Tips Spring Tips Inside Cleaning Tips The first step to beginning your spring cleaning is to get a garbage bag and go through every room you plan to clean, getting rid of any unwanted items or rubbish. Once this first step is done you will have less to clean and it won’t be so overwhelming. Sometimes, you can even break the room up in quadrants. Do one or two areas first and then move on to the rest of the room. The second step you should start with is to organize all the belongings you are keeping and place everything where you would like it to be before you continue the cleaning process further. Then make sure that you have all your cleaning supplies on hand. Plenty of garbage bags, a vacuum, broom, duster, all-purpose cleaning spray and also glass cleaning spray are all helpful cleaning items to have during your indoor spring cleaning. A great spring cleaning tip is to start your cleaning from top to bottom. Begin with dusting so all that built-up dust can fall to the floor, which will be cleaned last. While vacuuming the floor, if you have a piece with a smaller nozzle, you can also take the vacuum along the couches and chairs to collect crumbs and dust that may have gathered up. You can also disinfect your sponges by tossing them in the microwave for one minute or putting them in the dishwasher along with the dishes. If you notice your window’s drapes have gathered up dust, place them into the dryer through the air-fluff cycle with a wet towel for 15-20 minutes, the wet towel will draw off the dust from the drapes. Right after the time is up hang the drapes back up in the windows. It is also nice to keep the doors and/or windows open to let a nice breeze of fresh air flow through the house. This will help remove the smallest of particles such as dust and unwanted smells. Outside Cleaning Tips Yard work can be a great big pain, especially if it was a wild winter. Break your yard in quadrants just like you did the rooms inside your home. Once you’ve cleaned up all of the debris and organized the exterior, you can then move forward with the spring cleaning. Go around the exterior of your home and check the gutters, roof shingles, siding, and windows. If you notice any broken items, take note to repair them yourself or to call a professional. Determine which areas of the house’s exterior needs a good spring cleaning? The surface area will determine the types of cleaning supplies and products you will need. Clean your Siding: Depending upon the square footage of your home, all you need is a power-washer and any ready to use multi-purpose cleaner or deck cleaner concentrate for larger surface area. Clean your Deck: Wood and Composite decks can use a composite & wood deck cleaner. Vinyl decks can use our most popular, E2 Revitalizer with the Cleaner Bundle. Clean and bring back the luster and shine of a PVC deck with the E2. Clean Pavers, Concrete, Stone and Brick Patios and Walkways with a paver & concrete cleaner. Once you’re ready for the outside spring cleaning, start by organizing your deck or patio area. Trash all items that are broken or you will not use again. Move all of the furniture, grills, and pots, etc. off the deck and patio Summer Tips Indoor Home Maintenance: Do a test of your smoke detectors and your carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries if needed. Get your cooling system ready.• Consider getting your air-conditioning system serviced. Proper air conditioner maintenance can help your AC last longer. This one is especially important for summer home maintenance since you don’t want to be stuck without air conditioning when the temperature starts climbing. Dust the ceiling fan blades and check that the fan is balanced and working properly.• Attach a dryer sheet to a paint roller so you can reach easily and dust away. Get your chimney cleaned. Yes, you might not use your fireplace again until fall or winter, but that’s exactly why this is the perfect time to call a chimney cleaning service. They won’t be as busy! Clean or replace your showerheads. Clean bathroom drains. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans.• If your fans spin counterclockwise, they’ll push the air straight down to your home will stay nice and cool. To do this, turn off the fan, wait for it to stop, and find the direction switch and check that your fans are spinning counterclockwise. Clean the baseboards of your home. Use a damp cloth and wipe away all the dust and grime. Check your attic and basement.• In your attic, look for signs of dampness, mildew, leaks, holes in the roof, and pests.• In the basement, check for leaks, pests, mold, and mildew. Clean the vents of your bathroom fans. Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct.• Clean out all of the dust and lint trapped in the vent and exhaust duct. Call in a professional to clean and service your washer and dryer if needed. Clothes dryers can be a fire hazard if they’re not cleaned and maintained. Change the filter in the air conditioner. Outdoor Home Maintenance: Clean your grill to prep for summer barbequing.• Charcoal grills: Empty the grill and wipe away any dust or residue. Use hot water, dish soap, and a scrub brush or sponge to clean both the outside and inside of the grill. Be sure to let your grill dry off before using it next.