Tag: maintenance

roofAs summer winds down, the kids head back to school, and we realize that fall is soon to be upon us. Soon those warm temperatures will turn cool, leaves will fall and the seasons will change. Just like we prepare our closets and change out our summer wardrobe to fall and winter clothes, we need to prepare our homes for fall weather. Home maintenance is the key to keeping your home running properly, prolonging the life of appliances and protecting your investment. By following the steps below, you can prepare your home for fall so that it works as it should throughout the season. •Seal Leaks and Drafts Every time a season changes, it is important to check window and door frames and all around the home for any cracks or holes that could lead to leaks and drafts. Nothing is a bigger home energy waste than leaks and drafts. Keep your home toasty warm this fall and keep those heating costs down by sealing any leaks or cracks before the temperatures change. • Clear The Gutters Before the fall leaves start dropping, clear your gutters of any dirt and debris. Dirt and debris will stop water from freely flowing through the gutters and if temperatures drop, the water could freeze and cause damage. Start the season with clear gutters and check them periodically to make sure there is not too much buildup. • Check Your Water Heater If you have not done routine maintenance on your water heater recently, now is the time. You can read more about water heater maintenance here, with your water heater maintained it will be ready to keep those hot showers coming all fall and winter long. • Prepare Your Lawn Now is the time to sow winter grass, before the cold temperatures hit. By doing it now, your grass will have a good amount of time to grow and get healthy so that it can last through the winter. • Inspect Your Roof Before cold weather, rain and snow hits, it is wise to inspect your roof for any damage. If there is damage to your roof, the bad weather that comes with fall and winter will only make it worse and could cause permanent damage that is not only frustrating, but very costly. Catching the problem now will give you time to repair the damage before the weather changes. • Clean Your Fireplace Chimney cleaning is something that is usually best left to the professionals. If done incorrectly, it could lead to major damage for your home and could harm individuals living in the home. A clogged up chimney is never good so it is wise to get a seasonal check by a professional to ensure that it is safe to light that fire when it gets cool.]]>

All those nights of grilling out in the yard have produced some delicious meals.  There is just nothing quite like food right off the grill.  And with all of that use of your grill, it has probably left it looking dirty.  With such high temperatures, it seems like little cleaning would be involved to keep your grill up and running.  But, just like cooking on the stove, spills happen and need to be cleaned up.  While there the day to day cleanup of your grill is pretty basic, it is good to give your grill a good cleaning so that you can cook the best food for you and your friends and family possible.

Step 1:  Wire Brushing When you cook your food directly on grill grates, it is bound to leave some charred food residue on the grates.  Purchase a stiff-bristled grill brush at any hardware store (and probably most grocery stores).  After you have brushed all of the debris off the grill grates, soak your grill brush in warm soapy water to clean. Step 2:  Oil the Grill Grates Spray your grill down with cooking oil or wipe it down with cooking oil once it has cooled.  This will help prevent food from sticking to the grill each time you use it. Step 3:  Use Soap & Water to Clean While it may seem like a grill might require more intense cleaning products, soap and water really do work well.  HowStuffWorks explains how to use soap and water to clean your grill, “If you’ve let your grill get out of hand and it’s coated in cooked-on food, you may need to remove the grate and take care of it with some soap and water. This is always a good idea to do at the end of your grilling season. If your sink is large enough, you can use it for your soak, otherwise you’ll need to use washtub or plastic bin. Or maybe even your bathtub. Fill the sink or bin with warm soapy dish washing liquid and let the grates soak for at least two hours. The longer you soak it, the easier it will be to get the gunk off. After the soak, remove the grate and scrub it with a stiff wire brush, rinse it and let dry. Make sure you never use any harsh chemicals like bleach or a chlorine powder. After all, this is what you cook your food on. You can also look for an all-natural, chemical-free liquid soap for your soak.” Step 4:  Clean the Burners Food and grease fall on the burners while you grill and buildup over time.  Burners need to be cleaned properly so that you can achieve even cooking temperatures.  Scrub the burners with a wire brush once cooled to remove grease and debris.]]>

