Check Yourself: Home Maintenance Tasks You Need to Tackle in April

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Ah spring! It took you long enough to get here, but we’re happy to see you. In fact, we’re so grateful for the slightest hint of warmer weather that we’re ready to rush outside, full of fresh energy, and take on all of those essential springtime maintenance tasks.

“April is the perfect window during the year to tackle many home projects, because most areas of the country have moved past harsh winter conditions but not yet welcomed the heat of summer, which can really make maintenance tasks feel like chores,” according to Danny Lipford, a home improvement expert and host of the nationally syndicated TV and radio program “Today’s Homeowner With Danny Lipford.”

“In the majority of cases, regular maintenance takes minimal time and expense. But gone unchecked, minor tasks quickly turn into major headaches that could be avoided with a little regular attention.”

So tap into that seasonal surge of enthusiasm by completing these easy spring chores.

1. Check your yard for low spots

Task: After a spring shower, tour your yard to look for puddles that indicate low spots that will kill your grass and provide a happy breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Shortcut: Mark low spots with a short stake. Fill a wheelbarrow with good dirt and make the rounds. Don’t worry about burying grass—it’ll grow through a couple of inches of soil cover.

Call in the pros: A landscaping service can complete this job for you. Expect to pay $10 to $25 an hour for landscaping day labor. Clean dirt that’s free of weeds and debris costs $8 to $15 a cubic yard.

2. Check soil drainage around foundation

Task: Make sure soil slopes away from foundation walls to prevent water from soaking the soil around your foundation and causing leaks and cracks.

Shortcut: Use an 8-foot-long stud (two-by-four) and a level to determine how much slope the land currently has.

Call in the pros: A landscaping service can check slope and grade where necessary for $20 to $50 an hour.

3. Clean out planting beds

Task: Prepare flower and veggie beds for spring planting by removing debris, trimming back last year’s dead perennial growth, and adding compost and mulch.

Shortcut: To avoid double work, place a compostable bag on a wheelbarrow or garden cart, and fill it with weeds and spent plants as you work through the beds. If the green matter is disease-free, empty bags into your compost pile. If you see fungi or bugs, tie the bags and toss in the trash.

Call in the pros: A landscaping or garden service crew will charge a flat fee of $25 to $50 a month to weed and maintain beds.

4. Check sprinkler system

Task: Get your sprinkler system ready for summer by inspecting each zone to make sure it’s working and covering each zone properly. If you find dry spots, straighten and re-aim any crooked sprinkler heads. Replace heads with broken or worn parts.

Shortcut: Draw a quick diagram of your property, and sketch in sprinkler heads and supply line locations. Turn on each zone individually, and note any problems on your sketch. Then turn off the system and water supply to make corrections and repairs where noted.

Call in the pros: Hiring a landscaper or sprinkler installer to check and tune up your sprinkler system costs $40 to $150, depending on the complexity of the system.

5. Tune up your lawn mower

Task: Sharpen the cutting blade, add a new spark plug and air filter, and change the oil to make sure you’re ready to tame your lush lawn. Regular spring maintenance ensures a long life for your mower and avoids costly replacement.

Shortcut: Run your mower for a minute or two to warm the oil before draining it. Warm oil runs out faster and more completely than cold, sluggish oil. After running the mower, disconnect the spark plug before servicing.

Call in the pros: A professional lawn mower service tuneup costs about $80.

6. Check foundation and eave vents for obstructions and damage

Task: Your house likes to breathe and has vents that let air circulate through crawl spaces and roof framing to help prevent mold and mildew. These vents have screens to keep out debris and—worse—critters. Tour your house to check and clean clogged vents along the foundation walls and under eaves, and to repair any broken or missing screens.

Shortcut: To make easy repairs, look for premade vent screens at hardware stores and home improvement centers.

Call in the pros: Expect to pay a handyman $30 to $60 an hour, depending on your location.

7. Spot worn and chipped exterior paint

Task: Not all house painting tasks are major. This yearly job involves inspecting your siding and exterior trim for small cracks and chips and repairing spots before moisture can penetrate.

Shortcut: Store and label extra paint in airtight containers so you can spot-paint as needed. Keep paint identification numbers on file so you can replace paint if you run out.

Call in the pros: You’ll pay $25 to $50 an hour for a pro painter to scrape, sand, and spot-paint.

| Apr 3, 2017 | Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an award-winning freelancer who’s written about real estate and home improvement for realtor.com, Yahoo, AOL, and many others. Follow @kaplan_lisa
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