After a long cold winter, spring is on its way at last! Soon you’ll be enjoying backyard barbecues and getting more exercise outdoors. It also means that it’s time to get some spring home maintenance done. Groan!
But doing spring home chores can be a pleasant way to relax, though, if you pick a nice warm day full of sunshine. Some of these things, such as getting your flower garden ready, can be fun. Also, don’t forget that many of these items will help you save money and headaches by preventing bigger, more costly issues later.
The sooner you can get some of your spring maintenance done, the better. After all, you won’t want to be doing some heavy duty work when the summer heat and humidity is in full force. Getting your kids to help may be an adventure in itself, but it can also lead to some great family memories if you keep the mood upbeat.
To help you get a handle on everything that needs to be done, here’s our comprehensive spring home checklist.
And by ‘comprehensive’ we mean ‘comprehensive’: not all items on this spring home maintenance checklist will apply to everyone. If you live in a townhouse, for example, or on higher ground, you might be skipping a few of these items.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. Examine Your Sump Pump
As soon as the snow starts to melt, head down to the basement to examine your sump pump, if you have one. Make sure it’s ready to operate, and that the discharge pipe is connected and is directing water away from your foundation.
2. Check the State of Your Basement
While you’re examining your sump pump, also make sure there isn’t any dampness in the basement that may signal flooding or humidity problems.
Look at the base of poured-concrete walls for cracks. Take a flashlight and examine exposed framing — if there’s any tunneling on the wood, you’ll have pests that will need to be exterminated.
3. Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts
If you didn’t do this in the fall, clean any leaves from your gutters and downspouts, and repair any damage from winter storms. Be sure that if any gutters have become loose that you reattach them.
Cleaning these items will ensure that water is diverted away from your home, so it won’t pool around your home’s foundation.
While you’re at it, check under your eaves and near your gutter downspouts for water stains. If you find stains, your gutters haven’t been draining water properly. Also, any wood trim at the eaves can rot, which will lead to a pest infestation.
4. Check Your Plumbing for Leaks
You’ll want to make sure that your indoor pipes aren’t leaking. Ensure you have no leaky faucets or slow drains, and check under the kitchen and bathroom sinks to make sure your pipes and hoses are well sealed.
Look for wetness around the dishwasher that could be a sign of trouble.
In your laundry room, check your washer machine hoses for cracks, bulges or dampness that could be a problem. Check your water heater for signs of corrosion and leaks, too.
5. Check the Attic for Uninvited Guests
When you’re done with the basement, go to the attic and make sure insects haven’t started a colony there over the winter. Look for signs of mould, too, while you’re at it.
If your attic is properly insulated and has good ventilation, you won’t have to be concerned about mould — so now might be a good time to take care of insulation and ventilation issues if there’s anything outstanding that needs to be done.
6. Do Your Spring Cleaning Indoors
While you’re waiting for the weather to warm up, now is a good time to do a thorough house cleaning. To save time, this is a spring home chore that the whole family can get involved in.
Dust or vacuum chair rails, window casings, tops of wall-mounted cabinets and ceiling fans, and vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses. Do a carpet cleaning. Wash or dry-clean fabric draperies, and take a damp cloth and wipe down wood and vinyl blinds.
In the kitchen, wash cabinets, backsplashes and walls with warm water and mild detergent to get rid of grease buildup.
Do this in the bathroom, too, to make sure you don’t have mould and mildew buildup. Look for worn or missing grout on your bathroom tiles. Cracked grout might lead water damage if it isn’t fixed.
7. Test Your Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
At the same time you do your spring cleaning, you’ll want to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Dust them off, give them a test, and install new batteries if needed.
You should also check your fire extinguishers to ensure they are functioning. It’s a good habit to get into doing this regularly, at least once a month.
8. Look at the Roof for Signs of Trouble
When the weather warms up and snow isn’t covering your roof anymore, it’s time to check it for damage.
You don’t need to climb up to the roof to examine it if you’re afraid of heights. Use binoculars or a camera to look for any shingles that have moved — which is a sign that the fasteners may have become loose.
Keep an eye out for cracked or missing shingles, and for nails that might have popped up. Problems like these can let water to get into your roof, so you’ll want to take care of any issues before serious damage occurs.
If you notice metal pipes that are missing or damaged, or anything else that doesn’t seem right, call a roofer.
9. Check the Chimney, Exterior Walls and Foundation
Warmer weather is also a good time to check out the rest of the exterior of your home. If you have a masonry chimney, for instance, see that the joints between bricks and stones haven’t fallen out. Also check that plants aren’t growing out of them. These are two signs that water is getting into your chimney.
If your siding is made of wood, make sure that it isn’t damaged and there aren’t any openings for animals and insects to get into. Look at your foundation for masonry cracks. If you do have crack, a simple home patch-up job won’t do — you’ll need to call a professional.
Also, use a screwdriver to probe any wooden trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Rain will cause damage to the exposed wood, so be sure to get any repair work done now.
10. Wash Your Windows and Check Them for Leaks
If you have window screens, remove them first and clean them with mild soap. Air dry them on a flat surface, such as on your driveway, before reinstalling them.
