How to Inspect the Exterior of Your Home

Prevent problems before they begin -- learn what to look for and how to properly maintain the exterior structure of your home.

Home Graphic

Home Graphic

©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

From: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement

The exterior of your house has to withstand the elements through all seasons. An annual inspection is important to ensure that all aspects of exterior structure are maintained. It pays to be vigilant in checking for any potential problems, because this may prevent them from escalating into something more serious.

Whenever you find evidence of a problem, consider these key issues before taking any action. First, assess the physical extent of the problem, and check whether it is symptomatic of a larger issue. For example, a loose tile may simply need to be secured, or may be symptomatic of an underlying problem. Consider whether it is something you can fix yourself, or if you need to call in a professional for advice or to complete the work. Once you know what you are dealing with, assess whether the problem needs to be tackled immediately, or whether it can wait until you have the funds and the time to deal with it more easily. Problems such as leaking pipes or constantly running overflows are damaging and wasteful, and if you have a water meter they will be costing you a considerable amount of money. If the problem is a seasonal one, such as leaves blocking a gutter, it is worth planning for annual maintenance work. Remember that if you are hoping to sell your home, any problems with the exterior can seriously affect first impressions, and therefore the price you can expect to receive for your property.

1. Chimney and Flashing

Pointing and flashing should be sound and must be properly installed to ensure that water cannot penetrate the roof.

Properly Installed Flashing Protects Roof

Properly Installed Flashing Protects Roof

Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

2. Siding and Vents

Boards should be sound, with no flaking paint or varnish. Vents must be clear of obstruction. This should be included as part of your boiler service schedule.

Keep Vents Clear of All Obstructions

Keep Vents Clear of All Obstructions

Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

3. Doors and Windows

These should have a protective or preservative finish. Vinyl should be kept clean. Windows must have a protective coat of paint or finish.

Wooden Windows Need Protective Paint

Wooden Windows Need Protective Paint

Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

4. Downspouts

Pipes should have no leaks at joints, and water should flow easily into drainage systems. Downspouts must be clear of any vegetation and leaves to ensure that water drains away efficiently.

RX-DK-DIY016007_gutter-downspo_s3x4

RX-DK-DIY016007_gutter-downspo_s3x4

©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

5. Drains and Gutters

Check for any signs of blockage and keep free of debris. Gutters should be free of corrosion and leaks, and water should run easily. Remove blockages immediately. Trees close to the house may occasionally cause subsidence, and their leaves may block gutters. Fascia board should be in sound condition and show no sign of decay.

Fascia Board Should be Free of Decay

Fascia Board Should be Free of Decay

Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

6. Brick or Blockwork

This should have sound pointing, with no holes or gaps in joints.

7. Paving and Driveways

Joints should be well pointed, and water should run off away from the house and into drainage channels. Drives should be free of holes, craters and standing water. Vegetation should be cleared from the surface.

Driveways Should be Kept in Good Condition

Driveways Should be Kept in Good Condition

Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

8. Decking

This should be well treated with preservative, have no decay and be free from algae.

9. Flat Roofs

These need to be kept clear of debris and vegetation. Holes should be patched immediately with a primer made specially for the type of roofing surface.

10. Fences and Paths

Fences should be kept vertical, and wooden ones well preserved. Paths should be well maintained. Driveways should be free of holes, craters, and standing water. Vegetation should be cleared from the surface.

11. Stucco

There should be no cracks or holes. Vegetative growth will encourage mildew, and should be treated before repainting.

12. Roof Tiles

Slates or tiles should not be cracked, broken, or out of position. Any valleys should be clear of debris. Ridge tiles should all be in place, and their mortar must be in sound condition, with no cracks or holes.

Make Sure Mortar on Ridge Tiles is Sound

Make Sure Mortar on Ridge Tiles is Sound

Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Drainage

Many exterior maintenance tasks involve ensuring smooth and efficient drainage from your home and into underground drainage systems in order to keep your home free from flood problems. Waste water is directed into the sewer system or septic tank through a network of underground pipes. Inspection chambers, situated below manhole covers, allow access to the pipes should problems occur. Rainwater is channeled into a separate system, or may run into the sewer. In older homes, both rainwater and waste water may drain into the sewer through the same network of pipes. Older systems should be regularly maintained, and updated when possible.

Copyright 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Text copyright 2009 Julian Cassell and Peter Parham

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