10 tips for home maintenance this spring
Spring is sprung! The flowers, the smells...it’s a sweet time of year. If you’re thinking about spring cleaning and maintenance, please keep our tips in mind. The main takeaways:
- You’ll want to check your home for issues with ventilation and moisture damage from the winter months.
- It’s also important to prepare your AC or heat pump for the summer months. Don’t want to wait until you need your AC or heat pump before you know that the system is ready to run for another season.
Start by getting an overview of the priorities inside your home.
- Kitchen. We recommend cleaning the filters on the hood above your stove and oven. Over time, grease will stick to the filters and dramatically reduce air flow. A good rule of thumb - If you turn on the fan and release a tissue underneath it, the fan should be strong enough to pull the tissue against the filter and hold it there. If the tissue falls, then you don’t have enough air flow. Here’s how to clean the filters: (1) fill a sink or bucket with boiling water; (2) add de-greasing dish soap and ¼ cup baking soda; (3) soak then filters for 10-minutes, (4) give them a good scrub; then (5) rinse, dry, and replace! Unrelated but also important, this is a good time to vacuum the coils on the back of your refrigerator. Most refrigerators aren’t cheap to operate, and this can significantly improve the efficiency and performance.
- Attic. Search for signs that indicate insects and critters have colonized. Also, search aggressively for mold, which often takes the form of gray or black blotches that look like staining. Proper insulation and good ventilation will deter mold growth in the attic, so take action now to prevent the problem from developing in the warmer months ahead.
- Bathroom. This is a good time to run the vacuum on your bath fan. Accumulated dust will slow down your fan and reduce air flow over time. Without enough air flow, you’re more likely to get mold and mildew. Be sure to check for areas of worn or missing grout, as these may lead to more serious water damage if not repaired.
- Basement. The basement—prone to dampness and insects—must be part of any thorough seasonal maintenance effort. Dampness suggests higher than normal relative humidity, inadequate ventilation and the need for a dehumidifier. Check the base of poured-concrete walls. Cracks typically start from the bottom up, not the top down. If there’s water penetration, it’ll show at the bottom of those cracks.
- Leaks. Spring is a good time to check for leaky faucets, clogged drains and sweaty pipes. Check under the kitchen and bathroom sink to make sure connections on pipes and hoses are properly sealed, and look for any wetness around the dishwasher that could signal an existing or potential problem. The same is true of your laundry room; check washer machine hoses for cracks, bulges or dampness. The same is true for hot water heaters, which may show sign of corrosion and leaks. Make sure outdoor water systems—pipes, faucets, and in-ground sprinkler systems—are in working order.
Next, head outside and walk around the exterior of your home.
- Air Conditioning. Just as you readied your furnace for fall, now is the time to make sure that your AC or heat pump is in good working order for the warmer months ahead. If you’d like GreenSavers to come out for a 15-point AC inspection and tune-up, give us a call at 503.223.8767. Here are the basics if you’d like to do your own tune-up: Change the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely. Vacuum any dust that settled on the unit and connections, and clear away any nearby vegetation. Finally, be sure to apply lubrication as needed to the fan, motor, and bearings.
- Exterior walls and foundation. Whether you have wood siding, stucco or brick, look for trouble spots, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains normally indicate that your gutters are not adequately containing roof runoff. If you have wood siding, check for openings, damaged areas or knots that have popped out. When inspecting the exterior of your home, be sure to examine the foundation from top to bottom for masonry cracks.
- Roof. No need to climb up there. Binoculars help, but with a keen eye, you can spot most trouble. Do you see any shingle-shift, suggesting that fasteners may have failed and need replacing? Any cracked or missing shingles? What about nail-pops? This is when nails push the tabs of shingles up, allowing water to get in where the nails are coming through. All of this is important to address so that you keep your home free of mold and mildew. You’ll also extend the life of your roof, saving you money in the long run.
- Chimney. If you have a masonry chimney, check the joints between bricks or stones. Have any fallen out? Is there vegetation growing out of them? Each signals water infiltration. Also, look for efflorescence, a white calcium-like deposit that indicates your masonry joints are no longer repelling water but absorbing it.
- Windows. Leakage around windows will admit warm summer air and let cooled indoor air escape, so be sure to check that any caulking and weather stripping you have in place has remained intact. A tight seal is the first line of defense against air and water. If you see condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-triple windows during the winter months, the weather seal has most likely been compromised, and either the glass or the window may need to be replaced. If you want to clean your windows, use a store-bought or homemade window cleaner (one cup rubbing alcohol, one cup water and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar) and either a squeegee or a soft cloth. Never use abrasive cleaners or a high-pressure spray washer.