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Originally published Friday, May 31, 2013 at 8:02 PM

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A spring maintenance list for roof tops

If roof damage is found, repairing damage now could save you thousands in more serious repair work later.

Special to The Seattle Times

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HomeWork

Q. I’m a new homeowner. What maintenance should be done in the spring and early summer?

A. With our often harsh and unpredictable winters, inspecting your roof should be at the top of your spring home-maintenance check list every year.

Look for missing or loose shingles. Examine the condition of the flashings around the chimney, flue pipes, vent caps and any area where the roof and walls intersect. Be aware of overhanging trees that could have damaged the roof in a wind storm, as well as buildups of leaves and other debris.

If roof damage is found, repairing damage now could save you thousands in more serious repair work later. And remember, shingles damaged by wind or by the impact of a falling tree limb, may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance.

Winter can also take a toll on windows, walls, foundations, gutters and decks.

Check your gutters and downspouts, looking for areas where the fasteners might have pulled loose, as well as any sagging in the gutter run. Also check for water stains that could indicate joints that worked loose and are leaking.

Whether you have wood siding, stucco or brick, look for trouble spots, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains normally indicate that your gutters are not adequately containing roof runoff.

If you have wood siding, check for openings, damaged areas or knots that have popped out, making way for carpenter ants, woodpeckers and other critters that borrow in or nest.

If you have one, check your deck. Decks have two sworn enemies: UV rays and moisture.

Check the railings to make sure they are nice and stiff. Watch for cracks on structural timbers. Are the stair stringers — the notched boards that stair planks rest on — cracked after a long winter with heavy snow loads? Also check the deck’s surface for old nail heads or screws that are protruding and nail or screw them back in.

You want to get your deck clean because the greatest enemy of decks, which are usually made of wood, is water. Throughout the year, leaves, dirt and pollen fall on your deck — not to mention bird droppings and slug slime. These basically turn into organic material that holds water, allowing it to saturate the wood, which can lead to dry rot.

Clean and check the operation of cooling fans, air-conditioners and whole-house fans. Check outdoor central air-conditioning units for damage or debris buildup and clean or replace any filters. Check the roof or wall caps where the fan ducts terminate to make sure they are undamaged and well-sealed. Check dampers for smooth operation.

This is also the time to replace furnace filters that have become choked with dust from the winter heating season. This is especially important if you have central air-conditioning, or if you utilize your heating system’s fan to circulate air during the summer.

Finally, If you have in-ground sprinklers, run each set through a cycle and watch how and where the water is hitting. Adjust or replace any sprinklers that are hitting your siding, washing out loose soil areas, spraying over foundations vents, or in any other way wetting areas on or around your home that shouldn’t be getting wet.

Now you can settle into that lawn chair, secure in the knowledge you will have taken care of repairs or replacements before prices and temperatures rise.

The Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties provided information contained in this article. If you would like more information or have questions about home improvement send them to homework@mbaks.com. Sorry no personal replies. Always consult local codes and contractors.

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