kitchen-islandWith home ownership comes the responsibility of cleaning your home.  Every home needs a well stocked arsenal of cleaning supplies for whatever messes may arise.  Whether you are just moving into a home and starting your cleaning supply stockpile or trying to better round out your existing cleaning supplies, it is always good to have a variety of cleaning supplies at your reach.   You never know when or where a (or what kind of) spill may occur, and just the regular maintenance of your home will require a variety of cleaning tools.  Below is a list of essential cleaning tools that every home should have. 1.  Microfiber Cloths Microfiber cloths are very handy for a variety of uses, but primarily, for dusting.  Any homeowner knows that furniture and decor accumulates dust…quickly.  While dusting is nobody’s favorite job, it is one we must all do.  Microfiber cloths are incredibly effective at dusting.  Not only can microfiber cloths clean a surface almost entirely on their own, but they will not scratch or leave any marks on the surface. 2.  Broom, Dustpan and Mop Yes, technically that is three things but they all work together.  Every floor needs to be mopped, but before it can be mopped effectively, it needs to be swept.  A good broom and dust pan will remove any debris, loose dirt  and more from the floor and make it an ideal surface to mop until it is so clean it is sparkling. 3.  Vacuum If you have carpet or area rugs, a vacuum will be an essential tool in your home.  Many vacuums even have a hard floor setting so you can use them throughout your entire home.  Dirt and dust that settles into carpet can cause many problems for allergy sufferers and is just downright gross so your vacuum will be a very handy tool. 4.  Bucket A bucket has many uses in a home and is an important tool for cleaning.  It can hold water for you while you mop, be placed under plumbing if you need to do work and can even hold your cleaning supplies while you clean around your home. 5.  Scrub Brushes A good medium-bristled brush can do most tasks around your home but it may be a good idea to get a variety.  Soft-bristled brushes and hard-bristled brushes all have their uses around the house.  For scrubbing up messes on the floor, to cleaning the shower, to scrubbing the grout clean, scrub brushes are very handy. 6.  Sponge A sponge is a useful cleaning tool in almost every room in the house.  It can be used to clean the kitchen or bathrooms, rinsed out, and used again. 7.  White Cotton Towels White cotton towels are incredibly versatile and can be used in many ways.  They can be used to dry your dishes, clean up spills, mop up the floor and more.  The beauty of white cotton towels is you can easily tell when they are dirty and if they get stained, you can simply bleach them.]]>

With home ownership comes the responsibility to take care of your home and make small (or large) repairs.  Whether you consider yourself a novice at home projects or are considering starting a side business as a handyman, every homeowner will probably have to do some home repairs at some point.  In order to do those repairs, it is necessary to have some common tools. You do not need to have a complete workshop in your garage to be able to do some basic repairs, but you will need the essentials.  Below is a list of essential tools that every homeowner should have in their arsenal. 1.  Hammer A hammer is a basic tool that every homeowner needs to have.  Whether you are hanging pictures on the wall or assembling furniture, hammers come in very handy.  Get a claw hammer so that you can rip nails out of things as well. 2.  Screwdrivers Everyone needs screwdrivers to be able to assemble things, unscrew battery cases on electronics and more.  But, you will need two kinds of screwdrivers, a Phillips head and a Flat head.  You can buy screwdrivers with interchangeable bits so that you can have different style bits and different size bits for whatever your need may be. 3.  Tape Measure You know what they say, “measure twice and cut once.”  An accurate measurement will save you time and frustration from having to do the job twice because measurements were inaccurate.  With a tape measure you can determine how far apart paintings should be hung, where you need to hang your curtain rod or just about any other project you can think of. 4.  Level There is nothing more frustrating than hanging something and realizing it looks crooked.  Small levels are handy but a nice 3 foot level will be ideal for many projects. 5.  Electric Drill An electric drill, whether or cordless or corded, may not seem like an “essential” tool for every homeowner but you never know when you will need a drill and when the occasion arises, you will be happy to have it.  An electric drill can drill, sand, grind, stir paint and handle almost any job. 6.  Handsaw While you probably will not use your handsaw every week or even every month, it is a good tool to have on hand.  If you need to cut branches of trees in the yard or saw a project you are working on, a handsaw is an important and inexpensive tool. 7.  Flashlight Whether the power goes out or you need to work under the sink on the plumbing, a flashlight is handy in a pinch. 8.  Wrench An adjustable wrench is an essential tool.  It will adjust nuts and bolts and allow you to work on things like plumbing if there is a problem. 9.  Locking Pliers Pliers are handy for gripping something and plying it out of place.  But, locking pliers have even more uses.  They can lock into place and be used as a vice or clamp. 10.  Utility Knife While you need to handle this with great care to avoid injury (as you do with any tool) a utility knife can be incredibly handy.  A utility knife is a great tool for opening big boxes or cutting rope.  You may not need it often, but when you do, you will be glad you have it.]]>

