Spring is in full swing, so take advantage of the warmer temperatures and tackle this to do list for April.
Dining outdoors is one of the great pleasures of spring and summer. Prepare for it by getting outdoor furniture in tip-top shape.
Wrought iron: If you see rust damage, scrub off as much as possible, ideally down to bare metal, with a wire brush. Scuff up other areas by sanding lightly. Paint with rust-inhibiting primer, then repaint.
Teak: If the wood is blotchy or black with mildew, scrub it with a teak cleaner and a synthetic or brass pad. One-part cleaners are safest; they don't damage the wood. Rinse and let dry. Then apply teak oil if you want the wood to stay its natural color. Skip the oil if you'd rather have wood that ages to a mellow gray.
Strap or plastic wicker: Remove brittle plastic and weave on new vinyl strapping. A lattice pattern with a double wrap on the frame is more durable than simple horizontal straps. Find materials by searching the phone book or local Web directory for "patio furniture repair."
April's usually a good time to wash windows. Ryan McPheters of Virginia Window Cleaners has three tips for DIYers: Use a squeegee, not rags. Overlap passes, and wipe off the blade after each one.
If you’d rather have a professional do the job, prices range from $100 for humble digs to $2,000 for estates. McPheters's company typically charges $6.50 per double-hung window, plus $2.50 if it has a storm window.
If you have an asphalt driveway and can see bare stones on it, it's time to reseal it. But use an asphalt-based sealer, not a coal-tar sealer. The District banned sale and use of those products in 2009 because chemicals in them were getting into streams, the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, and Chesapeake Bay. The banned products usually have the words "coal," "tar," "refined coal tar pitch" or "RT-12" on the label.
If you haven't already done so, have your air conditioner serviced and install a fresh filter. Even if you don't need cool air yet, you could run the fan to filter out pollen. April is usually the peak of pollen season in the Washington area. Trees account for 90 percent of the pollen in our air each year; weeds and grasses contribute less than 4 percent each. People with allergies can find relief by staying indoors and switching on the air conditioner rather than opening windows.
But what if you have must-do outdoor chores?
-- Tackle them at mid-day. Pollen counts are usually highest in early morning and late afternoon.
-- Wear a disposable respirator.