Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Spring Clean the Outside of Your Home

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Cleaning and repairing the outside of your home doesn’t have to be a spring project, though it is nice to get outside and enjoy the warm weather after a long, cold winter spent inside. Here are some often neglected outdoor maintenance projects you might want to consider tackling.

Clean Exterior

A pressure washer can make quick work of cleaning the outside of your home, but be careful since the extremely high pressure can damage wood and other softer materials.

While scrubbing is not necessary with a pressure washer, adding detergent to the reservoir on the machine serves to loosen stubborn dirt and get the job done faster. Be sure to use a cleaner that is made for pressure washers and intended for the type of surface you’re cleaning. Cleaners are available for specific applications such as siding, decks, and masonry surfaces.

If mold or mildew is present, spray it with a product such as SporiCLEAN or Concrobium. A mixture of 1 part bleach to 4 parts water can also be effective on mold on nonporous surfaces. Wear protective clothing and rubber gloves when working with bleach or other harmful chemicals, and cover or wet down any plants or grass with water before applying. Allow the bleach mixture to remain on for 10 – 15 minutes, then wash it off with a hose or pressure washer.

Repair Driveway

Driveways and sidewalks need periodic maintenance, too.

  1. Start by removing any grass or weeds that are encroaching on the driveway or growing in cracks.
  2. Follow this by a thorough cleaning with a pressure washer to remove dirt and grime.
  3. Next, patch any cracks or holes in concrete surfaces with a concrete resurfacer.
  4. Worn asphalt drives can be restored by applying a coat of latex asphalt sealer to make them look good as new.

Clean Deck

Wood decks take a lot of abuse from the elements, and they need a good cleaning from time to time to look their best.

  1. Start by applying a specially formulated deck cleaner in a pump up sprayer.
  2. Once it has had time to work, clean the deck with a pressure washer—being careful not to damage the wood—or a long handled scrub brush.
  3. Rinse the deck, and allow it to dry.
  4. If refinishing is needed, apply a sealer or stain with a pump up sprayer, going over it with a brush to smooth it out.
  5. Allow the sealer to dry thoroughly before using the deck.

Clean and Repair Screens

Window screens can be cleaned by soaking them in a child’s wading pool filled with soapy water, followed by a gentle scrubbing with a soft scrub brush on a flat surface. As a final step, rinse the screen with a garden hose using a fine spray setting to keep from damaging the screen.

To repair small holes in screens, flatten the fibers out and brush on several coats of clear fingernail polish for a seamless repair. Large tears or holes are best fixed by removing the rubber spline from the screen frame and installing a new piece of screen using a screen spline roller tool.

Repair Roof

Spring is also a good time to examine your roof to see if winter snow and ice have caused any problems that need attention.

  • Look for torn or missing shingles that might need replacement or repair.
  • Pay particular attention to flashing around chimneys, plumbing vents, and other openings that are prone to leaks. Seal any gaps with roofing cement.
  • Cover exposed nail heads with a dab roofing cement.
  • Remove leaves, sticks, or other debris that has built up in valleys and against chimneys, porches, or dormers.

Ready the Grill

Whether its charcoal or gas, spring is a good time to get the grill ready for action.

  1. Use a wire brush and degreasing detergent to clean the wire racks and inside of the grill and remove any rust that has formed over the winter.
  2. Inspect burners on gas grills for deterioration from rust, and clean the surface. Make sure the holes in the burners aren’t clogged. If necessary, use a small piece of wire to clean them out.
  3. If the outside of the grill needs painting, prepare it first by lightly sanding the surface and washing it thoroughly to remove all grease. Once it’s totally dry, coat it with a high heat spray paint (often called barbecue and stove enamel).