As the summer temperatures soar we often watch our lawn and gardens turn from beautiful vibrant and alive to dried out, brown and dead. The scorching summer sun and heat make it difficult for lawns and gardens to thrive and often, no matter what we try, we have to give up and wait it out for cooler temperatures. But, there is hope! You do not have to give up on your yard, you can have a beautiful lawn and garden to enjoy all year round.

Fertilize:

We all know about fertilizer but how often should we do it? Fertilizer can breathe life into a dying lawn or garden and only needs to be done a few times each year. Today points out why it is important to fertilize and makes some recommendations for fertilizing your lawns, ” I only fertilize my lawn a couple of times a year, once in the spring and then again in midsummer with a food specially blended for lawns. You’ll find these blends higher in nitrogen than other elements (the first number in a series of numbers on the fertilizer bag). Nitrogen is what stimulates vigorous growth and deep green color. I feed only a couple of times a year because I discovered that fertilizing more often meant too much growth — I was working myself to death trying to keep it mowed and watered. So, by reducing the amount of fertilizer, I’ve saved myself time and energy. Also, by allowing my grass to grow longer, just by an inch or so more in summer, I’ve reduced my watering a bit more. The taller blades of grass cut down on water evaporation from the soil. Fertilizing can be confusing because there are so many different blends out there to choose from. For instance, there are some that actually have pre-emergent herbicide mixed with the fertilizer to keep weed seeds from germinating. Turf growers have told me that if you are going to use pre-emergents, it’s better not to use the blends because they’re not as effective as applying pre-emergents separately from the fertilizer.”

Mow:

Don’t worry about mowing as often as you do during the winter when things are thriving. But, do not be neglectful of your yard either. Grass needs to be mowed and maintained to grow properly and stay healthy.

Garden By Climate:

Do not go by traditional gardening calendars, go by your climate. If your spring is more like everyone else’s summer, adjust your schedule. If it says to plant certain plants in the summer because of favorable conditions but you live in a climate with extreme heat, it is probably not wise to plant. When you adjust to your climate’s natural calendar, your lawn and garden will be much healthier.

Water:

Be consistent with your watering and adjust for extreme heat. Most lawns and gardens need one inch of water per watering so be sure to keep up a consistent watering schedule. Do not drown your lawn and garden though, increase frequency of watering not how much water you use at each watering.]]>

With homeownership comes a lot of maintenance.  There are so many things to take care of and remember, it is easy to lose track of things like air ducts and vents.  Many times, home owners cannot even remember the last time they cleaned their air ducts.  But, just because it may be easily forgotten, does not mean it is not important.  Additionally, if you have recently renovated your home, you will have increased incentive to clean your air ducts as the dust and debris can get caught in the air ducts and is then in the air that you breathe in your home.  The air quality that you and your family breathe each day is incredibly important and should be given priority.  You can use your vacuum with hose attachment to clean out your air ducts yourself or you can hire a professional air duct cleaner to handle the job. Homeadvisor.com offers a good description of how professional air duct cleaning should work, “There are two ways of duct and vent cleaning. One system is connected into the ducting to provide suction. A high-pressure air hose is passed through the ducting to remove the particles from the interior. The other system uses a large specialized vacuum attached to a hose and a brushing system that is run through the ducting. Both systems are effective when operated by properly trained personnel.  A proper cleaning should include the following: cleaning of all registers, inside the ducting, and the interior of the heating and ventilating system.  The furnace fan must be cleaned, and if you have air conditioning or a heat pump, the coils inside the system must also be thoroughly cleaned. Finally, a disinfectant can be fogged through the cleaned system to eliminate any mold, bacteria, and dust mites that might remain.  Proper cleaning of a home should take a minimum of three to five hours, depending on the size of the house. If the home has more than one heating and cooling system, or the system is located on the roof, it can take longer. Most duct cleaning companies base their price upon square footage and/or the number of registers, systems, and levels to be cleaned and charge between $90 and $125 per hour to properly clean a duct system.” Air ducts have a direct effect on respiratory health and allergies as it helps control the quality of air that is circulated in your home.  For your HVAC to run efficiently it is incredibly important that you have a clean system.  Energy efficiency will help save costs on utilities each month.  It is important to maintain your air ducts so that your home’s air will be safe and of ideal quality to breathe and to keep your HVAC system running efficiently.]]>

