Spring’s Here: 7 Must-Do Home Maintenance Tasks To Tackle This Season

Spring-Home-Maintenance-Tips-2

Spring has officially sprung, and we are psyched. Seriously, we couldn’t be more stoked to put away our floor-length parkas and our stupid hats, break out the shorts and sandals, and start planning a big backyard barbecue.

But before you get too carried away, remember this: In the great game of homeownership, a pound of prevention could save you thousands of dollars in repair costs.

Don’t know where to start? We’ve done the heavy lifting for you, focusing on the most crucial spring chores to tackle—and how to take ’em on, whether you’re up for some DIY action or need to call in the pros. So go ahead and set aside a Saturday (soon!) for these essential maintenance tasks, and prep your home for all those spring soirees.

1. Take a walk
A lot can happen between winter and spring, and experts agree a visual inspection is crucial to stopping small problems before they turn into big ones. So grab a camera, notebook, and even binoculars, and take a few laps around the perimeter of your place.

“The first circuit should be from about 60 feet out, so you can get the big picture,” says home inspector Lisa Turner, author of “House Keys: The Essential Homeowner’s Guide.”

On the first pass, look for siding damage, missing paint, holes, large cracks, damaged downspouts, and areas where water is accumulating near the foundation. Check your decks for levelness, and use binoculars to examine the roof.

Next, bring it in closer: Examine soffits, doors, windows, screens, and vents, and make a note of any damage.

DIY: If you feel comfortable, shimmy up a ladder to get a view of your gutters. Check for debris, and run water through your downspouts to make sure they aren’t clogged.

Call in the pros: Roofing, siding, and soffit damage should all be tackled by a pro. The average cost per hour will vary by region, but Turner says to figure $65 to $95 per hour for a licensed professional plus materials.

2. Peek in your crawl space
We know, we know—you’re probably not stoked for this one. But here’s the cold, hard fact: A lot can happen down there during the frigid months. Critters can set up house, pipes can freeze or break loose from their brackets, and too much moisture can lead to (shudder) mold.

DIY: “Unless your crawl space is full of rooms, you can do a very thorough inspection from the entry door,” Turner says. Open the door, kneel down, and train a high-powered flashlight on the ground. Most homes have a vapor barrier or plastic sheet covering the entire dirt floor, which prevents humidity from seeping into your insulation (and your home). Make sure this sheet is intact and hasn’t shifted or been ripped by animals during the winter months.

Next, run your light on the underfloor structure and check for moisture, dripping, falling insulation, mold, or sagging. If you do decide to fully enter your crawl space, be sure to wear a Tyvek (polyethylene) suit, a mask over your mouth, and safety goggles.

Call in the pros: If your floor is sagging—or if you spy serious mold, water leaks, or a pest infestation—call in a professional. The average cost will vary by region, but figure $65 to $95 per hour for a licensed professional, according to Turner.

3. Survey (and repair) winter’s damage in the yard
lawn repair
Kick off the growing and mowing season with a spring-cleaning of your yard. Grab a rake to clear out dead grass, weeds, and sticks, and use a mulching mower to recycle it all. Then, if the soil has warmed in your neck of the woods, apply mulch.

DIY: Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer around plants, recommends Phil Dwyer, a turf grass scientist for Scotts Miracle-Grow. And keep a bare ring between mulch and tree trunks. (“Volcano mulching,” or piling mulch up against the trunk of a tree, can attract fungus and pests.)

If your yard has seen better days (and thanks to the epic storms of this past winter, chances are it has), patch and thicken your grass with an overseeding product.

“Timing is crucial for success,” Dwyer says. “Aim for an early spring seeding for cool-season grass and a late spring sowing for warm-season grass.”

Call in the pros: Landscapers typically charge between $150 and $270 for professional mulching, plus materials.

4. Give your flowers a fresh start
planting flowers

Prepare the soil before planting new flowers.iStock
We all know that April showers bring May flowers—but only if you’ve done the requisite prep work.

