Homes are a big financial investment, as well as giving you a place to live day-in and day-out.
That said, you'll want to keep them in good shape.
Now is a good time to see how well your home made it through the winter and what work or repairs need to be made. Here is our checklist:
Gutters and downspouts: Even if you cleaned them in the fall, a mulch can collect in the gutters that can hasten rust and deterioration and make gutters sluggish during spring showers.
Use a garden hose, a gutter scoop and a nylon brush to flush the gutters and downspouts. Use a wire brush to remove rust and peeling paint. Repair leaks and seal joints with a high-quality exterior-grade caulk. Prime bare spots and add a fresh coat of paint.
Perhaps this is the year to buy and install gutter guards.
Siding: No matter the type of siding, after a long winter's wear, it needs a good cleaning. One of the best means of brightening dingy siding is with a thorough pressure-washing with water.
If the siding is chalked or streaked, scrub it using a nylon truck brush along with a mild solution of powdered laundry detergent and hot water. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Check for cracks, peeling paint, missing or damaged mortar and caulking, and make the needed repairs.
Roof leaks: Inspect the roof for loose or missing shingles. Binoculars work well for making an on-the-ground inspection. Look in the attic for water stains on the underside of the roof sheathing and on the rafters. They are telltale signs of a roof leak that might yet produce enough water to make its way to your ceiling.
Caulking: Spring is a good time to caulk around window trim and door frames, especially if you missed doing it in the fall. Do this after you have washed the exterior siding. Caulk tends to crack in concrete, foundations and basement walls.
Decks and fences: Decks, fencing and other exterior wood finishes should be cleaned and finished regularly to keep them looking good and extend their life. Most high-quality exterior stains and wood finishes will last for two to three seasons.
However, a good cleaning is always in order. A solution of liquid chlorine bleach, powdered laundry detergent and hot water will remove mold and mildew from almost any exterior surface. For best results on wood decks, use a commercial deck-cleaning product that won't damage the finish. If the deck cleaner doesn't do it, try using a commercial deck brightener. If the finish is worn, try light sanding along with a fresh coat of finish.
Air conditioner: Don't wait until the first heat wave to have your air conditioner serviced. Change filters, clean the coil case, check the blower, the temperature drop and the coolant pressure, lubricate the system and make sure that all components are operating to capacity.
Barbecue: Make sure the barbecue is in tiptop shape for serious spring and summer grilling. A good cleaning is all most grills need. Clean rust using a wire brush and rust solvent. Spot-prime using a heat-resistant metal paint. For gas barbecues, use compressed air to remove spider webs from burner assemblies. Clean or replace grates as necessary.