• Gas grills: Close the lid, turn the heat up high, and let the grill cook for about half an hour. Let the grill cool. Use a grill brush to sweep the grill. Wipe down the outside with a sponge and cleaner. Then clean out all of the drip trays. Wash down your porch. You should sweep the porch thoroughly, then wash it with a cleaner. Remove any embedded dirt by scrubbing with soap and water. Give your deck a once-over. This is a summer home maintenance must.• Check your deck to see if there are any boards that look like they’re rotting. Have them replaced.• Hammer any nails that are loose.• You can also check if your deck needs to be resealed by pouring a little water on it. If the water beads into little puddles, you’re good. If it sinks into the wood, you should get your deck resealed against water. Wash the windows. Why not? Clean windows are nice. Use warm water and soap to get those windows sparkling. Wash or change your window screens.• Use hot soapy water and a brush to gently wash your window screens. Add a layer of mulch. If you have plants, the extra mulch will help fight off weeds and help your soil retain moisture during those scorching summer months. Check for outdoor leaks. Go on a hunt for leaks by checking all outdoor faucets. Then look at your hose. You can waste a lot of water if there’s even a tiny hole in your hose. Use electrical tape to repair any small holes in your hose. Check your outdoor play equipment. Make sure everything is still safe. Repair or replace anything that’s damaged or possibly hazardous and make sure that the structure is still sturdy and strong. Protect your home against unwanted guests. Yes, unfortunately sometimes critters decide that your house is the place to be. From snakes to squirrels, take steps to close off your home to non-pet animals.• Cover any holes that are more than a quarter-inch wide.• Get your tree branches trimmed back so they don’t create a highway for squirrels – a squirrel-way if you will – to your attic. Branches should be at least 8 feet from your roof.• Make sure your outdoor trash bins are tightly sealed to prevent a buffet for pests.• Do away with yard debris. Leaves and twigs are a haven for animals that might decide to invade your home.• Tend to your lawn frequently by mowing. Clean out the gutters and downspouts. You should clean the gutters at least once a year, perhaps twice if you have a lot of trees around your home. Inspect the caulking around the windows and doors of your home. You can keep ants and bugs at bay in the kitchen by adding fresh caulking to your windows and doors. Consider having your driveway and walkway pressure washed. Repair cracks or holes in your driveway and front steps. Trim bushes and plants. Pay special attention to the area around the AC unit. Touch up the paint on the outside of your home. Check over your fence. Have it repainted, resealed, or repaired as needed. Look at the outside of your house. Check for rotted, dirty, or loose siding. Consider getting your roof inspected.• It’s important to properly maintain your roof to make sure that it can last as long as possible. So, there you have it – our summer home maintenance tips. The above thirty tips will help you clean up and take care of your home this summer. If you’ve got some time over the summer, tend to your home. Preventive home maintenance can even help you save money on home insurance. Fall Tips Interior Maintenance 1. Check for drafts. Feel for drafts around the edges of windows and doors. A good tip is to use a lighted candle and if the flame flickers, there’s most likely a draft. If necessary, replace seals and repair caulking around window and door frames. Consider buying heavier or insulated drapery for especially drafty windows. 2. Have your furnace inspected. Hire an HVAC professional to test for leaks, check heating efficiency, and change the filter. They can also do a carbon monoxide check to ensure air safety. It’s also a good idea to stock up on extra air filters and change them every few months. 3. Winterize air conditioning. If your home has central air conditioning, (and you live in a climate where you won’t need it any longer,) it may be necessary to cover your outdoor unit for winter. If you use window air conditioning units, remove them or cover to prevent air leaks. 4. Programmable thermostat. Buy a programmable thermostat, if you don’t have one. If you already have one, check the temperature settings. Setting your thermostat to lower the temperature automatically at night and when you’re not home, can result in substantial cost savings. 5. Test home safety devices. Replace the batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices and test to make sure they’re working properly. 6. Clean humidifiers. Replace old filters and clean inside compartment. Vinegar is inexpensive and works well. Exterior Maintenance 1. Do a roof check. You should be able to do at least a visual inspection of the roof from the ground. Grab some binoculars to get a closer look or if you’re able and can do so safely, climb on up for a better view. Look for missing, damaged, or loose shingles. If your roof is flat, you may need to remove leaves and debris. 2. Check the chimney and fireplace. If you have a wood fireplace and use it often, have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional. 