Spring To Do List – Part 2

Finishing off our two part series on Spring Maintenance for your home, we leave you with some of the most important exterior issues to address each year.

Exterior Upkeep
Your window screens aren’t the only parts of your home that can fall victim to nasty winter weather, so you may want to take stock of your home’s condition. The National Center for Healthy Housing suggests that in the springtime, you may want to consider these outdoor maintenance projects:

Check your roof shingles. This should be done by a professional, as working on the roof can be dangerous without the proper training. You should ask the professional to make sure the shingles are not curling or clawing. If they are, they may be susceptible to leaks and should be replaced, says BobVila.com.

Replace rotten siding or trim. Make sure your home’s siding and trim aren’t damaged from windy, icy conditions. If your home is made of brick or stucco, look for any crumbling or deteriorated mortar. If you find a problem, contact a professional for help with repairing or replacing the damaged materials.

Clean gutters and downspouts. You’re making sure the inside of your home is clean; why not make sure your gutters are, as well? Get rid of any leaves or other debris that accumulated during the winter to make sure your gutters and downspouts are ready to take on those April showers. This job, too, is best left to a professional, as climbing on a ladder is required.

So, now’s the time to get those spring maintenance projects under way. By the time those May flowers start to bloom, you will be able to enjoy them with peace of mind knowing your home maintenance is up to date.

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Spring To Do List – Part 1

After a long, hard winter, spring is finally, hopefully, maybe even desperately, expected to arrive. Here are some home maintenance tips to help welcome the new season.

Weatherstripping

 

The Department of Energy (DOE) says weatherstripping the windows on your home is an easy and effective way to help save money on your energy bill. Weatherstripping is a material you can apply around your window and door frames to help ensure there’s a good seal. During the harsh winter months, it can help keep the warm air inside the house, and the cold drafts out. In the spring and summer, weatherstripping works the opposite way, helping to keep the cool air inside and the warm air out.

If you didn’t install weatherstripping before the winter cold set in, you may want to take this opportunity to seal your windows before you have to turn on the air conditioner. In the summer, if the cool air is contained inside, then the AC will not have to work as hard, and that may help you save money on your energy bill. The same can be true of your furnace when winter rolls back around. Thinking about installing weatherstripping? The DOE recommends that you apply weatherstripping to clean, dry surfaces in temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indoor Maintenance

 

Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition, an opportunity to sweep the cobwebs from your home, clear out the dust that accumulated during the winter and let the sunshine in. While you’re up to your elbows in soap, washing the windows, defrosting the refrigerator and tackling what seems to be a never-ending list of spring cleaning chores, you might as well make a maintenance checklist, too. On those warmer days, you may want to do the following:

Test and clean ceiling fans. According to the the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an efficient ceiling fan in each room can help allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees Fahrenheit without reducing your comfort level. Ceiling fans can be a good way to air out the house and generate a cross-breeze. So, now might be a good time to make sure your fans are clean and ready to start cooling you off this spring.

Replace your AC filter. While the warm weather is still technically several weeks away, you want to make sure your air conditioner is prepared and ready to go. The National Center for Healthy Housing recommends you replace the filters in the air conditioner in the spring. A new filter will likely optimize the efficiency of the unit.

Replace torn or damage window screens. If you don’t have an air conditioner, or if you simply like to keep the windows open in the spring and summer, it’s a good idea to make sure your screens are in good shape — you don’t want to let flies in with all that fresh air! Winter storms and wind can damage window screens, so it may be a good idea to assess any damage and replace what needs to be fixed.

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The Winter Prep

Christmas is almost here and before you know it, we all may be shoveling snow out of our walkways.  In fact, this Saturday the Delaware Valley may get one to three inches of snow with temperatures dropping to twenty seven degrees on Friday.  With that being said, prepping your home is vital to avoid potential disasters from occurring.  Here’s a quick winter prep list:

  1. Install Weatherstripping
  2. Install a Door Sweep
  3. Seal Any Attic Leaks
  4. Close the Damper
  5. Check Thermostats or Replace Them
  6. Replace Heating Filters
  7. Seal Any Ducting Leaks
  8. Have Your Furnace Serviced
  9. Insulate Your Hot Water Tank
  10. Wrap Plumbing Pipes That May Freeze
  11. Shut Off Water to Exterior Plumbing Sources
  12. Reverse Direction of Ceiling Fans
  13. Seal Off Any Leaks in the Home
  14. As Always, Check Batteries in Your Smoke Alarms

Following some easy and low tips for your home can reduce the chances of damage leading to costly repairs, while also reducing energy costs during a cold winter.

