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After a tough Toronto winter, this is the perfect time of year to find out if you’ve sprung a basement leak or your porch is off kilter because of frost damage or the ice has pried the eaves loose or the driveway has developed more potholes than the Don Valley Parkway!

The Belvedere team has put together a simple but informative 10-point interior and exterior inspection checklist for you. Grab a pen and notepad, and we’ll guide you through a complete home checkup.


  1. We’ll start with the eavestroughs and down pipes, which are crucial to diverting water from the roof and well away from your foundation. Check whether the eaves have pulled away from the fascia board that holds them. Ice dams on the roof frequently cause this and the result is water getting behind the eaves and rotting the fascia. Also check for loose spikes that hold the eaves and down pipes in place. Note any stains on the outside of the eaves, which may signal a blockage, or any leaks usually evident at the corners. Take a look at your soffits, the area below the eaves, because peeling paint here can indicate inadequate attic ventilation or water damage from ice. 

  2. Next, check all windows and doors for faulty weather-stripping, caulking and loose or deteriorated putty. Cracks and gaps here not only make the home less energy efficient, but also allow moisture, drafts and insects into your house. While you’re looking at the windows, notice the sills. If there is any sign of deterioration, stains or mildew, it may signal water damage from poor grading or poor drainage.

  3. Carefully look over all of your masonry walls for missing mortar. Stucco homes should be checked for cracks. These problems are easy to solve – easier and cheaper the sooner they are undertaken.

  4. Insofar as you can, check the condition of your roof and chimney. Using binoculars from the second floor of an obliging neighbour’s home works best. Look for missing or curled shingles and flashings that have come loose. Check the chimney for loose or cracked material at the crown, the flue tiles and the pest screens, and for missing mortar between the bricks. Check around the roof vents and where soil pipes from bathrooms protrude through the roof. Missing caulking here will allow water to run down the pipes and cause damage to the interior.

  5. Check your porch, decks and any retaining walls for cracks or separation from adjacent structures. Frost or repeated freezing and thawing can generate enormous pressures and cause serious damage.


Now let’s go inside and see what we can discover. It’s here that problems originating outside will show up.

Carefully check the basement walls for any discoloration or flaking. Feel the walls for moisture, especially near the floor, and look for bulging drywall and stains. You can usually discern signs of moisture, but you can also obtain a moisture meter that will detect moisture in walls that are finished or wood that is painted. Also, check the basement floor for loose tile, sheet flooring that is lifting or dampness under rugs.

  1. Check basement plumbing and hot water heaters for drips or leaks. This could be a source of water, and not a foundation leak.

  2. Check for signs of moisture, mildew or condensation on the ceilings of upstairs rooms, including inside closets, because this is where attic moisture problems first show up.

  3. Take a look into the attic and feel the insulation for wetness. Look at the undersides of the roof for discolouration or rust. You may also be able to see daylight showing through cracks or holes that have developed over the winter. This is also a good time to ensure your exhaust fans are not just dumping moist air into the attic. Have someone turn them on while you watch to see what happens.

  4. Check your fireplace by opening the damper and using a mirror. If you can’t see daylight, you may have a blockage. Check behind the damper for debris, such as bits of mortar or brick that have fallen down the chimney. Remember to tightly close the damper when you are finished. Do this every spring. Also, why not change the batteries in your smoke detectors at the same time? You’ll have a pretty good idea how your home survived the winter. If you find any problems, we’re always here to help.


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