When your home is your biggest investment, as it is for most Americans, maintaining it is a must. Home maintenance can feel like a daunting chore — particularly for a new homeowner who’s never seen a boiler up close, let alone drained one. But it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. A home operates with the seasons, coming to life in the spring and hunkering down for the winter. Follow this natural arc all year long, and keep on top of the small stuff, and your house will run like a well-oiled machine.
Come springtime, most of us are eager to throw open the windows and clean out the closets. It’s also time to give your house, inside and out, a good once-over.
Start outside, raking up any remaining leaves that survived the winter, and laying down mulch in your flowerbeds and beneath the hedges. A thin layer of mulch will protect plants from drought and keep weeds at bay. Turn your outside faucets back on, checking for leaks and any damage. If you plan on hiring a lawn care service to maintain your property and mow your lawn, now is the time to renew your annual contract.
If your property has any trees, have them inspected by a certified arborist, who can check for signs of illness or any dead branches and catch problems before they escalate and kill a tree. The untrained eye could miss signs of damage, and a dead or dying tree poses a safety hazard to you, your home and neighboring properties. Consider reseeding your lawn, filling in bald patches before the summer heat. Plant your perennials, and give them plenty of water.
Your gutters control the flow of rainwater on your house, protecting your roof, siding and foundation. Clogged gutters can cause a roof to leak or water to infiltrate your house. Cleaning them and clearing them of debris will prevent water from reaching the foundation.
Exterior paint looks nice and protects your shingles from water damage and rot. Look for signs of peeling or chipping paint. You may need a touch-up or a fresh coat. If you plan to hire a professional, schedule the job in the spring so the work gets done by the end of the summer.
Give the house a bath (and probably the dog too while you're at it).
Take the storm windows off and wash the windows, inside and out. The house can get grimy, too. Grit stuck to the facade can damage paint and masonry over time.
Here’s how to clean your house’s exterior:
1. Close all windows and doors, and cover the ground and hedges with plastic sheeting.
2. Avoid the instinct to rent a power washer, as it may not be necessary, and it could damage siding or masonry, depending on your building materials. In most cases, an ordinary garden hose will do.
3. Attach a siding cleaning kit to the hose and get to work.
4. Spot-clean heavily soiled areas. Use detergent sparingly, as it can harm your plants.
Patio or deck.
You may not use your deck all winter; chances are it has a layer of winter grime across it. Sweep it clean. Inspect your deck, looking for signs of cracked wood and loose nails. Pull out any leaves or debris from between the boards.
For homes with central heat and air, it's a good idea to call your HVAC technician to schedule the system's biannual checkup and servicing. You should check the ductwork for signs of damage, and clean and service the furnace and A/C compressor. Clean the bathroom vents, too.
Give the pipes a good once-over, checking under sinks to make sure there are no signs of leaks. Look up at your ceilings too for telltale water stains – a sign of a leak in the wall. Check faucets for drips and the flapper in the tank of your toilet to make sure it has not worn out (once the flapper starts to go, expect your toilet to run more frequently.) Call plumber for what you need help with.
Spring often brings rain. Check your sump pump to make sure it’s draining properly. You do not want to wait until a major snow thaw or rainstorm to find out that the pump’s motor is shot.
Check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors.
The switch to daylight time is a good day to choose for the job. Another good option: Mother’s Day. You may also want to consider so-called smart detectors that are linked throughout your home and give voice alerts, not just alarms.