Maintain Your Home

Spring Cleaning and Maintenance

BroomsThe words "spring cleaning" may conjure up images of hours spent in the garage, cleaning out all of your old junk. Well, you're right, but it includes so much more. You can save on current and future maintenance costs and make your home more comfortable by following these simple preventative steps of home upkeep coming out of the winter season. Reverse winter's damage or wear and tear by keeping the following tips in mind.

Indoor Chores

Tune Up Your HVAC System

Indoor air pollution can be a problem. Not everyone thinks about the cleanliness of their air ducts or HVAC systems, but they should. Pollutants can find their way into these systems and cause a throng of health problems. To battle this potential onslaught, start out by changing out your vent filters. This is by far the easiest action to take and the least costly. Next, call a duct cleaning professional to clean out your ducting, registers and furnace fans and coils that are part of your forced-air system.

Windows and Doors

Water and air penetration can wreak havoc if your exterior doors or windows have issues. These can include leaks, drafts, peeling paint, or any other signs of water penetration or damage. Eliminate the problem by sealing any open areas between the frames and the walls to keep out water using the appropriate caulk or foam sealant. Also check the weather stripping around your doors. This can be a cause of some disappointingly cold (or warm) drafts. You don't want to be heating or cooling the outside - it can get expensive! Spring is also a good time to clean and repair screens by gently scrubbing on a flat surface with soapy water.

Evict Unwanted Guests

Keep your property clean - inside and out. Rather than using a pesticide or poison that can be harmful to most everything, toss garbage and debris that has "settled" around the exterior of your home. The same advice applies to the interior. Don't give pests any extra reason for wanting to get into your house or to set up camp outside. Check the house for entrances and gaps where mice and insects may be tempted to come through. Seal up cracks and fix damaged window or door screens. Also, make sure all plants are at trimmed to at least 12 inches from the walls of your home. Carpenter ants and other creepy crawly creatures will walk directly across the branches of a rhododendron bush onto your siding or roof and into your home. Be sure to check your attic to make sure there aren't any holes that have brought the outside in - in the form of birds or rodents. Your patching list should include fixing or replacing vent screens that have been damaged.

Check Your Plumbing

Check under all your sinks, your dishwasher, water heater, washing machine, toilets and showerheads. If you notice any leaking or dripping or if you find wetness around any of your appliances or plumbing fixtures, you can tighten or replace hoses and replace valves. Be sure to always shut off the water supply to whatever you are working on at the shut-off valve.

Check Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Check all of your smoke, radon and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they are all in proper working order. Install fresh batteries now.

Inspect and Clean Appliances

Use a vacuum cleaner hose or a brush to vacuum the coils at the bottom or back of your refrigerator. If these coils are coated with dust, they are causing your fridge to work harder. That means a higher electric bill. Now’s the perfect time to pull out your range hood’s filter and giving it a thorough degreasing. You can also check out and replace any damaged cords to your appliances, electronics, lighting or any other cords in your home. Any cord that is damaged or frayed could cause an unfortunate incident that no one wants to happen.

Clean the Dryer Vent

Even if you clean your clothes dryer's lint trap before every use, the vent accumulates lint over time. A clogged vent can reduce your dryer’s efficiency and create a fire hazard. To effectively clean your dryer and dryer vent hoses / venting system, you will need a special brush for this dryer repair.

Check Windows and Doors for Drafts

Check weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors and replace or repair as needed. Caulking helps keep your house weather-tight, lowers your heating and cooling bills, and can also help keep insects and rodents out of your house. Also look for chipped or peeling paint around window frames and trim. Repair broken glass and loose or missing putty. When needed, use a modern glazing compound instead of putty for a waterproof seal.

Know Your Plumbing

Learn the location of your pipes and how to shut the water off. If your pipes freeze, the quicker you shut off the water, the better chance you have of preventing pipe bursts. Clean and Vacuum Dust from Vents, Baseboard Heaters and Cold-Air Returns Dust build-up in ducts is a major cause of indoor pollutants and can increase incidences of cold-weather illnesses. Check all your faucets for leaks and repair any you find. Replace washers if necessary.