“Pick up a handful of soil and squeeze it,” recommends Ashleigh Lemon, research specialist at Scotts Miracle-Gro. “If it crumbles easily, you can start preparing your beds. If it sticks together in a clump, it’s still too wet to work in.”

DIY: Begin preparing flower and vegetable beds by removing any dead plants. Then work in compost, which will provide your soil with rich ingredients as well as continuous-release plant food.

Next, pull out weeds and use a pre-emergent weed preventer.

“The more weeds you eliminate now, the less competition your garden plants will face for sunlight, nutrients, and moisture,” Lemon says.

Call in the pros: If you don’t have anything even remotely resembling a green thumb, consider hiring a professional gardener or landscaper. But know that the price you’ll pay will largely depend on how big an area you want planted.

5. Tune up your mower
tune up the mower

Check the oil in your lawn mower.iStock
After months of hibernation, your lawn mower will need a quick tuneup; clean the exterior, change your oil and spark plugs, and fill the tank with fresh fuel.

DIY: Use compressed air or a leaf blower to clear grass, dirt, and debris that have accumulated in your mower. Let your machine run for a bit before changing the oil and filter. Clean foam air filters with soap and water, and make sure your machine’s deck height is at the highest possible setting for your grass type. (Cutting too short can put stress on your lawn.)

Call in the pros: On average, a professional tuneup for a push mower will cost $50 to $100.

6. Check your AC
“The last thing you want is for your appliances or HVAC to stop working just as the weather warms up,” says Chip Smith, chief marketing officer at Sears Home Services.

DIY: Change the unit’s filter, and spray the outside of the condenser with a garden hose to remove dust. (Don’t use a pressure washer, which can damage fins.)

Call in the pros: Professional HVAC services run between $100 to $250, and include cleaning the condenser and lubricating the fan motor.

7. Prep your dishwasher
prepping dishwasher

Make sure your dishwasher’s drain is free of debris.iStock
With gatherings for Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day, and even graduations right around the corner, you’ll want to make sure your dishwasher can handle all those dirty dishes.

DIY: Make sure your dishwasher’s drain is free of debris to prevent clogging. If your unit has a removable filter, clean it regularly with a mild detergent.

Call in the pros: If removing the filter doesn’t solve your dishwasher woes, a professional appliance repair service will likely set you back $150.

Original Source

BONNIE ROTUNDO
Realtor/Broker NC-SC
ABR, SRES, SFR, RRS, CRSP, CBPIS
Coldwell Banker Sloane Realty
16 Causeway Drive
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
Direct: 910.443.0398
Toll-Free: 800.237.4609 X206
Fax: 910.579.5877

*Search Coastal Carolina Real Estate in real time on your own. No obligation. FREE sign-up below:
http://coastalrealestateproperty.com

Home Maintenance: 6 Tasks You May Not Even Realize You Have to Do

Home maintenance and ownership go hand in hand, so you’re no doubt aware that there’s plenty you should be doing (hello, gutter cleaning!). 

Sorry to lengthen your to-do list, but we thought you should know that there are actually a few more home maintenance tasks that may require your attention—and odds are you don’t even realize it.

Curious what you might be overlooking? Here are some home maintenance chores that might be flying under your radar—and why they’re important to cross off your list.

1. Clean your refrigerator drip pan
Did you know many refrigerators have drip pans? I did not. But as you can imagine from the name, it’s a thing you really should be cleaning once in a while.

Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance, puts it this way: “Failing to clean the refrigerator drip pan will result in mold growth.” Yuck.

How to do it: To clean it, first you have to find it.

“Remove the kick panel at the bottom of your fridge, and trace the defrost drain line to the pan, which is where it empties out,” says Rogers. Use a flashlight if you need to.

“Be sure to gently pull the pan out as it may be full of water, and dump any excess liquid in the sink before cleaning with an all-purpose cleaner,” he says.

