For spring work around the house, timing can be key

Consumer Reports News: March 20, 2009 12:09 AM

Timing is key when it comes to doing work around the house, and being savvy about when to undertake certain jobs can cut your costs and make your projects go more smoothly this spring and summer. For example, replacing an old roof (shown) in the spring will allow you to avoid the seasonal shortages in plywood and shingles that can occur during hurricane season, which runs from June through November 30. Summer roofing crews are also more likely to include temporary workers who might lack the skill of full-time roofers.

Here's a list of other tips from contributors to the Home & Garden blog:

"You want to get exterior painting done before the pros get busier—even in this economy," says Bob Markovich, adding, "For interior painting and floor refinishing, which people often do themselves, warmer weather lets you open the windows for venting," he adds.

Temperatures in the 60s and 70s are ideal for pouring concrete while spring rains provide the constant water needed to cure it effectively, notes Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman. Spring-laid concrete gets the most curing time before facing winter's freeze/thaw cycles and snow-melt products.

Of course, not all spring rains are beneficial. Steven H. Saltzman advises installing a sump pump in the basement and Ed Perratore suggests you keep a wet/dry vacuum on hand to deal with spring flooding.

Perratore also just had his screen doors replaced—a move he timed to avoid peak season for flying insects. Pat Slaven says you should store sweaters in old cotton pillowcases instead of expensive and environmentally unfriendly plastic bins. "The cotton lets the wool breathe, which helps sweaters last longer, but it still keeps moths out," she says.

Kimberly Janeway suggests that if you need to replace your refrigerator, do your research now and buy in May and June, when stores try to clear out old inventory as they make room for new models—you might be able to get a better deal.

Out in the yard, Peter Sawchuk wants you to get your soil tested to determine its pH level. "In most cases the correction is with relatively inexpensive lime—better to invest in lime in the spring rather than fertilizer later," he says. Getting the right pH level also increases the effectiveness of the fertilizer you use.

Other must-do spring projects include cleaning your gutters and under your deck and inspecting and maintaining your central and window-mount air conditioning.

If your deck or playground set was built of pressure-treated lumber before 2004, there’s a chance the wood contains arsenic. But you can apply a coat of semitransparent sealer that will penetrate and seal the wood.—Gian Trotta

Essential Information: Our Complete Lawn & Yard Guide offers more low-cost, high-return ways to enjoy the outdoors.

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