Clean and Repair Gutters

Gutters are an often overlooked project that needs special attention in the spring. To clean and repair them:

  1. Make a homemade gutter scoop by cutting down a narrow plastic container such as an antifreeze jug, and use it to remove the bulk of the debris.
  2. Rinse out gutters without leaving the ground, by making a U-shaped gutter spray wand from ½” or ¾” PVC pipe and couplings. Glue a cap to one end of the pipe with several small holes drilled in it, then use two 90° elbow fittings to create the proper shape, with a threaded adaptor on the other end attached to a garden hose.
  3. Downspouts have a tendency to clog, so check them by running water through them, and use a plumber’s snake to unclog if needed.
  4. Check for leaks at gutter joints. When dry, repair gutter leaks from inside the gutter with gutter sealant.

Clean Windows

Spring pollen and dirt can work a number on your windows, so take the time to wash them down and clean them once the pollen has settled.

  • Work in the shade to keep the cleaner from drying out too quickly.
  • A 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water makes a great natural window cleaner.
  • Use crumpled up newspaper, rather than paper towels, to clean and dry your windows.

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11 Comments on “How to Spring Clean the Outside of Your Home”

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  1. Official Comment:

    Amy from Ohio Says:
    March 23rd, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Can anyone recommend a good way to clean screens that cannot be removed?

  2. Lisa Says:
    May 30th, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I have stamped colored concrete patio that has white water deposits from watering large potted plants. I have tried vinegar, and pressure washing and it doesn’t remove them. Any suggestions?

  3. Tina Says:
    June 6th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Have you tried lime away in a small inconspicuous area to see if it lifts the color and if it doesn’t try it on the water stains

  4. Tina Says:
    June 6th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    We have just bought a house and I don’t think the windows have been cleaned for years. I tried to clean them on the outside and spent over two hours on two windows. I can still see the dirty residue all over the windows. Has anyone else had this problem? What did you use?

  5. DDeanna Perera Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Could you tell me the brand or type of siding used on the house on the March 3rd segment.We are considering using siding,but are concerned about hail damage.
    Deanna

  6. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Hi Deanna,
    We used Exterior Portfolio siding on the Today’s Homeowner First Time Homeowner house. Watch our video on Vinyl Siding for the First Time Homeowner House to find out more.

  7. susie burrows Says:
    March 4th, 2012 at 11:06 am

    On those windows. if they are really old they probably don’t have any UV coatings or anything you could hurt so i would get one of those 4″ wide scrapers with a blade in it. the kind commercial floor crews use to get stuff up off floors quick and clean. most paint or flooring depts. have them. it’s still a lot of work but wetting and scraping them with a 4″ swath and getting 99% of it off the first time sure beats what you’ve had to do and a 2″ glass scraper. there are some cleaners sold that say they can clean them with a water hose and the bottle attachment but i haven’t used them. if you have lots of windows, i would try one bottle of the garden hose stuff just to see and if it works HEY! if not i would scrape.

  8. Randy Belcher Says:
    March 8th, 2012 at 11:39 am

    During last summer’s very hot and humid weather an overflow condensation from the upstairs A/C unit in the attic flowed through the soffit and down the wall of my 3 story brick house, leaving a yellowish white stain. I tried spraying CLR, brushing and a powerwasher with no success. Any suggestions?

  9. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    August 12th, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Hi Lisa,
    Your question was answered in the first hour of our August 10th Today’s Homeowner radio show in the rapid fire section. You can listen to the show on our website at http://www.todayshomeowner.com/radio/2013/08/10/todays-homeowner-radio-show-for-august-10-2013/
    Thank you for your interest!

  10. Jean Stay Says:
    April 10th, 2014 at 1:40 am

    A couple of weeks ago there were ads on your show for a “new” product that you can spray on your patio, leave it set – and it will clean the patio. AND Home Depot caries it. I have LOST my notes. Thanks so much Jean

  11. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    April 10th, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Jean,
    The product to remove mold and algae from exterior surfaces is called Wet & Forget. You can find out more about it at http://www.todayshomeowner.com/3-products-to-reduce-spring-maintenance-on-your-home/

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