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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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Jun 22 2015

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Get Rid of Mosquitoes Around Your Home

While we all love to enjoy summertime activities like gardening, picnic, backyard barbecues and playing with the kids in the yard, many of us across the country have one thing in common: Tiny mosquitoes can sometimes be HUGE troublemakers! Not only do they annoy us with their buzzing and itchy bites, but they also transmit various diseases. So, it is a good idMosquitoea to try to get rid of these pests near your home. You certainly won’t miss them when you are enjoying your favorite backyard activities.

 

Begin by eliminating standing water. Mosquitoes need less than one inch of standing water in which to lay their eggs. Make an effort to eliminate standing water around your home by emptying bird baths or fill them with fresh water daily. Dump out buckets and pales of standing water. Cover or store things that tend to catch and hold water in your yard or on your back porch like empty flower pots, patio furniture or the kid’s plastic toys. Wading pools, dog dishes, sandbox toys and old tires are all great places for water to collect that will attract mosquitoes sooner or later. Also check your yard for areas where water tends to stand after a rain or after you’ve used the hose or sprinkler. Whether it is in a flower garden or the middle of your yard, areas that hold pockets of water should be leveled with fill dirt to prevent standing water. Finally, check your gutters. Clear any debris from your gutters as clogged gutters are an attractive place for mosquitoes.

 

While water is a main mosquito attraction, they can be found in dry spaces and places that provide cover during the day. Shrubs, bushes and ornamental grasses are wonderful for landscaping, but they are also a wonderful place for mosquitoes to congregate during the heat of the day. Keep your shrubs trimmed and your lawn mowed. Remove weeds as well. All of these things will attract mosquitoes to your backyard if left unattended.

 

Consider natural insect repellants for your backyard. Some plants are natural repellents for mosquitoes and other insects and they blend nicely with other landscaping vegetation. Consider planting catnip, rosemary or marigolds.

 

Using electric outdoor fans on your patios and porches or burning citronella candles when outdoors will help create an environment that isn’t very inviting to mosquitoes. If you create an unfriendly environment for mosquitoes, you’ll actually increase your own outdoor comfort level!

 

At night, turn out porch lights if it isn’t necessary for them to light your porch or entry. Porch lights will attract mosquitoes and other insects after dark. You only need to open your front door one time while these critters are swarming around your porch light, and you’ll quickly have some winged and buzzing guests inside your home. If you need to have the porch light on at night, consider using LED bulbs. These bulbs do not put off as much heat at incandescent bulbs and are therefore less inviting to mosquitoes. Additionally, check window screens for holes and repair them to keep mosquitoes from entering your home.

 

With a little effort, you can make your home and backyard a little less mosquito friendly and a lot more people friendly.

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Apr 14 2015

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Safety Tips for your Yard

Fenced PoolWith warmer weather on the way, many of us will be spending more time in our yards, buts sometimes we get so busy that it is hard to keep up on everything around the house especially around the yard. Don’t let an unexpected danger ruin your backyard fun this spring or summer. Take just a moment to review these tips for keeping your yard safe for everyone.

 

  1. Keep the grill 10 feet away from the house and other objects.
  2. Never leave an unattended fire in the fire pit or grill.
  3. Install a fence around pools and hot tubs.
  4. Make sure no one swims alone in pool.
  5. Wear protective goggles and ear protection when using outdoor machinery.
  6. Let the mower engine cool before refueling.
  7. Keep children inside when grass is being mowed.
  8. Put ladders away after use.
  9. Keep chemicals and garden tools away from children’s reach.
  10. Tighten and cover bolts on play equipment.
  11. Anchor trampolines and play sets.
  12. Seal wooden decks and porches.

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Mar 24 2015

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Saving Money on Home Landscaping

MulchWhether you have a new home with minimal landscaping or an existing one in need of a landscaping “do-over”, here are some tips to help you save cash on keeping it green.

 

  1. Research – Carpenters say, “Measure twice, cut once.” Avoid making costly mistakes. Learn from books, magazines and websites. Talk to friends and neighbors to find out what worked and what didn’t work for them. There are lots of free resources to explore like county extension agents, local clubs and community gardens, and horticulturists at local universities or botanical gardens.
  2. Compare – There are a lot of choices out there and online, too. Sometimes we assume that our local mega-mart has the best deal, but don’t limit yourself. You may not only benefit financially from one of the local nurseries but also from their advice and expertise. Don’t forget to compare pricing from unexpected places, too, like the small local hardware store, the farmer’s market or even the grocery store.
  3. Co-op – Pool your purchases with friends and neighbors. Bought in bulk, a truckload of mulch can be quite a bit cheaper than buying by the bag, as can bulk purchases of grass seed or bulbs. Consider pooling online purchases to share shipping costs. Meet minimums on free deliveries like lumber or pavers by combining orders with neighbors. Share the rental of big equipment like tillers or cement mixers.
  4. Fair Trade – Use your imagination and trade for what you need. You can save on plants by trading for seeds, bulbs, or plant divisions. Barter your skills and expertise in exchange for the same from friends and neighbors.
  5. Buy Used – Lots of bargains can be found on tools, supplies and even plants at auctions, estate sales, yard sales and flea markets. Don’t forget to check online. You may just find what you need, free for the hauling.
  6. Compost – “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.” Once when you cut it and twice when you burn it. Creating your own compost is the same. Save on having your leaves, grass cuttings, garden refuse and kitchen waste hauled away. Save on building up your soil year after year by creating your own compost. Again, do your research. A compost pile managed correctly doesn’t have to smell bad or be invaded by varmints. Plus, you can pat yourself on the back for recycling and reusing.

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Sep 15 2014

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Preparing your Home and Yard for Fall

Fall LeavesThe official start of fall is fast approaching and winter won’t be too far behind. Get your home and yard ready for fall and winter with this handy checklist:

  • Hire a professional to inspect your furnace and make sure your heating system is working properly.
  • Inspect you chimney for cracks and any debris that may have accumulated in the flue.
  • Clean and covered or store patio furniture.
  • Fertilize the lawn and winterize your lawn mower.
  • Rake leaves.
  • Clean gutters and clear them of debris before winter weather arrives.
  • Hang holiday lights. It is easier to do and more enjoyable while the weather is still nice.
  • Harvest the rest of the produce from your vegetable garden.
  • Plant/move trees and shrubs.
  • Mulch trees and shrubs to protect them from harsh winter weather.
  • Drain and store hoses. Turn off outdoor faucets.

Buy winter supplies such as snow shovels, ice melt, and ice scrapers.

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