Winters these days can be unpredictable, and your home could be at risk from possible flooding far sooner than you realize. We tend to think about our home and property maintenance in the spring, but with the weather fluctuating wildly from below freezing temperatures and snow, to mild and rainy spring-like days, your home could be taking a beating.

Take a look at how water is draining on your front lawn, backyard and around your home. Big puddles are a warning sign. It might mean you have a grading or drainage issue—and the sooner you fix it the less likely you will end up with water in your basement. Watch for signs of moisture in your home, like water stains or a musty smell in the basement.

Proper grading means that the ground around your home slopes down and away from your house. If it’s a grading issue you’ll need to hire a professional landscaper to re-grade your property. Take some pictures, because the puddles might be long gone by the time the landscaper gets to work.

In some parts of Canada, there’s a good chance you’ll have to wait a few more weeks to re-grade, until temperatures rise, but in the meantime a pro can help protect your property.

Other things you can do include walking around the outside of your home, checking the foundation for cracks, holes or areas that may leak to the inside—and in fact, I would go as far as removing snow from around your home’s foundation every so often and after big snowfalls.

Anyone who lives in Canada knows that it’s not unheard of to get snow well into spring. Any snow that’s stacked up against the side of your house will melt and drain directly down to your foundation. Quick changes in temperature can fill the ground with water quickly, which can lead to flooding. Even a tiny crack [in your foundation] can cause problems. You want to avoid that. Shovel snow away, especially around basement windows.

Don’t forget about cleaning your eavestroughs, or gutters. This should be part of your regular spring home maintenance routine, as well as before winter. Cleaning your gutters might seem like a small task, but it makes a big difference when it comes to water drainage and directing water away from your home— use downspout extensions to keep the water at least 3-4 feet away from your foundation.

You should also take a good look at the system of eavestroughs and downspouts along your home and make sure they’re doing their job. For example, you should see an eavestrough for every roofline—because a house can have more than one roofline (e.g., over the garage, a second floor, and over rooms that extend from the house, like a kitchen or mudroom). You also don’t want your downspouts to drain directly into the weeping tile (located below ground near the foundation) because in many areas, a direct connection to the weeper system or the storm sewers isn’t allowed, so check local rules first.

Spring is also a good time to get the sump pump checked by a licensed plumber. Most homeowners won’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late and there’s water coming up into the basement. Prevent a problem before it happens!

You could get an alarm installed on your sump pump with a battery back up, so if water ever reaches a certain level in the sump pit and the pump doesn’t kick in and start working, the alarm goes off. Some alarms will even send you a text message, in case you’re not home. That’s when you call your plumber.

I’ve talked about grading, cleaning your eavestroughs and checking your sump pump. But what’s one of the main lines of defense when it comes to water and precipitation? Your roof.

If you have a problem with your roof, you have a water and moisture issue. Not sure? Get a certified home inspector to check your roof and attic. If they see water stains on the sheathing in the attic, or evidence of critters, your roof needs to be looked at by a professional contractor. Get it fixed, and start looking for a pro now because the good ones get booked up fast, well before summer.

Water drainage is huge when it comes to protecting your home. If you protect it right from the outside, you’ll avoid problems on the inside.