Homes contract and expand

by Stickywire on Monday April 9, 2012

Homes are living things that respond to the environment and the more we understand this, the more we can protect our homes and enjoy living in them. For instance, components in our homes expand when it gets warm and contract in cold weather. 

Expansion and contraction cause noticeable changes in homes; cracks open in the walls, ceilings, around door and window trim or between floorboards and tile on the floor.  Floors can creak more because of a change in weather.

Outdoors, our patios stones may shift, our decks may tilt and our walkway slabs may become uneven.

All of the problems a home might have with changes in the weather should be attended to as soon as they are noticed. Some may need a professional contractor to repair and remedy so the problem won’t recur. Others can be fixed on a DIY basis.

Check a home in the spring looking at a number of household systems:

* Inspect your fence, railings on decks, balconies and stairs and repair or replace those that are dangerously loose or rotted. Paint or seal those that need it.

* Get the roof fixed in the spring if it needs it because shingles have cracked or buckled over the winter.

* Check wood siding and trim for water-caused problems.

* Clean roof gutters and don’t forget the street gutters too. 

* Check the drains of your home before the spring runoff or get a plumber to ensure the drains are not blocked

* Check the level of water in the sump pump; if your basement floods often, you might need a heavy-duty pump. Make sure the water pumped out is far enough from the home so it doesn’t just leak back into the foundation.

* Vacuum lint from dryer ducts (this should be done regularly anyway) and check other ducts for blockages. Re-adjust duct vents for good flow to match your needs for heat or cool air.

* Check walls, particularly around trim, and groutwork between tiles and reseal or regrout where cracks have opened. Investigate to find the cause of frequent cracking – the floor may need additional support or the foundation of a house may have problems that need immediate attention.

* Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

If you are a home buyer or seller, you should be aware of the fact homes contract and expand, especially at times when the weather changes dramatically.  If you are buying a home in the spring, you can watch for these signs of a poorly-maintained house and have a good idea of what renovations and repairs might cost. As a seller, you can inspect your home and remedy these problems before you hold your open house and expose the cracked walls, wet basement and leaf-packed gutters to potential buyers.

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