Finally, the weather is warming up and flowers are starting to bloom. What does that mean for your home?
First of all, if you haven't already, it is a good time to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. The batteries need to be replaced every year to ensure that your smoke detectors will operate properly should the power be out and a fire should occur. A good rule of thumb is to replace the batteries every year when you move the clocks ahead. If you make that a habit, you and your family will be better protected.
Next, clean or replace the filter in your air conditioner. This really should be done every month in most cases, but since the system hasn't been used too much lately you may have slipped on that schedule. As the weather begins to get warmer, you are going to use it more often. A clean filter will make the system operate more efficiently and use less electricity. Don't forget to make sure your drain line is clear of insect nests and debris. If it gets plugged up the water will back up and either keep the unit from running or it will leak out and be all over your floor. It is also good to pour about a cup of vinegar in the drain at the furnace to help clear out any algae that has built up in the drain line.
While you are at it, it is really a good idea to consider having a reputable HVAC contractor check the system. This can help prevent you from suddenly having problems just when it gets hot outside. Funny how it seem hotter in the house than outside if the A/C doesn't work.
If you have a swimming pool, now is a good time to spend a little time cleaning the pool and the filter to help get it ready to use again. Take a sample of the water to one of the many pool supply companies, such as Pench-a-Penny, to have the water tested. They will let you know exactly what chemicals you need to add to get things back in balance and keep the pool working properly. This should be a regular maintenance item. While you can easily check the chlorine and PH each week, they can check for the other potential problems such as hardness and stabilizer. This should be done monthly.
Finally, there is the yard. This is a good time to make sure the yard and plants receive a good fertilizing. If you are doing it yourself, use a good slow release type fertilizer for the grass. I prefer one that has 2% or 3% iron to give the grass a nice green look. For the shrubs and trees a good 6-6-6 will feed them well. Also look at fertilizers for any citrus or palm trees you may have. These trees need special nutrients that are not found in standard fertilizers. You may also want to consider putting down a treatment of pre-emergent on the lawn to help keep crabgrass from getting started. This requires a treatment around March, June and September for the best results. If you have crabgrass, I have found that baking soda will kill it without killing the grass. Just wet it down and lightly sprinkle the baking soda on the area. If you need a lot of it, you can buy it in large bags from a pool supply store.
While working on the yard, don't forget that shrubs should not be growing in contact with your home's walls or too close to your air conditioner. Vegetation against your walls will holds moisture on the walls causing mold and mildew and wear the paint off the wall. This will mean that your home will need painted much sooner. Remember that your air conditioner should have a minimum of 12 inches of free space all around to provide the air it needs to properly cool your home.
The trees may also need trimmed to make sure the branches are not growing over the roof. If they are, when the wind blows, they will brush against the roof and prematurely wear it out.
This may seem like a lot of things to do, but if you start now and take care of one or two items each week, you will prevent a lot of problems that will cost you more later. It is always better to to a little maintenance at a time than it is to wait until it builds up or causes other problems.
As always, I am happy to try to answer any questions you may have.