Maintenance by Month

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Washington

Jan

  • Remove Christmas lights 1st week
  • Grab a screwdriver and wander the entire house, tightening loose screws on doors, drawers, cabinetry and furniture.
  • Conduct a home inventory for insurance purposes.
  • Walk through the house and garage and record all your belongings with a camera or camcorder.
  • Store these photos or videotapes in another place, like the in-laws' house or a safe-deposit box.
  • Clean the range-hood filter. Grease buildup can damage the fan motor and plug the ductwork and can be a fire hazard when pan frying. Twice a year, run the filter through the dishwasher and clean the fan blades.
  • Vacuum bathroom vent system and fans. Use coat hanger to probe vent tube.
  • Do end of the year accounting. Set up file folder for current year′s taxes. Organize receipts and paperwork.
  • Call the utility company to do an energy audit. By now you′ll have received your first big winter heating bill, and unless you live in Phoenix, you may be motivated to see how you can improve your home′s energy efficiency. While you′re at it, ask the utility if they can also test for radon gas—especially important if you don′t know if it′s ever been done.
  • Plan annuals if you intend to start plants from seed. Start shopping for seeds and seed starting mix at the end of January. Use 1/2 gallon milk or orange juice containers cut down their length and stapled at the ends for starting trays.

Feb

  • Lawn Mower Maintenance ‘Spring’ tasks: sharpen blades, clean bag, check oil, clean chassis deck
  • Check around washer, fridge and dishwasher for leaks, and replace hoses if they show signs of wear and (worse) tear.
  • Pull fridge and freezer away from walls and vacuum condenser coils so that the appliances cool more efficiently. Have cats or dogs? Then do this twice a year.
  • Inspect grout and caulk around tubs, sinks and showers. Chip out and replace if seals are cracked or missing to keep water from seeping into walls or under floors.
  • Make a list of all major indoor projects that need to be done. Prioritize them so you can get the most urgent out of the way before the garden and yard claims your attention.
  • For major projects – especially summer items such as landscape and deck - call and get estimates now.
  • Check flooring and carpet. If it needs repair or replacement, take advantage of sales now.
  • Start seeds if you plan to grow your own. Many seeds need to be started 6-8 weeks before the last frost. In many areas of the country—depending on germination time and when to transplant—the best time to start seeds is in February.
  • Prune roses—18 inches is the optimum height.
  • Fertilize perennials in temperate areas and rototill empty garden beds if soil is dry enough.

Mar

  • Apply Moss killer to lawn (before Thatch activity)
  • Call to arrange an annual central air conditioner service visit in April. You'll save as much as $100 by calling before hot weather hits.
  • Assemble (or review) your family's disaster supply kit. First-aid gear; battery-operated radio; canned juices; visit redcross.org for a complete list. I have one from the Canadian Red Cross, they are also at Costco.
  • Storing firewood close to a back door for the winter freeze? Move the wood at least 30 feet away from the house. It can attract termites in warm weather.
  • Check basement sump pump before spring rains to make sure it'll work in the event of flooding. DIY tip: Pour water into the pump silo to raise the float and activate the motor.
  • Depending on region, do spring yard clean up. Edge beds.
  • Top dress and reseed lawns. Mow when grass gets to be 4" high. Don′t mow it too short.
  • Fertilize almost everything
  • Time to start transplanting cool season veggies to garden
  • Build arbors and trellises before transplanting or sowing seeds for vines and gourds.
  • Cut back herbs.
  • Organize your paper life. Root out and recycle old magazines, newspapers, and assorted mementos. Build a new file system or clear out old files that are past being useful.
  • Prepare taxes or have them done, if you haven′t already. File electronically this year. If you owe, write the check and prepare to mail...on April 15 and not a minute sooner.
  • As spring starts, check your basement for cracks or leaks. If you see moisture, call a professional to check it out. Many homeowner′s insurance policies no longer cover fungus or mildew damage, so sealing basements is more important than ever

