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The Ultimate Spring Maintenance Checklist!

As another Winter concludes and Spring is upon us, it’s almost time to clean up what was left behind and
prepare our homes for all of the beauty Spring will bring with her.

 

Inspect, Clean & Prep your Outdoor Grill

For some of us, our favorite part of better weather is outdoor cooking! But first, SAFETY!

Check the Hose!

Here's the thing that some people forget about grills: they are filled with fire! Considering yours may have been sitting for many months without being used, take a few minutes to give it a once over before you press ignite.

Specifically, if you have a gas grill, check the hose from your propane to your burners and make sure it's intact and clean. If there's any build-up on the hose, be sure to clean it off before starting your grill.

If the hose has any holes or any signs of being torn, it's worth the few bucks to just replace it.

Let’s Get Cleaning!

A wire brush and a damp cloth will get the job done but do not use soap. It can linger and it's tough to wash off.

Remember the grease trap under your grill? If you did last Fall, great! If not, be sure to pull it out and clean out anything that “doesn’t belong” from last year.

For easy clean-up next year, line your grease trap with some sturdy aluminum foil.

Don’t forget your grilling tools, you can usually toss them into the dishwasher and be ready as the upcoming rain.

Prep Time!

Before you get to the actual cooking, turn on your grill, light it up, and let it burn for a few minutes. Watch it to make sure all the burners are firing and there are no leaks.

Make sure your tank is full at the start of the grilling season and check it often. Keep an extra tank on hand to ensure the food never goes cold.

 

Re-Caulk Windows & look for any separations

Over time, old caulking can dry out and become hard causing drafty windows that make it difficult to cool your home over a hot summer. Also, poorly caulked windows can cause other issues such as water intrusion. If it has been ages since the last time you caulked your windows and doors, now is a good time to do so.

If you will be doing any re-caulking, make sure you replace the old caulking by scraping or cutting it away before re-applying the new. This will help the caulking last longer and will help improve the efficiency of your windows and doors.

 

Organize Closets

Space, especially closet space, is a premium. Many people simply don’t have the room to keep their entire wardrobe in their closets and dressers year round. Storing your winter wardrobe in bins and garment bags frees up space for your spring and summer apparel and accessories. It provides you the opportunity to wash, fix, recycle, and organize your cold weather clothing.

 

Schedule Air Conditioning Service Appointment

Experts recommend that routine maintenance be performed in the springtime for three reasons.

First, when you maintain your AC unit in the spring, your system is ready when the weather turns warm.

Second, maintaining your equipment in the spring gives you plenty of time to repair worn parts and get the system in shape for the season.

Third, scheduling maintenance service in the spring will ensure that you receive prompt service. As the summer moves in, HVAC companies receive a high volume of service calls. By then, you may have to wait longer for your service appointment.

 

Clean out the refrigerator, vacuum behind it and clean the coils

When was the last time you vacuumed the condenser coils on your refrigerator? This is the perfect time of year to tackle this to help your fridge run smoothly through those looming hot summer days. To maintain your refrigerator, this simple task should be done once every three to six months.

Begin by unplugging your refrigerator and locate the condenser coils on your refrigerator. Older refrigerators have the coil (a grid-like structure) mounted on the rear of the refrigerator. Newer refrigerators usually have the condenser coil placed at the bottom of the fridge. You can use a flashlight to assist locating the coil and fan if needed.

With a plastic crevice or brush attachment, carefully vacuum dirt and dust wherever it is seen. Be very careful to not damage the fins or coil. If the fan is visible and accessible, cleaning it will help it move air across the condenser coil as designed. Dirt and dust, if allowed to accumulate on the fan blades, decreases airflow, which can affect balance and can contribute to early failure of the compressor.

 

Clean & Organize Garage; Check for Rodents

Your garage attracts a variety of pests. Spring storms can drive mice and rats from the garage into your home, while mild winters encourage ant and termite populations. Look for droppings in corners, behind shelves and in cabinets. Chewed boxes and furniture also indicate a potential rodent problem. Check the same areas for sawdust and piles of wood shavings as these often reveal a problem with termites and carpenter ants.

 

Sharpen Kitchen Knives

It is crucial to keep knives sharp so that they cut through food with less slippage. Dull knives are dangerous because a dull blade requires more force to do the job and so has a higher chance of slipping and missing the mark. Plus, poorly cut food will not cook properly.

 

Aerate & Fertilize Lawn

But first! Raking...and most homeowners shudder at the idea of raking in the spring. After all, the heavy raking we all did in the Fall was supposed to be the end of it for the year, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Raking in the spring is intended to control the unwelcome buildup of thatch. It also helps to identify any clumped areas of grass where snow mold has caused the blades to stick together, which will be a problem when we seed the lawn.

If you intend to overseed your lawn to repair bare spots, you should do so with a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer.

Remember that you will get great results if you seed in the late fall, because weeds won’t be competing with the grass, and that, combined with hitting the bare areas in the spring, will quickly bring your lawn to a lush green.

About five weeks after overseeding, add a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer to really help the new grass get going.

In fact, go a little easier on the fertilizers in the spring because many times you are not only fueling the new grass, but fast-growing weeds as well. Do your heavier fertilizing in the fall.

