With winter now behind us, it's time to examine the exterior of your home for any wear and tear and damage that has happened over the cold and rainy months. In general, it is better to spend a little time and money on maintenance than to spend a lot of time and money on a major repair. As with most inspections, it is always best to start at the top, and when it comes to your home that's the roof. If your roof is peaked, check to see whether the shingles are in good order, the mortar is still in good shape and all downspouts are clear. If you have a traditional flat roof, check to see if the roof is clear of debris and if there are any solar panels or boilers leaking onto it (this will inevitably cause a leak). Debris such as broken solar water systems, glass, metal pipes, wood and the like will cut down on the life of your roof. To make your flat roof last longer, it is best to have it painted with roofing paint (Polygag) or whitewash (Polysid). Having a white roof will help keep the upper rooms of your home cooler, as it reflects much of the sun's rays. All water drains must be cleared and a debris cover (to keep the drain unclogged) placed over it. If there is an antenna or cable wires on the roof, make certain they are properly secured and not waving in the wind? Be sure to check on the ceiling of your top floor for mold. If there is any present, deal with any leak before removing the mold and repainting. Next, check all the doors, windows and shutters. Do they open and close properly? Is the glass in the windows firmly seated in its frame? Are wood frames solid and properly painted or preserved? It is important to keep all wood in top shape as a little deterioration (which is very inexpensive to correct) now may cause the entire frame to rot, which would necessitate a costly replacement. On the ground outside, make sure there are no branches lying around waiting for someone to trip on. Check that any trees needing trimming are trimmed and any ground erosion due to the winter rains is taken care of. If you have an exterior heating/air-conditioning unit, make sure it is free of any trees, bushes, or weeds. The area around the unit must be kept clear or it can contribute to burning it out. Do the stairs or walkways need maintenance? Are there any cracks that can cause one to trip that need to be repaired? Any loose or missing stones in a walkway or patio are an invitation for a nasty fall. If the above steps are taken and maintenance is kept up to date, not only are the costs less than if neglected, but will make your home much nicer and more pleasant. Question from a reader via e-mail: I have a door which no longer closes properly. Some say to plane the door and others say to plane the frame. What is the best method to getting the door to close again? The most common reason for doors not closing is that they are unaligned. A good test of this is to close the door as much as possible and see if the corners all line up properly. If the door seems out of alignment, it is due to the hinges needing adjusting or the door lock and strike plate do not line up. In repairing these, never is any planing done as it would ruin the door. The only time that planing is necessary is if the frame has contracted or the door itself has swelled. This is very common in new homes or homes with a high humidity. In the vast majority of cases I have seen, if the hinge doesn't need adjusting or replacing, the area under the hinge (on the side of the door) needs to be shaved down very slightly. Never hang a heavy load on your door as it will bring it out of alignment and in some cases warp the door, necessitating its replacement. Readers' tips, questions and comments are always welcome. The authors can be reached at (02) 585-9559 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.