Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Getting Your House Ship Shape and Ready for Spring

Spring! Time to swap your snow blower for a rake and your mittens for a pair of gardening gloves. Over the winter, there has been stuff going on under those mountains of snow. As you transition from winter to spring, there are some important chores that need tending to.

As soon as the snow is gone, clean up any leaves, twigs, dead grass, etc. in order to allow for new growth. Also, cut off any dead branches from trees and shrubs.

Survey any destruction to your lawn sustained over the winter. Depending on the amount of damage, you may be able to do the repairs yourself with a bag of grass seed or you may have to hire professionals to hydro seed your lawn.

Check your roof for any missing shingles or tabs. If you need to call a roofer, it is better to call them now considering when the construction season gets into full gear it will be more difficult and a longer wait time to get a service call answered. If your roof has asphalt shingles and there are crows about, beware! Crows have been known to destroy roofs over period of time because they are after the tiny bits of gravel on each shingle. Head on over to the Internet for various ways to dissuade the crows or banish them all together.

If you have an outdoor water tap, ensure that there is no leak in the pipe. If water was inadvertently left in the tap and froze over the winter, the pipe may have burst. If you turn the tap on without first checking the pipe, you could have water pouring into your home instead of onto your lawn.

 Gravel driveways are great except in the winter when snow plows, snow blowers and shovels push some of the gravel onto your lawn. Survey your grass and rake any gravel back into the driveway so it is not picked up by a lawn mower and turned into a projectile that could cause damage to property or injury to nearby persons.

Even if your barbeque has been covered for the winter, you should check that all connections to the propane tank are secure with no damage or leaks in the line. Cover the lines with soap suds. When you turn on the propane, any leaks will cause bubbles to form.

If you want specific shrubs or trees for your landscaping needs, place your order at your local nursery early so you can have first pick of what is available. You should also ask nursery staff what is new for the season.

Many people change the batteries in their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when the time changes for daylight saving. If you have not done so, now is an opportune time to be sure those life saving alarms are in good working order.

Turn on your air conditioning to be sure the system does not have any issues. At this time of year, you can easily get someone to come for a service call. You do not want to wait until the first heat wave to find out your air conditioner isn't working. This is the same time everyone else will be finding out issues in their systems and technicians will be difficult to get and wait times can be long for service.

Salt is a corrosive material that will damage your concrete garage floor. If you have a garage, you should wash out all of the salt so there is no damage to the concrete structure.

Due to the unprecedented amount of snow received this past winter, you must check for flooding in the lowest level of your home even if you have never had any flooding issues in the past.  Your house insurance will not cover flooding caused by melting snow unless you have a specific endorsement on your policy.

This is a good time of year to check your dryer vent attachment. Over the course of many months, the attachment that runs from the dryer to the outdoor vent can become dislodged and/or clogged which could lead to a fire. If you are still using a plastic dryer hose, immediately invest in a metal one. Due to the fire hazard, plastic vent material is no longer to code.

Take advantage of spring clean up day that is offered in many communities. It is a perfect opportunity to dispose of things that are no longer needed and are taking up space around your home.

Every home should have an emergency kit and an escape route for occupants in case of an emergency. Your emergency kit should include enough supplies for everyone for a three day period. The contents should include the following: Water (a person requires one gallon of water per day and enough water for three days.), non perishable food products to feed each person in the household for three days, battery powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both, flash light and extra batteries, first aid kit, whistle to signal for help, dusk mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place, moist towelettes,  garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation), wrench or pliers to turn off utilities (it is important to know where the shut offs are for things like your gas and electricity), manual can opener for food, a supply of cash (banking machines may not be working, as well as the debit or credit card payment options at stores) (though unethical and sometimes illegal, vendors have been known to overly inflate prices of items their patrons would need in the case of a catastrophe), cell phone with solar charger, prescription medication and extra glasses, pet food and water, copies of important documents, fire extinguisher. Additional item suggestions of what to include can be found here http://www.ready.gov/kit. Also, be sure to practice that escape route with all members of the household!

Handling these tasks now while they are maintenance issues will save you money later when neglected chores become costly repairs.  Get the whole family involved and these items will fly off your list, leaving you plenty of time to get out and enjoy the spring weather.

Pauline Milner

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