Why is home maintenance so important? Your home may be the biggest investment you will ever make. Taking good care of it with regular maintenance is necessary to preserve its value and ensure it will provide a comfortable, safe shelter for you and your family for years to come. Below are some handy tips organized by the season to help make the task easier.
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Ready for Spring Cleaning? Here are some helpful storage tips and tricks!
From NAHB (website)
When you first move into your new home, you wonder how you are going to fill up the large, empty space. Pretty soon life takes over — and before you know it, you are wondering where all of that space went.
If you find yourself struggling to find room to store everything you’ve accumulated over the years, see if these storage options might work for you.
Before you invest a lot of time deciding where things should go, look through your closet, files and drawers to determine what can be thrown or given away. For clothes, it is a good rule of thumb to get rid of items that you have not worn in more than 12 months.
A lot of your household financial documents and papers may be available online through the provider company’s website. If that is the case, discard old financial statements or bills that you can more easily access electronically. Invest in a paper shredder for these documents to protect your identity and accounts.
It is very easy to allow cabinets and drawers to become cluttered over time, especially when you have to do a quick cleaning of your home when you have surprise visitors. De-clutter those drawers periodically to keep from accumulating outdated flyers, menus, magazines and newspapers. This will open them up so you can store more day-to-day items that you need to quickly reach.
If you are looking to replace old, worn-out furniture in your home, buy pieces that also can serve as storage. Consider a coffee table that has drawers or an ottoman that can open up and double as a spot to store your blankets.
In closets and in the kitchen, use all of the space that is available to you. Often home owners are giving up valuable square footage if they don’t install cabinets or shelves that go up to the ceiling. Store items that are either out of season or that are rarely accessed — such as holiday decorations — on the higher shelves where they are out of the way. This will free up the lower shelves to allow you to get to the things that you use on a regular basis.
By simply raising the height of your bed a few more inches, you can gain a lot more storage space that is also hidden away. Bed risers can be found in home design and improvement stores in different shapes, styles, textures and colors to complement your current bedroom furniture. They are inexpensive and not only give you added storage space, but will also give your bedroom a new look.
From NAHB (website)
Don’t wait until the first scorcher of summer hits to find out your air conditioning isn’t working. Here’s some advice to make sure your A/C stays in good working order and is ready for you when you need it.
Whether you have a central air conditioning system or room air conditioners, the maintenance is basically the same. If you have room air conditioners, unplug them before you start to clean and check them.
First, vacuum the front grills, air registers and return air vents.
Next, remove the grill on the main unit — and all window units — to check the air filter. Before removing the filter, notice how it is held in place so you can reinstall it correctly. Many filters simply slide in and out or are draped from prongs on the air conditioner body or the back of the grill. Be sure to read the filter packaging to see which side faces up.
Dirty filters are a common cause of air conditioner problems and inefficient operation. Filters should generally be cleaned or replaced every four to six weeks in the peak of the cooling season. To clean a washable filter, brush it free of lint, then wash it in warm soapy water. Squeeze and let the filter dry completely before reinstalling it.
While the filter is out, check the condition of the evaporator fins or coils. These are normally exposed by removing the filter. Warm air drawn into the air conditioner passes through the filter and then over the fins or coil, where it is cooled and blown back into the room.
Vacuum the fins or coils carefully, using a soft brush attachment. Avoid bending the fins. If damaged, they may block the flow of air and cause the air conditioner to whistle. To straighten bent fins, insert a putty knife between them and pry gently.
Beneath the fins or coils there is normally a small drain hole to channel condensed water to a drip pan in the rear of the air conditioner. Poke a wire or straightened paper clip through the drain hole to clear it, especially if you notice water. It should drain out right away. If a window unit doesn’t drain properly, use a carpenter’s level to check the mounting of the unit. It should slope at least a quarter of an inch downward toward the rear.
Does the unit smell musty? The smell is a sign of mold or bacteria growth in the water drip pan. If the smell persists after the drain hole has been cleared and the unit cleaned, professional servicing may be necessary.
For maximum cooling, the outdoor part of an air conditioner should be shaded from the sun. Trees, shrubs or an awning can provide the shade, but they must be far enough away to allow warm air to escape. Foliage should be trimmed back at least two feet, and even more in corners where air is still.
Like any major appliance in your home, your cooling system should be checked and cleaned periodically by a professional. See your owner’s manual for the recommended frequency of this care.
From NAHB (website)
The crisp weather of fall is upon us and football season is well under way. While the prospect of relaxing into a lazy Sunday schedule calls to many home owners weary from the routine of weekend lawn mowing, don’t sleep on essential lawn care and home maintenance tasks that will see you through the winter.
Fall is a great time for new grass seed to take root, so consider reseeding in selected areas. Reseeding also eliminates areas for weeds to grow in the spring. Fertilize your lawn one more time with a high nitrogen fertilizer to encourage root growth. Look for a lawn fertilizer labeled “winterizing.”
It’s also a good idea to rake leaves and debris off your lawn in the fall. Put some muscle into it and rake out any areas where heavy thatch has built up.
