From summer vacations to winter holidays, it seems each season offers the perfect excuse to put off our to-do list. But be careful, homeowners: neglecting your home’s maintenance could put your personal safety—and one of your largest financial investments—at serious risk.
In no time at all, small problems can lead to extensive and expensive repairs. And even if you avoid a catastrophe, those minor issues can still have a big impact. Properties that are not well maintained can lose 10 percent (or more) of their appraised value.1 The good news is, by dedicating a few hours each season to properly maintaining your home, you can ensure a safe living environment for you and your family … and actually increase the value of your home by one percent annually!1 You just need to know where and how to spend your time.
Use the following checklist as a guide to maintaining your home and lawn throughout the year. It’s applicable for all climates, so please share it with friends and family members who you think could benefit, no matter where their home is located.
After a long, cold winter, many of us look forward to a fresh start in the spring. Wash away the winter grime, open the windows, and prepare your home for warmer weather and backyard barbecues.
- Conduct Annual Spring Cleaning
Be sure to tackle those areas that may have gone neglected—such as your blinds, baseboards and fan blades—as well as appliances, including your refrigerator, dishwasher, oven and range hood. Clear out clutter and clothes you no longer wear, and toss old and expired food and medications.
- Shut Down Heating System
Depending on the type of heating system you have, you may need to shut your system down when not in use. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for proper procedures.
- Tune Up A/C
If your home has central air conditioning, schedule an annual tune-up with your HVAC technician. If you have a portable or window unit, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance.2
- Check Plumbing
It’s a good idea to periodically check your plumbing to spot any leaks or maintenance issues. Look for evidence of leaks—such as water stains on the ceiling—and check for dripping faucets or running toilets that need to be addressed. Inspect your hot water heater for sediment build up. Check your sump pump (if you have one) to ensure it’s working properly.3
- Inspect Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so change them now and again in the fall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.4
Inspect Perimeter of Home
Walk around your house and look for any signs of damage or wear and tear that should be addressed. Are there cracks in the foundation? Peeling paint? Loose or missing roof shingles? Make a plan to make needed repairs yourself or hire a contractor.
- Clean Home’s Exterior
Wash windows and clean and replace screens if they were removed during the winter months. For the home’s facade, it’s generally advisable to use the gentlest method that is effective. A simple garden hose will work in most cases.5
- Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year. Neglected gutters can cause water damage to a home, so make sure yours are clean and free of debris. If your gutters have screens, you may be able to decrease the frequency of cleanings, but they should still be checked periodically.6
- Rake Leaves
Gently rake your lawn to remove leaves and debris. Too many leaves can cause an excessive layer of thatch, which can damage the roots of your lawn. They can also harbor disease-causing organisms and insects.7 However, take care because overly vigorous raking can damage new grass shoots.
- Seed or Sod Lawn
If you have bare spots, spring is a good time to seed or lay new sod so you can enjoy a beautiful lawn throughout the remainder of the year. The peak summer heat can be too harsh for a new lawn. If you miss this window, early fall is another good time to plant.8
- Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide
While a healthy lawn is the best deterrent for weeds, some homeowners choose to use a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to minimize weeds. When applied at the right time, it can be effective in preventing weeds from germinating. However, a pre-emergent herbicide will also prevent grass seeds from germinating, so only use it if you don’t plan to seed or sod in the spring.
- Plant Flowers
After a long winter, planting annuals and spring perennials is a great way to brighten up your garden. It’s also a good time to prune existing flowers and shrubs and remove and compost any dead plants.
- Mulch Beds
A layer of fresh mulch helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture and moderate soil temperature. However, be sure to strip away old mulch at least every three years to prevent excessive buildup.9
- Fertilize Lawn
Depending on your grass type, an application of fertilizer in the spring may help promote new leaf and root growth, keep your lawn healthy, and reduce weeds.10
- Tune Up Lawn Mower
Send your lawn mower out for a professional tune-up and to have the blades sharpened before the mowing season starts.11
- Inspect Sprinkler System
If you have a sprinkler system, check that it’s working properly and make repairs as needed.
