Seasonal Maintenance of Basements and Crawl Spaces

Seasonal Maintenance of Basements and Crawl SpacesMany people don’t think about basement or crawl space maintenance until it’s too late, and then have to deal with serious problems. A short time each season spent on this can avert major trouble.

In the spring, when soil conditions are often wet, check for moisture problems. Inspect both inside and out, looking for water and water stains, for wet wood, and for rust or dampness inside circuit breaker boxes. Clean gutters and downspouts; make sure water is being directed away from the basement, not into the ground next to the walls. Check for termite tunnels, and that untreated wood isn’t in contact with the ground. Inspect sump pumps and dehumidifiers; make sure they’re being maintained according to schedules for the specific equipment. Check water pipes and electrical wiring to make sure they’re dry and undamaged. Open air vents that were closed for the winter; make sure they’re clean and providing proper ventilation, and that screening on vents and windows is in good repair. Remove any storm windows and replace with screens.

In midsummer, when conditions are warm and the ground is dryer, inspect vapor barriers and insulation, and repair or replace if needed. Check foundation walls for settling and cracking, and patch any open spaces. Inspect windows and storm windows for cracks or broken panes; repair them now while the weather is comfortable to work in. Check dehumidifiers again, and perform any needed maintenance. Summer is also a good time to have heating systems professionally cleaned and maintained – heating repair businesses are less busy then and will sometimes give discounts.

In fall, after leaves have fallen, clean window wells, and check again that gutters aren’t directing water towards the foundation. If the heating system wasn’t cleaned during the summer, make sure that gets done before winter. Check the condition of any heat tape. Inspect the sump pump again, and make sure that drains aren’t clogged. Close windows and vents that have been open for the summer; put any storm windows back in place.

Your crawl space or basement should now be secure for the winter; but don’t forget, during the winter, any scheduled maintenance that needs to be done on appliances. If conditions are wet, check to make sure that drainage is working properly. During cold spells, inspect pipes to make sure none have frozen and broken.

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