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Oct 18 2016

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Home Maintenance Tips: Get Ready for Fall and Winter

Cleaning GuttersCooler temperatures are a signal that it is time to get your home ready for fall and winter. With pleasant temperatures, it is easy to spend some time outdoors working on your lawn, in the garden and on the exterior of your home. Putting in a little effort now will ensure that your home will be in good shape throughout the winter. Our list of exterior and interior home maintenance tips will help you get your home in peak condition for the cold weather ahead.

Exterior Home Maintenance

  1. Seal openings and cracks. Inspect the foundation of your home and brick work or stone work for cracks and caulk or seal the openings. This will prevent water from freezing in the cracks which can cause more serious damage later.
  2. Check your driveway and sidewalks for cracks. Clean any debris out of the cracks and repair damage with driveway filler and seal with a coat of commercial sealer.
  3. Apply weather stripping in areas where two surfaces meet such as around doors and windows. Also weather strip the garage door creating a tight seal between the door and the ground. This will eliminate drafts and prevent small critters from seeking shelter inside your garage.
  4. Before you light a fire in the fireplace this fall, hire a chimney sweep to clean the chimney and flue removing all creosote buildup from last year. Also, inspect the chimney for cracks and repair them.
  5. Clean the gutters. Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause a wide range of problems throughout the winter months including damage to the foundation or landscaping as well as flooded basements. Take some time to clear debris from the gutters and downspouts or hire a professional to clean them. Additionally, make sure downspouts carry water away from the foundation.
  6. Inspect the roof for minor damage such as curling or cracked shingles, missing shingles or holes. Make necessary repairs immediately preventing leaks from winter storms and melting snow that can cause more serious damage in the future if not properly repaired.
  7. Inspect porch and deck railings. Make sure they are safe and secure for use during bad weather this winter.

Interior Home Maintenance

  1. Inspect plumbing. Prevent costly damage and repairs to pipes by taking action before the onset of winter. Use foam padding or special insulating tape to protect both hot water pipes and cold water pipes against freezing. Throughout the winter check pipes in basements and little used areas every few days to make sure no ice or frost is accumulating on the pipes and that no cracks are developing.
  2. Hire a professional to service (clean, inspect and repair) your heating system. Your heating system will use fuel more efficiently and last longer if it is running properly. A few minutes of prevention at the onset of winter can save you hundreds of dollars on costly damage and repairs to pipes and plumbing. Insulate pipes or use heat tape or a thermostatically controlled heat cable to prevention pipe bursts. Jump into action now, and prevent major issues in the future. Also, replace your furnace filter.
  3. Check the controls of your heating system/thermostat to make sure it is operating properly, or consider installing a programmable thermostat.
  4. Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger.Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently
  5. Test and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  6. Inspect insulation. Attic insulation protects your ceilings from air leakage. If your insulation is old and worn from years of harsh weather (or damaged from pests that have made a home in your attic) your furnace will have to work twice as hard to heat your home this winter. Hire a professional contractor to install new insulation in your attic.

Lawn and Garden Maintenance

  1. Clear leaves from your yard or better yet, mulch your leaves when you mow. The mulched leaves will decompose adding nutrients to the soil.
  2. Winterize your lawn mower by draining the fuel tank or running it until the fuel tank is empty. Wipe down the lawn mower removing all grass and debris for the exterior. Store it in a dry place for the winter.
  3. Prepare lawn and garden equipment for storage. Drain fuel from gas-operated power equipment like chain saws and leaf blowers. Additionally, clean, organize and store other summer garden tools like shovels and small hand tools.
  4. Reseed patchy areas of grass.
  5. Fertilize your lawn. While the top layer of grass will go dormant for the winter, fertilizer will provide necessary nutrients for the root system which will continue to grow. (If you’ve reseeded your yard, follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging as some fertilizers should not be used with new sod or grass seed.)
  6. Trim trees and shrubs. Trimming in the fall after the leaves have fallen creates less mess and makes it easier to see what limbs and growth should be trimmed. Removing dead limbs and those that are growing too close to your home and powerlines will prevent excessive damage during an ice storm.
  7. Plant bulbs for flowering spring plants such as tulips and daffodils.
  8. Drain, roll up and store garden hoses and sprinklers (do not leave them attached to outdoor faucets during the winter.) If you have a lawn irrigation system, make sure it is drained properly.
  9. Turn off exterior faucets.
  10. Stock up early. Don’t wait until the first snow to purchase ice melt, snow shovels and ice scrapers for your car. Buy these items in advance so your ready when the first snow falls. Additionally, find a snow removal service in advance so you’re not out of luck when your driveway and sidewalks need to be cleared of snow.