- Check the Deck
If you have a deck or patio, inspect it for signs of damage or deterioration that may have occurred over the winter. Then clean it thoroughly and apply a fresh coat of stain if needed.
- Prepare Pool
If you own a pool, warmer weather signals the start of pool season. Be sure to follow best practices for your particular pool to ensure proper maintenance and safety.
Summer is generally the time to relax and enjoy your home, but a little time devoted to maintenance will help ensure it looks great and runs efficiently throughout the season.
- Adjust Ceiling Fans
Make sure they are set to run counter-clockwise in the summer to push air down and create a cooling breeze. Utilizing fans instead of your air conditioner, when possible, will help minimize your utility bills.
- Clean A/C Filters
Be sure to clean or replace your filters monthly, particularly if you’re running your air conditioner often.
- Clear Dryer Vent
Help cut down on summer utility bills by cleaning your laundry dryer vent at least once a year. Not only will it help cut down on drying times, a neglected dryer poses a serious fire hazard.
- Check Weather Stripping
If you’re running your air conditioner in the summer, you’ll want to keep the cold air inside and hot air outside. Check weather stripping around doors and windows to ensure a good seal.
- Mow Lawn Regularly
Your lawn will probably need regular mowing in the summer. Adjust your mower height to the highest setting, as taller grass helps shade the soil to prevent drought and weeds.
- Water Early in the Morning
Ensure your lawn and garden get plenty of water during the hot summer months. Experts generally recommend watering in the early morning to minimize evaporation, but be mindful of any watering restrictions in your area, which may limit the time and/or days you are allowed to water.
- Weed Weekly
To prevent weeds from taking over your garden and ruining your home’s valuable curb appeal, make a habit of pulling weeds at least once per week.
- Exterminate Pests
Remove any standing water and piles of leaves and debris. Inspect your lawn and perimeter of your home for signs of an invasion. If necessary, call a professional exterminator for assistance.
- Tune Up Generator
If you own a portable generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance. Make sure it’s working before you need it, and stock up on supplies like fuel, oil and filters.
Fall ushers in another busy season of home maintenance as you prepare your home for the winter weather ahead.
- Have Heater Serviced
To ensure safety and efficiency, it’s a good idea to have your heating system serviced and inspected before you run it for the first time.
- Shut Down A/C for the Winter
If you have central air conditioning, you can have it serviced at the same time as your furnace. If you have a portable or window unit, ensure it’s properly sealed or remove it and store it for the winter.
- Inspect Chimney
Fire safety experts recommend that you have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned periodically. Complete this task before you start using your fireplace or furnace.
- Seal Windows and Doors
Check windows and doors for drafts and caulk or add weatherstripping where necessary.
- Check Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If you checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the spring, they are due for another inspection. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so it’s time to replace them again. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.3
- Plant Fall Flowers, Grass and Shrubs
Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, cool-season vegetables and bulbs that will bloom in the spring.12 It’s also a good time to reseed or sod your lawn.
- Rake or Mow Leaves
Once the leaves start falling, it’s time to pull out your rake. A thick layer of leaves left on your grass can lead to an unhealthy lawn. Or, rather than raking, use a mulching mower to create a natural fertilizer for your lawn.
- Apply Fall Fertilizer
If you choose not to use a mulching mower, a fall fertilizer is usually recommended. For best results, aerate your lawn before applying the fertilizer.13
- Inspect Gutters and Roof
Inspect your gutters and downspouts and make needed repairs. Check the roof for any broken or loose tiles. Remove fallen leaves and debris.
- Shut Down Sprinkler System
If you have a sprinkler system, drain any remaining water and shut it down to prevent damage from freezing temperatures over the winter.
