An article by Jeffrey Steele in today's Chicago Tribune:
If you've failed to make good on New Year's home improvement resolutions in the past, it may have been because you never compiled a "to-do" list. Our handy calendar offers scores of do-it-yourself projects for 2005, all designed to make your home more attractive, comfortable and energy efficient. It could be your solution to tackling all those things you didn't get to last year.January
1. Start your year by cleaning out your scariest closet. Install a closet organizer or add a stack of plastic bins.
2. Change your furnace filters. Consider upgrading to a pleated rather than spun fiberglass filter to improve air quality.
3. For quiter performance, clean out the exhaust fans in your home by removing the covers and using your vacuum cleaner hose to clear dust, lint or debris.February
1. Do some interior painting to add color and a new look to rooms.
2. Clean bathroom and kitchen sinks by putting stoppers in the sinks, adding one-half cup of bleach to a gallon of warm water, scrubbing the sinks and releasing the mix down the drain. If you avoid running water overnight, the bleach will kill bacteria in the drain and help it smell fresh.
3. Clean and organize the garage, incorporating shelving and pegboard for tools.March:
1. Rake debris from the lawn after the snow melts. This will help prep it for the following month, when you'll start your lawn maintenance in earnest. Have dead limbs pruned from trees.
2. Head to the garage and make sure your lawn mower is ready. Change the spark plug, get the blade sharpened, and oil all moving parts with lightweight oil.
3. If you have hardwood floors, put down a fresh coat of a do-it-yourself, water-based urethane finish. Try a hardwood refinisher called Bona (www.bonakemi.com), applying it with a synthetic sheepskin mop to help your hardwood floors look brand new.April
1. Start on your four-step lawn fertilizing program. Step One is to rake the lawn, core aerate the grass with a rented machine and apply a crabgrass preventer.
2. When changing clocks for daylight-saving time, also change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. While you're at it, vacuum detectors. When sensors get clooged or dirty, they're not as responsive.
3. Start spring cleaning. Steam-clean carpets. Flip your mattress. Clear out the fridge and freezer. Wash windows and remove storm windows.May
1. If you have central air conditioning, use a garden hose to spray the condenser and remove any debris on its fins. If you use window air conditioners, install them. Turn off your whole house humidifier, if you have one. Change furnace filters again.
2. Clear the leaves from your gutter. If you haven't already, drain the snow blower's fuel and put it away for a long summer vacation.
3. Apply a coat of epoxy to the garage floor, to help prevent road salt and calcium chloride from chipping holes in the concrete. Rustoleum is one company that markets a garage floor kit.June
1. This is the month for a home inspection, to determine how well the house survived the winter. Inspect the roof for lost shingles, check for missing caulking around doors and windows, and pull out your dryer, vacuuming out the vent tube and using a flexible brush to loosen any lint caught in the line. Check the attic to ensure vents are free of wasp nests or other obstructions. This will help keep the attic--and entire house--cooler.
2. It's time for Step Two in your four-step lawn fertilizing program. Apply a weed-and-feed to help fertilize the lawn and control broadleaf weeds.
3. Begin exterior painting projects. Start by washing and repainting the front door.July
1. Now for Step Three of your lawn fertilizing program. When you begin seeing moths--usually in early July--apply an insect repellent to your lawn.
2. Apply lightweight oil to your home's locks and door hinges. While you're at it, apply some lightweight grease to garage door rollers. This should be repeated once a year.
3. Clean the exhaust fan over the oven by removing the screens, washing them in warm soapy water and scrubbing out grease accumulated in the fan housing.August
1. During the dog days of summer, increase the frequency of lawn and plant watering, if your municipality allows it. Hot weather can stress plants.
2. Drain your water heater. Turn off the main valve, turn the gas valve to "vacation," and drain the tank. This once-a-year project will prolong the life and efficiency of the unit.
3. During this month of heavy air conditioning, rebalance the air in your two-story home by closing first-floor vents to move more cold air upward.September
1. Get ready for colder weather. Inspect doors and windows for leaks and add weatherstripping.
2. Install energy-saving light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use two-thirds less energy than standard ones. 3. Have your heating system professionally serviced and cleaned to ensure its safe operation and energy efficiency. A late September inspection allows the technician to inspect the whole-house air conditioning as well.October
1. When the first frost hits, remove all exterior water hoses on your house to avoid freezing and cracked pipes. If your home features older-style hose bibs with an interior valve, turn the valve off and drain the line. If you have a sprinkler system, call pros in to blow out the lines.
2. Turn on your whole-house humidifier.
3. Late October is the best time for Step Four in the four-step lawn maintenance program. Rake your lawn and put down the winterizing fertilizer, which will helps roots to grow strong. Clean gutters again.November
1. Add window film to drafty windows, which can increase their energy efficiency by 50 percent. Consider storm doors to help reduce heating costs.
2. Change furnace filters before the peak heating season. Clean and inspect the fireplace.
3. Spruce up your home before the holidays. Repair bathroom tiles, repaint scuffed walls or refresh kitchen cabinets with easy-to-use wood cleaners and fine steel wool.December
1. Get ready for the snow. Set up cans of snow melt in the front and back of the house, and dedicate a shovel to both locations. If you have a snow blower, inspect the impeller blade, oil moving parts with a lightweight oil, add fresh fuel and crank it up.
2. As a last-minute preparation for holiday guests, clean kitchen and bathroom faucets and fixtures with a liquid brush-on descaler such as CLR to remove lime buildup.
3. Break out the holiday lights and make sure they're in good working order. You may need to buy more before hanging them up.
, Ace Hardware's "Helpful Hardware Man" and host of "Mr. Fix-It" WGN radioKeith Breslich
, owner, Hanover Park True Value HardwareTim Gale
, owner, Algonquin True Value HardwareGeorge Zimmermann
, owner, Zimmermann True Value Hardware, Buffalo Grove
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