The Clueless New Homeowner’s Guide to Spring Maintenance

There are few things as satisfying in life as owning a home. My husband and I made this discovery last summer, when we purchased our first home: a beautiful two-story with an attached garage. We walked around for days just staring at it in awe. It even came complete with elaborately planned landscaping – uncommon trees and flowers, tigerlilies strewn everywhere. I remember being so happy about the landscaping (little did I know). We proceeded to settle in, unpack our boxes and get on with life. Oh, yeah – we thought we were all set.

It didn’t take long before we came to a realization which is surprising, if you have never done anything but rent. Houses require near-constant maintenance to retain their appearance and value, and to stay in working order. Like a child, or a dog, or even a car, your home must be touched up, checked out and groomed regularly. If you neglect your home’s regular maintenance, then small, easy to fix repairs can end up costing you thousands of dollars and countless headaches. So, when gearing up for spring cleaning on your beautiful new home, don’t forget to add these five important items to your list.

1. Change Your Furnace Filter

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t feel too bad. We discovered this little gem when our registers started belching out black dust mid-January (I know, I know – see “clueless” part of title). It’s relatively easy to do, and relatively inexpensive – most filters cost between $2.00 – $20.00, depending on how fancy you want them. Although our parents advised us to change the filter monthly, we haven’t exactly met that standard. Either way, State Farm’s website suggests you make sure to do it every spring. That way, in the fall, you’re ready to go.

2. Clean Your Kitchen Exhaust Hood & Filter

State Farm also recommends you do this each spring, and for good reason – an overly soiled kitchen exhaust filter can easily lead to fires, and is often overlooked. Anything which helps to prevent your house going up in flames is a good thing.

3. Check For Damage To Your Roof

This is easy to do, and extremely important in preventing costly repairs. Winter weather such as snow, ice storms, hail and high winds can leave a roof damaged – and a damaged roof can lead to internal water damage. A visual once-over is an easy place to start. If anything appears to have changed or looks suspicious, have a professional take a look. As with most home repairs, expending a little money on this can save a lot of money later.

4. Clean Clothes Dryer Exhaust Duct, Damper and Space Under Dryer

Another handy suggestion from State Farm, this is one we figured out the hard way. One day, we noticed a horrible, rank smell emanating from the laundry room upstairs. We always cleaned out our dryer’s lint filter, so we were stumped (and, again, clueless). Thankfully, our neighbor suggested that our dryer’s external duct probably needed to be checked. He climbed up there with a ladder and, sure enough, it had backed up. With all of the moisture emptying into it, it had mildewed – and the odor was backing up into the house.

5. Get Your Gutter In Shape

According to an article by the Institute for Business and Home Safety, this is an important part of annual Spring home maintenance. First, make sure your gutters are stable and have been cleaned out. Secondly, check your downspouts. They should be sloping away from the house and carrying water at least five feet from your home’s foundation.

With these easy-to-do home maintenance starters, any home owner can start the season off right with a safer home. Although owning a home certainly takes extra effort, it’s well worth it. And just think – it’s great practice for next spring’s maintenance!

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