As the days lengthen and the temperatures rise, it’s time to do maintenance to repair any winter damage and to get ready for the summer. Your home follows the seasons – hunkering down in the fall in readiness for cold winter and coming to life again in the spring.
Last fall I shared Fall Maintenance Tips & Checklist. Today let’s discuss spring maintenance. The gutters are probably full of dead leaves, dead plants sit in the flower boxes, and all the salt on the sidewalks this winter could have eroded and cracked your walkways. Any problems with plumbing or your heating/ac system? Be sure to use trained plumbing and AC technicians for serious problems. How is your roof and wood trim?
Fascia, Trim, & Roof
Probe your wood trim with a screwdriver around windows, doors, railings, and deck. Repair now before spring rains do further damage.
If you have an older roof, be sure to make a savings plan for roof replacement. Learn about the roof types that are in your budget and work well for your location. Most homes have asphalt or composite shingles which last about 20 years although some premium brands can go up to 50. Fiber cement will give you about 25 years. Newer architectural asphalt, which is thicker, holds for about 30 years, as does cedar shake. Remember major structural changes require a Building Permit; check with your local authorities for requirements.
When I first moved to Miami, Florida decades ago, I fell in love with Spanish barrel tile roofs. I still love the look, but the tiles are more expensive to buy and to properly maintain.
The top of the line roof for Florida is the Key West roof. The shingles are metal and last a lifetime. My neighbor has that kind of roof and there really isn’t any maintenance required, but it is VERY expensive up to 3 times the cost of a shingle roof. Last October Monroe County considered making it mandatory for all homes in the Florida Keys.
Late winter and early spring are the prime time for maintenance here in Central Florida. Late February I began to replace all the fascia wood. It was the original wood from the 1970’s when my home was built. How did I know the wood was rotting? The gutters were loose. My maintenance man removed the gutters and then the plastic fascia covers. On the back of the house the whole side was rotten with multiple holes.
All the old wood was removed and replaced. The work continued on the front and then the 2 sides. With the plastic covers back on and the gutters up, you can’t see all the new wood but I know it’s there.
Then in March my new roof went on. I was here all day as the crew tore off my roof and replaced it with new architectural shingles. My home is small and they did the roof in one long day starting at 7 AM and ending by 4:30 PM. These newer type shingles are almost twice as strong as regular shingles for only about $1 more per shingle.
Last year my neighbor had his roof replaced, and I loved the mixed color shingles he used. It’s a mix of colors on each shingle and from the ground the colors vary from shingle to shingle depending on the sunlight from tan to blue or green. I choose the same shingle for my roof. I love it. I could change my house color and this roof would blend well with so many hues.
Spring Maintenance Checklist
Now it’s time to give your house a good once-over inside and out.
Seasonally inspect, repair, and maintain for damage and wear in the spring and fall. As I discussed in the Fall Maintenance Checklist post, there are basic tasks to prepare your home for winter storms. Right now we are in spring, and in the next few months, you’ll need to inspect for winter damage, repair and perform routine maintenance to prevent flooding and fires.
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- Clean gutters at least twice a year for last leaves in the fall and again in the spring.
- Have chimney swept once a year.
- Clean lint from clothes dryer regularly when used. Inspect monthly.
- Replace smoke alarm batteries once a year.
- Check the roof shingles for lost or damaged shingles during winter. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer. For older roofs, have a savings plan for roof replacement.
- Check the outside wood trim for rotting or insect damage.
- Check the gutters for leaks and granules from the roof. Check for rotting wood in fascia under gutters.
- Check the yard for depressions and low areas, fill with compacted soil
- Examine the chimney
- Inspect the concrete
- Move firewood to at least 2 feet from your home and at least 18″ off the ground
- Check outside faucets for freeze damage
- Service the AC unit
- Check battery- and gas-operated lawn equipment
- Inspect caulking and replace if necessary
- Power wash outside panels if needed
Certain geographic areas are prone to certain disasters such as hurricanes here in Florida and along the eastern coast, tornadoes in many midland areas, flooding, earth quakes, and fires. Know and understand the disaster dangers in your area. Make sure your checklists include all the necessary precautions and preparations to deal with a natural disaster. (For complete information on preparing for disasters see Emergency Preparation, Are You Prepared? We’ll revisit this topic again in May before Hurricane Season begins.)
If you live in a fire-prone area, it is especially important to plant fire-resistant trees and plants and keep areas near your home clear. Remove any flammable debris from winter. If you live in a flood zone, you may want to elevate your furnace, electric panel, and water heater. I have a separate list for Spring Chores for you to fill in tasks you need to accomplish.
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Spring Garden Maintenance
As I discussed in February, there are tasks for the garden almost monthly in most areas. For example, here in Central Florida the guide for my area says I should:
- Annuals: New varieties of coleus do well in sun or shade and provide vivid colors and patterns for months.
- Bulbs: Planting early-, mid-, and late-blooming varieties of daylily ensures months of color from these low-maintenance plants.
- Herbs: Add nasturtiums to your herb garden. The leaves and flowers add a peppery zest to salads.
- Vegetables: Continue planting warm-season crops, such as beans, sweet corn, and squash. Mulch well to prevent weeds and provide water if the weather has been dry.
In making my plan, I continue to clean up and cut back due to the extensive damage in January from 2 nights in the upper 20’s. My hibiscus bushes has been cut back almost to the ground. The fire bush died and was removed. My beautiful frangipani (plumeria) died from the frost. The large frangipani branch that broke off in September due to Hurricane Irma has survived the winter and is getting leaves. (After the storm, the large branch was shoved in the ground with a prayer it would survive. It did!) I don’t know if it will bloom this year. Cuttings usually take a couple of years before blooming.
Planting flowers has been delayed due to the home maintenance in March. In the next month I would like to add a rhododendron where my large frangipani was. They are more resistant to freezes. I will continue to work with my little green shoots on the hibiscus bushes. I understand why many people dug them up and replaced them. It is slow growth, but my budget this year centered on structural maintenance instead of flowers. My plan also includes adding another layer to the front retaining wall. Last fall I replaced the front edging with concrete wall blocks and completed 2 layers which doubled the height. Before summer I hope to have a 3rd layer completed. Below the photo shows the edging on the left that I removed and replaced with blocks on the right.
Home Action Calendar
Have a home action calendar that includes all necessary maintenance jobs that prevent damage and protect your home and family. Take the guesswork out of staying prepared by scheduling essential tasks ahead of time. So you can stay calm and cool during emergencies, access necessities during power outages, and minimize damage when a true disaster strikes. With both the spring and fall planning sheets, you can keep an annual calendar for your home maintenance and keep up with necessary changes.
Wishing you a beautiful season of warmth, flowers, and few home problems. Just think about the wonderful summer cookouts and relaxing with a cool drink. Check out the best homemade cocktails and think Summer!
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