Ah spring! It took you long enough to get here, but we’re happy to see you. In fact, we’re so grateful for the slightest hint of warmer weather that we’re ready to rush outside, full of fresh energy, and take on all of those essential springtime maintenance tasks.
“April is the perfect window during the year to tackle many home projects, because most areas of the country have moved past harsh winter conditions but not yet welcomed the heat of summer, which can really make maintenance tasks feel like chores,” according to Danny Lipford , a home improvement expert and host of the nationally syndicated TV and radio program “Today’s Homeowner With Danny Lipford.”
“In the majority of cases, regular maintenance takes minimal time and expense. But gone unchecked, minor tasks quickly turn into major headaches that could be avoided with a little regular attention.” So tap into that seasonal surge of enthusiasm by completing these easy spring chores.
1. Check your yard for low spots
Shortcut: Mark low spots with a short stake. Fill a wheelbarrow with good dirt and make the rounds. Don’t worry about burying grass—it’ll grow through a couple of inches of soil cover.
2. Check soil drainage around foundation
Task: Make sure soil slopes away from foundation walls to prevent water from soaking the soil around your foundation and causing leaks and cracks. Shortcut: Use an 8-foot-long stud (two-by-four) and a level to determine how much slope the land currently has.
Shortcut: To avoid double work, place a compostable bag on a wheelbarrow or garden cart, and fill it with weeds and spent plants as you work through the beds. If the green matter is disease-free, empty bags into your compost pile. If you see fungi or bugs, tie the bags and toss in the trash.
4. Check sprinkler system
Shortcut: Draw a quick diagram of your property, and sketch in sprinkler heads and supply line locations. Turn on each zone individually, and note any problems on your sketch. Then turn off the system and water supply to make corrections and repairs where noted.
5. Tune up your lawn mower
Task: Sharpen the cutting blade, add a new spark plug and air filter, and change the oil to make sure you’re ready to tame your lush lawn. Regular spring maintenance ensures a long life for your mower and avoids costly replacement.
Shortcut: Run your mower for a minute or two to warm the oil before draining it. Warm oil runs out faster and more completely than cold, sluggish oil.After running the mower, disconnect the spark plug before servicing.
Call in the pros: A professional lawn mower service tuneup costs about $80.
6. Check foundation and eave vents for obstructions and damage
Task: Your house likes to breathe and has vents that let air circulate through crawl spaces and roof framing to help prevent mold and mildew. These vents have screens to keep out debris and—worse—critters. Tour your house to check and clean clogged vents along the foundation walls and under eaves, and to repair any broken or missing screens.
Shortcut: To make easy repairs, look for premade vent screens at hardware stores and home improvement centers.
Call in the pros: Expect to pay a handyman $30 to $60 an hour, depending on your location.
7. Spot worn and chipped exterior paint
Task: Not all house painting tasks are major. This yearly job involves inspecting your siding and exterior trim for small cracks and chips and repairing spots before moisture can penetrate.
Shortcut: Store and label extra paint in airtight containers so you can spot-paint as needed. Keep paint identification numbers on file so you can replace paint if you run out.
Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an award-winning writer who’s covered real estate and home improvement for realtor.com, Yahoo, AOL, and many others. Follow @kaplan_lisa