Apr

  • Thatch and aerate lawn
  • Eyeball house's brick and mortar for cracks or crumbling from winter freezes. Fill gaps as needed. (While you're at it, check walkways and driveways for similar freeze damage.)
  • Replace batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when clocks spring forward for daylight saving time.
  • Inspect crawl space or basement floors and walls after heavy rains for water stains or pooling. Portable dehumidifiers can help dry out spaces in some cases. If damp conditions persist, call a contractor.
  • Use your vacuum and dishwasher to clean more efficiently. Start at the ceiling line with the vacuum: Vacuum walls, baseboards, and furniture before vacuuming floors. Empty the bag as soon as it starts getting full. Use the dishwasher for everything that fits. On some models, you can take out the top shelf for oversized items you might not have considered like the bathroom garbage cans, broiler pans, and bath caddies.
  • Check smoke alarm. Replace batteries if necessary. (Some people do this when they change their clocks for Daylight Savings Time.)
  • You still have time to reseed patchy areas of the lawn. Now is good while everything is in growth mode.
  • Transplant and move plants that are still dormant or just starting to wake up. If you wait, they may be too leafed out and more susceptible to transplant shock.
  • Wash windows inside.
  • Empty clothing closets, toy boxes, cupboards, and drawers. (If you′ve been decluttering and cleaning throughout the year, you know which ones you can ignore.) Vacuum, dust, or wash shelves, drawers, and cabinets depending on when they were last cleaned. Repaint or wallpaper a closet if you have time.
  • Sort winter clothes for tossing, donating, tag sales, or storage. Wash or dryclean woolens and down-filled clothing then store with cedar chips.
  • Take down pictures and artwork. Clean frames and glass.
  • Take plants outside and give them a good bath. Wipe dust off leaves.
  • Move appliances and heavy furniture. Clean underneath.
  • Clean oven and refrigerator.
  • Dust and wash blades on ceiling fans.
  • Wash floors, then treat per manufacturer′s instructions.
  • Clean and shampoo carpets. If you can, hire someone to do this; it will save a lot of time and free you up to do other things.
  • Wax furniture. Make minor repairs as you find them.
  • Wash woodwork including moldings, baseboards, and doors.
  • Clean light fixtures and chandeliers. Put what you can in the dishwasher. Don′t do that with crystal or painted glass shades though; put crystal in warm soapy water, then rinse and dry. Delicate or fragile things will need to be carefully cleaned then set them out of the way where they won′t get broken if you can′t put them where they belong right away.
  • Dust lampshades. Replace now if they are getting old and ratty.
  • Take down curtains and drapes. Wash or dry clean.
  • Wash mini-blinds, blinds, or shades. If damaged, repair or replace.
  • Go through bookshelves. Get rid of any books that you no longer need. Donate or set them aside for a tag sale. Dust and replace on clean shelves.
  • Sort through videos, DVDs, electronic games, and music CDs. Toss damaged tapes and CDs. Sell or donate old games, CDs, and movies.
  • Sort through computer clutter. Donate usable software, manuals, and equipment. Find a recycling center for dead equipment. Pitch disks and floppies that you can′t read on your current systems.
  • Set aside garage sale items, drop off donations, and haul garbage to the dump or dumpster.
  • Check sprinkler systems

May

  • Open irrigation system
  • Power wash driveway, sidewalk and deck
  • Clean BBQ
  • Fertilize lawn
  • Order firewood for next winter. You can often buy it for less this time of year. Plus, the extra months of summer will help season the wood. Unseasoned, it can lead to chimney fires.
  • Do you need pest control? Inspect the ground around foundation walls for signs of termites, such as tunnels or dirt bridges. Contact an exterminator if you suspect termites or other bug problems.
  • Examine outdoor wood structures -- posts, railings, windowsills -- for signs of deterioration, especially rot. Use a very sharp awl to probe for soft spots.
  • Plan a garage or tag sale for this May or June. The days are long and lots of people like to hit sales early in the morning.
  • Finish spring cleaning projects.
  • Mother′s Day. Call your mom, send a card, buy flowers.
  • Check gutters, downspouts, and roof for leaks. Schedule roofing repair if needed.
  • Check siding for winter damage. Schedule repair.
  • If planning to paint exterior, start prep now. Call painter to schedule job.
  • Clean fireplace or stove. Call to schedule chimney cleaning. Have chimney repointed if needed.
  • Clean around AC compressor.
  • Remove storm windows. Inspect for damage, clean, repair, then store.
  • Wash windows, then put in screens.
  • Clear out debris from under decks or porches.
  • Plant annuals. Make a hanging basket with annuals for porch or patio.
  • Cut back any trees or branches that are touching the siding or roof.
  • Clean and repair patio furniture.
  • Check any outdoor play equipment for damage, then repair