1. Water Repairs Water is one of the biggest culprits of expensive and extensive home repairs and maintenance issues. It’s best if you have a routine maintenance schedule to check for water issues throughout your home, even if you don’t see signs of water damage. Even the smallest of water stains can be an indication of extensive and expensive home maintenance repairs, so you’ll always want to be proactive. Make sure that you keep your downspouts and rain gutters clean and that you take care of any cracks that you might have in the stucco of your home. Whenever you’re repainting your home, only use high quality paints to keep water from seeping through. To keep water out of your walls and floors, be vigilant about recaulking your toilets, sinks, bathtubs and showers. Leaks in your windows can lead to mold and damage to the structure of your home, so take care of those as soon as you notice them. Another good tip is to keep all plants and vegetation around your home well-trimmed in order to make sure that rain runs away from your home. 2. Roof Inspection Your roof protects everything underneath it, which is why it’s crucial that you stay on top of roof maintenance and repairs. Have a professional come out to inspect your roof at least once a year in order to avoid costly home maintenance repairs in the future. If you have an older roof or one that has been exposed to severe weather, you’ll want to have it inspected more often. The better you take care of your roof the better you’ll protect the overall value of your home. The more damage you have to your roof, the more expensive and complex the repair will be. 3. HVAC System Maintenance You’ll also want to make sure that you stay on top of your HVAC system maintenance. HVAC systems include air conditioning units, furnaces, vents and heat pumps. It’s best that you have your HVAC system serviced once or twice a year, preferably before the winter and summer season when you depend on a working heater or air conditioner the most. Homeowners should also make sure that the vents in their home are clean and in working condition so that there’s less chance of them experiencing respiratory, allergy and other health complications. You might not realize it, but it’s entirely possible that the air inside of your home is dirtier than the air outside of your home. Staying on top of HVAC system home maintenance is a good way to improve your indoor air quality. 4. Peeling Exterior Paint Protecting your exterior paint from peeling is another good way to maintain the value of your home. Peeling paint is another moisture issue that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. If you do notice peeling paint, chances are good that you have a leak in your gutter or steam is trickling through from the bathroom on the other side of the wall. Make sure that all of your bathrooms are well-ventilated and that you take care of the moisture issue as soon as possible so that you can avoid having the siding of your home rot. 5. Termites & Carpenter Ants Termites and carpenter ants can seriously compromise the integrity of your home. This is a maintenance issue that you can take care of your own by looking for pencil-thick mud tubes around your home and even tapping against the wall to see if you can hear anything that sounds like crinkling cellophane. Call a pest control professional as soon as possible if you even suspect that you might have a problem with termites or carpenter ants. Staying on top of home maintenance can save you thousands of dollars and will maintain the overall value of your home. Create a maintenance schedule and stick to it.]]>

