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Got Home Improvement Plans?

Spring could be renamed “home improvement season.” With longer, warmer days, many homeowners head outside to give their home a checkup. Wondering where to start? Here are some ideas:

Hit the roof
Start with the gutters and downspouts: Check for damage, remove debris, tighten loose mountings, and caulk or spot-paint as needed. On the roof, check for damage and replace or repair shingles. Pay careful attention to flashing, trim overhanging tree branches, and moss killer maybe a good idea if you live in a moist climate.

Make concrete decisions
If the home’s foundation is exposed, look for signs of damage like cracking and shifting. For small cracks, apply mortar or concrete caulk as needed to seal them. Cracks larger than ¼ inch should be examined by a professional. While you’re at it, examine exterior walls for signs of wear and damage, along with concrete sidewalks and driveways which may show cracks after a long winter. Generally, cracks in walkways of more than ¼ inch may require a fix to avoid tripping hazards.

Work on wood
During spring, wood surfaces (decks and stairs) need to be examined for splinters, cracks, rot, and raised or broken nails. Most wooden decks need to be “sealed” annually with waterproof varnish, which should be applied after the deck has been cleaned (possibly pressure-washed, if it’s extremely dirty) and when the weather promises to be dry for a series of days.

Work on windows and doors
Remove (and, if broken, replace) storm windows and swap them for window screens. Adjust any doors that are sticking or no longer fit in their frames properly, they may need to be planed or sanded and then re-hung.

Check the home’s “circulatory system”
Many homeowners choose spring as a time for cleaning air ducts and having a furnace serviced by their fuel supplier. Spring is also a good time to double-check insulation in the attic and in other areas of the house. Aside from inspecting and replacing filters in air conditioners and furnaces, most inspectors advise checking swimming pool filters and water filters on plumbing supply lines at least quarterly.

Check safety precautions
Check or change batteries on smoke alarms and make sure fire extinguishers appear functional. If you have a home security alarm, check that it’s working (you can call the monitoring company) and replace batteries, if necessary.