Spring cleaning isn't just for closets-prepare for a stress-free summer by completing a few crucial tasks now.

By Michael Haigley
February 28, 2007

No one wants to spend prime beach time on mundane house repairs.Get your coastal home ready this spring so you can spend the comingmonths strolling the sand.

Check heat and AC systems. Your home's hardest-workingheating and cooling components are in out-of-sight, out-of-mindlocations such as basements and backyards. Avoid costly problems byasking your dealer or service person to monitor and maintaincompressors, furnaces, ducts, and other components of yourclimate-control system. If you're interested in a DIY project, tryone of these:

• Put a coat of car wax on the exposed metal housingaround your outside central-air unit; wax helps protect metal incorrosive coastal environments.

• Replace the filters in your furnace/AC unit at least asoften as the manufacturer recommends.

• Vacuum air vents to remove dust.

• Repair tears in insulation around ductwork with ducttape.

• Clean AC vents with a household cleanser to removemold.

Remember the refrigerator. Clean your fridge's condensingcoils now to make sure you don't run out of cold drinks later. Turnoff the refrigerator by pulling the plug or throwing theappropriate circuit breaker. Remove the base plate or top grate(check your owner's manual to locate coils), then use a vacuumcleaner with nozzle attachment to remove any dirt and lint. Formore suggestions, see hometips.com(click on "Kitchen Appliances & Fixtures," then "RefrigeratorMaintenance").

Prepare for spring showers. Gutters and downspouts can causeexpensive problems when they're clogged. Clean them yourself, orpay a pro to do the job. Installing gutter screens or shields tokeep debris out and water flowing can prevent blockages. For moreinformation, visit gutterjacket.com, guttertopper.com, or thegutterbrush.com.

Inspect the irrigation. Now's the time to check out allcomponents of your in-ground irrigation system. Look for leaks, andadjust sprinklers so you're watering the ground beneath plantsinstead of the shingles on the side of your house. If this puts youin the mood for gardening prep, see this valuable site: landscaping.about.com(click on "Yard Maintenance").

Listen up! A good way to check for leaks or faulty spigotsis to head for the basement (or wherever the water main enters yourhome). Switch off machinery such as sump pumps or furnaces, andjust listen. If you hear water running, it's time to investigate.You might have a running toilet or a punctured hose line.

Head upstairs. Planning to clean, insulate, or make repairsin your attic space? This is the ideal time. Attics can beprohibitively warm during the summer months. If you live in a warmclimate, consider installing thermostatically controlled atticfans. For homes with no electricity upstairs, solar-powered fansare now widely available. Visit solaratticfan.com.