It is that time of the year, when Mother Nature ushers out Ole Man Winter, to start on that long list of maintenance projects, that if done right, will save you time, headaches and even money in the future.
According to experts, you should break up your spring maintenance project list into four basic areas: home utilities, exterior, lawn and interior.
Deconstructing it in such a way allows you not to get overwhelmed with the task at hand. It also allows you to schedule out your spring maintenance effort, especially with the outdoor tasks and projects, that depend heavily on the weather.
Home utilities: Inspect all of your home's utilities including the hot water heater, air conditioner, furnace and sump pump. Refer to your user manual for instructions on how to inspect and maintain these units. If you need maintenance done by an expert, call now to schedule an appointment, since the spring can be a busy time for them.
- Change your air filter on your air conditioner and furnace, according to Ralph Ignatowski at Village Ace Hardware in Glendale. Dirty filters will cause the air conditioner and furnace to blow dust into your vents and ultimately throughout your house. A dirty air filter also will put stress on the unit, causing it to malfunction. Check your user manual for instructions for changing the filter.
- Make sure you have a working transitory radio and flash light, Ignatowski said. Check the batteries on these items and test them. They can be handy during a storm. In addition, test your smoke detectors. If they don't work, change the battery or the unit.
Exterior: The exterior of your home needs to be inspected after it has been battered by snow and wind throughout the winter season.
- Clean out your gutters. When the weather is mild, grab a ladder, gardening gloves and a bucket. Walk around your house and inspect inside the gutters, especially the ones that are below tree branches. While wearing gardening gloves grab a handful of debris and place it in your bucket. Yes, we know it's a messy job, but it will save you headaches in the future. "Water can drain away from the house and not right down by the foundation," Ignatowski said.
- As you work your way around your house, make sure the gutters and downspouts are in good shape and attached properly to the structure. Also make sure the windows, siding, outdoor lighting and roof shingles are in good working order. If they have been damaged or are not working properly, make sure to replace or fix them in the near future.
Lawn: Although the Wisconsin weather has not completely turned the corner, early April is the ideal time to begin to care for your lawn, according to the Horticulture team at the University of Wisconsin-Cooperative Extension.
- Rake and remove all of the lose debris from your lawn, such as leaves, twigs and branches. When you are removing the debris, inspect your lawn for bare spots and problem areas that need to be addressed, the extension's site said.
- Reseed bare spots through your lawn. Choose a seed consistent with your current lawn. If you notice unusual discoloration or large swathes of bareness, consult a lawn-care specialist.
- Use pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide. This will inhibit crabgrass from growing and, as a result, will give the grass in your lawn a chance to flourish, according to the extension.
- Make sure to check the oil and gas levels as well as the blades and lines on your mower and trimmer. Start and run these tools to make sure they work properly before using them.
- Mow your lawn so that you remove about a 1/3 of an inch from the current grass height. Ideally, you want your grass to be 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches tall, the extension site said.
Interior: To spring clean the interior of your home, you will need a bunch of rags and sponges and a bucket of hot water, a long-handle duster, and a vacuum, according to Kerry Nelson, the owner of Have Broom will TravelCleaning Service, a based in Racine.
"You don't have to use a lot of chemicals," said Nelson, who noted vinegar is a great natural alternative to harsh cleaners. "There are a lot of natural cleaners available."
It is also recommended that you clean on a nice bright day so that you can open your windows and let in the fresh air. Sunlight will also help you see the dust and debris that needs to be cleaned.
When cleaning a room in your home, you should start with the highest point and work your way down, according to Nelson. With clean, damp rag wipe the down the ceiling corners of the room, where cob webs tend to appear. Also, remember to wipe down ceiling fans, chandeliers and light fixtures with a long-handle duster.
- Wash your window treatments, which tend to attract dust and dirt throughout the winter season. If you have window blinds, you can remove them from your window and take them outside where you can use soapy water, a sponge and a hose to wash them. With curtains, check the tag for instructions on how to machine wash them.
- With a wet rag, wipe down the base boards throughout the room. According to Nelson, this is a great job for kids since they can get lower than adults.
- With your vacuum and its attachments, clean your furniture. Remove all of the cushions and get in the nooks and crannies of the furniture. Also make sure to suck up all of the dust, debris and dirt near the base of the furniture. If it is a nice day, take the cushions outside for a few hours to let them air out.