Spring is the perfect time to perform a complete top-to-bottom inspection of your home and take care of any necessary repairs.
Inspect the Roof and Chimney
Keep a good roof over your head by examining it for problems yearly – and take care of any you find right away. Make sure that storms haven't lifted, curled, or damaged any shingles, and that there's no "sponginess" underfoot. Remove leaves from roof valleys, and clean the screens on roof vents and louvers.
Check the flashing around your chimney and any skylights, and inspect the rafters inside the attic for any signs of water damage. Clean the chimney cap, if necessary, and have the inside of the chimney cleaned, if you didn't do it last fall.
Clean the Gutters
Clean debris out of your gutters and inspect them for any signs of sagging or damage from winter ice. Check for proper drainage – water that lingers in the gutters makes for mosquito breeding. Make sure there's no corrosion, joint separation, or loose fasteners, and give the fascia a quick check, as well. Flush out the downspouts and leaders. If you have wood gutters, oil the inside after clearing out the debris.
While you're up on the ladder, make sure that no birds, squirrels, or insects are nesting in the eaves or on the ledges.
Prevent water leaks, insect invasion, hot air leaks this summer, and cold air leaks next winter by inspecting all the joints on the outside of your house – the places where different kinds of materials meet. Check your siding for any holes, loose joints, and cracked mortar, and your foundation for any fissures. Check the weather stripping on all doors and windows. Use the appropriate materials to seal any openings: caulk, foam, weather stripping, or glazing compound.
Get Windows Ready for Summer
Remove storm windows or other winter protection, to let fresh air into your home this summer. Before installing screens, wash the outside of the windows.
Inspect your screens for damage and repair any holes. Clean screens thoroughly with a scrub brush and a hose before installing them.
If your home has central air conditioning or window units, make sure the weather stripping on your windows is up to snuff to reduce energy waste.
Deal with Mold and Mildew
Get rid of any mold and mildew on your siding, deck, and trim before the hot, humid weather arrives. An electric pressure washer works well on large surfaces, but you may have to tackle small areas such as trim by hand. Mix a solution of 1 cup bleach, 1 cup white vinegar, and 1 gallon of water, and apply it with a sponge or scrubber. Be sure to wear gloves, and avoid dripping the solution on any prize plants or shrubs.
If siding or trim needs to be repainted, choose a mildew-resistant paint.
Clean Up the Yard
Rake up all the leaves and other debris where insects might be lurking – especially around the foundation of your house. Also clear out window wells and storm drains. Trim back any overgrown shrubs near your house. Inspect your trees for winter damage. Remove broken branches if you can easily reach them; otherwise, hire a licensed arborist.
If cracks have appeared in your driveway, sidewalks, or steps, take care of them before they grow any larger. Patching materials and fillers for asphalt and concrete are readily available at home centers.
If you have dry-set pavers on your driveway or walkway, brush some extra sand or stone dust in the joints to help lock the pavers in place and discourage weeds from lodging between them.
Turn on the Water
Remove any insulation from outdoor faucets and turn on the water. Bring out garden hoses and make sure they're in good shape for the summer. If you have a sprinkler system, check the sprinkler heads. Thoroughly inspect the system – water supply lines, faucets, and hoses – for any leaks, and make any necessary repairs.
Check Heating and Cooling Systems
Schedule an annual tune-up for your heating and cooling system. Clean or change air filters and remove dust from around grills and ducts. Outdoor air conditioner condensers need attention now, too. Disconnect the power from the condenser and clear away any leaves and debris with a vent brush or power blower. You can minimize problems with debris by wrapping fiberglass mesh around the condenser coil; just be sure to regularly check and replace the mesh as needed.
If you have window air conditioning units, remove the covers and clean the filters. Make sure they're running properly before the hot weather arrives.
Do a Safety Check of Your Electrical System
Electricity use tends to go up in the summer, and power surges and lightning strikes can also be expected. Check out your system now to avoid problems, and learn best practices in conserving energy use.
Trip and reset the circuit breakers. Make sure that the lightbulbs in all of your lamps and fixtures don't exceed the recommended wattage, and consider putting CFLs in the lamps and fixtures you use the most. Check all electrical outlets for loose-fitting plugs, and make sure that all outlets and switches are functioning properly. Call a licensed electrician to troubleshoot and repair any problems. If there are young children in the house, install safety covers on unused outlets. Make sure you have a fully charged multipurpose fire extinguisher handy, in case of an electrical fire. While you're at it, do a test of all smoke and CO2 detectors to make sure they're functioning properly. Replace batteries as needed.
If you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages and/or lightning strikes, you may want to look into getting surge and lightning protection systems for your home.