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Like many other businesses we will be closed for the fourth of July; we'll resume our regular schedule Thursday July 5th. Stay safe, enjoy the day, and celebrate your independence!
Keep in mind that many pets do not enjoy fireworks like their human family members, if thunder and fireworks make your pets skittish, follow this link to learn how to make the fourth more enjoyable for the whole family!
Ever worry about your house while your away? Did I turn everything off? What if…? Sometimes our imagination just runs amuck.
Before we hit the road, what we need is a plan. Here are some of the best things we have seen, pick and choose what suits you best, then, hit the road jack and don’t you look back!!!
Get a home monitoring system. Want to shop around and compare, maybe be a little hands on? Consider these Top Ten apps… Just want someone to take care of it for you? Check out these systems recommended for the Winchester area. There are so many options these days offered by security companies, cell and internet providers; there are even diy options with cameras and upcycling old tech like tablets and cell phones to make your own.. Here’s a good place to start… If you have an alarm company in place; let them know you are leaving and for how long. If not, it is still a good idea to let your neighbors know in case they notice any unusual activity in your absence. (Please also let neighbors know if you have arranged for others, including handymen to check in on or work at your home while you are away) Other than having a trusted friend or family member stay at your home while you are away; it’s hard to imagine any other single thing you could put in place to assure you that all is well while you are away. By the way, still a good idea to leave a key and/or access code/s with a trusted friend – if they stop by frequently they can remove evidence of absentee-ism such as unexpected deliveries, flyers, taking the trash cans to and from the curb on your regularly scheduled day… if your trusted friend is a gardener, maybe they’ll even pull a few weeds and water the gardens!
To keep potential thieves guessing AND to reduce the time spent catching up on routine chores when you return, schedule regular maintenance to occur in your absence… lawn care and grooming, pool maintenance etc. Keeping things up on your regular schedule will help to keep up the appearance that all is normal.
Altho “sharing” has become second nature – PLEASE REFRAIN from sharing about your trip in any public manner until you are safely back. Before you leave, do a quick security check and verify that there is no reference to your home’s address or your family’s phone numbers — we often include such details on Invites, evites and events — a simple google search may reveal more about you than you think – clean it up before you leave!
Secure your valuables. The most common place to find valuables in a home? The bedroom. If you have valuables, don’t keep them in the bedroom. Consider tucking valuables away where thieves would not look; kitchen pantry, laundry-room, linen closet in unrecognizable containers… after being robbed more than once, my depression era Godmother used to hide cash (stapled in increments of $100, in a sandwich bag) along with her diamonds buried in her flour canister and in the freezer. She also kept the baggies of $100’s in between her baking sheets in case she or my uncle needed cash in a hurry. (As you may already have guessed – she really wasn’t much of a baker ;-D) While they were still broken into, she was never robbed of her valuables again. Alternatively, while you are away a safe deposit box is not a bad option – in the worst case scenario of a natural disaster or an “act of God”, storing valuables off-site is most likely the most secure.
DO NOT leave a “Hide-A-Key” – what self-respecting thief wouldn’t look for such easy access… under the mat or potted plant and up above the door are also bad choices… If you have a convenience key out there – give it to a your trusted friend or family member – even if it is just for emergencies… if you are a worrier, entrust that key to someone who will do a daily walk through and alert you to any concerns.
Lights = occupancy… install motion-sensor flood lights (dusk to dawn yard lights can do the trick – interlopers do not like to work with the lights on!)- many can be programmed to turn on and off per your preference – just like the old school interior light timers. If you don’t go all in with a monitoring option, at least make certain to set up a few lights in the active living areas of your home on timers – it really helps to keep the home looking occupied.
Promote the fact that your property is well protected — most security companies and systems will provide you with stickers to advertise the fact they are monitoring your home – you should definitely post these at all entry points… if you are going on guts with a monitoring system to back you up — no worries, you can still buy very “official – looking” stickers and put them up — anything to deter the bad guys is probably worth doing — short of the ol’ “Home Alone” booby-traps ;-D
Garage Doors – if you have an automatic garage door opener — turn it off before you leave. Easily obtained universal remotes may make it relatively easy to hack in to your home otherwise.
If you do not have a friend or neighbor picking up your mail – make sure to arrange to have your mail “held” at the Post Office until you return and be sure to pause your newspaper deliveries also.
For those who serve and are deployed, as well as, those who work away from home for an extended period, such as missionaries and those who volunteer for the Peace Corp and such or even you romantics following the “Eat, Love, Pray” dream journey – there are a few more things to consider and put in place before you depart.
Power of Attorney (POA) – put in place a document which designates individuals to whom you grant the authority to act on your behalf in legal and financial matters. This provides for someone to handle personal and financial matters such as your mortgage, bank account, contracts in your absence. A POA can be created for a limited time-frame and even with limited powers or authority. While most folks choose a trusted friend, spouse or family member, many choose an attorney.
If called to duty – become familiar with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). It provides protection to servicemembers deployed who may experience difficulty meeting legal or financial obligations. Consult your legal assistance staff to learn more about your SCRA rights.
Schedule regular, ongoing exterior home maintenance before leaving. Landscaping, yard care, gutters and drains acan all be scheduled in advance of departure/deployment. Seasonal tasks like leaf clean up and debris removal after storms can be handled in your absence as well.
Schedule interior maintenance as well. While you are away no doubt filters for your HVAC, perhaps humdifying and dehumidifying, hot water maintenance, and drains all function better with regular maintenance. Depending upon your situation, it may make sense to winterize the home until you return. Having a trusted professional check on the interior can save the day if unfortunate events such as broken pipes occur…
Regardless of the reason for your time away from home, or the length of your time away, do these 6 things…
Turn off the water to your house. Even a very small leak can create a very big problem left unattended. Check your water heater – many newer models have a “Vacation” setting, older models can be set to a lower water temperature while you are away.
Leave the a/c on. In the warm season set the thermostat to 85 degrees if you do not have a “Vacation” or “Away” setting on your unit. It is best to keep not only the temperature, but humidity levels in balance while you are away. If you can, program the thermostat or a/c unit to return to your preferred temperatures before your return so all is comfy. Or, call upon the trusted friend or family member to restre settings so you can return to a comfortable home.
Whether your vacation is “Unplugged” or not — before you leave your house should be! That’s right – kicking it old school once again… tv’s, cable boxes, computers, monitors, routers, blue ray and DVD players, phone chargers, lamps which aren’t on timers, microwave, range, coffe maker, etc. … BONUS: with all the power vampires unplugged, you may find your electric bill more palatable.
Clean out all perishables from the refrigerator. Coming home to spoiling food is so unpleasant! Put a quarter on top of a frozen ice cube – when you return, if that quarter has sunken into the cube, you lost power for a measurable time period while you were away. It may make sense to purge compromised foods.
Make sure someone has your cell phone numbers as well as a number where you will be staying, just in cases!
Do a final walk through and make sure all your doors and windows are secured.
With 35 years of all kinds of construction, (here in the Shenandoah Valley area for about 19 years) I have seen and repaired just about every issue a homeowner could face. Regardless of the size of the property or the financial standing there has been one issue that is present in most homes that we serve and that is deferred maintenance. With all the home improvement shows, pinterest, google and youtube videos available there is a strong inclination to at least consider doing it yourself.
The Four Main Reasons Homes are not Well Maintained? Time, Tools, Knowledge and Money! aka, what to consider before you DIY
Here’s what I’ve noticed over the years…
It seems that MOST folks just don’t allot the necessary time to plan their projects or allow adequate time for acquiring the necessary tools and materials — do items need to be ordered and delivered or picked up? Do you have all the right tools? Do you have a reasonable knowledge of the stages necessary to complete the project? Another issue I’ve seen is that DIY’ers often forget to allow adequate time for materials to set up before moving on to the next step. Some things can’t be rushed.
SOME folks recognize that they may not have sufficient knowledge to guessitimate the cost, plan the time, tools and materials and to complete the project within the municipality’s building codes.
MANY homeowners have, or have access to some ladders, hand tools, power tools and specialty and trade tools, but not necessarily the time.
A FEW (in particular the new home-owners) think they just don’t have the money to make the little repairs… in reality; none of us can afford to ignore these warning signs and NOT to maintain our homes.
Time and time again I have witnessed door and window frames rot while customers opt to spend their money on less impactful items like ceiling fans or interior painting instead of the recommended $100 door frame repair. In one instance, just 3 years later, when it was time to move, the homeowners were shocked to learn that the door could no longer be repaired and had to be replaced at a cost of $2500. Another client bought and installed gym equipment rather than the suggested roof repair – a few shingles were missing at the time. Two years later they needed a new roof with new roof sheathing. Their roof leaked damaging their insulation and drywall and now they had to re-paint also… what might have been a repair for about $150, and could have extended the life of their roof for years. Instead they had to get a new roof for about $12,000.
Most of us, at the time, don’t believe we have the money for these small repairs; but know this, these issues only get worse if not tended to, and they will cost more to repair in the future! Don’t bank on the belief that your homeowner’s insurance will cover it either… chances are if the damage is caused by neglect, it won’t.
Adulting is hard, life choices are difficult… but trust me – the way to save thousands is to fix things while they are small.
My Mom was right, she used to say “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.” Here are a few more things which might blow a DIY’ers’ budget… starting a job and then calling a professional to finish it. Doing a job wrong, then calling a professional to fix and finish it. Injuries… ladders alone are the cause of an average 200.000 injuries and 300 deaths each year!!!
It’s the American Dream – owning your own home… you scrimp and save, pay off debts, clean up your credit, maybe even tighten the belt and do without for a bit… and you save, save, save…. finally, with finances in order and pre-approval in hand the dream starts to feel like a possibility. Shopping can be fun — the dream is coming in to focus… maybe a few sleepless nights during the negotiations… and then, there you are! A real life, bona fide American Dream living homeowner!!!
Time goes by and then one day it hits you. You’ve been living your life, having fun with friends and family, and in general getting things done… as you look around your precious home you begin to see evidence of the wear and tear. Perhaps a few issues have become pressing or need immediate attention… whoa… should you try to do it yourself? See how long you can put it off? Or call somebody? Sure, it needs to be done – but what else might you be missing?
Why is it we are never prepared for this? Emotionally or financially? Let’s rewind and imagine how we might have done better. What if we had set up a separate budget or account for maintenance – ideally for preventative maintenance! After all the financial hula hoops and finagling we do to actually purchase a house, nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news and say, “but wait, there’s more..” Nobody wants to tell us what we don’t want to hear… there will always be expenses. It can be intimidating to think about these various tasks, especially if you’re a new homeowner. It’s a long list — there’s no denying that!
Daunting as this sounds, seriously, there are tons of variables — the age and beginning condition of your home (a home with deferred obsolescence may require 3% or even more) for instance…
The top two recommended methods are The 1% Rule (although many experts argue it should be as high as 3-4%). The second is the Square Foot Rule. And I would argue that a good Preventative Maintenance Program will help you manage your home maintenance tasks, as well as, helping to keep expenses in line.
The 1% Rule suggests that you should set aside 1% of your home’s purchase price for upkeep – here in Frederick Co, VA where the median house price is nearly $250,000 – it would then be a good idea to keep at least $2500 on hand each year for repairs.
The Square Foot Rule may make more sense for many of you. Use $1 per square foot per year for maintenance and repair costs; therefore the more square footage you’re managing the more you should be prepared to spend.
Commonsense suggests that these formulas may need some tweaking for older properties or fixer-uppers. These formulas may also have a bit of an expiration date on it – if you stay longer than average, 7 years, the economy may get ahead of your budget. Land is another consideration – these formulas assume an average lawn needing minimal care – obviously acreage or farms may require more. The premise here is that on average, during your stay in the home it could cost, in our example, $2500 – so keep it in the bank and let it ride — if the roof needs to be replaced, one year’s worth certainly won’t keep you covered! Additional variables include but are not necessarily limited to: Age (by age 20 -30 some major components will need to be replaced), Weather (freezing temps, termites, high winds or other extreme conditions), Condition (not all properties are equal).
Still not sure, try taking the average of the 1% Rule and the Square Foot Rule. Always build up reserves, if you dodged a bullet this year build upon it for next year… prioritize and save for the future. Better yet, give me a call and I’ll gladly you walk you though a Preventative Maintenance Program for your home and budget!
Winter, thankfully, is ending. How did you fare? We were mostly lucky, our weather was fairly mild this go ’round. A mild winter is not a hall pass to skip your maintenance checks and move on to Spring. This transitioning season is still a great trigger to check on your property’s preventative maintenance needs… Mostly preventative maintenance focuses (as it implies) on preventing more extreme maintenance.
While many of our home’s structural elements are easiest to inspect from the outside; here are a few vital interior items to keep in mind as we shift into Spring…
— now’s a great time to schedule a maintenance check and service for your HVAC system to keep everything working optimally in the next season… did the a/c seem a little less than sufficient last year? may be time for a re-charge! filters should be changed or cleaned, make sure intake vents are clean and clear… using window units? check the charge before you need it – is the cord in good condition, are you plugging it in to a sufficient outlet, not overloading any circuits? when you install be certain to level and that all is well supported and sealed…
— while we were spared lots of melting snow, we are heading in to our rainy season, after all, April showers bring May flowers... is the basement/crawl space sufficiently waterproofed and if needed, is your sump pump in good working order? cracks which start at the floor and travel up are frequently caused by moisture… a wet basement is more than an inconvenience – it can be costly to repair and lead to health issues such as mold and mildew… humid days are on their way, it may make sense to get a de-humidifier to keep the moisture below grade to a minimum… if masonry, check walls for lose or missing mortar…
— look for light and water leaks, places unwanted critters can enter and nest, as well as, where water has come in from the roof, eaves, siding, and vents… search for evidence (urine marks/droppings, nest materials, chewed paper and “skins”) of rodents, birds, bats snakes, squirrels and bugs… call an exterminator immediately if found… if unfinished keep an eye out for warped and loose floor boards and for safety’s sake if used for storage leave adequate space to pass through and for ventilation.. air movement in the uppermost levels of your home can influence moisture and mold, chemicals and vapors, and air leaks and drafts throughout the rest of your humble home…
Walls and Ceilings
— as a part of aging, “wrinkles” and cracks are not uncommon — spiderweb cracks can often be found throughout an older homes walls, ceilings, floor and even grout; often cracks along the edges of the ceiling are also due to age … however, if a crack runs the length of a ceiling and travels down the wall; or, is a large crack that is greater than 1/16″ of an inch wide, or is in the center of a ceiling, it is quite likely a structural issue and should be inspected more closely… also pay close attention to any ceiling which is bowing in the center, this can also be a structural concern… another cause of bowing and cracks in ceilings can be water leaking…
— rolled or batts of insulation and blown insulation may need to be replaced or refreshed if you find evidence of settling or compacting, infestation, mold or mildew from water leaks, the material is not thick enough, or, the material is outdated and has decayed or has been perforated, or it is 15 – 20 years old, if so, chances are one or more of these situations is reality, and technology has improved… occasionally homeowners install insulation incorrectly which generally hastens it’s need to be replaced… often the insulation in our attics, crawl spaces, and basements is accessible for a visual inspection, otherwise unusually high utility bills or inconsistent room temperatures is generally all you need to consider replacing or supplementing your insulation… need a little motivation? The Department of Energy estimates that a properly insulated attic can shave 10 to 50 percent off your heating bill. And it works the opposite way for warm climates; in summer, it helps stabilize your house’s indoor temps to keep cooling needs in check.
— as our grass gets greener, and flowers begin to bloom much of the animal kingdom prepares to reproduce also… Spring is the time to be especially vigilant for signs of unwanted pests and critters — if you have even two, you may soon have many more… check in with your exterminator if you are suspicious or squeemish, before populations populate your place! it takes the smallest of openings for these varmints to get in — check your foundation, roof and in between and close the entries for good!
Paint to Preserve and Protect
— most of us think of paint as fashion statement, but paint also seals and extends the life of wood and other surfaces… hallways may need to be painted as often as every 2 – 3 years due to the high traffic… bedrooms for small children, like hallways can be subjected to a lot and may need to be painted fairly frequently, perhaps every 2 -3 years; since most bedrooms are often gently lived in, many may not need to be re-painted more frequently than every 5 years or so, or as desired… likewise living and dining rooms typically are not high traffic areas and often the paint will last 5 or more years or until a change is desired… kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and family-rooms however are where we are much of the time and these room may require more frequent re-painting, perhaps every 3 – 5 years… the short answer is – if the paint looks outdated, is beyond “cleaning”, is cracked or is peeling, paint it… on average a quality paint job with quality paint should last in the range of 5, 10 even 15 years… if you want it to…
We hope monitoring and maintaining these five areas helps you to appreciate and enjoy your home for many years. If a move is in your near future, these are important to have in good order – if your REALTOR doesn’t encourage you to get these items up to snuff, a prospective purchaser or home inspector surely will! Preventative Maintenance saves money and sales! Be prepared and enjoy! Want to learn more about maintenance your can prevent? Sign up for our newsletter – we do our best to keep our home owners on track every month!
It’s February – here in the Shenandoah Valley we are happily passed the mid-way point for Winter – eagerly looking forward to all things Spring! Fresh, clean air – new growth, and expanding the fun to the out of doors.
The urge to hibernate is just about over, well, maybe just a little longer with your special Valentine. So, this month’s tips and recommendations are all about getting and keeping the love shack’s adjoining ensuite in absolutely lovely shape…
When you clean your master bath this month take a few extra steps and keep it phresh…
Medicine Cabinets – dispose of any old/expired prescriptions and over the counter meds. Likewise skin care and make-up should not kept forever: lipstick – up to 1 year, eyeshadow/blush – up to 2 years, mascara – 3 months, foundation – up to 1 year, eyeliner – up to 2 years…
Shower Curtains – if you are not ready to replace/update your curtains altogether, consider a soak in in soapy bleach water to retard the mildew that wants to grow in our humid baths…
Showerhead – de-gunk and clean. Fill a plastic bag with CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust) cleaner, or, a mix of white vinegar and water – use a rubberband to keep the showerhead submerged in the cleaning mixture for at least 1 hour (longer if minerals are evident). After soaking, remove the bag with the cleaning solution. If you have visible mineral deposits you may want to do a gentle scrub with a toothbrush – for excessive mineral build up you may need to disassemble and clean the filter per the manufacturers recommendations. Don’t forget to run the water for a moment or two to eliminate any solvent or loose mineral bits, and to polish the fixture. Now you are good to go!
Grout/Caulk – mold and mildew occur when moisture persists. Grout and caulk often show signs of these first – this time of year it’s a good idea to make sure that there is good ventilation until all surfaces are dry; if you find mold or mildew clean immediately before there is more… keep an eye out for decay or areas which may allow leaks…
Linens – to keep everything smelling fresher longer, insert a dryer sheet in between a few of the stored sheets and towels… it’s a good time of year to consider removing older items from your inventory altogether…
Bathroom Vent – vacuum with small brush attachment…
Declutter – get rid of excess from counters, tub/shower, drawers and closets…
Now that everything is clean and fresh – consider adding a few romantic, spa-like touches…
Plants & flowers — it is after all nearly Valentine’s day!
Scents — a few drops of your favorite essential oil in the shower will envelope you with a delicious scent as the steam rises, or, add 3-6 drops of your favs to the bath water and soak it all in…
Bespoke the bath – step up the bath experience with salts, scrubs, bubble bath or bath bomb (get diy recipe here) – don’t forget lavish oils and lotions for after the bath…
Be a little Moody – add little personal details – a picture of just you two, scented candles, chocolates, music, luxurious robes/slippers, and bubbly. Unexpected gifts and gestures can be extremely romantic… a hand-written note, poem, or jewelry, the extra thought and effort speaks volumes…
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Before you get the summer parties started, take a moment and make sure there isn’t any damage, or wear & tear from past seasons that could cause you an issue in the future.
1.) Monitor your gutters and drainage. Debris naturally builds up in gutters over time, remove any blockages while looking for signs of bending, damage, and areas where water has been diverted onto the roof or siding. It is recommended that gutters are cleaned twice a year: once at late fall/early winter, after all of the leaves have fallen and prior to the first snowfall, and once at late spring/early summer after flowers, seeds and blossoms are done blowing off. Cleaning gutters regularly will help prevent clogging and unnecessary leaks. To reduce the likelihood of jams and blockages and to increase the time between cleanings, have gutter guards installed. You may be able to make minor gutter repairs yourself. Make sure your soil slopes away from the foundation at a rate of at least 6 vertical inches over the first 10 feet. If you have standing water or mushy areas, consider re-grading, adding berms (raised areas), swales (contoured drainage ditches). First try to identify whether your problem is improper sloping or gutter overflow.
2.) Inspect your roof and chimney for winter damage.Your roof should be inspected annually to ensure that you don’t have any problems. Shingles may need repair after a rough winter. Look for loose chimney bricks and mortar, rotting boards if you have a wooden chimney box, or rust if you have a chimney with metal parts and flashing. Inside the house, check your skylights to make sure there are no stains that indicate water leakage. If you suspect a problem with your chimney, call a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America for an estimate for repairs. Don’t let a little problem, become a major expense — minor roof repairs run from $100 to $350.
3.) Pressure wash the exterior An important element of maintaining your home’s exterior is to routinely clean it, and the easiest way to do so is to pressure wash the walls. Do it to remove dirt, stains and mildew, especially prior to painting, staining and/or sealing. Don’t stop with the house, walkways, decks, patios, porches, garages, outbuildings and outdoor furniture are all exposed to the same grit, grime, pollen and pollution as your house — start off the Summer season, or get ready for the real estate market with a fresh start!
4.) Examine siding for signs of winter damage. Check for loose or rotting boards and replace; inspect the areas where siding meets windows and doors and caulk any gaps (close any entries created by unwanted house guests). Repairs to wood, vinyl, and fiber-cement siding require the expertise to remove the damaged siding while leaving surrounding siding intact. Unless you have the skills, hire a professional carpenter or siding contractor. Expect to pay $200-$300 to replace one or two damaged siding panels or pieces of wood clapboard. Crumbling and loose mortar should be removed with a cold chisel and repaired with fresh mortar — a process called repointing. Depending on the size of the mortar joints (thinner joints are more difficult), a masonry professional will repoint brick siding for $5-$20/sq. ft. To repair larger holes and cracks in stucco, you may want to call in a pro who’s familiar with stucco work. A professional charges $200-$1,000 for a repair job, depending on the size of the damage. Repainting the patch to match your siding will be up to you.
5.) Pay a visit to the attic.During a spring/summer rain, check for visible leaks, water stains, discolored insulation, and rotting or moldy joists and roof decking. If detected, call a handyman for an estimate for repairs. If you have areas of rot or mold exceeding 10 sq. ft., call an indoor air quality inspector or mold remediation company for advice. If you have an attic fan, make sure it’s running properly and that the protective screen hasn’t been blocked by bird nests or debris.
6.) Window check Ensure that the hot summer heat stays outside by checking and maintaining your home’s windows. One of the key items in newer window maintenance is routinely checking the sealants; in older windows it would be the caulk and putty. Ensure that both inside and out are secured, and caulk any open areas in between. Also, check weather-stripping for any faults and replace it immediately if there is an issue.
7.) Air conditioning tune up The number one priority for your summer home maintenance checklist is to have your air conditioning (AC) unit tuned up. As important as getting your car tuned, your AC needs to be tuned to inspect and prevent unwanted emergencies. If your system wasn’t running well last season, be sure to tell your contractor, and make sure he performs actual repairs if necessary rather than simply adding refrigerant. The tune up is used to inspect refrigerant levels, which is important for your AC to keep running cool and keep your summer electric bills low, as well as to ensure your fan is functioning well, your coils are thoroughly cleaned and there are no potential fire hazards with faulty wiring. Your checklist should include inspecting thermostats and controls, as well as, making sure your air filters are changed and vacuum out your floor registers. Replacing the air filter on your air conditioner every 1-3 months allows the system to run more efficiently and keeps the air in your home clean. If you suffer from allergies, this is a great time to upgrade to a high-performance allergen air filter for your home.Expect to pay $50–$100 for a tune-up.
8.) Water and Icemaker Filters: Replace disposable water filters on your water filtration system and/or icemaker as recommended by the manufacturer (usually every six months). This will keep mold and mildew from growing in the filter and keep your water clean, fresh, and flowing freely.
9.) Hot Water Heater: Sediment buildup can shorten the life of a water heater and raise your energy bills, so it’s a good idea to drain the water heater each year to remove sediment from the tank. Turn off the power (or gas) and water to the heater, attach a garden hose to the drain valve, and run the water outside. In addition inspect the water heater for leaks, make sure the vent pipe on gas water heaters is clear, and test the pressure relief valve to make sure it works and doesn’t leak.
10.) Check your GFCIs.A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protects you from deadly electrical shocks by shutting off the power anytime even a minimal disturbance in current is detected. They’re the electrical outlets with two buttons in the middle (“test” and “reset”) that should be present anywhere water and electricity can mix: kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages, and the exterior of the house. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends monthly testing, which you’re likely to remember if you incorporate it into your spring/summer routine.
Extra Credit Tips
• Homeowner tip: A home inspector can help you if you’re stumped; inspection services run about $80–$100 per hour.
• Homeowner tip: Look into an energy-efficient pool pump to help keep your electric bill down during the summer months.
• Homeowner tip: Identify andSchedule Winter work now and be ready for Holiday house guests.
• Homeowner tip: Make sure your house number hasn’t been damaged or obscured by dirt and is easily visible to emergency personnel.
• Homeowner tip: You can keep your AC bill running smoothly by changing out your air filters often. Experts advise changing them once a month when using your unit on a daily basis.
• Homeowner tip: To test a GFCI, plug a small appliance (a radio, for example) into each of your GFCIs. Press the test button, which should click and shut off the radio. The reset button should pop out; when you press reset, the radio should come back on. (If the radio doesn’t go off when you press the test button, either the GFCI itself has failed and should be replaced, or the outlet is wired incorrectly and should be repaired. If the reset button doesn’t pop out, or if pressing it doesn’t restore power to the radio, the GFCI has failed and should be replaced. These distinctions can help you tell an electrician what the problem is—neither job is one you should attempt yourself if you don’t have ample experience with electrical repair.)