No matter how old or how new your home is, it requires a certain amount of regular maintenance. Generally the spring and the fall are the best time to catch up on maintenance items so things don’t fall into disrepair. As spring approaches, it is time to take advantage of the warmer weather and get your home ready for spring with some spring cleaning and home maintenance.
Like your annual physical, routine maintenance on a house can alleviate some serious problems down the road and ultimately save you money. Doing these routine checks will not only have your house looking great, but also functioning great as well.
When going through your house and property it is important to first assess and observe, then clean and repair and finally plan for any upgrades or replacements long term. Once you have lived in your home for a period of time, you will know the items to check and which items need replacing or repairing on an ongoing or scheduled basis.
Often when people are buying a home, they neglect to budget for routine maintenance or repairs. There are a couple of ways to estimate the cost of routine maintenance on your home. Some people say that you should budget 1% of the cost of your home, or $1 per square foot of living space. Either way, it is important that you take your maintenance seriously and budget for these costs on an ongoing basis so you can avoid major repairs and surprise expenditures in the future.
Did you know that spring cleaning and maintenance can be good for your health? A study at the University of Minnesota showed when people were put in a clean and orderly space, they were more likely to choose healthier food options than those placed in a cluttered environment. The same study found that those individuals who were in the tidied up space were more likely to donate money and be charitable as well.
Additionally, a sense of pride in your home can not only reduce stress, but also increase happiness and mood. We tend to socialize more when we feel comfortable and confident in our environment and who doesn’t want to show off your great backyard at the next barbecue?
Lastly, keeping your home clean and in good condition will make it easier for you should you need to put your home on the market. A well maintained home will typically have an easier time going through inspections and will potentially bring a higher appraisal value.
Start your spring cleaning and maintenance indoors on days when the weather might not be cooperating. Save your outdoor maintenance items for days when the sun is shining and you enjoy being outdoors. Crank up some music, or put on some headphones as music makes the time go faster, and dancing while you are working will burn extra calories.
Start with dusting ceiling fans and light fixtures. These often get mixed in your regular maintenance routine because often they require a ladder to access. Spring and summer are a good time to switch the rotation of your ceiling fan to increase air flow. While you have the ladder out, open and clean windows & install screens. Having clean windows is a joy and being able to open your windows for fresh air is a real bonus.
Next, wipe down wood trim, baseboards & doors throughout your home. Choose your cleaning products based on personal preference and whether you have painted wood or natural wood.
Finally, turn your eye to safety. Test smoke & carbon monoxide detectors & fire extinguishers. Make sure to notify your family first to avoid any panic while the alarms are sounding. Head to the basement and inspect the water heater/boiler for leaks or corrosion. Double check the water heater temperature and adjust if necessary. Replace furnace & A/C filters regardless of whether or not they look dirty. The filters should be changed a minimum of twice per year and more frequently depending on pets and other factors.
While you are in the basement, inspect the entire basement and/or attic for water leaks, mold or pest damage. Look for evidence of mice, bird or other critter activity. If you have one, now is a great time to test your sump pump and backup battery.
Now it is time to move to the living room. Turn your attention to areas that get missed in your regular cleaning and lifestyle. Remove and vacuum furniture cushions and hard to reach areas. Collect any extra coins or treasures found in the cushions and donate to your favorite charity.
Switch your ceiling fan rotation to the spring/summer setting and do a quick check of tv and entertainment cables and connections to make sure there is nothing loose or damaged.
Some of the biggest spring cleaning bangs for your buck can be found in the bedrooms and bathrooms. Start by organizing your drawers & closets. Take stock of your clothing and donate excess items to the charity of your choice. Stow away winter gear, boots & apparel in a separate closet or area of the garage since they will not be required for another 9 months. Repeat for children’s bedrooms as well. Teach generosity by suggesting your children donate toys and clothes to those less fortunate or to younger family members.
Take stock of your guest bedrooms and make sure your guests have everything they might need while being away from home. Check the lightbulbs and nightlights and provide some comfort items for your guests in the bedroom drawers and closets.
