The Associated Press
Keeping your home and its operating systems clean and in good working order will make everything safer, more energy efficient and will cut utility and repair bills. What’s more, regular maintenance can prevent damage that can lead to hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs.
Many home maintenance projects offer a two for one – they improve appearance and prevent costly repairs down the road. For example, a fresh coat of paint will do wonders to improve the appearance of your home. That coat of paint will also offer weather protection that prevents deterioration and rot.
Though home maintenance is a year-round task, spring is one of the best and most important times for it.
Spring is a time to assess how well your maintenance work held up during the winter and what other maintenance work or repairs must be made as a result of winter. Here’s our list of spring home maintenance tasks that will keep your home humming for another season.
¥ Gutters and downspouts: Even if you cleaned them in the fall, a mulch can collect in the gutters that can hasten rust and deterioration and make gutters sluggish during spring showers. Use a garden hose, a gutter scoop and a nylon brush to flush the gutters and downspouts. Use a wire brush to remove rust and peeling paint. Repair leaks and seal joints with a high-quality exterior grade caulk. Prime bare spots and add a fresh coat of paint.
¥ Siding: No matter the type of siding, after a long winter’s wear, it needs a good cleaning. One of the best means of brightening dingy siding is with a thorough pressure washing with water. If the siding is chalked or streaked, scrub it using a nylon truck brush along with a mild solution of powdered laundry detergent and hot water. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Check for cracks, peeling paint, missing or damaged mortar and caulking, and make the needed repairs.
¥ Roof Leaks: Inspect the roof for loose or missing shingles. Binoculars work well for making an on-the-ground inspection. Look in the attic for water stains on the underside of the roof sheathing and on the rafters. They are telltale signs of a roof leak that might yet produce enough water to make its way to your ceiling. You don’t need to wait till it rains to check a roof for leaks. Use a garden hose at suspicious areas to determine if your roof is leaking. Unless the roof needs replacement, damaged shingle replacement, flashing repair and roofing cement or caulking usually will do the trick.
¥ Caulking: Caulking can take a real beating during winter. Spring is a good time to caulk around window trim and door frames, especially if you missed doing it in the fall. Do this after you have washed the exterior siding. Caulk tends to crack in concrete, foundations and basement walls.
¥ Window and door screens: If you have trouble getting a good view of your spring flowers through your freshly washed windows, it might mean your window screens need cleaning or replacement. Remove window and door screens and give them a cleaning with a solution of powdered laundry detergent and hot water. Brush the screens with a nylon brush and give the screens and frames a rinsing with a garden hose or, better yet, a pressure washer. Mend tears and replace deteriorating material with new fabric. Lubricate hinges on screen doors and adjust hydraulic closers to make sure that the door closes fully.
¥ Decks and fences: Decks, fencing and other exterior wood finishes should be cleaned and finished regularly to keep them looking good and to extend their life. Most high-quality exterior stains and wood finishes will last for two to three seasons – depending upon climate and the severity of the elements. However, a good spring cleaning is always in order. A solution of liquid chlorine bleach, powdered laundry detergent and hot water will remove mold and mildew from almost any exterior surface. For best results on wood decks, use a commercial deck-cleaning product that won’t damage the finish. If the deck cleaner doesn’t do it, try using a commercial deck brightener. If the finish is worn, try light sanding along with a fresh coat of finish.
¥ Concrete patios, paths, driveways and carports: If your driveway or carport looks like an Indy 500 pit stop, a good cleaning is in order. Clean and degrease exterior concrete surfaces with a commercial concrete cleaner-degreaser. Use cat litter to absorb as much of the grease or oil first – by grinding it into the area with the soles of your shoes. Dispose of the oil-tainted cat litter as you would paint, used motor oil or other household toxic substances.
¥ Air conditioner: Don’t wait until the first heat wave to have your air conditioner serviced. If you do, chances are you will have a long wait. Save money and beat the heat by having a heating and air conditioning specialist give your system a good going over. Change filters, clean the coil case, check the blower, the temperature drop and the coolant pressure, lubricate the system and make sure that all components are operating to capacity.
¥ Barbecue: Make sure the barbecue is in tiptop shape for serious spring and summer grilling. A good cleaning is all most barbecue grills need. Clean rust using a wire brush and rust solvent. Spot-prime using a heat-resistant metal paint. For gas barbecues, use compressed air to remove spider webs from burner assemblies. Clean or replace grates as necessary.
¥ Landscape irrigation: April showers may bring May flowers, but after the showers are gone, a good irrigation system will keep flowers blooming and turf green all summer. Spring is the time to clean, adjust, lubricate and tighten sprinkler heads. Most heads have an adjustment screw that will control water volume and, thus, the area covered by the sprinkler. Most modern sprinkler heads contain a filter that can be removed and cleaned. Replace broken filters. Clean or replace valve diaphragms to make sure that they are sealing properly. If you have an automatic timer, adjust the program to provide adequate watering time and don’t forget to replace the battery that backs up the irrigation program.