With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. Now that the threat of winter storms has passed, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. We spoke with an expert to get helpful tips on what to watch for this season, from proper irrigation to mosquitoes and termites (oh my!).
1. Clean gutters and downspouts. After the last frost has passed, it’s important to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned and repaired. ‘Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause the wood trim at the eaves to rot, and that can invite all kinds of critters into your attic space,’ says Victor Sedinger, certified home inspector and owner of House Exam Inspection and Consulting.
Having your gutters and downspouts cleaned early in the season can also help prevent damage from spring rains. ‘Gutters and downspouts should be clean and running free,’ Sedinger says. ‘If your downspouts are installed properly, water is diverted away from the house so that no water collects around your foundation.’
Contemporary Landscape by B. Jane Gardens
2. Reseal exterior woodwork. Wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures will last longer and stay in better condition if they’re stained or resealed every year or two. Take this opportunity to make any needed repairs to woodwork as well.
3. Check for signs of termites. Beginning in March and going through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. ‘Termites swarm in the spring,’ Sedinger says. ‘If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites. Call a licensed professional pest control company. You’ll save money and trouble in the long run.’
4. Inspect roof. Winter storms can take quite a toll on the roof. When spring arrives, start by making a simple visual inspection of your roof. ‘It doesn’t require a ladder, and you certainly don’t have to get on a roof to look,’ Sedinger says. ‘Use binoculars or a camera or smartphone with a telephoto feature if you need to.’ Look for missing shingles, metal pipes that are damaged or missing or anything that simply doesn’t look right. If you notice anything that needs closer inspection or repair, call a roofer.
5. Paint exterior. If you’re planning to repaint your home’s exterior this year, spring is a good time to set it up. Want to paint but can’t decide on a color? Explore your town and snap pictures of house colors you like, browse photos on Houzz or work with a color consultant to get that just-right hue.
6. Inspect driveways and paths. Freezing and thawing is rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscaping materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, and schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.
7. Check sprinkler and irrigation systems. Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water – and save your plants. Sedinger shares these tips for checking your watering system:
Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property.
Make sure none of the heads are broken or damaged.
Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems.
Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water.
If you don’t know how to maintain your sprinkler system, call a professional to do it. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.
Traditional Landscape by Margie Grace - Grace Design Associates
8. Prevent mosquitoes. In recent years, we’ve become more aware of the potential danger mosquitoes can pose to our health. ‘West Nile virus and Zika virus are just the latest diseases caused by these winged pests,’ Sedinger says. The best way to prevent mosquitoes around your home is simply by getting rid of any standing water. ‘Walk around your property [and peek at your neighbors]. If you see anything or any area where water stands, fix it, tip it, get rid of it or maintain it regularly,’ Sedinger says.
9. Check screen doors and windows. Screens are designed to let the breeze flow in and keep bugs out – but they can only do their job if they’re free from holes and tears. Before setting up your screens for the warm months ahead, be sure to carefully check each one and repair any holes or tears, no matter how small. You can find screen repair kits at most hardware and home improvement stores.
10. Schedule air-conditioning service. ‘Home inspectors see a lot of air-conditioning systems that are just not taken care of,’ Sedinger says. ‘Just because it gets cool doesn’t mean it’s working efficiently.’ To get the longest life out of your cooling system and keep it running as efficiently as possible, change the filters at least once each season, and hire a licensed professional to service the equipment before the start of summer.
Fall Maintenance Tips
Be prepared for fall!
Preparing Your Home for Winter: 8 Fall Maintenance Hacks for Cold-Weather Comfort
We all look forward to fall’s festivities. But taking the time to prepare your home for winter (before it arrives) can help ensure you’re cozying up by the fireside — worry-free — once cold weather rolls around. Find out how with these 8 simple hacks.Ahhh, fall is finally here!
The leaves are changing, there’s a crisp coolness in the air, and our favorite pumpkin-flavored treats line store shelves once more. Decorating and meal-prepping might be the first things on your mind when it comes to preparing your home for the colder months — but the National Weather Service is predicting strong winter storms that could affect homeowners across the country this year.
Here are 8 important fall maintenance tips that can make all the difference once winter’s first freeze hits.
1. Clear out your gutters
All those colorful leaves falling from the trees sure are pretty — but they also pile up pretty quickly in your home’s gutters.
Excess debris can lead to clogs (or ice dams in wintery conditions), which can prevent gutters from draining properly. In turn, there’s a chance water could seep into your home since it has nowhere else to escape to, causing a multitude of issues like damage to your valuables, mold growth, and even structural rot.
Before winter hits, clear your house’s gutters of leaves and any other debris that might’ve accumulated during the summer months. It also helps to run water through the gutters afterward to check for any leaks or misalignments that could damage your home.
