Routine maintenance doesn’t just keep your house in order, it also helps you avoid the costly surprise of unexpected home repair problems and emergencies. Indeed, the best way to keep your house in prime condition (top to bottom, inside and out) is through scheduled seasonal upkeep and restoration.
Here in the Midwest, scheduled home maintenance is an absolute must twice a year: once in the fall, to prepare for harsh winter weather; and once again in the spring, to repair post-winter damage and prepare for the inevitable heat waves of summer.
As a follow-up to the home winterization checklist we posted last fall, here’s a list of seven essential home maintenance items to tackle this spring:
1. Clean and Repair Gutters
Even if you cleaned and mended your home’s gutter system in the fall, it’s important to make sure it’s still clear and in good repair once spring arrives. Winter can be really tough on gutters and downspouts — constant moisture from snow, heavy icicles, and shifting temperatures can cause them to strain and crack under pressure.
After clearing away any residual debris that’s collected in your gutters since your fall cleanout, repair or replace any sections that are rusted, damaged, or bent out of shape.
2. Inspect Your Roof
You don’t need to climb up onto your roof to detect areas of concern; most roof problems are visible with a keen eye or a basic pair of binoculars. Call a pro to replace any cracked or missing shingles, repair any shifted shingles, and address any “nail pops” that make shingles buckle.
A pro can also clear away pine needles and other debris from the valleys of your roof, check and repair the flashing along the eaves, and make sure your chimney is in good condition.
3. Look Under the Roof, Too
Spring is an ideal time to head up to your attic and make sure it hasn’t become home to insects, mice, squirrels, bats, or any other critters. While you’re up there, you should also search high and low for mold, which usually takes the form of gray or black blotches.
Even if you don’t spot obvious signs of mold, it’s wise to check the insulation and ventilation in your attic and for any shortcomings so you can remedy the problem before summer. Proper attic insulation and good ventilation can help deter attic mold growth in hot, humid weather.
4. Reseal Exterior Woodwork
Exterior wooden structures like decks, fences, pergolas, trellises, and arbors look better and last longer if you scrub, stain, and reseal them every year or two. If you did the job last spring and it looks just as great this year, you should still repair any new areas of post-winter rot or damage you come across.
While you’re at it, check for signs of termites. These winged, wood-eating insects swarm between late March and early June, causing extensive damage. If you see insects flying out of holes in your exterior woodwork, call a licensed professional pest control company.
5. Examine Driveways and Walkways
Repeated freezing and thawing can be tough on concrete, asphalt, and any other hardscaping surface material that contracts when it’s cold and expands as temperatures rise. Every spring, check your driveway and paved walkways for cracks, crumbling, and other major post-winter damage.
While you may be able to use a patching compound to repair small to moderate cracks, you should call a pro to assess and repair major driveway or walkway damage.
6. Check Your Sprinkler System
Going over your garden’s irrigation system or your lawn’s sprinkler system every spring helps ensure it’ll work properly all season long. Run your watering system manually through each zone, checking for broken or damaged sprinkler heads as you go. Adjust any heads that are spraying water at your home, walkways, driveway, or the street.
If you have a drip irrigation system in your garden beds, check that there are no loose, leaky connectors between tubing sections. Replace worn or damaged parts as needed to ensure minimal water waste and optimal efficiency.
7. Service Your AC Unit
Just as you service and prepare your furnace every fall, now is the time to make sure your air conditioning unit is in good working order for the warm-weather months ahead. To keep your AC unit running efficiently all summer long, it’s important to change the filter at the start of the season, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely.
If you’re not sure how to best service your cooling system, call a pro — a well-maintained AC unit lasts many years longer than a neglected one. It also uses less energy to cool your home, saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint along the way.