Memorial Day traditionally represents the kick-off of summer. Kids are getting out of school (that’s not so much the case this year), families are making summer vacation plans, and backyard barbecues are on everyone’s minds. This is also a great time of the year to get your house in order and ready for the summer season. The following is a handful of ideas and tips to help you with this process.
Gardening– It’s not too late to start your garden! This weekend I will be planting an herb garden; I planted summer vegetables a few weeks ago. If you’re thinking of doing the same, just make sure you use starts because many summer harvest vegetables won’t start from seed this late in the season.
Outdoor living– My home has an outdoor space with great potential, including a partially covered patio perfect for entertaining. This weekend I plan to upgrade the space with small touches to make it summer party ready. This includes finding outdoor lighting options, updating the seating and cleaning up the barbecue.
BBQ- Make sure your grill is ready to go this season by making sure everything is clean and in working order before you fire it up. In the northwest that includes making sure the fuel lines are spider-web-free. Also, make sure you have propane or charcoal on hand for impromptu dinners.
Clean Windows- Now is a great time to clean your windows, inside and out. Sun shows more dirt and smudges.
Lawn care- Prepare your lawn for the months ahead. Depending on where you live this means different things. Check your sprinkler system to make sure it wasn’t damaged over the winter; upgrade your lawn care to ensure fuller greens, check for and remove moss to prevent dead patches and start your weeding regimen.
Pool prep- If you have an outdoor pool, get it ready for a summer season of fun in the sun. Same goes for hot-tubs. Make sure your equipment has been serviced, chemicals are available and your pool is clean and ready to use. OR, head to the local hardware store and buy your kiddie pool now before they run out, as I learned one hot July!
De-winterize- I once was doused head to toe when we were turning the water back on to our exterior pipes because the pipe had split in the winter- so make sure all your pipes survived the cold, check your winterized projects and prepare your house for summer. This is also a good time to look around the exterior, checking roof, gutters and siding.
Summarize- Check or replace AC filters, window screens, and household fans to make sure these are all functioning and will help provide maximum circulation in your house. Consider installing an attic fan or vent to help pull heat out of your home all winter long. Pack away excess cold weather items such as heavy blankets, jackets and other items so they aren’t in your way. Same goes for any sundry items you only use during fall and winter.
Lighten the Space- Though I likely won’t spend much time inside once the mercury rises, I want to keep the house as light and cool as possible. I have found that replacing the curtains with a lighter shade lets the light in, but also keeps the rooms from overheating from sun exposure. Summer always makes me want to lighten up with the accessories- lighter colors, more whites, bright accents and less clutter.
Rearrange- Freshen up spaces by rearranging some of your wall art. If you don’t have enough wall pieces to rearrange regularly it may be time to add to your collection. You can find inexpensive original art online at stores such as Etsy or in person at local galleries. You can always play with other items like framed images from books, vintage posters or record albums. Here are some terrific ideas for using what you have to add interest to a room.
Air it out- Open all the windows, shake out the rugs and update home fragrances to fit summer moods (citrus, freesia, clean linen, coconut, melon, fruits and tropical, etc.). You can create your own diffuser with essential oils to distribute fragrance. This may be more symbolic than practical but it always makes me feel ready for summer.
Paint- If you have a room you really want to refresh, a three-day weekend is a good time to take on a project of scale, so you have plenty of time to prep, paint, dry, and clean up. Painting is one of the least expensive ways to really transform how a room feels. Need help picking colors and paint type? Here is some good advice.
Garage or Basement- Tackle a big space that makes a big difference. Our garages and basements often become year-long dumping grounds for seasonal decorations and clothing, items that don’t fit in cabinets, memorabilia and maintenance tools. Go through your items and sort by keep, throw out and donate/sell and then group your keeps by function. Make sure your tools are accessible for easy gardening and entertaining by making sure your tools are accounted for, ready to go, and easy to reach. Here is a useful video on garage organization.
Yard/Garage Sale- If you have overflow at your house, plan a yard/garage sale to get rid of items you no longer need or want. Just make sure to pack everything up and donate it at the end of the sale otherwise you are just letting the clutter back in!
Plan a party- Once your space is all cleaned up and redecorated you will want to show it off! Plan a summer BBQ, dinner party, pool party, picnic or any other gathering.
What are your planning for Memorial Day weekend?
Source: Tara Sharp – Windermere Blog
If you’re like us, on the first day of spring you’re still waiting for the snow to melt so you can get on with enjoying spring properly. We’ve provided for you a quick home maintenance checklist of things to look over after a long winter.
Fall loves to dump leaves all over your roof and winter likes to cement them in your gutters. In early spring the freezing and thawing can cause the watery leaf dam to expand and crack your gutters and down spouts. Keep this frost heaving in check by cleaning out leaves as soon as you can. If you didn’t catch it in time, the spring is a great time to inspect for damage and get it replaced, if needed. Remember, water that isn’t directed away from the house can permeate into your foundation causing loads of problems down the road, that is why it’s important for gutters to work properly.