With winter fist approaching, this home maintenance tips will help you have your home and yard ready for the cold months ahead.

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May 04 2011

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Get Ready for Summer: Home Maintenance Checklist

Filed under Home Maintenance

Air ConditionerSummer is just around the corner. It is time to get your home ready for the hotter months ahead. Below is a checklist of things to do in your home to prepare for summer.


1.    Open windows on warm spring days. Let the fresh air flow through your home and let natural light fill as many living spaces as possible. Open curtains and blinds. The sun’s ultraviolet rays will do more than fill the home with cheer. They are lethal to many harmful bacteria that may have found their way into your home throughout the winter.

2.    Pull the refrigerator away from the wall. Vacuum the coils carefully sucking out dust and anything else that found its way behind or under the refrigerator.

3.    Take some time to wipe down, dust or clean space heaters. Check electric chords and plugs to make sure they are still in good condition. Store units that are in good working condition for next year.

4.    Now is the time to prepare the furnace for the off season and get ready for next season. Inspect the furnace filter and change it if it is dark and dirty. Vacuum openings and grilles at the heating vents, registers and ducts.

5.    Before cranking up the air conditioner change or clean the filter. Remove the pan from the bottom of the unit and clean and replace it. Trim shrubs surrounding the unit allowing for proper ventilation.

6.    Make the transition from winter to summer by having your furnace and air conditioner serviced by a professional. Make an appointment early to avoid the summer rush and have a better choice of appointment days and times.

7.    Clean the windows, window coverings and trim inside and out. Start by brushing away dirt with a soft-bristle, dry broom. Then get down to business washing each window with a rag or sponge and warm, soapy water. Don’t forget to remove and wash curtains or dust the blinds.

8.    Clean and repair windows screens. Remove the screens for the windows. Brush off dust with a rag or clean, dry paintbrush. Then, gently scrub each screen with a soft-bristle brush and warm, soapy water. Rinse the screens with the hose. Check for rips and tears in the screens. Many can be mended with a needle and thread. Replace the entire screen for those that cannot be easily mended.

9.    Check hoses, sprinklers and other irrigation systems. The freezing and thawing of winter can crack pipes and hoses so turn on the water and see how your watering system is working before the temperatures rise and you need to use it. Check for leaks, puddles of water, breaks in the lines and hoses, and broken sprinklers and clogged sprinkler heads. Repair or replace what needs to be fixed before you have to worry about your grass and other landscaping turning brown in the heat of summer.

10.  Examine the outside of your home. Trim trees and shrubs that may be touching the siding or brick, windows or trim. Experts recommend maintaining a distance of at least two feet between the home and plants to keep damaging insects and moisture away from the home. You may even consider power washing the exterior of your home to remove dust, mud, mildew and debris. If you find cracking, peeling or blistering paint, move quickly to repaint yourself or schedule a new paint job.


Summer is quickly approaching so take some time to prepare your home for the rising temperatures ahead.

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Sep 01 2010

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Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Filed under Home Maintenance

Smoke AlarmSchool is back in session and it won’t be long before those first crisp days of autumn arrive. Now is the time to do a little home maintenance and get a jump start on preparing your home for winter. Take some time to check these annual chores off your list helping you keep your home in tip-top shape. Furthermore, if you accomplish these tasks sooner rather than later, you’ll have more time to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage and other autumn activities like football games and chili cookouts with friends instead of worrying about taking care of details at home. This fall maintenance checklist will get you started:


·         Check all window and door locks for proper operation. If all locks are working properly they will help deter potential criminals from breaking in your home. All exterior doors should have deadbolt locks. If they do not, consider installing them.