- Close Pool
If you have a pool, it’s time to clean and close it up before the winter.
While it can be tempting to ignore home maintenance issues in the winter, snow and freezing temperatures can do major damage if left untreated. Follow these steps to ensure your house survives the winter months.
- Maintain Heating System
Check and change filters on your heating system, per the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have a boiler, monitor the water level.
- Tune Up Generator
If you own a portable generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance. Make sure it’s working before you need it, and stock up on supplies like fuel, oil and filters.
- Prevent Frozen Pipes
Make sure pipes are well insulated, and keep your heat set to a minimum of 55 degrees when you’re away. If pipes are prone to freezing, leave faucets dripping slightly overnight or when away from home. You may also want to open cabinet doors beneath sinks to let in heat.
- Drain and Shut Off Outdoor Faucets
Before the first freeze, drain and shut off outdoor faucets. Place an insulated cover over exposed faucets, and store hoses for the winter.
- Remove Window Screens
Removing screens from your windows allows more light in to brighten and warm your home during the dark, cold winter months. Snow can also get trapped between screens and windows, causing damage to window frames and sills.
- Service Snowblower
Don’t wait until the first snowstorm of the season to make sure your snowblower is in good working order. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance or have it serviced by a professional.
- Stock Up on Ice Melt
Keep plenty of ice melt, or rock salt, on hand in preparation for winter weather. Look for brands that will keep kids and pets safe without doing damage to your walkway or yard.
- Watch Out for Ice Dams
Ice dams are thick ridges of solid ice that can build up along the eaves of your house. They can do major damage to gutters, shingles and siding. Heated cables installed prior to the first winter storm can help.14
- Check for Snow Buildup on Trees
Snow can cause tree limbs to break, which can be especially dangerous if they are near your home. Use a broom to periodically remove excess snow.15
While this checklist should not be considered a complete list of your home’s maintenance needs, it can serve as a general seasonal guide. Systems, structures and fixtures will need to be repaired and replaced from time-to-time, as well. The good news is, the investment you make in maintaining your home now will pay off dividends over time.
Keep a record of all your maintenance, repairs and upgrades for future reference, along with receipts. Not only will it help jog your memory, it can make a big impact on buyers when it comes time to sell your home … and potentially result in a higher selling price.
Are you looking for help with home maintenance or repairs? We have an extensive network of trusted contractors and service providers and are happy to provide referrals! Call or email us, and we can connect you with one of our preferred vendors.
- HouseLogic.com – https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/value-home-maintenance/
- Home Advisor – https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/servicing-your-air-conditioner/
- Keyes & Sons Plumbing and Heating – http://keyes-plumbing.com/things-to-check-in-spring/
- Allstate Insurance Blog – https://blog.allstate.com/test-smoke-detectors/
- Houzz – https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/17268616/list/how-to-wash-your-house
- Angie’s List – https://www.angieslist.com/articles/why-gutter-cleaning-so-important.htm
- Angie’s List – https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-thatch-and-how-does-it-impact-my-lawn.htm
- HGTV – http://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/lawns/top-spring-lawn-care-tips-pictures
- This Old House – https://www.thisoldhouse.com/more/may-mulching
- Lowes – https://www.lowes.com/projects/lawn-and-garden/fertilize-your-lawn/project
- The New York Times – https://www.nytimes.com/guides/realestate/home-maintenance-checklist
- Better Homes and Gardens Magazine – https://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/garden-care/what-to-plant-in-the-fall/
- The Spruce – https://www.thespruce.com/late-fall-fertilizing-2152976
- This Old House – https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-get-rid-ice-dams
- Houzz – https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/55572864/list/your-winter-home-maintenance-checklist
Managing traffic flow, locating open parking spots and seeing whether bridges are structurally sound are some of the potential benefits from AT&T’s latest push to power the smart city.
