By Yuna Miller
Snow in Central Texas is rare, but winter feels like it lasts forever. The good news is, spring is on its way to light up your Austin area home. Whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor, sprucing up the place after winter requires a simple plan and a few bucks.
LawnStarter file photo. No credit required.
Even a few inches of rain can become a problem for gutters that don’t drain properly. Clean out the fallen leaves, twigs, blowing trash and bird poop with a hose or strong leaf blower. Maintain unrestricted water flow by placing screens over the downspouts and gutters.
Spring is the perfect time to inspect and update the air-cooling units in your house. The last thing you want is for the AC to die during those triple-digit temperatures! Inspect the refrigeration; low levels indicate there’s a leak, and it can burn out the compressor.
Add these points to your air conditioning checklist:
Inspect electrical components and controls.
Clean evaporator and condenser coils, and oil motors as needed.
Calibrate the thermostat and check the condenser for any problems.
Clean or replace filters.
Remove any insulation. Check the caulking and weather strips around the seals. You may need to recaulk and repaint the edges to prevent air conditioning from leaking over the summer.
Get ready for spring by prepping the mower. Clean or replace the spark plugs; dirty or loose wires cause the mower to sputter, and the blades won’t cut well. Change the oil and oil filter at least once a year. Air filters and the mower deck get clogged with dust, mud, and dead grass. Blades need sharpening. You can do this yourself, but the pros at your local hardware store may be able do it for only a few bucks.
Lawn and Garden
Cleaning the yard is part of your sprucing up project, and it helps to improve curb appeal, especially if you plan to put your house on the market. Rake up old leaves, dead tree limbs, and grasses. Mow, edge, fertilize and pre-treat the grass for emerging weeds. Place native plants such as Texas wisteria or red yucca in flower beds. Break out the lawn chairs, hammock, and sprinklers. Hang some flower baskets, ornaments, or bird feeders to brighten up the place. Speaking of curb appeal, a new mailbox and some updated house numbers look great, and they don’t cost a lot.
Although the climate in Central Texas isn't a huge threat to pipes, they still need some yearly maintenance. Preparing pipes for warmer weather is important, especially when the Texas heat creeps in. While pipes can freeze in subzero temperatures, they can buckle in extreme heat. High temperatures dry soil so that it shrinks away from buried pipes. Older houses with original pipes are most susceptible to bursting. Hiring a plumber for a full inspection is the best idea, but you can start the process by:
Checking for leaks.
Removing aerators from faucets and drains.
Opening the water heater and supply valves.
Draining the water heater tank and refilling it slowly.
Water leaks often lead to rot and mold damage.
Spigots and Sprinkler Systems
If you’ve drained the water out of your sprinkler system and outdoor lines, now’s the time to recharge them. Turn the vacuum breaker clockwise, and turn on the main water supply to flush out your sprinklers. Inspect all the sprinkler heads and replace any that have become damaged over the winter. Turn on the outdoor spigots to flush out the water.
Painting and staining the house is a definite sign of spring. Chipping and faded paint look terrible, and it’s best to get this project done before the heat of summer makes outdoor chores oppressive. Window frames, shutters, decks, fences, rail posts, and doors can use a new coat of stain or paint every few years.
Homeowners know that their “honey-do” list of maintenance chores is never-ending. That’s just part of the package. But thinking ahead to spring and summer lets you get a jump on that list early, so there’s more time later for books, beer, baseball, and beaches.
Yuna Miller is a freelance writer who has lived in eight cities in 16 years. She finds a community that interests her, finds an old house, fixes it, flips it and gets out her map again.