The month of March—when temps are beginning to rise but before those April showers—is the ideal time to get down and dirty with those maintenance projects, says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a commercial and residential repair, maintenance, and improvement franchise.
March "home maintenance projects can extend the longevity and improve the quality of your home, inside and out," he says.
Task: Remove leaves, pine needles, and other debris that have accumulated over the winter so your gutter system is ready to handle spring showers. Overflowing gutters and blocked downspouts can damage siding and foundations.
Shortcuts: Install gutter guards—screens, foam inserts, surface tension covers—which help to keep debris out of gutters. In general, screen types work best, according to the folks at Consumer Reports.
Task: Remove dust and debris that have accumulated on the AC condenser (the big metal box outside your house) so that the AC works efficiently.
Shortcuts: Hook up a garden hose and spray the outside of the condenser. The water will melt away the gunk. Don’t use a brush, and be careful if pressure washing—you could damage or bend the fins.
Task: Start bringing your yard back to life now, before temperatures warm up for real.
Shortcuts: Remove branches and stones, and use your lawn mower with a catch bag to make short work of dead leaves and twigs. Got roses? For full, beautiful blooms, most landscaping experts will tell you to prune your rose bushes just before the plant breaks dormancy and after the final frost—around mid-March for much of the country. If any buds are diseased, bag and toss them in the trash to avoid spreading fungus and infestations.
Task: Get rid of dirt and grime that can cause mildew and shorten the life of your siding. As a bonus, the exterior of your home will look fresh and clean for spring.
Shortcuts: There's no need for fancy cleaning solutions or power washers; a bucket of warm, soapy water and a long-handled brush are all you need. Rinse with water from a garden hose.
Task: Cleaning your deck of leaves and debris—especially between deck boards—prevents staining and reduces the chance of rot. Check for loose boards, and reset protruding nails to keep your deck safe.
Shortcuts: Use a flat-bladed screwdriver to pry gunk out from between boards. Use a deck cleaning product to revive faded and stained boards.
Task: Inspect the caulking and repair any that was battered during the winter. Check your windows, doors, and corner trim to prevent water infiltration and avoid costly repairs.
Shortcuts: Feel like you're always caulking? You can cut down on the frequency of this task if you buy high-quality siliconized acrylic latex caulk rated for exterior use. It has good adhesion and flexibility, cleans up easily with water, and is paintable, too.
Task: Winter is tough on concrete and asphalt—freeze and thaw cycles can break apart stone and concrete. You’ll want to seal cracks with a sealant made for the specific material of your driveway or walkway to prevent further damage.
Shortcuts: Stuff foam backer rods in large cracks to reduce the amount of sealant you’ll need.
Task: Take a close look at your roofing to check for loose and missing shingles, worn and rusted flashing, and cracked boots around vent pipes.
Shortcuts: Make it easy on yourself by checking your roof with a pair of binoculars while standing firmly—and safely—on the ground.