Jun

  • Wash exterior windows
  • Schedule annual chimney cleaning (every two years if you don't use your fireplace frequently). The cost is typically lower about now: $30 to $50 for an inspection; $60 to $130 for cleaning.
  • Replace air-conditioning and heating filters to boost energy efficiency. At least twice a season. The cost is $10 to $25 a dozen.
  • Hose down your house's exterior. Wash away grime with an ordinary garden hose and a mild detergent. (Pressure-washers can harm exterior finishes.) Be on the lookout for winter damage to siding.
  • Order firewood for the fall. Give it the extra summer months to season.
  • Check gutters.
  • Paint interior or exterior if needed.
  • If you haven′t cleaned the freezer recently and used up what you have, now is a good time. That way you can take advantage of the huge array of seasonal produce that will be available for the next few months.
  • Check all recreational equipment and make sure it′s in good repair, especially swimming pools.
  • Check hoses on washer, refrigerator, and dishwasher. If they show signs of deterioration, replace them.
  • If you have wood decks, check them for signs of wear or deterioration. Repair or replace as needed. If you have nails popping up, consider replacing them with galvanized screws instead.
  • Clean and seal wood decks during a sunny stretch. When the deck is dry, apply deck cleaner and scrub; next day, apply deck sealer. Also, if nails are popping up, consider replacing them with galvanized screws.
  • Check exterior railings and stairs. Repair if they are loose or showing signs of wear.
  • Clothes dryer vents should be checked at least once a year to make sure they are clear of any lint buildup that could cause a fire.
  • Service furnace or heating system.
  • Make sure attic vents work properly. Consider installing a whole house fan.
  • Plant more annuals.

Jul

  • Fertilize lawn with x-x-x
  • Inspect roof eaves for water stains (a sign of leakage). Use binoculars if necessary. Also scan for: 1. Cracks in roofing tiles 2. Loose or missing shingles or loose granules on asphalt shingles 3. Shifting of metal flashing in roof valleys and around chimneys 4. Cracked skylights and 5. Nests in power fans
  • Paint projects? With windows open, July is a great month to paint.
  • Patch driveway or fill potholes with gravel.
  • Clean the garage. Get rid of junk.
  • Organize tools and garden equipment
  • Check with local government regarding waste disposal of old paint, solvents, and other toxic substances you might have. Use it up if you can, otherwise dispose of responsibly. NEVER pour toxic substances down the drain or throw them into the landfill.
  • Check fences. Repair or replace damaged portions.
  • Have septic tank pumped if you have a septic system.

Aug

  • Call your heating service and schedule an annual checkup for your heating system before the busy fall season kicks in. The cost is $60 to $150.
  • Clean gutters. Check for damage, and use a hose to flush summer debris from downspouts. Consider adding leaf guards that allow leaves to slide off easier.
  • To prevent drain clogs that'll require a plumber (or worse), remove drain traps under sinks and wipe their innards clean. Do this twice yearly. An easy how-to guide can be found at mrrooter.com.
  • If you like to make Christmas gifts you already know August is getting a late start for some projects. Still, no time like the present.
  • Check windows and doors to make sure locks work properly and that they are in good condition. Clean tracks and lubricate hinges. Repair or replace any cracked windows.
  • Perform garage door maintenance.
  • Repair minor brick and mortar cracks. Call a professional if necessary, expecially concerning foundations.
  • Think you need more attic insulation? Add it now.
  • If you haven′t cleaned gutters for a while, check them now

Sept

  • Furnace maintenance in preparation for winter
  • Pull fridge and freezer away from walls and vacuum condenser coils so that the appliances cool more efficiently.
  • Vacuum dust from vents, baseboard heaters and cold-air returns to aid heating system air flow.
  • If you don't remove and store window ACs, then cover with plastic to protect them during winter and prevent heated air from escaping your home.
  • Weekend project! If winter brings snow and ice your way, apply a coat of epoxy to the garage floor to help prevent road salt from eating holes in the concrete. Consider using Rust-Oleum garage floor kit
  • Drain and refill hot-water heater once a year to keep it fully functional. Also: 1.Test the water heater's temperature/ pressure relief valve, as shown in the manufacturer's instructions. 2. If little or no water flows out or the relief valve doesn't shut off, replace it as soon as possible.
  • Clean Chimney before heating seasons tarts
  • Change the furnace filter.
  • Wash out garbage cans, disinfect, then rinse thoroughly.
  • If you haven′t already, check basement for cracks or leaks. Seal if necessary.
  • If you have a sump pump, test, clean and lubricate.
  • For plants that are starting to die back, remove litter and deadhead flowers.
  • Add compost, manure, and mulch to garden beds.
  • Plant late autumn vegetables like cabbage, peas, spinach, and swiss chard.
  • Divide perennials, iris, and bulbs.
  • Remove sick or dead trees and shrubs.
  • Seed lawn if your yard has patchy spots. Fertilizing now also encourages good root development.
  • Before it gets cold, have an automatic irrigation system installed. (Scheduling is easier with less competition than in the spring and summer.)
  • Do your "spring" cleaning now before the chilly weather sets in and enjoy a clean house for the holidays.

