Spring cleaning: four must-do projects to protect your home

Spring is a great time to clean up the damage caused by the winter season, and prepare your home for the effects of the impending summer heat.

Yahoo Homes
Spring cleaning projects
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Spring cleaning projects

Sure, spring is the perfect opportunity to take strolls in the park and enjoy outdoor activities. But it's also a great opportunity to clean up the damage caused by the winter season, and prepare your home for the effects of the impending summer heat.

Whether it's making sure your cooling system is ready to go up against the summer heat, or ensuring that your roof can withstand torrential winter weather, keep reading to learn what should be on your spring to-do list…

Make Sure Your HVAC System is Functioning Properly

If there's a perfect time to replace air conditioning equipment, it's when you don't need it - like during the spring, which boasts mild temperatures, according to Eric Knaak, vice president of operations for Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning in upstate New York.

Knaak says spring is typically the quietest season of the year for HVAC contractors, and therefore salespeople are eager to sell.

"This affords the client an opportunity to get numerous competitive bids," Knaak explains. The result: you can make a decision based not only on what system is best for your home needs, but also based on the best price, Knaak says.

One added benefit: because contractors are less busy during spring, the job can usually be scheduled within a few days, according to Knaak. That means no long waiting periods that can interrupt your spring schedule.

[Want to replace your HVAC? Click to find a contractor in your area now.]

Install Insulated Siding

When installed correctly, siding will protect your home from the elements, including extreme heat and cold, water infiltration (which can lead to mold), and insects, according to Dave Harrison, chief marketing officer of Champion, a company that offers home exterior products.

And if your spring cleaning checklist includes finding a way to reduce energy costs, a siding replacing could do the trick. In fact, choosing a siding with insulation can help lower your energy bills during the summer because heat won't transfer through your walls so easily, Harrison adds.

This is also a great project to undertake during the spring as the mild weather will help the renovation run more smoothly, says Rich Van Tassel, president of Royal Oaks Building group, a residential homebuilder.

"Wet conditions and siding installation do not mix well," says Van Tassel, who adds that water can easily compromise the value and quality of the siding material and may cause it to rot or buckle.

"You don't want your siding to warp, as it won't function as well in protecting your home and may not be as aesthetically pleasing, in which case you will feel compelled to completely redo the siding," he says.

[Want to replace your siding this spring? Click to find a contractor in your area now.]

Ensure Your Windows are Energy Efficient

Winter can cause serious damage to windows, according to Chris Pickering, the vice president of marketing at Ply Gem Windows.

"The cycle of freezing and thawing may have caused cracked window panes, which can lead to air leaks and energy loss," Pickering explains. So once spring rolls around and all the ice has melted, it's time to inspect what damage, if any, the cold weather has caused.

Pickering also points out that there are often more window replacement promotions available during the spring because contractors are less busy, so they offer discounts to attract more clients.

And if you're thinking about investing in energy-efficient windows, this spring might be the best year yet. Why? Because of a tax break of up to $500 to help homeowners earn money back for energy-efficient home improvements - including replacement windows, according to Pickering. Just make sure that the windows meet the ENERGY STAR requirements.

The tax break expires on December 31, 2013, so make sure to add window replacement to your spring cleaning checklist.

[Ready to invest in energy efficient windows? Click to find a contractor in your area now.]

Inspect Your Roof for any Winter Damage

Much like windows, your roof also endures some wear and tear during the winter. For this reason, you should definitely add "roof inspection" to your spring to-do list.

"During the winter, ice, snow, wind-driven rain, and animals attack the structure of your home trying to gain entry," says Crystal Anderson, owner of St. Louis-based Olneya Restoration Group.

As a result, for your overall roof inspection, Anderson says you should look for broken gutters or downspouts, and missing shingles.

John McLaughlin, president of Exterior Products at Allied Building Products Corp, says you should also look for ice damming, which occurs when water builds up behind a blockage of ice, McLaughlin explains.

"To check for ice damming, look for extra gutter weight; a key sign of this is a gutter that appears separated from the house," he explains.

One more thing to look for once spring rolls around: new water stains on the plywood along the inside of the roof. According to McLaughlin, this means water is leaking in and repairs are needed.

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