Everybody loves a fresh start, and that may be one reason we love spring — the time of renewal and rejuvenation.
Traditionally, of course, that also means the time for spring cleaning in preparation for warmer temperatures and more time spent outside. If you’re a homeowner, here are 12 tasks you may want to tackle to get your house and yard ready, able and energy-efficient for the new season.
- Clean out gutters and downspouts. Leaves, twigs and other debris can easily accumulate over time, blocking rainwater from escaping, putting strain on attachments and potentially attracting vermin such as carpenter ants, mosquitoes or rodents. If you live in a wooded area, you may need to clear out your gutters three to four times annually; otherwise, once a year should do the trick. The task usually requires getting up on a ladder and using a garden trowel to clear debris before using a garden hose to remove remaining dirt. You may wish to wear gloves, a dust mask and safety goggles as added protection.
- Activate your sprinkler system. Leaks, head blockage, backflow or water pressure issues may have developed during the off-season, requiring professional servicing. Leaks may manifest themselves as damp spots in your lawn that don’t go away. You’ll also want to ensure sprinkler heads are positioned toward key areas of your landscaping.
- Organize your garage. This is a good time to move your holiday decorations out of the way and move forward the tools, equipment, toys and paraphernalia you’ll want for the warmer months. You may also wish to donate unwanted items to charity and repair or replace anything you need that’s not working. Too much detritus to deal with? Call a company that can efficiently haul away all your unwanted stuff at a reasonable fee.
- Tend to landscaping. Take inventory of your grass, trees, shrubs and plants and gauge how they’ve fared over the winter, then make a list of steps to take. Do you have all the tools and products needed to get everything shipshape for warmer weather, and are they in working order?
- Check foundations. Texas is known for long summer droughts followed by winter freezes, conditions that can crack concrete. A professional can judge whether such cracks represent normal wear and tear or are structurally problematic; Popular Mechanics advises that cracks wider than 1/16 inch could be an issue, especially if they admit water or tend to fluctuate with changes in temperature or humidity. Further, it reports, termites can slip through cracks that are 1/64 inch or wider.
- Redirect ceiling fans. To reduce the pending costs of air conditioning, adjust your fans so they’re turning counterclockwise to push warm air upward. Conveniently, that typically involves just flipping a switch in the center of your fan.
- Replace air-conditioning filters. Keeping these clean will both improve your air quality and keep your HVAC working as efficiently as possible. Follow manufacturers’ directions as to how often to replace your filters — typically every one to six months — and always change them if they just plain look dirty.
- Dust electronics, light bulbs, and vents. This simple task keeps them running at maximum capacity.
- Tune up your AC. An annual maintenance check, cleaning and tune-up is recommended to make sure your unit is operating at peak levels, according to Angie’s List. Potential issues include overly low coolant levels or dirty condensing coils that can reduce efficiency by up to 5 percent..
- Check for air leaks. Gaps in your HVAC equipment or ductwork can result in energy costs that are 25 to 30 percent higher, according to HGTV. That means it’s well worth investing in weather-stripping, duct tape and/or specialty kits for sealing up any leaks you encounter.
- Program your thermostat. If you have this feature, consider setting the control to maintain 72 degrees F when you’ll be at home and 78 degrees when you won’t.
- Vacuum refrigerator coils. Dust that’s accumulated over the winter can make your unit work harder, especially as temperatures rise. At least once a year, unplug your fridge, remove the base grill at the bottom and use a stiff brush to remove dirt, pet hair, etc.
If you find during your annual maintenance routine that your home needs repairs or renovations, don’t worry. The Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit available at Amplify Credit Union offer low rates and comfortable terms, while our Homeowner Express loans offer quick financing for those without home equity.