Job creation, increased spending, and high optimism in the construction sector suggests that 2018 will be a big year for builders. For all of 2017, construction added 210,000 jobs, a 35 percent increase over 2016.
People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home, but nobody ever asks when a good time to rent is. Regardless, we want to make certain that everyone understands that today is NOT a good time to rent.
The Census Bureau recently released their 2017 first quarter median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:
As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with making the decision of whether or not you should renew your lease, you might be pleasantly surprised at your ability to buy a home of your own instead.
One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home. If you are ready and willing to buy, please give us a call. We can help determine if you are able to today!
via Keeping Current Matters Thank you for your relevant content!
House Hunting in Florida, Millennial Style…
Millennials are a strong, and growing, segment of the home real estate market, but they approach the task differently than their parents do.
Improving Building Performance Through Initiatives, Incentives, and Mandates.
Several U.S. cities offer design- and code-related programs to encourage architects and developers to pursue sustainability more vigorously.
Is America Shifting From Renting Back to Owning?
Homeownership rate ticks up in 1Q, much more than renter households.
3 Design Schemes That are Heating Up This Summer
It’s important to stay focused on the purpose of home improvement. Be prepared to suggest both classic and off-the-wall ideas to help your client manifest their design dreams.
Construction Industry Still Missing Workers.
This lack of workers has become one of the “under-reported factors” behind the rise in home prices.
People often talk about the financial benefits of homeownership. But you will see that there are also social benefits of owning your own home.
The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled ‘Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study confirmed a long-standing belief of most Americans:
“Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes.”
Here is the section of the report that quoted several studies concentrating on the impact homeownership has on the health of family members. Here are some of the major findings on this issue revealed in the report:
- There is a strong positive relationship between living in poor housing and a range of health problems, including respiratory conditions such as asthma, exposure to toxic substances, injuries and mental health. Homes of owners are generally in better condition than those of renters.
- Findings reveal that increases in housing wealth were associated with better health outcomes for homeowners.
- Low-income people who recently became homeowners reported higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and higher perceived control over their lives.
- Homeowners report higher self-esteem and happiness than renters. For example, homeowners are more likely to believe that they can do things as well as anyone else, and they report higher self-ratings on their physical health even after controlling for age and socioeconomic factors.
- Renters who become homeowners not only experience a significant increase in housing satisfaction but also obtain a higher satisfaction even in the same home in which they resided as renters.
- Social mobility variables, such as the family financial situation and housing tenure during childhood and adulthood, impacted one’s self-rated health.
- Homeowners have a significant health advantage over renters, on average. Homeowners are 2.5 percent more likely to have good health. When adjusting for an array of demographic, socioeconomic, and housing–related characteristics, the homeowner advantage is even larger at 3.1 percent.
Our world is full of risk at every turn—from perilous jobs to dangerous driving conditions. That’s why we all love to get back to our homes and not worry about everyday safety hazards. It’s great to feel comfortable and safe at home, but is it as safe as it can be?
Your home should be your haven: the place where you will be protected from harm. It should be a top priority, and yet every year 1200 people or more visit the emergency room during the holiday months due to accidents and unintended injuries sustained from hidden dangers around the home.
With a sharp eye and preventive action you can reduce the chances of lurking safety dangers for everyone who visits your home.
The Top 12 Home Safety Tips
- GOOD LIGHTING— Adequate lighting reduces the risk of tripping and falling both inside and outside your home. This is especially important in winters when days are shorter. Critical areas that need to be illuminated are the stairs, outdoors, and foyers. Make sure your street number is well lit and visible from the street to aid first responders find your home. The fix: Make sure adequate wattage is utilized and long-life bulbs and motion detectors are in place.
- ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS?— Electrical issues, like a flickering light or a dead outlet, can be mild annoyances that actually signal serious dangers. If not addressed promptly, a faulty electrical system can result in house fires and shocks. The fix: If you’re experiencing any problems with your electricity, contact a professional right away. In your daily life, make sure electrical cords are not frayed or pierced and extension cords are securely connected. Do not run too many cords to a single outlet. Unplug small appliances, space heaters, and power tools when not in use.
