Most homeowners have at least one thing to smile about this spring. This past winter was gentle to our homes.
Remember how it was just a year ago? Thousands of families were busy repairing the ravages of an especially bitter winter. Who can forget those severe snowstorms and frigid temperatures that left us with all those collapsed garage roofs, leaky ceilings, bent gutters and smashed shrubbery?
But in spite of the mildness of the winter just passed, resist the temptation to relax in a lawn chair the first warm day. There are some seasonable chores that the homeowner should undertake each spring.
It's a good idea to maintain a detailed checklist and to log inspections and maintenance work as these tasks are completed.
Here is one such list:
Window putty: Putty that appears dried out, cracked or worn thin should be replaced. You can get instructions and material from your local hardware store, or hire a professional to do the job.
Caulking: It's important that there be caulking wherever there is a joint or seam, or an open crack, split or hole through which air can enter, and wherever two pieces of different material meet or overlap, such as around windows and door frames. Also, loose, dried or cracked caulking should be replaced.
Exterior and interior paint. Chipping, peeling, blistering or discoloring paint could signal that it's time to repaint. If you're tired of outdoor painting, consider having aluminum or vinyl siding installed -- and you may not have to worry about the siding for 20 years.
Storm doors and windows. Switch the glass and screens. If they're self-storing, the task is a breeze -- slide the screen down the glass up.
Roof. It's a good idea to have a qualified roofer check the roof at least once every three years. Don't delay repairs even if the only problem consists of a few broken or missing shingles. These can cause leaking.
Gutters and downspouts. Remove debris and inspect for damage. Rusted gutters should be painted or replaced, preferably with aluminum or vinyl that won't rust or need repainting.
Brickwork. Check for crumbling or missing mortar between bricks, including walls, chimneys and floors. Tuckpointing (replacing the mortar between bricks) is a tedious job and may require the services of a professional mason or tuckpointer.
Walkways, steps and driveways. Repair any cracks.
Heating unit. It's time to have the air-conditioning unit checked out before hot weather arrives. With forced-air heating and cooling systems that use different thermostats, be sure the heating is turned off before the cooling unit is activated.
An important chore is to clean the registers that regulate the flow of air and maintain the desired temperature, before turning on the cooling system. And if a humidifier is built into the heating system, the water should be started up.
Hose connections. New homeowners have been known to call in a plumber because they thought something was wrong with the outside faucets when no water came out. All that had to be done was to open the petcocks inside the house.
As for landscaping, don't be overly concerned if plants were squashed by what snow we did have. Most plants are going to recover if you allow nature to take its course.
Even evergreens that appear to have been hopelessly crushed by snow should return to their normal shape by May.