3. Stock up on firewood. Order enough firewood for the season. If you gather your own firewood, make sure it’s dry and ready. It’s best to cover firewood and store away from the house for safety reasons. 4. Inspect siding. Check home exterior for cracks or holes. Repair them yourself or hire a professional. 5. Clean the gutters. Hire a service to clear your gutters or do it yourself. Remove leaves, nests, and debris from gutters and check for leaks. 6. Check water drainage. Rainwater downspouts need to be clear of obstructions and direct water away from foundations, walkways, and driveways. Add extensions to downspouts if necessary. 7. Reinforce windows and doors. Remove screens and install storm windows and doors if you use them. Check caulk and seals around all doors and windows. 8. Turn off faucets and store hoses. Drain garden hoses and disconnect from the outside spigots. Shut off exterior faucets, and if you have an older home, you may need to turn off the valve inside your home. Store hoses in a dry place so any residual water won’t freeze. 9. Service sprinklers and irrigation system. Depending on your climate, your irrigation system may need to be drained and checked. Have a professional perform any necessary repairs and mark sprinkler heads near snow removal areas. 10. Inspect trees. Check for damaged limbs that may break or that are too close to power lines or the roof. 11. Trim landscaping. Cut back bushes, shrubs, and flowers as recommended for your climate zone. 12. Bring in flowerpots. If you keep plants or flower in pots year-round, bring them inside. If you replace plants every year, empty, clean, dry pots and put away for next spring. 13. Plant bulbs. If you plant bulbs for spring, now’s the time to get them in the ground. 14. Leaf removal. Rake and remove leaves from the yard. Put into a compost pile if you have one. Alternatively, put into yard garbage bags and leave at the curb for community pick up. Check with your local city or town for requirements and pick up schedules. 15. Fertilize lawn. Applying fall lawn fertilizer will help prevent winter damage and spring weeds. Ask a local garden center or check online to find out which type of fertilizer you need and when to apply it. If you have a lawn service, they should do this for you. 16. Put away seasonal furniture. Clean and store seasonal outdoor furniture. Remove and clean cushions. Wash and dry furniture and store in a dry place over winter. 17. Close the pool. If you have a pool and live in an area where temperatures dip, schedule a service to come and close it for the season or if you know how, buy the supplies and do it yourself. 18. Organize the shed. As your shed is filling up with summer items in storage it’s a good time to organize and clean out the shed. Move summer items to the back and winter stuff up front for better access. Also, remove any liquids that will freeze. Garage 1. Service summer power equipment. Empty fuel and clean lawnmower and trimmer. Have lawnmower blades sharpened and oil changed. Have any necessary repairs done now, so that you’re ready come spring. 2. Store summer vehicles. If you have a motorcycle, summer car, ATV or other type seasonal vehicle, now’s a good time to have that serviced as well. 3. Get winter equipment ready. Service snow blower and make sure it is ready to go, especially if you live in an unpredictable climate. 4. Test the generator. If you have an emergency generator for power outages, give it a test, and make sure it’s in good working order. 5. Buy extra gasoline. Purchase extra gas to have on hand for use in your snow blower or generator, so you’re prepared for emergencies. Make sure you store gasoline in tanks away from fire sources and out of children’s reaches. 6. Clean the garage. Since you’re in the garage prepping for fall, you might as well purge, organize and clean it while you’re there! Winter Tips 1. Install weather stripping Check your home’s exterior doors for cold air leaks. Do this from inside the house. The high-tech approach is to use a laser infrared thermal gun to detect cold drafts. The low-tech way is to move a lit candle around the door frame; the flame will blow toward you when there is a draft.Seal a drafty door by installing foam or felt weather stripping inside the door frame. Ask at your hardware store for the correct products and installation instructions.2. Install a door sweepUse a door sweep to stop drafts from entering your home under an exterior door. A sweep is a flexible piece of rubber or plastic that’s held to the door’s lower edge by a strip of aluminum.3. Seal attic air leaksFind and seal gaps that could be allowing as much as 30% of your heated or cooled air to leak outdoors, HouseLogic says.Pull back attic insulation to find and seal cutouts in drywall for electrical fixtures, pipes, fans and outlets. Also, check wiring, chimneys, flues, vent stacks and ducts, and seal them on the inside. Use caulk to fill smaller gaps and pressurized expanding foam for bigger openings.4. Close the damperHeated or cooled air flies up the chimney when you leave the fireplace damper open. Make it a habit to shut the flue after the fireplace has cooled.5. Add attic insulationInsulation keeps warm air inside in the winter and expensively cooled air inside in the summer.