 

Check Sprinkler System

Don’t just flip the switch though. Although all signs might be pointing to the arrival of spring, the soil beneath the landscape is always the last to thaw.  Starting your sprinkler system while the ground is still frozen can result in damage to the pipes.  Use a shovel to make sure that the soil is frost-free 12 inches deep.  If it is still solid as a rock, then wait another week and test it again before starting the sprinkler system.

 

Clean Artificial Plants

They may not need light and water, but artificial plants do require regular cleaning to look their best.

Put your artificial plants outside or in a sink or tub and spray 409 cleaner all over it. Give it a minute or two and then rinse off your plant with water either by running water straight from the tap over the plant or use a squirt bottle of water and wet the plant enough to remove the cleaner.

A couple things to be aware of are the container the plant is in and the way the plant is put together.  Most fake plants are held together with a foam core inside their container. If the foam gets wet, it’s not the end of plant, but over time it will have an effect on the stability of the plant so if you can, hold just the greenery under the faucet and slowly rinse the greenery with water, trying to keep the base dry.

 

Clean/Touchup Paint on Baseboards

Even if you clean your floors, dust the furniture and wash the windows, dirty baseboards will make your house look shabby and unloved.

First, vacuum! Use the brush attachment to remove dirt and dust from the surface of the baseboards. Be sure to clean the crevice between the bottom of the baseboard and the floor. Don’t have a vacuum? Use a small whisk broom.

Once you’ve removed the dust, you’re ready to clean the stuck-on dirt and stains. Baseboards in the kitchen get particularly dirty because they catch food and grease splatters. Mudroom baseboards pick up a lot of grime, too, because your family tracks dirt in from the outdoors. Mix a bucket of warm water, liquid dish soap and vinegar. Dip a sponge or soft cloth in the mixture and scrub scuffs and stains.

Keep your newly clean baseboards dirt-free for as long as possible by rubbing them with a dryer sheet. Yes, a dryer sheet. This prevents the static that attracts dust.

 

Check for Leaks and/or Blockages in Drains, Sinks & Tubs

Check for slow leaks around your home. You can do this by taking a water meter reading and avoid using your water for a couple of hours. After two hours, if the reading changes, you have a leak.

Check all pipes in your home for signs of leaks, such as puddles or watermarks.

Check drains you don’t use often by pouring a gallon of water down them to fill the trap and prevent odors from entering your home. Any drains that are slow should be snaked.

Check your water-using appliances — such as your washing machine and dishwasher — for cracked, bulging or otherwise worn hoses. Replace any worn hoses to prevent future leaks.

Inspect your toilet bowl and tank for leaks. Add a few drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If you notice color in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak.

Now, let’s go outside.

Clear gutters, downspouts and plumbing vents of any bird nests.

Turn on outdoor spigots to make sure they do not leak. If leaks or drips are detected, make sure to do repairs right away.

 

Clean/Repair/Apply Sealer to Deck

An unwashed deck is an invitation to mold and mildew, which can cause rot.

1. Remove debris from between deck boards using a putty knife. Pay special attention to the areas where deck boards cross the joists — the structural members underneath the decking.

2. Protect all shrubs and plantings. Wet them and cover them with plastic sheeting.

3. Thoroughly sweep the deck.

4. Choose an appropriate cleanser.

Wood deck: Use a standard deck cleaner and follow its directions. Some require the decking to be wet first. Some don’t.

Composite deck: Use a cleaner specifically formulated for composite material. Attack grease and oil stains with a commercial degreaser and detergents.

Vinyl (cellular PVC) deck: You’ll only need to use warm water and a mild soap to remove mold, mildew, and dirt.

5. Clean the deck. Choose a cloudy day when the decking is cool and the sun won’t evaporate the cleaner.

Wood deck: Use a paint roller, a garden sprayer, or a stiff-bristled brush broom to apply the cleaner. Don’t let it pool. Don’t let the deck dry until you’ve scrubbed it clean. Then let it soak according to manufacturer’s instructions (usually about 10 minutes). Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Composite deck: Scrub with a soft brush. Do not use a pressure washer — it can permanently damage the decking and will void any warranty. Remove rust and leaf stains with a deck brightener containing oxalic acid.

Vinyl deck: Scrub in a circular motion using a stiff broom, then rinse thoroughly.

6. Let deck dry. Wait two days before sealing.

Sealers and stains are available at home improvement centers for about $30 per gallon — enough to cover 250 square feet of decking.

Expect to reapply clear sealers and toners annually. Reapply stain finishes as needed (every other year is a good routine) using the same or a slightly darker color. Be sure to wear gloves, a safety mask, and eye protection when applying stain and sealers.

1. Choose a two-day period when you’ll have clear skies and moderate temperatures.

2. Lightly sand the deck. Use a pole sander equipped with 80-grit paper to remove any furriness caused by washing.

3. Replace any missing or popped nails and screws. Replace protruding nails with deck screws slightly longer than the nail. If a nail only slightly protrudes, you may do more harm than good trying to pull it out. Pound it home.

4. Apply the sealer or stain. Use a roller to apply the sealer to the decking, covering three or four boards at a time. Use brushes and small rollers for railings, planters, and benches. Don’t let the sealant dry or puddle. Two thin coats is better than one thick one.

TIP: Deck sealants aren’t required or recommended for composite decks, although some composite decking can be stained to restore its color. Be sure the product is intended for composites. Don’t expect the same density of color that you would achieve with wood.

 

Feel free to download our Spring Maintenance Checklist below! 

Happy Spring!

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