Spring Cleaning Ideas, In-and-Out

Our Spring cleaning series continues!  This week, we offer a few project suggestions that might not have occurred to you.  The nice weather might compel you to get outside and clean up the yard, plant your flower beds, and un-tarp your patio furniture, but take care of these details first so you can enjoy a maintenance-free summer.

guttersCheck your gutters.  We have offered some guidance about gutter maintenance in previous blogs, and it’s worth mentioning again.  Your gutters will be most efficient when they are clean; check for over-grown foliage, especially if you have trees growing over your roof.  Spring is a good time to make sure all your drainage areas are clean and debris-free.  If not, moisture can get trapped and lead to all sorts of problems: mold, mildew, and damage to roofs and walls.  Don’t forget to check your downspout.  It’s best to have it pointing at least two feet away from any foundation.

Paint check.  In last week’s blog, we walked you through an exterior painting project.  Even if you don’t feel your home needs that kind of overhaul, you should still conduct a thorough inspection.  Look for chipped and cracked paint; if any wood is exposed, it is susceptible to rot.  Take the time to scrape any peeling paint, and do a little sanding, if necessary.  Protect and freshen up your home with a good primer, and some high-quality paint.  If you have siding that has become grimy, spend a weekend with one of our favorite tools, a power washer.  They are easily rented from most hardware stores.

trimmingLandscaping, Part I
It’s time to start trimming any overgrown foliage – like trees and hedges – away from your home.  An out-of-control situation promotes mildew.  Branches should be at least seven feet away from your home.  This will prolong the life of your siding and roof.  And, get rid of wild vines; ivy looks great, but it can help crack siding, promote moisture, and can allow bugs to enter your home.

lawn-careLandscaping, Part II
How does your lawn look?  Rake up any leaves that you didn’t catch last fall.  Too many will suffocate your lawn and prevent it from growing into the lush golf course you crave.  Also, collect any other random shrubs and plants.  Get rid of dead flowers, and consider planting something hardy and low-maintenance, like begonias, pansies, or maybe, a hosta or two.

air-conditionerIf it’s a bad allergy day for you, there are plenty of things you can do indoors to get ready for warmer weather.  We know we’ll be able to count on a least a week or two of oppressively hot weather in Chicago, so why not check your air conditioner before you really need it?  Plan now to change the air filters monthly.  Vacuum or clean any dust from a unit or vent, and check all connections for leaks.  If you have drain pans, make sure that they are draining freely.  An efficient air conditioner not only cools, but removes excess moisture and humidity from your home, protecting your foundation.  Not to mention, a smooth-running air conditioner will save you money on your energy bills in July and August.

peeling-paintCheck for leaks.  Our previous blog walked you through finding and fixing leaks.  Spring is a good time to investigate doors, windows, and corners for water stains, or even peeling and chipping paint, which can suggest water seepage.  This may not sound like a critical step to your spring cleaning, but don’t wait for leaking water!  Even the smallest open area can be potentially hazardous, leading to mold, and all the headaches that brings.  Seal any openings between frames and walls now.

mulch-linerBugs.  They would love to be your roommate.  Make sure you maintain an inhospitable environment by containing any garbage or debris outside your home.  Get rid of any junk, and again, check entrances and windows for any gaps where bugs and rodents might enter your home.  Seal it up!  Get your hoarding in check!  And, if you plan to use mulch in your garden this spring, use a liner underneath.  You want a barrier between mulch and your home.

groutAnd, just for fun, check your grout.  Old, cracking grout can lead to an expensive repair later.  Reseal any worn grout in your kitchen or bathroom; it’s not hard, or expensive – it only requires a little patience.  And, if you do take the time to re-grout your bathroom, for example, extend it’s life by wiping down your shower walls  after each use.  Soap and scum are damaging and unattractive.

There you go, we have just outlined an easy and productive spring weekend for you!  Fire up the grill!

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