Comprehensive Spring Task Checklist
Jumpstart your summer chores
Summer is just around the corner. Most of us have been cooped up to one degree or another since last fall, our green thumbs (or maybe not so green) itching to get out into the garden and play in the dirt. With the days lengthening and growing warmer,
we also want to throw open the windows and get a breath of fresh air.
Outside the house
- If you have a fireplace or woodstove, look for next winter's wood now. It will dry over the summer (under a well-ventilated cover if you have lots of summer showers) and may be ready by next winter. If you get into a routine spring wood purchase,
this year's purchase will be very well seasoned for the winter after this coming winter. The safest wood to burn is the driest, so don't rush it. Read more information about wood stoves.
- Service woodstoves and chimneys serviced and cleaned now. Some services will provide discounted prices for off-season service. Find out more about chimney maintenance.
- Clean out the fireplace. After your last fire, remove all ash and vacuum well. Ash can be sprinkled on the compost heap or placed in the garbage. Just make sure there is no trace of fire.
- Have the air conditioning system serviced as soon as possible. When the temperatures spike in July and August, HVAC contractors are busy and you could be left sweltering.
- Clean the gutters ... again. Wash them too at the same time to get rid of grime and dirt. It makes your house look so much tidier.
- Now is the time to take a good look at downspouts and splash blocks. Make repairs now so you can lighten your load next fall.
- Speaking of gutters, check corner seams for evidence of leakage. If the fascia shows signs of damage, replace it now, then seal gutter seams between now and next fall.
- Look carefully at the roof and gutter system. You can make simple repairs yourself, but if you detect signs of wear or serious damage, find a qualified roofer to make repairs now. Even a tiny leak can lead to serious damage between walls.
- Spring ventilation maintenance means checking ridge vents for obstructions or evidence of pest damage. Now is a good time to consider adding additional roof vents or a whole house fan. It's a relatively inexpensive way to improve cooling without
using a lot of extra (and expensive) energy.
- If you took pictures last year of any foundation problems, now is the moment to compare them with what you find now. If you see evidence that damage is progressing, contact a reputable building contractor for an assessment of the damage and a possible
plan of action. Foundations are expensive, so if there is a problem you need to know as soon as possible what your alternatives are.
- While looking at foundations and siding, look for evidence of termites or carpenter ants, both of which can cause big headaches. Keep an eye out for them over the summer when they are more active.
- Check decking and stairs for damage or rot, then make necessary repairs. Read more about deck care.
- Weatherizing isn't just for winter. Caulk, weatherstripping, and insulation can reduce solar gain when the days heat up.
- Remove storm windows. Clean and repair before putting them away. Replace with screens on windows that you like to have open for ventilation.
- Check the screen door. Mend any damage to the screens, if necessary. A hole can be 1 millimeter, but that is precisely the spot flies will find so they can get in and make you crazy.
- Check siding. Caulk or repair as needed.
- Is this the summer you plan to paint the house? Get an early start and make a plan, especially if you intend to do it yourself. Preparation and good paint are the keys to a quality job.
- Check sidewalks for necessary repair work. Beats having the city do the work and send you the bill.
- Clean the garage. Dispose of all outdated cleaners, solvents, and paints. Contact your city for information on local hazardous waste disposal. Never pour such materials down the drain.
In the house
- Check the smoke alarm and carbon-monoxide detector. Replace batteries. Many people do this when they change their clocks in the spring for Daylight Savings Time. If your smoke detectors are more than 10 years old, replace them. New models have longer
life batteries and hush features.
- Have you insulated your duct system? If not, you might find that summer is an ideal time to make this improvement. It can save you money on both heating and AC costs. Check to see if your city or state offers tax incentives or rebates for energy
- Replace your stockpile of air filters if you run your heating and cooling system year around. Replace filters at regular intervals depending on the type. Buy a season's supply to cut down on extra trips for supplies.
- If you haven't already done so, install a programmable thermostat. This small project will pay for itself in a matter of weeks.
- During the winter, lots of stuff gets plugged into walls. Extension cords seem to multiply. Go through the house and unplug and store space heaters and other small appliances that aren't often used. To save a little extra cash, buy a couple good
surge protectors and plug electronics (especially those small adapters that draw current 24/7) into them. When not in use turn off the whole shebang. If you have multiple computers, game systems, TVs, sound systems, and home theaters, you will see
a drop in your electrical usage at the end of the month.