“Typically, houses in warm-weather states should have an R-38 insulation in the attic, whereas houses in cold climates should have R-49,” says This Old House, explaining how to install batting-type insulation.Insulating an attic, basement or crawl space is moderately difficult, and beginners should hire a professional. If you do, ask if you can perform parts of the job to reduce the cost.6. Install a programmable thermostatA programmable thermostat can save up to $180 a year on fuel costs, according to EnergyStar. The thermostat can save fuel by automatically lowering (or raising) your home’s temperature while you’re away. It also keeps temperatures consistent, saving fuel. Simple programmable thermostats. You can find several thermostats at your local hardware store — start at about $50.7. Set the temperature manually — and leave itYou can enjoy fuel savings for free simply by setting your thermostat to one temperature in the morning, another at night and otherwise leaving the thermostat alone. If you’re chilly, put on a sweater and warm socks instead of raising the heat.8. Seal furnace ductsHeating ducts typically waste 20% to 30% of the heated air they carry, losing it to leaks and poor conduction, says EnergyStar. Leaky heating ducts mean higher utility bills and a house that’s harder to keep warm.Appliances like water heaters and furnaces can cause the buildup of dangerous gases like carbon monoxide through a process called backdrafting, according to EnergyStar. Sealing leaks can reduce this risk — but before you start the job, ask a heating contractor whether you need to have a combustion safety test done first.You won’t be able to reach all the ducts — some are hidden in walls, ceilings and floors. But you can improve performance by sealing exposed ducts in the attic, crawl space, unfinished basement and garage. Focus on the places where ducts, vents and registers meet floors, walls and ceilings. Use mastic sealant or metal tape, which are more durable than duct tape, to seal the seams and connections.9. Replace furnace filters monthlyDirty furnace filters reduce furnace efficiency and push up heating bills. They also shorten the life of a furnace.Check and replace the furnace filter monthly in winter or every three months while the system is in operation. Your owner’s manual will tell you where it’s located. Hold the filter up to the light: If you can’t see light through it, you need a new one.Pleated filters work best because they trap more dirt particles.10. Keep your furnace running smoothlyServicing your furnace regularly helps you catch problems before expensive breakdowns, prolong the furnace’s life and keep it running more efficiently.Newer furnaces need professional servicing every two years. Older units require annual servicing.Check your furnace’s manual to see which specific steps are recommended. Ask friends and colleagues for names of good technicians. Find one or two you trust and stick with them.11. Insulate the hot water heaterSave on fuel by wrapping older water heaters in a blanket of insulation, an easy DIY project that even a beginner can do. Your utility company has instructions. When insulating a gas or propane water heater, do not cover the burner access.Do not insulate:• Pre-insulated water heaters. These are newer units with factory-installed insulation of R-16 or better (check the manufacturer’s label) under the metal shell.• Water heaters located where the added heat is welcome.• Water heaters whose manual or paperwork warns against insulating.• Tankless (on-demand) water heaters.12. Lower the hot water temperature. Hot water heaters typically are set at 140 degrees. Lower the temperature on yours to 120 degrees for fuel savings. You’ll reduce the chance of accidental burns, and the water still will be plenty hot for bathing, washing clothes and doing dishes.13. Plug household leaksGrab a tube of caulk, a can of spray foam gap-sealer, a pencil and notepad. Tour your home, inside and out, including the basement, to find and fill cracks and gaps in siding, windows and foundation. Note locations of problems you can’t fix right away.Use caulk for small cracks and the foam sealer for bigger gaps. Inside the home, use a candle flame or digital thermometer to find where cold air is entering. Pay attention to windows, skylights, chimneys, vents and door frames (in areas around the frame not remedied by tip No. 1’s weatherstripping).Also, check openings around appliance vents, electrical and plumbing fixtures and furnace ducts and check the top of basement walls where the foundation meets wood.14. Insulate hot water pipesInsulate the hot water pipes in your basement or crawl space by snapping foam sleeves on them. You’ll find pre-slit, hollow-core, flexible foam pipe insulation at hardware stores. Make a note of your pipes’ diameters and lengths, and bring the measurements when you shop.Exposed pipes waste heat by cooling the water as it runs through them. Be sure to include pipes between the hot water tank and wall. Also, insulate cold water pipes for the first 3 feet after they enter the house.15. Use your window coveringsIt’s surprising how much insulation can be provided by curtains, drapes, shades and even mini blinds.Draw window coverings at night and when you’re away to conserve heat in the home. In hot weather, draw window coverings in the morning to keep the house cool, saving money on air conditioning. Prepare Your AC for Winter Fall/Spring Furnace Tips Fall Gutter Cleaning Tips Contact Us Today!