time to assess any winter damage done to the outside of your house, and to repair it quickly before the spring showers find their way in through loose roofing or siding. Another reason to fix loose soffits and siding is that the birds and "squirrels" are looking for places for nests and may decide your attic is an ideal one, if you let them. Close up all openings as soon as you can get a ladder to stand safely on the ground. Check out landscaping, especially patios and patio blocks that don't have well drained substrates. They have probably shifted and you want to be sure they are not sending large quantities of water into the "basement".

Speaking of basements. If you did get water in the basement during the winter thaw, you need to make a thorough inspection for "mould". Once mould is established in a basement, the summer humidity can help it grow. One highly sensitive but low tech mould detector is your nose. Stay outside for at least an hour, then walk directly into the basement and smell. Notice your first reaction, because your nose will adjust very quickly and quit noticing an odour. If you have a sense that it is musty when you walked in, you probably do have mould hidden someplace, maybe even behind the drywall. Once you have cleaned up the mould, "basement ventilation", and maybe even dehumidifiers, may be necessary to keep it away.

In the spring, even your house can send out new growth, like an extended deck or new fence. Just remember that any time you work outdoors in Canada, the Northern United States and/or in mountainous regions, you have to plan ahead for snow and "frost". Good foundations or substrates are essential if you don't want to waste your time and money on things that will run into trouble before next spring.

Spring is a time for freshening things up as well. Do you need a new coat of "water repellent" on your deck? The simple test is to wait for a few dry days, then pour a glass of water on the deck. If the water soaks into the dry wood, you need more water repellent. If it beads up, you don't need it yet.

I have always thought of spring as the first of the four seasons, the one where everything starts, including home improvement projects.