Oct

  • Early in month - Close down deck, prepare for winter
  • Re-stain outdoor items such as teak furniture before storage
  • Store outdoor furniture
  • Close out irrigation system and store hoses.
  • 3-4th week install Halloween decorations
  • Winter coating - fertilize lawn with x-x-x
  • Lawn Mower Maintenance ‘Winter’ tasks: sharpen blades, clean bag, check oil, clean chassis deck
  • Examine weatherstripping and caulk around doors and windows. Replace worn or damaged material that's no longer blocking air.
  • Time again for new batteries in smoke and CO detectors when clocks fall back
  • Keep leaves raked to prevent smothering new grass.
  • Plant early spring bulbs and fertilize established bulb beds, including garlic.
  • Plant herb baskets and bulbs for forcing if you want to give them as gifts.
  • Clean yard. Clear debris from perimeter of house and outbuildings. Trim any trees or shrubs that touch the house.
  • At the end of the month, check system and fix leaks, then drain and turn off lawn sprinkler system.
  • Take window screens out. Wash and store. Repair or replace now. Label so you can put them up quickly next spring.
  • Cover woodpile. Split some kindling and store for ready supply.
  • Harvest seeds for next year′s garden. For free information on how to save seeds, see the International Seed Saving Institute.
  • Move tender perennials into the house, garage, or greenhouse.
  • Turn mattresses.
  • Store summer bedding and towels. Before storing, check condition. Make rags out of damaged sheets and towels.
  • Store summer clothing. Check condition to cull worn items for donation or tossing.
  • Get out winter clothing and bedding. Swap cotton summer sheets for flannel sheets and duvet covers.
  • Do a big cleaning now while the weather is still relatively warm. You′ll be able to clear out the dust and dirt that got tracked in during the summer.
  • Have carpets cleaned.
  • Schedule appointment to have air conditioner serviced.
  • Replace weatherstripping and caulk around doors and windows.
  • Switch to Daylight Savings Time. Check smoke detector. Replace batteries if needed.
  • Replace all your spices and herbs. Buy baking supplies: flour, sugar, and fresh baking soda if you′re a seasonal baker.
  • Plan holiday meals. Order meats and specialty items. If you′re hosting, make a plan. Check linens, glassware, and dishes. Purchase or rent if you′re short. Get what you need well in advance.
  • Lay a fire for the first nippy evening.

Nov

  • Install American Thanksgiving wreath, or decorations
  • Lubricate garage door rollers with light oil to avoid the dreaded wintertime stickies. (Test safety features too, such as automatic stops.)
  • Throughout the house, lightly lube locks and hinges on windows and doors.
  • Cut back plants that have been killed by frost.
  • Clean flower and vegetable beds, then work mulch and compost into soil to prepare for next spring.
  • Rake leaves.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Clean, oil, store garden tools.
  • Clean spray equipment before storing for season.Have automatic irrigation system serviced.
  • Organize gardening supplies and equipment. Inventory needed products and materials based on year′s consumption and prepare a list for spring garden shopping.
  • Prepare for holidays. If traveling, have car serviced.
  • If it′s on your game plan, put Christmas lights up after Thanksgiving.
  • Organize gifts and prepare to ship out of state gifts by the end of November.
  • Make cookies and turkey. Enjoy your family. Watch football. Read a good book.

Dec

  • Install Christmas lights 1st-2nd week
  • Review family's fire-escape plan with the whole household.
  • Check pressure and expiration date on fire extinguishers. A new extinguisher is $10 to $50, depending on size. Pop to local Fire dept to have them inspect yours.
  • Look inside bathroom vanities and kitchen-sink cabinets for moisture and other signs of leakage. Inspect pipes for condensation or slow drips.
  • Check clothes dryer vents and hoses for lint buildup that can cause a fire. Clean if necessary. Costs: Pro, about $130 for a thorough cleaning, DIY, about $40 for a brush-and-rod tool like the LintEater (Go to linteater.com). A similar rig can be found at a good hardware store.
  • End the year with a little extra financial protection: Pay January's mortgage bill before Dec. 31 so that you can deduct more interest from the year's tax return.
  • Mail gifts and Christmas cards. The earlier the better.
  • Finish shopping. Wrap gifts.
  • Decorate house. Pull out ornaments and decorations. Purchase needed items. Put up tree, wreath, and garland.
  • Last chance to make donations to charities and claim the tax benefits for the current year. Don′t forget to get a receipt.
  • Having guests? Clean out the guest room (or space). Dust, vacuum, change linens. Prepare a care package of whatever you think your guest might enjoy. Spend the night in your guest room to make sure it′s comfortable.
  • Get plenty of sleep, exercise, and try to avoid eating and drinking too much. It will reduce your stress and you′ll enjoy the season more. When January rolls around you won′t be freaking out about the five new pounds that you found attached to your butt New Year′s Day.

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