Owning a home is a great source of pride, a place for your family to spend time together and a place for you to relax.  But, when you own a home with things like pipes, electronics, water, appliances and more, things are bound to break down from time to time. There are many skilled repairmen that can fix or replace things for you, at a cost.  If you own a home warranty, you know you are protected in case a problem arises.  There are some common home problems that arise that require a simple fix that many home owners are quite capable of doing themselves.  This will not only save time but money as well.  If you keep some basic tools on hand, you can repair common problems in your home. A common problem area is the toilet.  They are used frequently, putting them at risk for more common problems.  First, you may have a broken toilet lever.  Most homeowners are quite capable of repairing or replacing a broken toilet lever.  By lifting the lid and looking in the tank you may see that the chair has disconnected, simply reconnect it.  If there is a problem with the lever itself, the local hardware store should have abundant supplies to help replace the toilet lever. Another problem that often arises with the frequency with which toilets are used is a clogged toilet drain.  Get out your trusty toilet plunger and attempt to unclog the drain with 8-10 thrusts.  If this does not work, you may need to add water.  If the plunger still does not work, a toilet auger is another common tool available at the hardware store that may be able to get the toilet unclogged.  If the clog persists, it may be time to call the plumber. Leaky pipes can also become a problem in your household.  in order to address leaky pipes you will want to first turn off the water to the pipe.   This is a very important step.  Next, place a bucket under the area you are working and check the curved pipe, called a p-trap.  Over time, things like washers can wear out and may need to be replaced.  If it is a simple fix, the problem should be clearly visible.  If the pipe continues to leak, a professional may be needed to ensure the repair is done right.  Next, many people, over the course of owning a home, run into problems with their garbage disposal. Often, things that should not be put down a garbage disposal are and the garbage disposal generally experiences a lot of wear and tear.  Many times, a clog in a garbage disposal is an easier repair than expected.  First and foremost, you will want to turn the power off to the garbage disposal.  Safety should always be the first concern and turning the power off is an important safety measure.  You will need common tools, like an allen wrench.  Using an implement like a wooden dowel, or even some chopsticks leftover from Chinese takeout, reach in and remove anything that may be causing an obstruction.  Once you have removed the clog, and reassembled everything, turn the power back on and run some water through the make sure everything is clear. Lastly, at some point you may make a hole in your wall whether by accident or on purpose, that needs to be repaired.  For the most part, drywall repair is quite simple.  For relatively small holes, spackle and a putty knife will be all you need (and some touch up paint of course).  Bigger holes will require a piece of dry wall, dry wall screws and some other tools but is still also quite manageable for the average homeowner.  Before you grab the number for a plumber or contractor, consider trying to repair these common home problems yourself.]]>

Your home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Each year, as seasons change and we put away our swimsuits and pull out our sweaters, we need to do some basic maintenance to prepare our homes for cooler temperatures. By following these basic tips you can rest assured your home is in tip top shape for the fall. The first thing you will want to do to prepare your home for fall is do a quick survey of the exterior of your home and yard. Check for any obvious damage that may need to be repaired before it is too cold to do so. If you home has gutters or downspouts you will want to clear any debris such as leaves or dirt and also do a quick check of your roof to make sure everything looks good. Next, you will want to move inside to prepare for fall. Now is a great time to replace filters in your air conditioning unit as it will keep your home more energy efficient. Now is also the time to drain your water heater and check to make sure there is no rust or sediment buildup. Flush out the water heater so that it will work properly all winter long. After checking upon your water heater you will want to check your home for any leaks or cracks. During the winter you want to keep warm air in and cold air out but there are cracks your home may not be doing this. Finding and promptly fixing any leaks by applying caulk or weather stripping will help your home to be more energy efficient. The cost of heating a home during fall and winter can be expensive so it is very important to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible. It is a time to do all the little maintenance things that so often go forgotten as well. Before entering the holiday season when home fires go up exponentially, it is a great idea to test and change batteries in your smoke detector. Speaking of fire now is the time to prepare your fireplace for the cooler months. You may consider hiring a professional chimney sweep or, at a minimum, make sure any old ashes have been discarded and start stocking up on firewood. These basic home maintenance tips can help you prepare your home for fall, improve energy efficiency and make your home a more enjoyable space to live. It is important to stay ahead of the game, with home maintenance so that you can avoid costly repairs later on. One other way to prepare your home and protect yourself and your wallet is to have a home warranty. A home warranty will give you peace of mind that you are protected at all times.]]>