Hallelujah. Spring has arrived. For those of us who've been trapped inside our homes to stay out of the cold, we get to rediscover the outside world again. It's also time for some home maintenance items that will help you avoid big repair bills later on.
Inspect your roof. Whether you have shingles, tin or even concrete tiles, your roof is your home's first line of defense against water damage. Now is the time to inspect and repair any water damage. If you delay, you could find yourself facing water damage inside your home, too.
Clean your gutters. Gutters direct rain away from your roof and home, protecting both in the process. Clogged gutters, meanwhile, open your home to water damage--and there's a good chance you won't notice the damage until you need an expensive repair.
Clean or replace your HVAC filters. You need to do this more often than once a year. A dirty filter forces your HVAC system to work harder, which in turn drains your wallet. It could also shorten the life of your blower motor.
Clean your dryer vent. Not all lint is caught in the lint trap; some makes its way into the dryer vent. A clear vent will save you money by reducing the time your dryer has to run. A plugged vent not only wastes money, but could also cause a house fire.
Check the washing machine fill hose. Look for cracks that could become leaks. A leaky hose under pressure can cause major damage in a short period of time.
Clean and repair your screens. Trying to reduce your electric bills this summer? In many parts of the country, you can keep your house cool (at least at night) by opening windows. Gently scrub on a flat surface with soapy water. Also, patch small holes, as needed.
Clean decks, driveways, fences and other outside surfaces. A pressure washer makes the work much easier. If you don't have one, borrow one from a neighbor or rent one from a home center. While you're cleaning, inspect for damage that needs mending.
Fix cracks in your walks, driveway and the outside of your home. Unlike the human body, cracks in asphalt, concrete or stucco don't heal themselves. Fortunately, most of these repairs are fairly easy if done immediately.
Repair any cracked or peeling paint. A good paint job makes your home look nice, while providing a protective barrier from the elements. Touchup painting is easy to do and inexpensive.
Vacuum your refrigerator coils. The coils you'll find on the bottom or back of your refrigerator conduct the hot air from inside the unit. If they're coated with dust, they do the job less efficiently and cause your fridge to work harder. That means a higher electric bill for you. Use a vacuum cleaner hose or a brush to clean the coils.
Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. You never know when you'll need them. Sometimes, it's a matter of life or death, so take the time to change the batteries now.
Prepare your lawn mower for summer. Change the engine oil and sharpen the cutting blade. You'll lengthen the life of the mower and improve the look of your lawn.
Check seals around windows and doors. Winter weather can crack and harden caulk and other weather seals. Inspect them now and repair and replace as needed. You'll reduce your air-conditioning bill and could prevent water from entering your home and causing damage.
Clear vegetation around your AC compressor. To work efficiently, the compressor needs good airflow. Prune any plant growth that could block it.
Drain your water heater. Sediment builds up in your water heater tank. Use the spigot near the bottom of the heater to drain it. By doing so, you'll prolong its life and reduce your electric bill.
You'll probably need to dedicate a couple days to complete the list, but don't look at them as chores. View them as crucial preventative measures--ones that will help you save on your utility bills and avoid big repairs later on. It could be the highest paid work you'll do this week!
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website. The site features thousands of articles on how to save your valuable time and money including more on home maintenance.