Hope springs eternal! As winter retreats its onslaught, most of us long to escape outside and breath fresh air and see the sun. But there are other things that should be on the list as well. Winter can be unkind to your home and, in most regions that experience severe cold, there’s not much you can do about it until spring arrives. Let’s review some items that will need your attention once the winter thaw begins.
• Remove any leftover leaves and twigs that have accumulated and apply fresh mulch to flower beds, hedges and trees. Not only will this instantly improve appearance, but it will also help protect plantings from drought and suppress weeds.
• Turn on exterior faucet supply lines and check performance. If you have an inground irrigation system, schedule maintenance and place in active service.
• If you have trees on your property, now is a good time to have them checked and trimmed so they don’t pose a threat to your home’s structure, a person, or a neighbor’s property later in the season.
• Reseed bald spots in your lawn, plant perennials and plan for a late-spring lawn fertilization. This is also a good time to check your lawn mower and re-engage any lawncare services.
• Check your snow blower in for maintenance and have the fuel drained for safe storage.
Exterior of Home
• Take a walk around your home’s exterior and assess any damage. Are there cracks in the concrete, does the driveway need resealing, are there missing roof shingles?
• Inspect and clean rear decks and patios. Look for signs of cracked wood, loose nails and cracked concrete. Water and a brush should do the trick in most cases. For wood decks, let it dry thoroughly and evaluate whether it needs to be resealed because when it’s dry and clean and warmer is the ideal time.
• Make sure the chimney is well tuckpointed and not prone to water penetration. Fixing a small problem early is much better than fixing a huge problem later.
• This is also a good time to assess whether the gutters are free of debris. They are going to work hard in the seasons to come, so cleaning them now is a great move. Be careful on that ladder if you do it yourself. It’s money well spent to hire a professional gutter cleaning service, or better yet, purchase covered gutters and be done with it.
• Painting exposed or peeling wood is essential to protect it from moisture. Evaluate where exterior painting is needed and get it scheduled so that it will be done before the end of summer.
Inside your Home
• Have your HVAC system serviced and ready for cooling. Check the ductwork for damage and clean both return and air supply vents with a vacuum, if possible.
• If you have steam heat, drain your boiler and clear out any accumulated sediment.
• If you have a sump pump, make sure that it’s draining properly. Now, before major water comes in the form of thawing snow and rain showers, is the time to make sure it’s working. Consider improving it with a battery backup. Power outages are usually when a sump pump is needed most.
• You’ve heard it 1000 times and one more won’t hurt: check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries. They won’t work without power and it’s a small price to pay for the level of safety they provide.
Stay vigilant. Home maintenance is an art and a science. Unlike a human body, your home can’t heal itself. It relies on you to be a great steward and protect it from damage. It’s easier to maintain than repair major problems, so your efforts will be well rewarded.