- If you need new window treatments, consider getting some of the insulated blinds. They are available in a million colors and the dual cell variety cut down on heat gain. They are also simple and clean, which often what is needed for summer decorating.
- Take down the heavy curtains and drapes. Take them to be cleaned or wash them if possible. Read the label for care instructions.
- If you can leave windows plain, it's an easy way to let the summer in. For privacy, use blinds or simple window treatments. Linen, voile, and light cotton are easy to care for—just throw in the wash and touch up with a light iron.
- Clean house. Spring cleaning is good for the soul.
- As long as you are cleaning house, clean out the freezer. Use up all food that you have stored. Build menus around what you have. Once the freezer is empty, you can plan your purchases at farmer's markets for what you'll store over the winter. Yum ... strawberry smoothies in December.
- Get rid of old clothes, toys, and household goods that you no longer use. For items donated to charities, don't forget to collect receipts for tax deductions.
- Plan a vacation. Even if you expect to "vacation in place" plan a getaway for at least a weekend. It's good to break up the routine and do something different. It doesn't have to involve air travel to exotic locales ... it just has to be
meaningful to you and your family.
In the yard and garden
- Once the spring blooming shrubs are finished, grab those pruners and cut back to remove crossing branches and restore shapeliness.
- For plants close to the house, trim so nothing touches your home.
- Consider converting part of your yard into a vegetable garden. It's a little time consuming to get started, so begin with just a few plants in a small plot. A bit of success with a tomato plant can make you a believer in fresh produce from the garden.
- Want chickens? Get chicks in March or pullets in late April or May. Have a small coop and house planned so you'll be ready to go. By August, you'll be enjoying fresh eggs. (Check city rules before getting started.)
- Check the compost. Is it too wet? Does it stink? Take action now to get your compost on the right track. If it looks good, put it on your beds to add lots of good microorganisms and moisture retaining mulch to your beds.
- Do tree and hedge maintenance. A qualified arborist can tidy up winter damage on your trees as well as remove dead or diseased branches. Once spring growth is apparent on hedges, you can begin to remove dead growth and open them to ventilation which
- Take out the barbecue and patio furniture. Clean and make repairs as needed.
- Check lines on the barbecue to make sure fittings, connections, and the fuel line is in good shape. Clean it if you didn't last fall. Chances are you'll want to make a note to yourself to do that before you put it away this coming year.
- Once the soil is just right—that is, it falls apart and is neither too dry or too wet and is about 55°F—you can start working it. Once all danger of frost is past, you can start transplanting your new annuals, vegetables, and exciting
- Plant dahlias and other tender tubers, corms, and bulbs.
- Check hoses and sprinkler systems, timers, and other equipment. Replace degraded hoses.
- Check gardening tools. Clean, remove all traces of rust, and sharpen. If you stored them carefully last fall they may need nothing but a quick wipe.
- Check planters for condition, especially if they were left out in the weather. Replace as necessary.
- Exterior lighting systems may need to be checked. Replace bulbs or reset timers. This is also a nice summer project if you haven't added them to your yard.
- Clean ponds and water features of winter litter. Restock with plants and fish if needed.
- Does your family have a fire escape plan? If not, sit down together and discuss how you will exit your home in case of fire. Make sure there are two exits from every room. Decide where your meeting place will be outside a safe distance
from your home. Finally, and most important, rehearse your fire plan and work out the bugs. To really make sure it works, execute the plan a couple times once your children are asleep. It will freak them out at first, but they'll get the confidence
to quickly escape if they have a chance to practice.
- Swap out all the emergency supplies in your kit. Replace food, water, and dated supplies with fresh supplies. Use the old stuff over the summer.
- Check auto and home insurance to make sure you are completely covered for replacement costs.
- Check tires. If necessary, replace.
- Check fluid levels, especially the cooling system. Have the system flushed if needed.
- Check air conditioning and have serviced.
- Update your car's emergency kit. Replace anything that is dated including water and emergency food supplies.
Depending on where you live, you may have other chores to confront this spring. This list should help you get a jump start so you can enjoy your summer.
So much to do, so little time! For help with many of the tasks around the house, find a qualified handyman or contractor now at ContractorNexus .