When we think ‘spring cleaning,’ most of us think of the interior of the house and tasks such as organizing the closets, purging unwanted items and cleaning out cabinets and drawers. While this is part of it, a thorough ‘spring cleaning’ also includes clearing and maintaining the outside of your home. 

Winter weather can cause damage so your outdoor ‘to-do’ list will involve a heavy dose of maintenance as well as well as the more traditional indoor cleaning and clearing type tasks. I suggest you tackle your outside ‘to-do’ list first and then work your way inside.  

To help you on your journey to a ‘clean’ and well-maintained home, I have created an easy-to-implement plan that will help you through the process.

Take it step-by-step, one task at a time and when you are finished your outdoor space will be ready for the first BBQ of the season!

GUTTERS

Gutters do their job best when clean. Without proper upkeep, trapped moisture can leave a house susceptible to moss and mildew and cause major water damage to the roof and walls.

During winter water sometimes freezes in the gutter, or between the gutter and the house, and causes the gutters to detach from the house. So the first thing I suggest is to check and make sure the gutters are still properly attached to your house.  Check to ensure that birds, squirrels, or insects have not created nests in the eaves or on the ledges. Next, clean them out and make sure there is no debris in them blocking water from flowing through. Once you think they are clear, check for proper drainage.

Tip: adding gutter guards and splash blocks will make your life easier next season.

Inspecting Sprinklers and Spigots

Turn on your sprinkler system and check for damage that could have been done to the plumbing. Inspect all the sprinkler heads that could have been affected by snow and ice. A dry pipe is an issue and could mean that your pipe is blocked. If it is, your pipe needs to be flushed. Replacing a sprinkler head is easy and inexpensive. It will cost between $3 to $15 per head. Once the repairs have been made, allow a couple of hours to check the system.

A spigot left undrained or unprotected during the winter months have been known to freeze and crack, creating a leak inside the wall. If this happens you must repair the pipe and install an inside shutoff valve for drainage. The cost will be between $15 to $20, inexpensive but time consuming. It will take between 2 to 4 hours to make the complete replacement.

Tip: Turn off the valve leading to the outside spigot before the winter season sets in to avoid any future leaks.

Window Screens

The first thing everybody does when spring arrives is to throw open their windows.  But people tend to forget that the screens need to be cleaned. Properly maintained screens allow for maximum airflow into the home.  So I suggest you incorporate cleaning your window screens into your yearly outdoor spring cleaning routine.

To clean, place the screens on a flat surface (such as the driveway) and use mild soap and water with a soft brush to remove dirt and grime. Do not try to power wash your screens while they are on the windows because the force of the water can damage the units. Make sure to clean both sides of the screen as well as the interior and exterior of the frame. Allow the screen to dry completely before reinstalling.

TIP: Remove your screens in the fall and store for the winter.  Store them in an upright or flat position and do not allow anything to lean again the screens.

SPRING DECK PREPARATION and REFINISHING

Most decks require a regular cycle of maintenance or they will discolor and the surface will become rough and prone to splinters. So before moving the patio furniture back out – or buying a nice new set – assess the condition of your deck and take the needed steps to restore it to tip-top shape.  I have prepared a mini-checklist to make the process easier:

  • Inspect the entire structure thoroughly to ensure it is safe and secure;
  • Make necessary repairs such as cracked railings, splintered planks, loose nails;
  • Clean the deck thoroughly to remove embedded dirt, mildew, fungus stains and gray surface wood with an electric pressure washer;
  • Perform a "Splash Test" before applying a new coating or a maintenance re-coat
  • Reseal the deck: While most deck-sealer manufacturers recommend resealing annually, if there are no immediate problems, you can likely wait until the following spring to reseal.

Checking for Cracked Pavers

Cold winters have been known to crack a paver or two.  If the crack is less than ½ an inch you can choose to fill it with crack filler. It's not a very attractive option but it works.  My suggestion is to store extra pavers in the garage, so when this happens (and I promise it will someday) you can replace them with matching stones from the same batch. You can replace the pavers on your own, just remove the broken ones and replace it with new ones. Correctly leveled and uncracked pavers will keep your guests and family members from falling flat on their faces!

Tip. At first the new paver will appear lighter in shade but after a few weeks of being exposed to the elements it slowly begin to appear as old as the others. 

Repainting and Fixing the Fence 

No one likes to do it, most people like the idea of paying the boy next door to paint the fence, but maintaining the fence takes a lot more than that. For starters the stiles and pickets have to be checked for damage and replaced as needed. All fasteners used should be made of galvanized metal that does not disintegrate. Do not forget to push and pull on each post for signs of rot at its base. If the post moves, make sure to add extra soil around the post and firmly pack it around the post.

Tip. A well maintained fence makes for happy neighbors.

Carpenter Ants

They emerge in early spring. When inspecting your home make sure to clear areas of clutter around or near the home. They love debris and warmth. You can get rid of small infestations by simply applying insecticide, spray, powder or gel. If you feel the problem is too big for you to handle on your own, call the pros. They can eradicate the problem in one to two visits depending on the size of the crisis. These insects are very destructive so make sure to take care of them if you find any.

Tip: Inside the house they like to hide under the water heater, the kitchen range and crawlspaces. If you find them outside, check the inside of the house, too.

Now that your outdoor space is in tip-top shape, take a deep breath, enjoy the satisfaction, and we will be back next week to help you tackle your indoor space

Marlene Pratt is the co-founder of Casa Latina, an interior designer and on-air television host on both English and Spanish-language television. Follow Marlene on Twitter at @CasaLatinaToday and Like her FB page

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Marlene Pratt is the co-founder of Casa Latina, an interior designer and on-air television host on both English and Spanish-language television. Follow Marlene on Twitter at @CasaLatinaToday and Like her FB page

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino