After a long winter, it appears that warmer days just might be here to stay. But before you make plans for the spring and summer, now is the time for homeowners to get their home, yard and garden back in shape, according to local experts.
“Winter wind and snow damage or general wear to your home is not always obvious right away,” said Collin Goodwin of Thrive Handyman Service in Rapid City. “A thorough check each spring inside and out is important.”
“Most parts of your home need a tune-up every year like on a car,” said Jeremy Houchnes, also of Thrive Handyman Service.
HVAC: Systems and filters should be professionally cleaned and checked, especially air conditioner units, which sit unused and collect dust during winter months.
“Checking the A/C unit is one of the most important things on the list,” Houchnes said. “You want to prevent catastrophic breakdowns when your system is at peak demand.” The coil, filters and condenser should all be serviced.
Furnaces: When switching from heating to cooling, gas furnaces should be checked for deficiencies in venting that may cause carbon monoxide leaks.
Washers: Units should be level, and dryer vents should be cleaned and checked for lint build-up. “Dryer vents are often poorly installed and can be a fire hazard,” Goodwin said. Use a special pipe brush to clean the exhaust duct.
Light bulbs: Check each bulb in the fixtures for proper wattage and replace burned-out bulbs. Consider replacing less-efficient bulbs with LED for cost and energy savings. “Also, people often forget to replace outdoor spotlights around the exterior,” said Houchnes.
Smoke detectors: “Preferably these and carbon monoxide detectors need fresh batteries twice a year,” Houchnes said. Have a professional assist in proper and adequate placement throughout the home.
Thermostat: “We have seen a lot of thermostat problems this past winter,” said Goodwin. Broken thermostats are a frequent cause of frozen pipes and subsequent flooding in homes in colder regions. “Often a home has a lower quality mercury-based dial, which can suddenly stop working. These should be replaced with a newer unit to proactively save a service call.”
Bathrooms: Reseal toilets and tubs and check water valves. “Water tends to roll back into the wall and grout and caulking break down, so they need to be redone at least every five to 10 years,” Goodwin said.
Doors: “With the fluctuations of temperature in the area, door jambs swell and contract so doors should be checked for proper seating,” said Houchnes. Also, remove storm windows and check window seals.
Roof: Have a professional examine the exterior of the home for missing shingles and loose siding and gutters.
Gutters: “Winter comes fast in the Hills, and people forget to clean the gutters in the fall,” Goodwin said. Removing leaves can prevent leaking and prepare for summer rains.
Pavement and driveways: Check for uneven or broken places and fill cracks.
Lawn and garden
Trees and shrubs: “Spring is the perfect time to prune many trees and shrubs,” said Carol Hallock, manager of Rockingtree Floral and Garden Center in Sturgis. “Before trees leaf out, you can see the shape of the tree and properly clip.” Check with a professional for which varieties to cut back.
Hallock suggests that low maintenance trees and shrubs, such as evergreens, lilacs and spirea, can be added to landscapes in spring as well.
Borders: Clean out shrub beds and rake borders before tiny shoots of new growth appear.
Lawn: Aerate grass areas before they turn green. “I am not a fan of power-raking. Core-aeration is really good for grass since it reduces compaction, regenerates the soil and allows water to freely flow through the roots,” Hallock said.
Garden: Hallock recommends beginning work on a garden in early spring. “Choose a sunny area, remove turf and amend soil by adding compost and vermiculite.” Aspiring gardeners are eager to start vegetable and flower seeds or plants indoors, but Hallock cautions against starting too early. “Here in the Black Hills, we really can’t put plants outdoors until Memorial Day, so don’t start seeds for at least six weeks before that.”
Overall, spring offers the perfect opportunity for organizing annual upkeep on your home, according to the experts.
“The key is preventative maintenance,” said Goodwin. “A little time spent in the spring gives the homeowner that peace of mind to relax the rest of the year.”