5 Reasons You Should Get an A/C Tune-up

5 Home Maintenance Projects to Prepare for Spring

The thaw of spring ushers in a whole new set of around-the-house responsibilities that spent the winter in hibernation. When the day finally arrives, you'll want to be ready to enjoy the fresh, warm air and focus on tasks like gardening, landscaping and de-winterizing the sprinkler system. But before you launch into your spring home maintenance checklist, it's important to finish off your remaining wintertime projects.

These are a few of the late winter and early spring home improvement projects that you should have in the works during February and March:

1. Air Conditioner Tune Up

Getting your air conditioning system tuned up annually is not an optional extravagance -- it's critical maintenance. Some tune up services, like lubricating all of your system's moving parts, are essential to the operation of your system from one year to the next. Other steps in the tune up process, such as cleaning the condenser coils, replacing filters and topping off coolant levels, will boost your system's efficiency and save you money.

Whether you're already starting to use you're A/C or you won't be using your air conditioner for several weeks, a tune up is a great item to put on your winter or spring home maintenance checklist. The off-season is the ideal time to schedule this service, because HVAC technicians are unlikely to have packed schedules before summer and tend to offer valuable early bird discounts on tune ups.

2. Duct and Vent Cleaning

Family members spend more time indoors during the chilly winter months, and that means more dust production. Factor in all the air circulation that your furnace has been doing, and you might be due for a thorough cleaning of your home's ductwork.

Many HVAC professionals have special tools that allow them to scrub and disinfect the inner walls of your ductwork deep into the system. This helps your indoor air smell fresher and can bring relief to allergy sufferers by washing away layers of accumulated irritants. In neglected duct systems, it may even improve system efficiency.

This service usually includes vent cleaning, but if full duct cleaning isn't on your list of spring home improvement projects for this year, you should perform a minor cleaning of your vents and air returns yourself. Use a vacuum hose attachment to do most of the work, then follow up with a damp cloth to wipe away the rest.

3. Indoor Organization

When there's gorgeous spring weather beaming outside, the last place you want to be is cooped up among the clutter of your closets. If you spend the final days of winter reorganizing those messy areas, you'll thank yourself later.

Take a tour of your home and make a list of the areas most in need of reorganization: closets, pantries, basements, attics and home offices all need a makeover from time to time. Next, decide where you need new shelving and other organizing furniture, and make a shopping list to match.

With a written plan in place, you can easily break up a huge home organization effort into manageable steps that won't leave you feeling overwhelmed.

4. Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Your home's smoke and carbon monoxide detectors could someday save your life, but it can be easy to forget about them. If it's been more than six months since you tested these devices or replaced the batteries, now is the time to act.

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends replacing batteries every six months and testing each alarm at least once per month. But it's also important to keep in mind that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors expire. Remove each detector and check the back for an expiration date to make sure you don't leave your home and family unprotected.

5. Plan Your Spring Projects

If the inside of your home is maintained, organized and clean, don't twiddle your thumbs waiting for the first day of spring -- plan your spring home improvement projects now so that you can hit the ground running when the flowers start to bloom!

With so many plants, flowers, vegetables and herbs to choose from, you can take this time to create a gardening and landscaping plan that will make your home look great and your home-cooked meals taste even better. Use resources like the USDA's Plant Hardiness Zone Map to choose plants that are perfectly suited for your neck of the woods.

And if you have rooms that could benefit from a new color scheme, pick up some paint swatches and make those difficult color decisions now. Springtime is a great time to open the windows wide and fill your home with fresh air, which makes it the ideal season for interior painting.

If it feels like winter is dragging on forever, tackling your late winter and early spring home maintenance checklist can be a fun and productive way to make the final days fly by. Good luck, and happy homemaking!

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