2. Inspect for air leaks
Things like damaged weather stripping and small cracks in your home’s structure allow warm air to escape, causing your heater to go into overdrive to keep your place warm.
The solution to your chilly house and high utility bills is pretty simple: before it gets wintery outside, inspect your home’s windows, doorways, and any other places where air might be able to enter or exit.
You can use caulking to stop leaks in the stationary components of your home (like a crack in your doorframe) and weather stripping to insulate the moving components (like windows and doors).
3. Have your heating system checked
Home just doesn’t feel like home if a malfunctioning heater is leaving you with the chills. And in parts of the country with freezing temps, it can be a much more serious situation.
That’s why it’s wise to have a licensed contractor come out to inspect your heater at least once a year, especially before the weather outside becomes frightful.
4. Prepare your pipes
Get to know where the pipelines in your house are located and make sure to inspect them every autumn (at least).
Simply patch any small leaks with heat tape to help reduce weaknesses that might cause the pipe to burst in freezing weather. And you can further protect any exposed outdoor pipes by insulating them with foam or rubber pipe wraps, which can be found at your local hardware store.
For larger leaks or pipeline problems, it’s always a good idea to play it safe and call the pros.
5. Drain any outside faucets and irrigation systems
Speaking of bursting pipes, it’s important to pay attention to the water systems immediately outside your place too. Undrained water in outdoor faucets and irrigation systems can expand when frozen and cause a pipe to burst.
Draining faucets is simple enough: just pack away your garden hoses in the garage for the winter and let out any remaining water — easy as that!
Irrigation systems, on the other hand, often vary in the way they should be maintained. It’s best to call a professional who has experience with underground water systems, just to cover all your bases.
6. Have your roof inspected
For your safety, a full-blown roof inspection should be done professionally. The cost to hire an inspector can be as low as a little over $200 and can prevent seriously hefty repair expenses down the line if a winter storm wreaks havoc on your roof and you don’t have sufficient insurance coverage to cover repair costs.
Reinforcing your roof now can help you avoid a whole host of hazards, like air and water leaks, water damage, mold, and more — all of which could put a damper on your seasonal festivities (and your wallet).
7. Restock cold-weather home essentials
Key items like rock salt or kitty litter, snow shovels, space heaters, extra batteries, and heated blankets can help make your home both more functional and comfortable during wintertime. Stock up on these helpful winter wares ahead of time to help avoid any extra hassle or stress come holiday season.
8. Take a peek at your homeowners insurance
Believe it or not, your homeowners policy could come to the rescue for a whole host of cold-weather mishaps.
Whether a hailstorm leaves holes in your roof, a vandal breaks into your home and destroys valuables while you’re out holiday shopping, or the weight of snow and ice results in structural damage to your house, homeowners insurance could help pay to repair or replace your losses.
Source: esurance blog
Is a Mysterious Odor Coming From Your Fridge?
Step 1: Empty Fridge
Even if you think you’ve identified the item causing the odor, you need to empty the entire contents of the refrigerator and freezer. If you have a second fridge, stash perishables there. If the odor is the result of a power outage, don’t take any chances by hanging onto food that may have spoiled. A refrigerator will keep food at safe temperatures for about 4 hours, if it’s left unopened, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Services.
Step 2: Hand wash Bins and Shelves
Take out the shelves, bins, crisper drawers, ice trays, and any other loose components and wash them.
Step 3: Deodorize the Interior
Now you’re ready to wash the inside of the refrigerator. Stay away from abrasive cleaners and pads, which can scratch the interior of the refrigerator.
Step 4: Air it Out
Here’s where the patience piece comes in. For best results, you need to unplug the refrigerator, leave the door open, and air it out for at least one day.
Step 5: Clean the Evaporator
If there’s a lasting funk that just won’t go away, chances are the refrigerator smells have permeated the evaporator coil, which produces cold air for the fridge and freezer. The coil, along with the fan that distributes the air, are typically located on the back wall of the freezer.
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Bed Bug Facts
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
- Adult Bedbugs are the shape and size of an apple seed.
- After feeding, bed bugs defecate brown stains on porous surfaces.
- Bed bug bites may appear as red welts on the skin.
- Bed bug can be found on mattresses, box springs, headboards, footboards, bed frames and other furniture near a bed.
- Bed bugs are easily transported into previously non-infested dwellings
- Bed Bugs can be found in hotels, gyms, offices, schools and stores.
- Bed Bugs travel on bags, clothes and in vehicles.
Where Bed Bugs Hide
When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard.
If a room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs:
- In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains
- In drawer joints
- In electrical receptacles and appliances
- Under loose wall paper and wall hangings
- At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet
- Even in the head of a screw
- Since bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card, they can squeeze into really small hiding spots. If a crack will hold a credit card, it could hide a bed bug
Keeping a clean and uncluttered house can save you time and money by drastically decreasing your chance of bed bug infestation.