Guide to home maintenance for every season

Yahoo Contributor Network

Each home is unique and has its own needs. Nevertheless, each season should signal some specific maintenance tasks for all homeowners. Completing the following in time for fall, winter, spring, and summer will help in keeping a home and yard in good repair throughout the year.

Fall: Prepare for the rainy season or snowfall

Even sunny Southern California has a rainy reason. While it does not snow in Los Angeles, fall and winter are occasionally subject to copious rainfalls. In Denver, on the other hand, snowfall is a given. Seasonal home maintenance tasks address a readying for the wet that is about to descend from the skies.

  • Clean and inspect the gutters. Get rid of detritus, old bird nests, and the balls the kids kicked up onto the roof. Take a good look at the overall condition of the gutters. Now is the time to fix loose connections and ensure that the spouts point away from the home's foundation.
  • Call the chimney sweep. If chestnuts roasting by an open fire are your dream for the upcoming holiday season, have a professional inspect and clean the chimney first.
  • Verify that vents are open and unobstructed. It is a dangerous mistake to close off the vents in the crawlspace or attic. You are not keeping heat in but instead actively supporting mold growth, the University of Missouri warns. As humidity increases during fall and winter, ineffective ventilation prevents moisture from escaping. Mold growth is the result.

Winter: Get ready to hunker down during the cold

Winter is one of the seasons that finds homes filled with friends and family members. Whether you expect company during the holidays or simply love to sit by the window as the snow falls, prepare the home for the cold days that are ahead.

  • Insulate water pipes. Pay close attention to pipes that run through the crawlspace and the attic, where the home's warmer temperature does not reach them. Prevent freezing pipes with proper insulation wraps or UL-approved heat tape. If you fail to follow this bit of seasonal advice, the experts at the University of Illinois warn that a water pipe crack as small as one-eighth of an inch can result in a daily water loss of 250 gallons.
  • Replace outlets and extension cords. You will likely find that there are more appliances to plug in during winter. Confirm that outlets are up to code and not overloaded. Spread around the load by using extension cords to be plugged into outlets in rooms not usually in use.
  • Verify that heating fuel supplies are ample. Whether you use firewood, generator fuel, or propane, be sure to have a backup supply on hand just in case the main heater malfunctions. Remember that you need to keep your home at a steady 55 degrees Fahrenheit to keep water pipes inside from freezing.

Spring: Clean the home from top to bottom

You have spent a few months cooped up inside the home, and now you can throw open the windows and let in the fresh air. While you are at it, clean the home and store winter blankets and clothes to make room for the summer wardrobe and pool accessories.

  • Inspect and test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. After cleaning these life-saving devices, ensure that they are in good working order.
  • Replace old fire extinguishers. Now is the time to replace the outdated fire extinguishers in the kitchen and the garage.
  • Call a professional to inspect your air conditioner. Make sure the ducts and the rest of the appliance are ready for heavy summer use.
  • Prepare the yard for new growth. The Association for Homeowners Across America recommends that you rake the lawn to get rid of "thatch and snow mold," for healthy grass growth. Fertilize the lawn, remove dead wood, and inspect the flowerbeds for new life.

Summer: The season for outdoor chores

When sweltering summer temperatures may make the home's interior too hot for comfort, the yard beckons. The early morning hours are perfect for summer gardening and home maintenance. Enjoy the yard in the afternoon.

  • Coat wood with protective sealant. It dries quickly in the warm summer sun and protects your deck and fence against fading. The protection lasts all year through the rainy season as well.
  • Inspect outdoor equipment. Is the pool in good shape? Does the rope that holds up the tire swing show any sign of fraying? Are the hooks supporting the porch swing nice and tight? Do not forget to also check the children's play equipment for loose hardware.
  • Inspect the roof for damage. Loose shingles need to be replaced. Unless you are handy in this area, hire a professional. Yet before you sign on the dotted line of the contract, verify that the contractor is licensed as well as insured, warns Michigan's state attorney general. This little bit of administrative work protects you from hiring unscrupulous contractors who may perform substandard work and sue you for injuries sustained on the job.

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