Your Lake Michigan Summer Home Maintenance Guide


A summer home on Lake Michigan is both a wonderful luxury and an important investment. A vacation home is no different from any other property in that the more proactive you are about maintenance and repair, the better an investment it will be. Here’s what you need to know to keep your vacation home in great condition all year long.

Summer Home Roof Maintenance

No one knows better than J & B West Roofing and Construction that a roof is one of the big-ticket items on any vacation property. Too often, however, vacation homeowners put off important maintenance and end up having to pay for expensive repairs sooner than they would otherwise. This is particularly true in homes used primarily in the summer. Ice, snow and heavy winds can all easily damage a roof if you’re not around to take care of it.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to maintain your Michigan City, Trail Creek, Long Beach, or Beverly Shores summer home’s roof all year long. Try these tips:

  • At the start and end of the season, perform a comprehensive inspection of your roof and related components, such as gutters and downspouts.
  • Look both inside and out for signs of leaking, water damage, algae, mold and mildew, and buckling or curling shingles.
  • Check the caulking around any skylights and the flashing around the chimney and other protrusions. Make sure these are flush with the roof and not cracked or peeling.

Much of this work can be done on your own, or you can call the J & B West Roofing and Construction office directly to have one of our installers sent to your property. If you choose to do the work yourself, be sure to follow all safety precautions. Step carefully, particularly if you’re unsure of the condition of the roof’s integrity.

The other major part of summer home roof upkeep is to clear out and clean the gutters and downspouts. If these important components are clogged up, water that accumulates over the winter can seep through the roof and cause considerable damage. Be sure also to trim away any tree branches that are within two feet of the roof. Branches can break off and penetrate the roof during winter storms. Excessive shade also creates ideal conditions for mold growth.

Don’t Put Off Roof Repairs

If you’re comfortable performing minor repairs yourself — such as replacing a popped nail or a shingle that has come loose — make sure to take care of them as soon as possible. For structural issues and more exhaustive repairs, schedule a consultation with J & B West Roofing and Construction to ensure the work gets done before the end of the season.

Ignoring a problem or putting off repairs until next year is rarely a good idea, particularly if your property will be unattended over the winter. The last thing you want is to come back the following spring to find extensive damage to the inside of your vacation home. Even a minor leak can lead to mold growth that can be extremely difficult (and expensive) to remediate.

Other Important Maintenance Items

Of course, there’s more to summer home maintenance than just roof upkeep. Other things to look at include:

  • Plumbing and septic systems: Check for plumbing leaks, cracked or frozen pipes, clogged drains and other problems that may have accumulated over the winter. Check that your hot water heater works and piping is in good condition. Many vacation homes in Michigan City rely on a septic tank and well rather than the municipal water system, so ensure all regular maintenance is performed on them, if applicable.
  • Exterior and lawn: Things to look for on the exterior of your property include broken windows and window screens, rotting wood on the deck or porch, cracks in the foundation, mildew growing on siding and any potholes or dips in your driveway. If you have a garden or other landscaped area, now is a good time to clear away any overgrowth and weeds, along with decaying leaves up against the foundation.
  • Interior and electrical system: Spring is a great time to perform a comprehensive cleanup and inspection of the interior of your vacation home. While little maintenance is required for things like floors, windows and lighting, check for signs of rodent activity, replace any burned-out light bulbs and take care of any other little things you may find. Doing so now rather than later will help you have a worry-free summer.
  • Safety: Every year, change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and test each to make sure it is working properly. Check your outlets, locks, fencing and any alarm or security systems. You should also stock up on emergency supplies such as candles, flashlights, extra fuses for your electrical system, bottled water and anything else that might be necessary in a power outage.

Each vacation home is different, and maintenance requirements vary from property to property. One alternative to performing all work in one shot is to hire a property manager or local caretaker to check in on a regular basis during the winter months. This will reduce the risk of a burst pipe or other emergency going unnoticed for an extended period of time. You may also wish to set up a webcam to monitor the property remotely.

Should an emergency occur, you’ll need to have the contact information for a local contractor handy. For all Michigan City roof maintenance issues, make that contractor J & B West Roofing and Construction. Named the top contractor in LaPorte County by readers of the LaPorte Herald-Argus, we are available to provide repairs and maintenance to vacation homes in Michigan City and throughout Northern Indiana year round. Get in touch with our team to learn how we can help you.