Real estate repairs a springtime priority
Fix smoke detectors, windows, furnace filters while weather permitsBy Paul Bianchina, Friday, April 30, 2004.
The sun is starting to shine brighter and you're beginning to get anxious to get out there and do something. One way you can do yourself and your house a favor is spend a day touring around outside, and make a list of projects that have been necessitated by winter's harsh presence. Here are some suggestions for your spring checklist:
- Windows: The bugs are coming, and so is the warm weather. Check each window screen for damage, and repair or re-screen them as necessary. Use a shop vacuum to clean out window tracks so windows move freely, than clean the exterior glass and frames. This is also a good time to check wood windows and wood trim for damage that requires repair or repainting.
- Decks: Wood decks can take a real beating during the winter. Make a slow and thorough examination of deck boards, railings, posts, stairs, and other structural members, and look for loose fasteners, cracks, dryrot, or other damage. Remove loose nails (hammering them back in won't do any good) and replace them with weather-resistant decking screws that are made for that purpose. Now is also the time to completely clean the deck – rent a power washer if necessary, and then re-apply deck coatings.
- Outdoor Masonry: If you have brick, concrete, or stone patios or walkways, now is the time to get them clean. Sweep up winter debris, and hose or pressure-wash as necessary. Replace broken-out grout or caulking. Re-apply sealer as necessary.
- Fireplace Maintenance: If you have a wood-burning fireplace or wood stove, now is a good time to empty built-up ashes. Use an airtight metal container that is approved for this use until you know the ashes are completely cooled – even if it's been a while since your last fire, the ashes can be a fire danger for a surprising long time. Now is also the time to check the condition of the fireplace, and make any necessary repairs. Clean doors and screens, clean fireplace tools, and check and repair door seals and hardware.
- Fans and Air Conditioners: Spring is a great time to check all of your exhaust fans, cooling fans and air conditioners. Check dampers for smooth operation. Remove interior fan covers, and wash in mild soapy water. Clean dust and debris from inside the fan unit using a shop vacuum – do not operate the fan with the cover removed. Check the roof or wall caps where the fan ducts terminate to make sure they are undamaged and well-sealed. Check the dryer vent hose and cap for damage or loose connections, and clean out lint buildup. Check outdoor central air conditioning units for damage or debris buildup. Clean and check window or wall air conditioners, especially the filters.
- Humidifiers: If you utilize a portable or central humidifier during the winter to improve indoor moisture levels, now is a good time to clean it out. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning, disinfecting and descaling. Clean or replace filters as necessary.
- Furnace Filters: Now is the time to replace furnace filters that have become choked with dust. This is especially important if you have central air conditioning or if you utilize your heating system's fan to circulate air during the summer.
- Vent Blocks and Outdoor Faucets: As soon as you're comfortable that the danger of winter freezing is over, remove foundation vent blocks or open vent covers to allow air circulation in the crawlspace. While removing vent covers, check the grade level around the foundation vents – winter weather can move soil and create buildups or grade problems that will allow ground water to drain through the vents into the crawlspace, so re-grade as necessary. Remove outdoor faucet covers. Turn on the water supply to outdoor faucets if it's been shut off.
- Condition Yard Tools: Take a good look at the condition of your yard tools. Replace broken or damaged handles, clean and condition metal parts, tighten fittings and fasteners, sharpen cutting tools and mower blades, and change the oil in the lawn mower motor.
- Smoke Detectors: Last but far from least, now is the time for your semi-annual checking of all smoke detectors. Replace the batteries, clean the covers, and test the detector's operation – your life really could depend on it.
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