Keeping up with household maintenance can be daunting. By scheduling maintenance tasks according to the season, homeowners can perform repairs when weather conditions are most suitable and when results will be of greatest benefit. Here is a month-by-month guide for routine tasks:
This month and all other midwinter months are best for indoor tasks like patching plaster and wallboard and for big indoor cleaning chores like washing walls, ceilings and floors, shampooing carpets and cleaning and routine servicing of kitchen appliances.
This is also the best time to fix floors and stairs that squeak, drawers that stick and wooden doors that rub against their frames. Because humidity is usually at its lowest, gaps and cracks in furniture and other woodwork are at their most extreme.
February is a good month for taking care of odds and ends. Rearrange or modify closets to make efficient use of space; straighten rooms that accumulate clutter, like the workshop, utility room or home office; sharpen tools and kitchenware; lubricate hinges, locks, cabinet hardware and appliance parts. Repair furniture, but put off refinishing projects requiring chemicals that release harmful fumes until summer unless there is plenty of ventilation.
Also inspect home security systems and fire-safety equipment, including smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and escape ladders. If you use a wood stove or fireplace regularly, perform mid-season maintenance (inspection and perhaps cleaning) on the stovepipe or chimney to reduce chances of a fire from accumulated soot.
To combat midwinter blues, this is a good time to brighten both home and mood by applying new wallpaper or floor coverings.
With its rains and thaws, March keeps many homeowners busy with basement leaks. With outdoor activities weeks away, this is a good time for indoor plumbing and electrical repairs.
March is ideal for beginning big indoor remodeling tasks. Knowing that spring will arrive soon, you might not feel so trapped in a house full of rubble.
And with the worst of winter over, windows can be opened occasionally for ventilation.
April is the month for inspecting exteriors. Make spot repairs to the roof and siding if necessary.
After the season's last fireplace fire, clean the chimney or stovepipe (or call a chimney sweep). Soot deposits will harden in fall, making removal more difficult and increasing the risk of a chimney fire.
If you have time, prepare window and door screens so they will be ready to install should spring arrive early.
Take advantage of a warm, sunny day to wash Venetian blinds and shades outdoors.
May unofficially begins the outdoor-maintenance season. As early as possible, clean and repair roof gutters and downspouts, and begin planning major projects like painting, installing new roofing or siding, repairing masonry, and new construction. If convenient, prepare outdoor furniture for use.
Start the projects you planned in May.
If several must be coordinated, begin with the ones that could cause trouble if not finished by fall. Because days are longer now, much outdoor work can be done.
With infrequent rain and the ground hard and dry, July is ideal for tasks requiring excavation, like constructing patios and walkways, repairing fence posts and sealing the exterior of the foundation if spring rains brought basement leaks.
July is also a good time for window repairs and for indoor projects needing thorough ventilation, like painting and refinishing.
Finish large-scale summer projects and resurface the driveway (this is best done during prolonged hot weather); then take a well-deserved break. But before the end of the month, arrange to have the heating system checked to beat the rush and prepare for any early cold snaps.
This is the month for winterizing. Daytime temperatures are moderate enough to make installing attic insulation bearable, yet warm enough for doors and windows to be opened while weatherstripping is being attached. Caulking compound, used for sealing gaps, is also easy to apply; in colder weather it bonds poorly.
Days are short and evenings disappear when daylight-saving time ends. Store summer items, including air-conditioners. Clean and sharpen garden tools before putting them away, and apply rustproofing paint to metal items that will remain outdoors.
Clean the garage, lubricating and adjusting the door. Before lighting the first fire in a fireplace or wood stove, check the chimney or stovepipe for debris left by storms or pests. And clean the chimney or stovepipe if this was not done in spring.
November ushers in the holidays and winter. Clean the gutters after the leaves have fallen. To prevent outdoor water pipes from freezing, shut off the indoor valves that supply them.
If your home has steam or hot-water radiators, you might need to bleed them of trapped air when the heat goes on for the first time.
This month is usually filled with social activities, leaving little time for home repairs. Be thankful for small favors. If you have an urge to tinker, wax floors, polish furniture and marble, or clean chandeliers, ceiling fans and light fixtures.