Pest Control

Check crawlspaces and the attic for unwanted guests. Pests love these spaces because they offer protection and warmth and the insulation in the attic easily becomes nesting material. Install, replace or repair screens behind vents and locate and repair any other places that pests may be gaining entry. Additionally, be sure to check under kitchen cupboards and appliances for clues that you have any unwanted critters making themselves at home in your home.

Exterior Tasks

Now that winter is nearly done having its way with us, it's a smart idea to take a tour of the exterior of your house, walkways and the yard so you can prevent small problems from becoming bigger and much more expensive.

Check the Roof

Replacing a roof is one of the biggest expenses home owners face, so why not extend the life of yours by doing a little upkeep? Wet spots or water stains in on your roof or in your attic after a rainy day are a sure sign of a water leak. If this is the case, call a roofing professional to take a look. It might be able to be patched. Aspects of a bad roof to keep in mind during your inspection include checking for moss build-up; damaged flashing around vents or a chimney; blistered, rotting, curled or missing shingles. If you find any problems, you can clean off the debris, reinforce the flashing, or replace any damaged or missing shingles. Remember, always use fall protection when working on a roof or where a fall is a possibility.

Clean and Inspect Your Gutters and Downspouts

Gutters can't do their job if they are in disrepair. Your gutters should be foliage free, unclogged by derelict leaves, twigs, or needles and be free of any other debris that could impede the travel of water down and out of the gutters. Trapped water can grow into mold, mildew and moss. Gutters should also be securely fastened to the walls of your home and all joints should be securely fastened together. Downspouts should divert runoff away from your foundation about 2 to 2 1/2 feet.

Repair Cracked or Peeling Paint

Keeping your siding intact and damage free will not only make your siding last longer, but it will keep water from intruding and rotting out the materials underneath. Getting rid of these nuisances such as chipped or cracked paint, mossy buildup and dirt can be accomplished with a variety of levels of service, including pressure washing, scraping and sanding. Then cover the bare wood with a primer and high-quality exterior paint product, thereby sealing you exposed wood from the elements and making your house all shiny and fresh and new.

Fix Cracks in Your Walkways and Driveway

Most cracks are caused by moisture freezing and thawing. Water will seep into your concrete work and expand when temperatures drop to the freezing point. As that water freezes, it expands and creates cracks. Some cracks can be repaired by using the "do-it-yourself" technique. You can employ patching materials and fillers designed for asphalt and concrete surfaces to fix the damaged areas. This will preserve your concrete work and put a stop to further damage. Some other cracks and damage are so extensive that hiring a professional to fix or replace your concrete work is the best idea.

Clean and Inspect Exterior Surfaces

Use a pressure washer to clean decks, driveways, fences and other outside surfaces to rid them of moss and mold. Assess and repair any damage that your wooden deck has sustained over the winter. Locate and repair loose nails, screws and boards and secure wobbly stairs and railings.

Check Your Plumbing

After a cold winter, you should complete a routine check of your water pipes for leakage. Check your exterior water spigots and pipes for damage from freezing winter temperatures.

Yard Care

Like mother always said, laundry is easier when you don't wait until all your clothes are dirty. The same is true with yard management. Get a jump on things now that the weather is warming up so you don't find yourself starting summer with overgrown plants, trees, and shrubs.

Clear Vegetation

Trim shrubs, plants and trees and inspect for broken branches and remove them. Not only will your plant look better, it will be healthier. Keep branches and limbs at least one foot away from the walls of your home. This will discourage insects and bugs from using them as a bridge to infest your home. Clear debris and dead plants from your plant beds.

Rake Leaves and Debris from Lawn

Rake dead leaves and thatch off your lawn. This will remove impediments to new grass growth.

Fertilize

Although you probably fertilized in the fall, you should lightly fertilize in the spring. Don't overdo it though, too much fertilizer in the spring can cause more harm than good.

Prepare Your Lawn Mower

Change the engine oil and sharpen the cutting blade. You’ll lengthen the life of the mower and improve the look of your lawn.

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