After a quick lunch break, it is time to hit the bathrooms. Crank up the tunes and begin by cleaning and organizing your bathroom cabinets and drawers. Check expiration dates on hygiene items, toiletries and medications and dispose of them properly. Grab a large trash bag as there may be a lot of trash and empty shampoo bottles found here.
While you are digging around in the cabinets, check sinks, tubs and toilets for leaks and recaulk if needed. Also check under the cabinets for evidence of pests and critters.
The last stop in the interior of the home is the kitchen. You are officially on the home stretch. High five! Wipe down small countertop appliances and make sure all electrical cables are intact and safe. Open up and wipe out cabinets and spend some extra time to clean out under the kitchen sink. Dispose of unused empty bottles of cleaning supplies and check for evidence of pests. Under the kitchen sink is one of the top places that pests can enter your home.
Next, turn toward your attention to your major appliances and clean your oven, microwave & toaster oven. Empty the crumb trays and clean out the boiled over sweet potatoes leftover from Thanksgiving. Grab a large trash bag and clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Check expiration dates and dispose of unused or expired items. If you have non-expired canned goods that are never going to be consumed, research your local food banks for their donation rules.
Finally, head to the laundry room to add the last bit of sparkle. Clean behind your washer and dryer, and thoroughly clean both the lint trap and dryer vent. Depending on how much laundry your home goes through, the lint trap and dryer vent should be cleaned more frequently to avoid the dangerous possibility of fire.
If you are going to attempt the outdoor maintenance items on the same day as finishing the indoor items, our hat is off to you! Don’t feel bad about scheduling for another weekend or day off, as tackling both the indoors and outdoors in one day is often too exhausting. How much outdoor cleaning and maintenance will depend obviously on your lot size, but also on if your HOA or community takes care of some of it for you.
For those who love that silky green grass, now is the time to fertilize your lawn, sew some grass seed, schedule lawn mowing and maintenance. No doubt about it, a beautiful lawn takes some serious maintenance and how great it looks is generally directly proportional to how much time and money you put into it.
If you have a larger lot, spend some time and inspect all trees and bushes for dieback, disease and insect damage. You can make a list of shrubs or trees that you will need to replace and which ones seem to have survived winter the best. Spruce up your landscaping and start to prepare for veggies or flower baskets for the summer. Run outside faucets & sprinklers and walk around your entire yard to inspect for leaks and breaks in the system. If the threat of a freeze has passed, go ahead and set up your sprinkler schedule to get your plants going on a strong spring.
Finally, turn your attention from the landscaping to the exterior structure of your home. Walk around your home and check for exterior walls, foundation or stucco damage or cracks. Call to schedule any repairs right away, as vendors get busy as the weather gets warmer. Inspect your deck and patio for damage or loose boards and railing. Hammer or screw in any loose nails or screws and clean your patio furniture with an appropriate cleaner.
Climb up on the roof and clean your gutters and downspouts from leaves and debris left over from the winter. Walk around and do a careful check of your roof and chimney for damage or leaks.
Walk around the outside of the home to check windows and doors for leaks & recaulk if needed. Cleaning the outside of the windows will make your home feel very clean and you will be more apt to open your windows for fresh air.
As you walk around the home, clean dirt, dust and leaves from the air conditioner’s compressor and out of window wells. Also check window wells for any deceased critters that may have fallen in there last fall.
Finally, hose out garbage cans and recycling bins. Cleaning out your bins twice a year goes a long way to reducing the smell and attracting pesky visitors to your trash like racoons and bears. Plus, your garbage men will thank you.
Following a routine for your home’s spring cleaning and maintenance will go a long way to assuring your home stays beautiful and safe for a long time. In addition to this spring routine, we also suggest a similar routine in fall for preparing for winter. Use our handy printable Spring Cleaning and Maintenance Checklist to help you stay focused, organized and motivated in finishing your spring cleaning tasks.