Cut your lawn one last time after it has stopped growing, but before the first snow. Adjust your mower setting to cut your lawn to about one inch. Lawn care experts suggest doing the final mowing with a bagger to pick up cut grass, stray leaves and other debris. It also leaves fewer places for Snowmold to develop.
Snowmold is one of the most common lawn diseases and typically it shows up in the spring. As the snow melts, it uncovers a lawn that has spent several months hidden under a cold blanket of white, with little air and no sun. In its cold, wet, and dark environment, Snowmold slowly forms, leaving blades of grass dead and brown. New grasses will sprout up behind it, but unless you vigorously rake it away, the new growth will be slow and thin — so it’s a good idea to overseed.
It also may be wise to aerate your lawn. Aerating your lawn is a great way to reduce thatch, loosen up compacted soils and pave the way for water and nutrients to reach the roots of your grass.
Even with meticulous care, lawns can thin out and lose color due to excessive thatch buildup, hard or compacted soils, or periods of high temperature, high humidity, or drought. According to The Lawn Institute, more than two-thirds of American lawns are growing on compacted soils. These soils slowly reduce the amount of oxygen contained in the soil, thus retarding the penetration of both water and nutrients. Aerating and overseeding is recognized by experts as the best treatment to control thatch, reduce compaction, fill-in bare spots and revitalize growth.
Here are a few tips from lawnboy.com to help you determine if you should aerate annually:
While lawn care is a hot maintenance item for home owners who value “curb appeal” or just want to escape the ire of neighborhood community associations, don’t forget there are plenty of other maintenance chores. Here’s a checklist of items you should address before the winter holiday season.
By setting aside a few weekend days now, you’ll save yourself from a lot of hassle later. Once your home passes your fall inspection, you and your family can relax and enjoy the coming holidays free from worry about potential home maintenance catastrophes.
From NAHB: (website)
During severe weather, your house may endure the brutal conditions of tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards and other punishing storms.
Take the time now to equip your home with the accessories it will need to survive a storm. Don’t wait until the forecast calls for severe weather because you may not have enough time to take necessary preparations.
Before you do anything else, look over your insurance policies to make sure you’re covered for losses incurred as the result of a natural disaster or brutal storm. Damage caused by flooding, earthquakes and hurricanes is generally not covered by your regular homeowner’s policy, but can be purchased separately. Make lists or videotapes of your belongings as documentation for the insurance company, and keep that documentation in a safe location away from your house.
Try to prevent wind and water from entering through windows, cracks, entry doors and garage doors. Wind funneling through your house pushes upward, and could lift the roof, allowing heavy rains to damage the interior of your home.
Especially in hurricane-prone areas it is important to seal your windows and doors as tightly as possible. You can purchase and install special storm shutters to cover your windows.
You can also make your own set of shutters out of ¾ inch marine plywood or metal storm panels. Make sure they overlap the windows on all sides by four inches. Then mark them so you know which window they fit. Don’t forget to make shutters for your skylight windows. Once made, the shutter panels can be stored and used when necessary. These shutters can help protect homes from all rainstorms accompanied by high winds, not just hurricanes.
After you’ve made shutters for all your windows, start working on your doors. If you live in an area that frequently gets heavy storms, consider installing steel entry doors. High winds can easily tear through double doors, French doors and sliding patio doors that have no structural support between the two sides.
You may need to purchase and install special hardware to more adequately secure the doors where they meet. Try bolts that fasten the door into the framing at the top and the bottom.
A roof in good condition can shield your home’s interior from the storm outside. So roof work is another essential step in preparing your house to withstand a severe storm. Apply sealing around your home’s chimney or vent pipes. This will help prevent water from seeping into your home. Hire a contractor to check the structural integrity of the roof system.
Clean out clogged gutters and downspouts. If the rain that accompanies a heavy storm can’t run through the gutters and downspouts, it will spill over the sides, landing in areas where it can soak through to your home’s foundation, causing flooding and structural damage.
Next, take steps to protect your home from objects that take flight during a storm. Do a little yard work. Remove all dead and dying limbs from your trees, and secure lawn furniture, trashcans, flowerpots and other yard ornaments.
Disconnect and remove exterior television antennas from the roof. Then take all lawn furniture, grills, potted plants and other lawn accessories inside your house. If you can’t secure lawn furniture or other outdoor items, bring them inside as well. High-speed winds could transform any of these objects into flying missiles.
Tie down the larger items such as sheds, doghouses, playhouses, swing sets and boats.
Finally, stock your cupboards and closets with anything you might need if you have to take shelter inside your house during a summer storm. Keep a battery-operated radio, several flashlights in case you lose electricity, and plastic sheeting to cover exposed areas.
Fill your drawers with brand new packages of live batteries for the flashlights. Stash canned foods and other non-perishable food items in your cupboards in case you can’t get out to the supermarket for a while. And pile blankets into your closets in case you lose electricity and your house becomes cold.
When you and your house are prepared, you’re more likely to weather the toughest storm. Taking time now to prepare your home for storm season could save you a lot of money later.