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· budget, investment, real estate, savings

Getting Your House Ready for Warm Weather

A house is a major investment, and with regular maintenance it’s one that can appreciate in value for many years to come. But there is also an ongoing investment that needs to be made in keeping the house clean, repaired, functioning well, and looking attractive. Especially for outdoor upkeep, it can be easier to maintain the house in warmer months, when there is no snow and daylight starts to get longer. Spring is an ideal time to start cleaning and doing repairs on the house, including taking care of annual tasks that get it ready for outdoor activities such as grilling and entertaining.

You can create quite a long list of projects to spruce up the house, and some of them would require a significant amount of time, effort, specialized equipment, or paid expert help to accomplish. But there are plenty of basic chores that can be done with simple tools in a day or two. You might even be able to enlist support from older children and teenagers as part of a family tidying-up campaign.

Here are some standard home care activities for the spring to help keep the house healthy and looking great:

Clean the gutters and make certain they’re not obstructed. Leaves, twigs, branches and other yard debris can get into gutters and prevent them from effectively draining the water from the roof. While up on a ladder, check the gutters, and wearing gloves, remove what you can with your hands. You can also use—carefully—a rake, garden hose, or leaf blower to dislodge and remove loose or compacted muck from the gutter lanes.

Wipe down or scrub the walls and baseboards. Dust, cobwebs, smudges and spilled liquids can accumulate on walls, especially in kitchens. Using a cleaner that is safe for walls, wipe down, or if more effort is needed, scrub the walls and baseboards in bathrooms, the kitchen, bedrooms and other living areas with steady traffic.

Clean or replace water and air filters. Clean kitchen range hood filters and replace water and furnace/air system filters. Usually, depending on the type of filter, they should be replaced every three to six months.

Clean fan vents in bathrooms. If you have bathroom exhaust fans, then they will eventually accumulate dust, clogging the vents and making the fan less efficient. Remove the fan covers and clean out the vents.

Thoroughly clean out the dryer vent and exhaust hose. A dirty or clogged dryer vent prevents clothes from drying, it can be a fire hazard, and the exhaust hose can even become a warm home for pests coming in from the outside, such as rats. To clean the vent, disconnect the hose from the back of the dryer and the wall, and then use a dryer vent brush to loosen and get out the lint from the dryer and the hose, then vacuum them. Then go outside to open the dryer exhaust vent cover, and use the brush to remove lint from vent cover.

Hand wash exterior windows. With a sponge, scrub the exterior windows with mild soap and water or a household cleaner that is safe for glass.

Check clean out the external foundation vents around the house. Most houses with a basement/crawl space have vents along the foundation walls to the outside, and the vents may be protected by screens or a combination of screens and louvers. The screens will often collect dead leaves and insects, pine needles and pine cones, cut grass, and other dead parts of plants throughout the year. You can clean out the vents by hand, vacuum them, or use a leaf blower. Cleaning is also an opportunity to check if the vent screens need repairs or to be replaced.

Clean the outdoor grill. Your outdoor grill may have been cleaned and then protected by a weatherproof cover during the winter, but just in case you didn’t get around to it before the weather turned cold, now's your chance to get it ready for grilling season. Vacuum and scrub the grill interior, wipe down the outside, check that all the vents are working, and for gas grills, inspect hoses, couplings, and knobs.

Test smoke and carbon dioxide alarms and replace the batteries. This is one task that could be a life saver, so take some time to check the alarms and give them new batteries. You may want to test the alarms outside, as some pets may get frightened by the loud sound from the alarm.

Do a high-pressure wash of the driveway, walkways, backyard decks, patios and siding. Rent a power washer to clean these areas and remove dirt, gunk, mold and lichen. Dark concrete, bricks and stones will be cleaner and look almost new again.

Scrub down and hose off the patio or deck furniture. It’s also time to get all the outdoor furniture ready for the coming warm weather by giving it a thorough cleaning.

And, finally…clean out the garage! Yes, the garage, which seems to collect and hold onto garden and yard tools, boxes, garden hoses, ladders, winter coats, sports gear, and garbage cans forever, along with what seems to be almost a ton of random stuff that you're not sure what it is or where it came from or when it appeared out of nowhere. Yes, THAT garage. It's now finally time to sort, arrange, hang, discard, transfer, coil, wrap, store and throw away everything in the garage, sweep or vacuum the floor, and maybe mop the floor with degreasing soap and water. Don't forget to wash, hose off and dry any welcome or other floor mats. You'll thank yourself for doing it.