The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. The weather is finally warming up. If you’re a homeowner, spring heralds not just longer days and warmer temperatures, but a host of home maintenance tasks. And if it’s your first spring as a homeowner, it might be tough to know just where to start.
But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here, a short list of home maintenance tasks to tackle over the next few months.
Task #1: Pick Up the Yard
Difficulty Level: Easy
If your property has been buried under snow or ice for the last few months, now might be the first chance you’ve had to take a look at the lawn in quite awhile.
You probably don’t need to mow the grass just yet. But before that grass starts growing in earnest, check the ground for anything that could potentially get caught up in your mower later. Bits of branches, lost mittens, or a wayward shingle could damage your lawn mower when it is time to trim the lawn. Plus, debris will be easier to spot now than it will be on mowing day when the taller grass can conceal potentially troublesome objects in your yard.
If you’re a pet owner, now’s also a good time to sweep the yard for any surprises Spot or Fido might have left in the colder months. Stepping in or mowing over months-old pet mess is basically no one’s idea of a good time. Best to get to it now, before backyard barbecue season begins in earnest.
Task #2: Clean the Gutters
Difficulty Level: Moderate
You cleaned the gutters in the fall, right? Before decaying leaves and other gunk could freeze and potentially send run-off from winter storms into the siding or under the roof? Good work! Now it’s time to check the gutters again for fallen bits of stuff that may be hiding out up there.
If you didn’t clean the gutters last fall—or if you’re a new homeowner, and you’re not sure when the previous homeowners last cleaned the gutters—now’s a good time to hop up on a ladder and check to make sure the gutters are clear. Blocked gutters can send runoff from spring rains places you’d rather not have water going, like your foundation.
While you’re up on that ladder, take a look at your roof. Be on the lookout for any loose shingles or damage from winter storms. If you see anything funky, getting a professional to take a look and make any necessary repairs sooner rather than later can save you money and trouble down the road.
Task #3: Inspect Decks, Stairs, Fences, and Siding
Difficulty Level: Easy
Look over your wooden decks, stairs, and railings. hammer down nails that may have wiggled a bit loose. Sagging, spongey, or bouncy planks in your deck can indicate rot, which can make for dangerous conditions for you and your family: if you find weak spots on your deck, remember that replacing parts of your deck now will be a lot less expensive than replacing the whole thing later.
Exposed wooden decks don’t need to be resealed every year, but if the stain color seems off, or if it’s been awhile, now’s a good time to stain or treat.
If your home has wooden siding, check the exterior of your home for chips in the paint: exposed wood is vulnerable to rot or critter infestation. If you find chips or other damage, schedule some time soon to scrape the peeling paint, sand down the wood, and put on a fresh coat. And don’t forget to check wooden fences for holes or other needed repairs.
Task #4: Clean Your Windows and Check Your Screens
Difficulty Level: Easy
When days are short and gloomy, it’s easy to ignore dirty windows. But just like pets and children, your home’s windows look a lot nicer when they’ve been freshly washed. Now that the sun is shining, taking the time to clean your windows can dramatically improve the view from inside your home.
You can probably clean the windows on your home yourself with a hose attachment, or, for first-floor windows, an old-fashioned bucket and squeegee. For complicated jobs (or for ease and peace of mind), hire a professional to clean your windows for you.
If you have screens on your windows, they could probably use a hosing-off after a winter’s worth of grime. While you’re at it, check for holes or damage in your screens: a window screen is only as useful as its largest opening. Patch small holes, or consider replacing screens with large openings or gashes.
Task #5: Check on Your HVAC Systems
Difficulty Level: Easy (If You Call in the Pros)
Home heating and cooling systems are easy to forget about until they suddenly stop working. As a renter, you probably didn’t need to worry furnace, but if you’re a new homeowner, it’s important to get into the habit of maintaining your heating and cooling systems regularly. Before you find yourself without air conditioning in a heat wave, schedule a tune-up for your home HVAC system. A professional assessment shouldn’t cost much, and it’ll help you identify issues before they become emergencies.
Now is also a good time to replace or clean your furnace filters. Don’t forget to check on your home’s ductwork, too. If your home doesn’t have one already, consider installing an energy efficient programmable thermostat: when temperatures head upward this summer, you’ll be glad you did.