- DO ROUTINE CLEANING— Not maintaining your appliances leads to a greater chance of accidental home fires. The fix: Do simple tasks regularly like cleaning grease off your stovetop, emptying the lint trap on your dryer, and keeping your chimney clean and clear.
- SMOKE AND GAS DETECTORS— Every home needs functional warning devices that detect smoke and gases. The fix: When purchasing smoke alarms, make sure they also detect carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that is especially dangerous because it is colorless and odorless. Replace the batteries every six months—or whenever you change your clocks. Create an emergency evacuation plan, build a preparedness kit, and practice regular safety drills with your family to ensure awareness of procedures.
- SECURE YOUR HOME— Many homes now have the latest technological advancements but still rely on locks and hardware from decades ago to keep you safe from intruders. The fix: Do an audit of all entry points to your home—doors and windows and screens. If any do not have secure screens, locks, and deadbolts, have them installed. For those entry points that do already have door knobs, handles, and locks, make sure that they are in good working condition.
- WHEN YOU ARE AWAY— We all enjoy long weekends and out-of-town vacations, but unfortunately that leaves your home vulnerable to intruders. The fix: Create the illusion that someone may still be there. Leave a TV or stereo on in the room where a burglar would most likely break in. Have neighbor pick up mail and the daily paper. Turn down phone ringers, keep blinds drawn, and don’t leave unsecured valuables in the home even if you think they are well-hidden. Never hide keys around the home or garden, and don’t leave notes on the door that suggest you are out of town.
- HOUSEHOLD REPAIRS— Even if you are an expert and know your way around electrical, plumbing, car or other household repairs, proceed with caution. A poor repair could be a recipe for disaster. The fix: Call a professional or ask me for a referral from our trusted sources.
- VEHICLE CAUTION— Remember that there is danger even before you drive on the street. If you are backing your car up, watch out for children and pets on the sidewalk and road. The fix: Be cautious and proceed slowly when driving vehicles in or out of your driveway. If your driveway does not have good visibility in both directions, walk down and look in both directions before you get in your car.
- MAKE IT SAFE FOR VISITORS— If you are hosting friends and family, consider what additional safety challenges they may face. The fix: Put yourself in the shoes of a small child and look for low, hard edges, sharp objects, easy-to-open cabinets with chemicals and cleaning agents. Look for falling and tripping hazards that may fell seniors.
- BRACE YOURSELF— Heavy objects are rarely braced in the home. Appliances, artwork, televisions, and aquariums present real hazards if they are knocked down by a person or a natural disaster. The fix: Strap and brace heavy objects and use security hardware for large artwork.
- UNCOVER HIDDEN DANGERS— If your home was built before the late seventies, there’s likely lead in the paint under the top coats on your walls and windows, and there might be traces in the varnish used on many hardwood floors. In addition, asbestos often can be found in insulation and “popcorn” ceiling textures. The fix: Hire a licensed contractor to test for possible contaminants and remove them safely, especially prior to a remodel.
- MOTHER NATURE— Your homeowners insurance will cover you in many instances, but did you know that you may not be insured against natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes? They typically require an additional policy. The fix: Contact your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate replacement coverage as home values escalate and coverage amounts can stay static. Discuss costs for adding disaster policies for the natural disaster most likely to hit your area. Finally, having a disaster and communication plan can minimize the risks.
Safety Dangers to Kids You May Not Think About
Do you have small children who live with you? Even if you don’t, with the holiday season rapidly approaching, your home may welcome friends with young children and older family members. This makes now the ideal time to survey home your home for potential safety problems.
Did you know that as little as an inch of water can be a major hazard? A pail of water in the yard, large puddles from a storm, even a washing machine can induce a small child to trip or fall into and become at risk. The fix: Watch for open ice chests and other standing water, and don’t leave toilet seats open.