2. Flush the water heater
“Flush” the water heater? What does that even mean? Great question. According to Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter plumbing, you need to remove the water sitting in your water heater to remove any sediment that may collect there.

“Sediment causes corrosion, reduces efficiency, and shortens your water heater’s lifespan,” James explains.

How to do it: First, turn off the electricity or gas to the heater. Open a bathroom hot water tap and let the hot water run for a few minutes to lower the temperature of the water in the heater. Then shut off the cold water valve at the top of the tank, and put a bucket under the water heater drain valve. Open the valve and drain the water until it runs clear, with no sandy stuff. Be careful, because the water can come out hot! When it’s clear, put everything back the way it was and you’re done until next time.

To keep your water heater running at its best, James advises setting the temperature no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Reseal your grout
When your tile was installed, whether it’s floor tile, bathroom surround tile, or countertop tile, the grout was sealed to protect it from wear and tear. But did you know that you’re supposed to reseal it every year? If you said no, you’re not alone.

“You have to reseal grout every year, and most people don’t,” says Debbie Gartner of The Flooring Girl blog.

The reason: Most grout is a mixture of sand and cement, which can absorb water, bacteria, and stains.

“A grout sealer protects your grout so it’s waterproof,” explains Gartner. Sealing will help your grout look better and last longer. The only exception is epoxy grout, which is generally used with glass tile.

How to do it: To reseal grout, apply grout sealant, wipe off any excess that gets on tiles, wait 15 minutes, apply a second coat, then clean the tiles again. Let it cure for 24 to 48 hours. After it cures, test it: Water should bead on top of the grout instead of being absorbed.

4. Test for water leaks
Checking for water leaks around the home—even small, slow ones—will pay off big-time down the road. Why? It can help you save water (and money on your water bill); but more importantly, it will eliminate damage to your house done by water behind the walls or in other hard-to-see places.

How to do it: “Take a water meter reading and avoid using your water for a couple of hours. After two hours, if the reading changes, you have a leak,” James says.

If you have a leak, inspect the pipes of your water-using appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine for cracked, bulging, or damaged hoses. Leaky hoses are easy to replace yourself. If, however, the damage is more extensive, you can hire a plumber.

5. Reseal stone countertops
If you have granite or marble countertops, you should be sealing those babies every year, or possibly more often. The only exception is if you have a presealed countertop. In that case, you’re excused from this one. Not sure if you need to seal? Put some water on your countertop. The more quickly it is absorbed, the more porous your stone is, and the more frequently you should be sealing. That’s also a good test to see if your sealer has worn off: If the water doesn’t bead on the countertop, it’s time.

How to do it: Wash your countertop with mild soap and water, and wipe it dry. Apply a stone sealer, let it sit 15 minutes, then wipe away the extra.

6. Wash your dryer lint screen
You know that thing gets gross, right? You’re always scraping piles of lint, shredded tissues, and other weird substances off of it. But it can get clogged in less obvious ways, too. The residue from dryer sheets and fabric softener can start to build up on the screen, blocking the airflow. That can lead to less efficient drying and even fires.

How to do it: “Soak it in hot water and dishwashing soap designed to remove grease and oil,” says Rogers. “Gently scrub the screen with a soft brush, rinse it, and let it air-dry before reinserting it into the slot.”

It’s a small thing, but it’ll help extend the life of your dryer, reduce your energy bills, and keep your home safer.

Original Source

BONNIE ROTUNDO
Realtor/Broker NC-SC
ABR, SRES, SFR, RRS, CRSP, CBPIS
Coldwell Banker Sloane Realty
16 Causeway Drive
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
Direct: 910.443.0398
Toll-Free: 800.237.4609 X206
Fax: 910.579.5877

*Search Coastal Carolina Real Estate in real time on your own. No obligation. FREE sign-up below:
http://coastalrealestateproperty.com