·         Check your home for water leaks and prevent future leaks. Clear and remove debris such as sticks and leaves from gutters and downspouts. If you notice water stains on the ceiling, inspect your roof for cracked, curling or broken roof shingles and replace or fix them. Check the roof valleys, flashing, vents and chimney flues for leaks and make repairs.

·         Make an appointment with a heating professional to service your furnace. Replace the furnace filter. Also hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect chimneys, flues and dampers for fireplaces and woodstoves. Clear all pipes of soot and creosote.

·         Make sure stairways are safe. Install nightlights (or replace bulbs) at the top and bottom of each stair case. Resurface stair treads covered with tile, wood or concrete with no-slip treads. Clear the stairways. Nothing should be stored on the stairs. Create a clear walking path. Inspect handrails to make sure they are sturdy and anchored properly.

·         Inspect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Make sure both of these life savers are in proper working order. Replace batteries in battery operated alarms. Dust and test them.

·         Prepare your home for winter. Protect you pipes to prevent freezing with the temperature drops. Inspect, repair/replace window and door seals including caulking to prevent heating loss throughout the winter months.


With a little effort, The House Plan Shop is certain you will have this fall maintenance check list done in no time.

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Dec 02 2009

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Helpful Tips for Winterizing your Home

Filed under Home Maintenance

chimney cleaningWinter is fast approaching. It is time to start winterizing your home. Spending a little time everyday over the next week or two will have prepared without adding too many extras to your already long “to do list.” This list of tips will help you.


·         Your house is going to be closed up for several months with no fresh air circulating through open windows so take some time to clean the dust off all the things you rarely clean like ceiling fans and blinds. Clean curtains and drapes. Change the filters in humidifiers.

·         Have your furnace serviced by a professional. Check filters and pilot lights.

·         Clean the chimney and flue before you use them.

·         Remove or protect window air conditioning units with durable plastic.

·         Drafts are a major cause of energy loss throughout the cold months and give you a rising energy bill. Check door and window seals. Make necessary repairs. Put up storm windows if necessary.

·         Put away out of season clothing. If you haven’t worn it in the last year put it in a pile for charity. Organize your winter clothing in your closet. Children’s clothing requires a little more thought. Ask yourself if it will still fit next year and if your child likes to wear each clothing piece. For those that you answer “yes” to, determine if they are still in good condition. Put those items in a storage bin for next year. Get rid of everything else and organize winter clothing.

·         Prepare riding mowers, the lawn mower and even tractors for winter storage. Change air filters and spark plugs so you won’t have to do it in the spring.

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Nov 25 2009

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Indoor Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Filed under Home Maintenance

Indoor CleaningFall is here and winter is right around the corner. Now is a good time to do a little home maintenance both indoors and out. This maintenance checklist will help you get started inside.




·         Clean closets – You can quickly determine if your closets need a little attention with two easy tests. Can you close the closet door easily? Can you see any floor space? If you answered “NO” to one or both of these questions, it is time to get organized. Begin by clearing out any items that you don’t wear or use any more. Donate what you can to charity Make room for your winter wardrobe. Pack summer clothing and other items and store them elsewhere. Broken items or gloves and shoes that are missing their match should be thrown out. Likewise with clothing items that have broken zippers and other flaws that cannot be repaired. Add compartments and organizers to your closets at different levels to utilize more space. Finish one closet before you move on to the next one.

·         Maintain Large Appliances – With the holidays coming, you need to make sure your appliances can handle the demands you place on them. Pull your refrigerator away from the wall and clean the condenser coils with a vacuum cleaner and brush attachment. Also, clean the lower front grille. Thoroughly clean the oven and stove. Freshen up your garbage disposal by packing it with ice cubes and ¼ cub of baking soda. Turn it on and let it run until the ice grinding noise stops. Then pour a quart-size pot of boiling water down to rinse.

·         Maintain Woodwork – This is a good time of the year to repair woodwork because indoor air is at its driest. Re-glue any wood trim or broken pieces or parts of furniture such as a wobbly arm on a dining room chair or a loose piece of trim around the entry door. 


For information about outdoor home maintenance review last week’s posting, Outdoor Fall Home Maintenance Checklist.

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