Outdoor Home
Improvement Tips

Do you still have summer patio furniture on the patio, collecting snow? Did you ditch your home fix-it list as soon as the holiday season kicked in? Now that the busiest time of last year is over, start the new year by taking care of those home maintenance projects that shouldn’t wait until the summer.

Midwest home in winter

Store summer furnishings and outdoor equipment

Lisa Singer, product manager at Elmer's Products, based in Columbus, Ohio, says the opposite of spring-cleaning is "fall fix-it." However, if you missed the fall window to put away your summer furnishings and outdoor equipment, do it now. Consumers should "scour summer toys, furniture and outdoor equipment for wear and tear before packing them away for the winter," Singer suggests. "This will help avoid additional damage that can happen in storage and save you time and hassle come spring."

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Check home and outdoor items for damage

As you pack away summer toys and outdoor furniture, here are a few things to look for. "Conduct a quick inspection to make sure all sections are intact, screws and nuts are still tight and there are minimal signs of wear," says Singer. "Look for cracks, tears or scrapes that can become worse during storage or create sharp edges."

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Keep outdoor items organized

Isn't it the pits when spring arrives and you pull out your patio furniture, only to find that the hardware needed to put your furniture together is MIA? Singer recommends you not only check to see if you have all the pieces, you also organize them. "For toys with small parts or furniture that gets taken apart for storage, consider using plastic bags, bins, old glass or plastic food containers so these pieces don't get lost or separated during the winter," she adds.

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Empower yourself by making small repairs

Now that you've inspected and put aside broken outdoor items, the next step is to assess the scope of the repair. Common repairs include squeaky or loose joints, cracks or missing pieces. Sure, you can throw away broken items, but according to Singer, for small to medium repairs, the solution can be as easy as tightening screws or using a bottle of multi-purpose glue.

"The Internet can be a great source for tips and advice because you can look up how-to instructions or find electronic user manuals," explains Singer. "Elmer's [of Elmer's Glue fame] has posted a variety of how-to videos at www.elmers.com/about/video-library." And before tackling any repair project, be sure to read the instructions and wear the appropriate safety equipment.

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Safety tip: Discard outdoor items broken beyond repair

If you find outdoor furnishings, equipment and toys that are broken and can't be repaired, discard them to keep you and your family safe from injury. Before putting them in the trash can, check to see if the materials can be recycled, suggests Singer — most types of glass, aluminum and plastic can be recycled. "However, it is always a good practice to check with your local recycling provider or check the bottom for the recycling emblem."

To find your nearest recycling center, visit www.1800recycling.com.

Recycle chart >>

garage sale signDonate or sell unwanted outdoor goods

If the item is new or gently used and you've decided you no longer want or need it, look for ways to donate it before simply adding it to the trash pile. "Garage sales, sharing websites like Craigslist or auction sites like eBay are great for selling unwanted items," Singer says, "or consider donating the items to non-profit organizations like Goodwill or The Salvation Army."

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Comments

Comments on "Easy home maintenance tips for the new year"

Maria March 16, 2013 | 3:42 PM

I always make it a point to check to make sure my home is as efficient and air tight as it can be. A C tune ups are very affordable if you do them in the spring before it bets hot and things like no gaps in windows or weather stripping around doors can make a huge difference in your electric bills!

Erica February 16, 2013 | 6:35 PM

I'm dreading getting back to home maintenance as our beautiful winter is rapidly ending. I really hope there isn't too much to fix before our desert summer arrives.

Jimmy January 06, 2013 | 11:36 AM

Most home repair is fairly simple and can be done with minimal effort. I've learned how to do many things buy simply reading a little literature or checking out a video on youtube. Don't be afraid people, you can do it if you put your mind to it!

Linda December 06, 2012 | 10:40 AM

Great article! I like the tip about checking for damages before storing outdoor items for the winter. Fall “fix it” season is the perfect time to do an assessment of outdoor items and perform any necessary repairs or preventative maintenance. It is harder to do this in the spring and summer when items are being used a lot.

Emily December 05, 2012 | 11:56 AM

Great tips, thanks! I think it's important to sell or donate unwanted items at least once a year, and what a better time to do it than Christmas! Thanks for the ideas!

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