Maintaining the Home:
Foundations, Basements and Yards
- Water that strikes the house or drips down from the roof should drain away from the foundation walls. The gutter and downspout system should keep water from pooling around the foundation where it can create a moisture problem. Be sure gutters and downspouts are kept open and in good repair.
- Trim shrubs and bushes away from the foundation walls. Clearance space should be at least one foot.
- Check masonry foundation walls for cracks or weakened, crumbling mortar.
- Examine main support beams, support columns and floor joists for evidence of bowing or warping.
- Check wood structural members, such as joists, beams, and columns, with a screwdriver or pocket knife to be sure wood is solid and free from decay.
- Check the inside and outside of all foundation walls and piers for termite tubes and damage. You may choose to have an insect-control company do this each year.
- Check that the crawl space vapor barrier is in good condition and placed correctly. A vapor barrier is usually a polyethylene material (6-mil) that covers 70 to 100 percent of the crawl space, depending on the severity of the moisture problem.
- Examine the inside of basement walls for dampness or water stains indicating seepage or a leak.
- In colder areas of New Mexico, water lines and outside faucets need some freeze protection or winter drainage. In addition, garden hoses should be drained and stored for the winter.
- Clean leaves and debris from around an outside heating/air conditioning condenser and trim back shrubs that may block air movement around the house.
- Yard care power equipment should be drained of fuel in the late fall or early winter and serviced according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Doorways, below grade window wells, and storm drains should be cleaned of debris or leaves.
- Driveways and walks should be checked for cracks, breaks or erosion that may damage them. If asphalt surfaces need repairing, be certain you have the equipment and skill to do a lasting repair job. Otherwise, choose a reputable contractor. Unrepaired cracks in concrete can lead to further damage.
- Clean and repair garden equipment after the last use of the season. Remove dirt and rust, then store in dry area. Winter is a good time to file rough spots on hoes and shovels and to apply linseed oil to handles of garden tools. Thoroughly rinse pesticide and herbicide sprayers to prevent clogging, and rinse fertilizer spreaders to prevent corrosion.
- A septic tank needs periodic attention. Learn how to check for sludge and scum accumulation in the tank, and have solids pumped out of the tank as needed.
- Fences, gates and retaining walls should be checked for ease of operation, condition of structure, and materials. Make repairs as needed.
This material was adapted from publications produced by North Carolina State University Extension.