May Maintenance Checklist

May's long days and mild weather energize most homeowners. The projects that seemed daunting in December become feasible thanks to more daylight and balmier temperatures. This is also the month to transition from indoor-focused winter living to outdoor-oriented summer living.
Exterior checkup
How did your home's exterior survive the winter? Check for and repair cracks in siding. Inspect exterior caulking, and replace if it has pulled back from surfaces or is crumbling. Patch any gap that allows water to penetrate siding. This is an especially important step if you plan on painting your home's exterior during the warmer months. Clean siding with a garden hose and long handled brush. Prime and touch up spots where paint is peeling, or simply prime if a big painting job is scheduled for later in the season.
Watch for pests
Warming weather activates insects. Carpenter ants and termites need bridges into your home, so inspect the perimeter and eliminate wood-to-earth contact and any vegetation touching the structure. Survey trees near your house for insect holes or rot, and do not stack firewood close to any structures. Look for actual insect activity after dark, when pests are active.
Maintain floors
Help your floors recover from the abuse they endured during the recent muddy months. Dirt shortens the life of carpets, vinyl floors and wood floor finishes. Deep clean your carpets and area rugs, wax and buff wood floors, and strip and clean vinyl and linoleum.
Clean fireplace and chimney
Clean the ashes from your wood-burning stove or fireplace and empty the ash pit. Clean your chimney at the end of the heating season, before deposits can harden and cause corrosion in the flue. Professional chimney sweeps can also inspect and report on your chimney's condition. Consider installing a spark arrester on your chimney after cleaning: It won't keep only large burning embers from escaping your flue—it'll also prevent birds and other critters from nesting in it.
Check and clean decks and patios
Your decks will experience more traffic in the coming warm weather—check them for structural soundness and dry rot, especially if they're up high. Replace rotted posts and floorboards. Brace wobbly posts by tightening bolts or adding galvanized reinforcing plates. Scrub deck with a solution of water and trisodium phosphate or a commercial deck cleaner (which may darken some types of wood). Edge around concrete patios.
Prepare pools and spas for use
Uncover and clean pool. Make sure pool gates and alarms are in good working order. Drain and clean hot tub or spa, and replace filter. Clean and condition spa cover to protect from ultraviolet deterioration.
Maintain driveway
Now that the rains of winter and spring are over, walk your driveway and note any cracks or potholes that need filling. Fixing these problems on a regular basis ensures that small potholes don't develop into sinkholes, and prepares asphalt driveways for sealing, if needed, during the warmer summer months.
Get air conditioners in good condition
Clean air conditioner filters and condenser coils monthly as soon as the cooling season begins. Make sure outdoor portions of window units are clean and free of debris. If you have an evaporative air conditioner, clean it, oil the pump and blower, check the belt and replace the blankets.
Maintain heaters
It seems counterintuitive, but spring is the best time for having your heating system serviced. Schedule your yearly checkup for forced air, oil and gas heating systems now, while technicians aren't responding to emergency fall and winter calls. Also, remember to clean filters once a month, and keep vents clear.
Check ceiling fans
Clean ceiling fans and light fixtures. Make sure fans are set to spin clockwise to cool your home in hot weather.
Eliminate clutter with a garage sale
May is the peak of garage sale season. As you stash winter's skis, sweaters and snow shovels and break out camping gear, shorts and gardening tools, set aside items you no longer need and have a garage sale. Sell your clutter on a Saturday, then on the following Sunday clean your newly spacious garage and enjoy closet doors that actually close.

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