Keeping up appearances – simple DIY jobs to keep your house looking like new

Summer is here! With the longer and (hopefully) drier and sunnier days upon us, now is the time when wear and tear from life and weather really shows up at home. Yet by carrying out these simple DIY jobs, you can keep your house and garden looking like new – so you can enjoy that drink on the patio even more!

First Job: Check your downpipes and guttering

If you had leaks during the winter, now is the time to get them fixed. Windblown leaves can block gutters and downpipes and may need clearing, while strong winds can loosen gutters and cause gaps in joining sections.

Plastic gutter sections are often joined with a union piece and gaskets (seals) can get damaged. Pull the gutter sections together to release the union piece, peel the gasket away and replace it. Tighten or re-fix loose screws in brackets, which may cause gutters to sag and water to pool. Wrongly positioned brackets should be re-fixed.

Second Job: Check exterior painting and woodwork

It can be an annoying task, but leaving paint to flake and peel away will expose woodwork to the elements and lead to a bigger problem in the future. Rub down and repaint any damaged areas. If you already have damp wood, it’s best to use the drier weather to cut out damp, rotten timber and fill with suitable wood filler and/or new timber before repainting.

Third job: Brickwork repair and maintenance

The freeze-thaw action of cold weather can cause pointing in brickwork to crack and crumble. If you see holes in brick pointing, you need to take action.

Rake out any defective pointing to a depth of at least 12mm or down to where the pointing is sound. Getting the mortar mix sand colour to match the rest of the pointing can be hard. If your house is relatively new you may be able to get information from the developers or builders. Otherwise it is a case of trial and error.

Make a series of trial “mini-mixes” using small cups. Start with 3 sand to 1 cement, then 3½ to 1, 4 to 1, 4½ to 1 and so on. Do not go past 6 to 1 or the mix will be too weak for ordinary brickwork. Wait until your mini mixes have dried and use the mix closest to the colour of that in your wall.

Fourth job: cleaning patios and decking

Lots of rain and lack of sun can leave green algae on patios and decking. Use specialist cleaners via a spray can and a stiff yard broom to scrub areas clean. Pressure washers can make this job easier on your back but if you are not careful, you can easily blast away mortar or sand from patio joints.

After cleaning it’s a good idea to add a sealer to prevent future algae growth – though the seal will wear off eventually.

Fifth job: replace damaged fence panels or posts

Wooden garden fences remain a popular option with new-build homes but they take a battering during winter storms. Any exterior wood surface should be treated with preservative at least once every two years. If panels or posts are damaged by storms, it’s far more effective to replace them than try to “botch” repairs. Often the repairs can be expensive enough, will often look unsightly, and will never be as good as replacing with new.

Finally, less of a DIY job: Check the roof for loose tiles, especially ridge tiles

Our stormy winter weather tests our homes every year. Exposed to the elements, roofs bear the brunt of the weather and even the best designed and constructed roof can suffer damage. Check for loose or missing ridge tiles (sometimes they can lodge in gutters) as well as any loose or cracked tiles.

If you don’t have specialist ladders or lack the confidence to do it yourself, accessing and repairing your roof is better left to the professional. You can find specialists on portals such as www.checkatrade.com or invite quotes from providers through online services such as MyBuilder.com.