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DIY Carpet Cleaners-Do They Work?

Although it may seem like a smart alternative, do-it-yourself home carpet cleaners can’t match professional services. Certified professionals have access to a variety of cleansing agents, equipment, and other tools that enable deep, effective cleaning. And certified technicians also have valuable skills and knowledge that helps them determine when the job has been done right. In fact, an untrained person can damage the carpet further if they are not careful, and not to mention that the process can be physically strenuous and stressful on a person.

Home carpet cleaners are just not as powerful as commercial options, and this does not mean that do-it-yourself varieties are always safe to use. An untrained person may not know how to select the right detergent for their carpet fibers, leading to discoloration, or worse. And though it may seem like operating that how water extractor may seem easy enough, untrained people tend to leave too much behind, and that can create odors, damage the fibers, and possibly provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold to grow.

Certified crews have undergone extensive training and education to help improve their skills. They know how to tackle a variety of soils and fabric types, employing safe treatment methods that extract everything down to the base of the pile, and even further. If a family wants to preserve its carpeting for as long as possible and keep it feeling and looking nice, there is no alternative to certified technicians.

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Fall Home Checklist

Before the weather grows colder it’s important to prepare for the winter months to prevent costly damage. Below are the fall preventative home maintenance steps that every homeowner should follow.

Gutters and Downspouts

Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent build up of leaves and other debris. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems and pest infestations, not to mention ruined gutters. Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place. Ensure that water drains properly and doesn’t pool. Pooling can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.

Windows and Doors

Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows and doors. Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames. Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts and to lower heating bills.

Heating Systems

Replace the filter in your furnace. Consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs. Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems.

Plumbing

To prevent pipes freezing and bursting, ensure that the pipes are well insulated. Know how to locate and turn off the water shut-off valve in case pipes do freeze.

Chimney and Fireplace

Call a professional in to inspect and clean your chimney. Fireplaces that are regularly used during the season should have an annual cleaning to prevent dangerous chimney fires. Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.

Attic ventilation

Be sure attic insulation doesn’t cover vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris. Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.

Landscape and Yard Work

Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn. Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth. Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house. Heavy snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.

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Are Carpet Repair Kits Reliable?

For simple patch up jobs, a carpet repair kit may seem like a good choice to a homeowner, but as with anything else, buyers beware. Over the counter or as-seen-on-TV products often lure people with exaggerated claims, failing to mention the problems with do-it-yourself techniques. Do-it-yourself carpet patching uses inferior materials and equipment to produce a seal, and a professional can be more precise and fix any other problems that might be affecting the flooring.

A carpet repair kit uses a patching process that is similar to what professionals employ, but the quality doesn’t’ compare. During patching, a small piece of carpet is cut out of the closet or utility room and placed where the damaged flooring was. Sealing the patch in place requires a heat activated adhesive and an iron. The problem with do-it-yourself products is that the adhesive is inferior and the iron used in the process is typically a flat iron. Together, these materials are not capable of producing the same secure seal that a professional can get with an industrial glue gun and seam iron. As a result, homeowners who eschew professional assistance will have a patch that is poorly secured. Any heavy foot traffic or active play time with the family dog will quickly rip the seal up and cause the flooring to bunch.

Skilled professionals can also remove odors, stains or other structural issues with the carpeting so a homeowner can resolve several problems at once with professional help.

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DIY Odor Control

Responsive odor control is key to keeping foul smells from taking over the home, and homeowners can perform many of these tasks on their own. And when a certain stench is proving to be too difficult to deal with, certified professionals can provide ample backup. Certified technicians have access to a variety of commercial products that are designed to neutralize many stenches. And a professional may be necessary if the smell is caused by something like smoke, which is notoriously difficult to neutralize.

However, there are situations where a homeowner can perform some form of odor control on their own. This normally includes smells caused by pet waste and food remnants, and the approach is somewhat simple. To begin with, it is extremely important that a homeowner responds to the source of the smell right away. By washing the area with some hot soapy water, a homeowner can blunt some of the stench, and a homeowner may be able to get rid of it completely by applying white vinegar and water to the area, and by opening windows. Fresh air can go a long way in eliminating repulsive smells, as can vacuuming. Finally, a homeowner can apply baking soda to the carpet to slowly draw the smell out of the flooring. This may take a couple days, but once vacuumed up, it should leave behind a fresher smell.

Again, if these methods aren’t enough, and they often aren’t, then homeowners shouldn’t hesitate to bring in an experienced, certified professional to effectively neutralize the odors.

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