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


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

Realtor/Broker NC-SC
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

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It’s Spring Cleaning Time: 6 Things You Never Clean But Really Should

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning Time

It’s spring—that time of year when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love, pollen takes over the Earth, and winter coats get mothballed for another year. It’s time to live again! But it’s also supposed to be the time you pull on the rubber gloves and get to scrubbing, dusting, washing, and polishing so your home looks sparkling clean for the upcoming warmer months.

And yet there are some particularly grimy areas even the most diligent among us tend to avoid. But should we?

“When we do get around to spring-cleaning, chances are the first places we tackle are those that we—or our guests—will see,” says Cheryl Reed from Angie’s List. “But if it’s up high, down low, or behind something, it may never see your scrub brush.”

That’s all the more reason to tackle these oft-ignored areas today!

Here are the six most neglected items for spring cleaning.

1. Refrigerator coils
Did you even know your fridge has coils you’ve gotta clean? Well, it does. When dust and dirt cover said coils, your fridge has to work harder to cool food—and that can shorten this appliance’s life span.

You can find your refrigerator coils either at the bottom or behind the machine. Vacuum them with a crevice or upholstery tool. Then push a duster or refrigerator coil brush (about $5)  between the coils to grab the rest of the pet hair and dust that stubbornly cling to the coils; position your vacuum under the brush to catch falling debris.

2. Ceiling fans
Ceiling fan blades are landing strips for dust and allergens, which the fan spreads throughout the room.

To grab the dust, climb a ladder and wipe the blades with a microfiber cloth. Or, slip an old pillowcase over the blades and grab the gunk as you pull it off. Shake the case outside so dust doesn’t fly all over, or throw the case in the laundry. You can also buy curved duster attachments made especially for ceiling fans for about $10.

While you’re on the ladder, reverse the blade direction so they’ll move clockwise and push air straight down, creating a cooling breeze and relief from warm weather.

3. Baseboards
OK, it’s not the sexiest home cleaning task (not quite up there with refrigerator coils, for example), but cleaning scuffed and dusty baseboards goes a long way toward freshening up your home. You can get rid of scuff marks by wiping them with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or cleaning wipes. Vacuum with an upholstery attachment to get rid of dust. For a really deep clean, run a Q-tip over baseboard tops and ridges to remove dust collecting there.

4. Pillows
Sure, you clean pillowcases every week when you strip the bed. But once or twice a year, you should also wash the pillows, which absorb your sweat, dead skin cells, and dust mites. Gross, right?

Check and follow care labels for your particular pillow. You can wash most synthetic pillows in your machine on a short, gentle, lukewarm cycle. For down- or feather-filled pillows, wash in a basin with a little detergent. Knead the pillow, drain the basin, then wrap the pillow in a towel.

To remove the rest of the water, place pillows in the washer on the spin cycle. Then pop into your dryer on moderate heat for about an hour. Add a couple of tennis balls to fluff up the pillows during drying.

5. Shower heads
Need to remove mineral buildup from stainless-steel shower heads? Turn to white vinegar, says Glenn Gallas, vice president of operations for Mr. Rooter Plumbing based in Waco, TX.

Fill a small plastic bag with distilled white vinegar, and attach it with a rubber band over the shower head. Let the vinegar work its magic for an hour or two until the scale dissolves; then scrub the residue away with a toothbrush.

If you have a brass or bronze shower head, which are more delicate, rub away scale with a soft cloth and warm water.

6. The insides of your appliances
The appliances that clean your dishes and clothes can get quite gunky over time. You most likely are painfully aware of this. Food and soap scum build up along the bottom and sides of your dishwasher, and dirt and detergent collect in the drum and along the top of your clothes washer. Here’s how to get them clean.

  • Dishwasher: Place distilled white vinegar in a shallow bowl on the top rack of your empty dishwasher, and run a hot water cycle. If the machine still smells funky, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom and run the machine through a short, hot cycle.
  • Washer: To kill any mold in your washer, add a cup of bleach to the bleach dispenser and run the empty machine through the longest, hottest cycle available. Scrub any removable parts, and use a toothbrush to clean the gunk out of nooks and crannies. Open the lid, and let air dry.
  • Dryer: Vacuum the drum and lint screen. If you use dryer sheets, soak and scrub the screen to remove residue. Unplug the machine, remove the exhaust hose, and pull out lint you can reach with your finger, vacuum hose, or flexible dryer brush. Or you can blow out debris with a leaf blower.

Original Source

Realtor/Broker NC-SC
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: