Al Boenker Insurance Blog
Apr 15, 2015
After a "cold" Texas winter, the blooming wildflowers, warm sun, and cool breeze are, well, a breath of fresh air.Do you want the good news for the bad news that comes with spring first? Well, they're kind of the same thing. Its time to get outside and get to work getting your home in tip top shape. Here are 10 quick tips that will help you kickstart your home maintenance for spring here in Texas:
- Roof. You don't need to climb up there yourself; with binoculars and a keen eye, you can typically spot trouble. Do you see any shingle-shift, suggesting that some fasteners may have failed and need replacing? Any cracked or missing shingles? What about nail-pops, allowing water to get in where those nails are coming through? Take care of these simple, yet important things, to keep your roof in it's best shape.
- Chimneys. If you have a masonry chimney, check the joints between bricks or stones. Have any fallen out? Is there vegetation growing out of them? Each signals water infiltration. Also, look for efflorescence - a white calcium-like deposit that indicates your masonry joints are no longer repelling water but absorbing it. Consider re-sealing masonry with a clear, impermeable or water-resistant barrier material. Brush it on, small areas at a time; let it absorb for 15 minutes, then reapply - it may need a few applications.
- Exterior Walls. Whether you have wood siding, stucco or brick, look for trouble spots, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains normally indicate that your gutters are not adequately containing roof runoff. If you have wood siding, check for openings, damaged areas or knots that have popped out, making way for carpenter ants, woodpeckers and other critters that may nest in or burrow through.
- Windows. Leakage around windows will bring in warm summer air and let cooled indoor air escape, so be sure to check that any caulking and weather stripping you have in place has remained intact. A tight seal is the first line of defense against air and water. Spring-clean your windows - inside and out - with a store-bought or homemade window cleaner (one cup rubbing alcohol, one cup water and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar will work just fine) and either a squeegee or a soft cloth. Never use abrasive cleaners or a high-pressure spray washer. You don't want to scratch the glass or crack the caulking around each unit. If screens were on all winter, remove and clean them with mild detergent. Lay them on a dry surface, like a driveway to air-dry before putting them back on. Never power-wash screens as it could damage the mesh.
- Air Conditioning. Now is the time to make sure that air conditioning units are in good working order for the warmer months ahead. Change the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely. In addition, vacuum any dust that has settled on the unit and connections; over time it can impact the air conditioner's effectiveness. If you suspected problems with the efficiency or performance of the unit last summer, now is the time to call in a professional to check it out.
- Attics. Search for signs that indicate insects and critters have colonized. Also, search aggressively for mold, which often takes the form of gray or black blotches that look like staining. Proper insulation and good ventilation will deter mold growth in the attic, so take action now to prevent the problem from developing in the warmer months ahead.
- Lawns. Rake the lawn to remove any branches, debris and leaves that you might have missed in the fall; if left, they can suffocate the grass beneath. During the winter, soil compaction, along with chemical changes altering your soil's PH, may have left your lawn vulnerable to weed growth and other issues. Even if you can't see weeds, they are more than likely waiting for optimum conditions to propagate. If you want to prevent them from germinating, consider an organic herbicide; fertilizers are better suited to the fall.
- Decks and Patios. Look for warped, loose or splintered boards, and do a good sweep to remove any leaves and debris accumulated in the space between boards. Whether it's wood, plastic or composite, a deck should be cleaned every year to extend its life. If the finish on your wood deck is faded or worn, now is the time to clean, stain, and reseal it. If you have composite decking, follow manufacturers' recommendations on seasonal care. The same is true for wood and composite fences, pergolas, trellises and other structures. If you have a stone patio, a simple hose down provide be all the maintenance required.
- Outdoor Furniture. If you stored your lawn furniture for the winter, bring it outdoors and give it a hose rinse, or wash it with a mild detergent. For metal furniture, check for signs of rust or paint erosion; a simple remedy of spray enamel will prevent further damage from sun, rain and humidity in the months ahead.
- Gardening. Time to have a little more fun! Go ahead and till your gardening area to break up the soil. Plant seasonal vegetables, such as beans, broccoli, apple trees, asparagus, tomatoes, and the list goes on. Then, lay down a layer of good organic fertilizer. Also, take stock of your garden tools and lawn-maintenance equipment, including lawn mowers, trimmers and hoses.