Button-sized lithium batteries power small electronic devices, including remote controls, watches, musical greeting cards, and ornaments. When accidently swallowed, they can get stuck in the esophagus and generate an electrical current that can cause severe chemical burns and tissue damage. The fix: Only let small children play with mechnical devices and toys under supervision, and make sure to put these items away when not in use.
WINDOWS AND STAIRS
Every year, more than 5,000 kids end up in the emergency room after tumbling out of a window. Combat that by installing window guards or window stops so kids can’t fall out. Stairs are another potential hazard for youngsters with less-than-perfect balance. The fix: Baby gates can prevent young kids from venturing up or down. Steps should always have firm footing and be clear of objects as even older people can slip and fall or trip on items left on the stairs.
Cats can scratch a child not used to playing with finicky felines. The family dog may be big and loving but can outweigh a child by five times. Children can be easily knocked down, nipped, or even bitten by a dog not used to the activity of small children. The fix: Monitor play activity and make sure your pet is not getting anxious or annoyed.
Babies can be strangled by cords on blinds and shades. The fix: Excessive cords of all types should be removed or secured down. Always keep cribs away from windows with loose cords.
Now’s the Time
With the upcoming holidays at hand, now is the perfect time to survey your home and address potential safety hazards to yourselves, your family, and your friends. It doesn’t take long, most fixes are very inexpensive and simple to do, and your efforts will pay dividends in peace of mind for years to come.
If you would like our advice on how to make your home safer and need a list of trusted sources for home repairs, please contact us today. We want to help ensure that your home is safe and secure for your family.
4 out of 5 people think homeownership a good investment.
NAHB: “Most Americans believe owning a home remains an integral part of the American Dream” – policymakers need to encourage and protect homeownership.
Top 10 Trending Bathroom Photos on Houzz
Whether you love sleek contemporary washrooms or rustic loos, Houzz has you covered. Here are great ideas featured in the most popular bathroom photos over the past three months.
The Case for a Rate Hike Has Strengthened…
The case for raising U.S. interest rates has strengthened in recent months because of improvements in the labor market and expectations for moderate economic growth, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Friday.
Millennial Preferences Are Reshaping U.S. Cities
’18-hour cities’ lure millennials with better career and lifestyle options and a mix of housing, retail, entertainment and green-space options.
Pinellas County Real Estate Statistics for July 2016
This summer the Pinellas County Housing Market has been nothing short of sizzling. For July we see some stats start to cool off, but every indication remains that our market continues to be strong.
Success is in the Details: Understanding Your Product at a Micro-Level
When it comes to selling homes, our knowledge of the building process can be the difference between making a successful sale and not.
In case you hadn’t heard, we are having another Coffee Corner next Friday, the 26th, at 9:30am. Please join us and learn about: Changes to The Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA)
Will the Upcoming Presidential Election Affect Job Growth and/or the Real Estate Market? Does the political party the president belongs to determine job growth and real estate demand?
Low Down Payments Would Reward High Earners in ‘Henry’ Loans… Mortgage lenders may loosen jumbo-loan down payment requirements for a so-called “Henry”—an acronym for ‘High Earner, Not Rich Yet.’
Homes built adjacent to functioning farms?
Welcome to “Agrihoods” — pastoral ventures with healthier foods as their focus. This farm-to-table residential model has been sprouting up everywhere from Atlanta to Shanghai.
More Big Banks Just Say ‘No’ to Mortgage Lending.
Some analysts think big banks will retreat entirely, leaving mortgages to small banks and online lenders.
Importance of Homeownership Finally Makes Political Debate. Tuesday, one of the candidates running for President spoke out about the importance of homeownership in America.
The future is here: Even Barbie has a smart home.
Barbie’s Dreamhouse now has voice-activated smart home commands.