Give your windows a wash inside and out, and get rid of all the dust, smudges, and dirty fingerprints on your windows. Don’t use an abrasive cleaner or a high-pressure spray washer on windows — this will scratch the glass or crack the caulking.
You’ll also want to check the caulking and weather stripping around your windows is intact. This will keep cool air indoors over the summer, and help you save energy and cut down on your cooling costs.
11. Check Your Driveway and Walkways
Winter is tough on asphalt and concrete with all of the freezing and thawing that goes on. So you’ll want to take a walk around your driveway and paths to make sure that they aren’t damaged. If they are, schedule a repair.
You can patch asphalt, but, unfortunately, you may need to replace any damaged concrete entirely.
12. Open Outdoor Water Taps and Check Sprinklers
In May, when the risk of frost has passed, it’s time to open the water valves for the outside hose bibs. Check the outside hose faucets for damage caused by freezing in the winter. Turn the water on and place a thumb or finger over the opening. If the flow of water stops, your indoor pipe is damaged and needs replacing. Be sure to check the garden hose for dry rot as well.
Inspecting your sprinklers and watering systems can help you save money on water. Check your irrigation systems by doing the following:
- Run water through the system and walk around the properly to see if everything is in order.
- Check the heads to make sure they aren’t broken or damaged and that water lines aren’t exposed.
- Adjust heads that are spraying water at the house and windows.
If you don’t know how to maintain your system, call a professional to have a look at it.
13. Rake Your Lawn
Why is this on the spring home checklist? Didn’t we do this in the fall?
Yes, but you’ll need to get rid of any branches and debris that have been tossed around during the winter, and get those leaves you might have missed in the fall to make sure that your grass can grow properly. (Eco tip: wildlife organizations recommend not raking leaves at all in fall, as insects like native bees and butterflies hibernate under them).
Spring is the time when weeds will germinate, too, so take a look around for any that may have sprouted already.
14. Reseal Your Deck
If your wooden deck has started to fade from its former glory, now is the time to clean, stain and reseal it. This is also true of your wooden fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures.
You should stain and reseal them every year or two to help them stay in better shape, though you can wait longer if they aren’t exposed as much to the sun and rain. You can hire a professional to do this if you don’t feel up to it.
Before you do any surface treatment to these items, though, you should look for warped, loose or splinted boards, and make replacements as necessary. Give your deck a good sweep to get rid of leaves and debris between the boards.
15. Wash Your Outdoor Furniture
Since you’ll be enjoying time in your backyard, you can bring your lawn furniture out and give it a good hose rinse and wash with mild detergent. Check for rust or paint erosion on any metal lawn furniture you have. You can use spray enamel to prevent more damage from the elements in the summer months.
16. Get the Grill Ready
Summer, of course, also means backyard barbecues and entertaining guests with food, so you’ll want to ensure that your grill is working properly.
Check the burner jets on your propane grill for blockages, and make sure the gas hoses and connections are secure. Look at the propane levels, as well.
17. Check Your Garden Tools
Make sure your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment is in tip-top shape for the work they need to do. Sharpen your lawn mower and trimmer blades so that they can do the job they’re meant to do when the lawn and shrubs begin to sprout.
18. Tidy Your Flower Beds
Once the frost is gone, clear your flower beds of any decaying leaves and twigs, because these things can hinder the growth of your flowers and plants, and even cause disease.
Pull up old plants and replace old mulch, too. After the ground has completely thawed, you can spread some new fertilizer to keep those flowers growing.
19. Other Landscaping Checks
While you’re getting your flower beds ready, you may also want to take a look at other home landscaping issues, such as attacking brushes and shrubs that need a good pruning. This will help them continue to grow as they should and keep your home’s exterior looking beautiful. If the job is too big for you to handle, contact a local company that takes care of trees.
Another item on your spring home maintenance checklist is filling in low areas of the yard with compacted soil. There are two reasons why you’ll want to do this. First, water pools in these low areas and that can be a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes. Second, these areas can flood, which can damage your home’s foundation.
20. Get Your Air Conditioner Ready
Spring is the time to make sure your air conditioner is ready for the humidity in the summer months. Do this after you’ve done your yard work, because you’ll want to make sure you can get at the air conditioner by removing any overgrown branches and other debris around the unit. You’ll need to clear about two feet or 60 centimetres of space around the air conditioner so that there’s enough airflow around it.
Start by removing the cover, changing the filter, checking the hose connections for leaks, and ensuring that the drain pans actually drain. For a more thorough guide to making sure your air conditioner is in top shape, read our post on the 10 Things You Need to Check on Your Air Conditioner This Spring.
You should also give your air conditioner a professional tune-up. This will help save you money in the long run:
- Your air conditioner will last longer.
- Your air conditioner will run more efficiently, saving on cooling costs.
- You’ll save more money on regular maintenance than on an emergency repair.
- You may even prevent water damage in your home from a blocked drainage system.
If you want to give your air conditioner some tender loving care through a spring checkup, contact Air Quality Dunrite today. We’ll get your AC into ship shape, and help you enjoy the summer months by ensuring your home has a steady flow of cool, refreshing air.