Chimneys stick out like a sore thumb on the top of your house. That means they’re especially vulnerable to the wind and inclement weather of North Idaho winters. There are some chimney features that really need to be inspected after a winter. Check for obvious problems like bricks that look out of place or… if it’s fallen down. That’s a good indicator of a problem. Check the flashing at the base of your chimney. That’s the thin sheet of metal that keeps the water from puddling and directs it down the roof. Furthermore, a periodic cleaning of the inside bits will make it firstly, more efficient. And secondly, safer.
After a damp fall and winter your siding will most likely accumulate mold, mildew and dirt. You can easily fix this with a pressure washer. If you don’t own one, they cost maybe $30 to rent for a day. When you hose your house down, two magical things will happen: you will experience the oddly satisfying pleasure of pressure washing and your house will look brand new. Seriously.
Some of the worst areas are under eaves and near downspouts. Any stains and mold in these places definitely indicate that there is a problem with how your gutters are handling roof water.
Remember when we said that water can permeate into your foundation and cause problems? Ground water is no joke and can completely compromise your home’s structural integrity. Concrete is porous and readily holds water and that water will cause the concrete to break down over time. If you live in areas that get cold, you also run the risk of frost heaving. Both of these scenarios will cause your foundation to crack, or your home to be unsettled and shift.
The spring is your first opportunity to check your foundation for any problem areas. We recommend checking near downspouts and areas that tend to be waterlogged.
Shingles, slate and other roofing materials are not indestructible. While you’re already on the roof checking out the smokestack and gutters, give the roof a good look over. Look for out-of-place shingles, sagging spots or raised shingles. Water will get in any way it can. Your vigilance will keep your roof at the apex of its abilities.
Additionally, check for moss or other organic material. Moss holds water like a pro and the last thing you want is water perched on your roof waiting to find a way in.
We have tons of leafy beautiful deciduous trees in our yards. Every spring, without fail, we find clumps of leaves we missed before the snow fell. When the snow is gone, go clean them up. Debris that is left on turf for too long will suffocate and deprive grass of valuable sunlight. This is also a perfect opportunity to rake and fertilize your lawn and give it the best fighting chance for yard of the month.
Spring is a great time to get started on getting the flower beds ready for the months of upcoming growth. After winter, your soil will be dried and packed, best to revitalize it with some compost or manure. This will increase the health of the soil and in turn, your plants. Trim up your existing shrubs and plants to allow for new growth. It is best to wait until mid-April or May to do this. If it’s still getting too cold for plants to survive overnight, start seeding indoors. Vegetables and annuals can be started indoors 6-8 weeks before planting them. Once soil temperatures have reached the optimal temperature for your plants, get them in your prepared soil outside. Some recommendations for good spring flowers/scrubs include the following:
Vegetables like lettuce, peas and arugula
Transplanting tomato plants from indoor pots to outside
Many pests and critters breed in spring. You can help keep them in check by cleaning the places they would typically habituate. That includes basements, window sills, under cabinets, behind appliances and ceiling corners, just to start. Prevent unchecked population growth by getting rid of the dust and debris that would typically provide shelter. Keeping your counters and trash bins clean will offer less food to the critters. If you’re more concerned with poisonous spiders or the bugs are taking over, call the pest exterminators!
This winter, we found tons of drafts and cold places throughout our house. This is not good. Remember, air is small and goes wherever it wants. Including your bathroom windows and under your front doors. You get the idea, and just think of all the dollars you are literally letting slip through the cracks. My dad always used to yell “Close the door! We’re not heating the neighborhood!” Turns out that if you don’t repair the seals and weather strips, you are- in fact, heating the neighborhood.
Also. Bugs are small, they too come through the cracks. See above.
Your furnace was crucial during the winter and fall. Your AC will probably be a close friend during the summer. Take care of your friend before its in the triple digits. There are some really easy preventative maintenance tasks that you can do, or if you don’t feel confident- call an HVAC technician to service and inspect it.
Some easy things you can do: clean and/or replace your air filters, check hose connections for leaks, dust/blow off/ vacuum dirt from fans & electronics and check drip pans.
Home Maintenance for Fall/Winter
The purchase of a home will likely be the biggest invest anybody will make in their life. Our homes are the centers of our lives because they hold everything and everyone important to us. Our top priorities are taking care of that invest. Winter is a harsh season here in North Idaho as a result it can cause some damage to our homes, properties, our loved ones, or even our wallets! It can be avoided if we take extra steps this fall or start of winter to prepare.
The next question is where do I start? Not knowing can be overwhelming and stressful. Below is just a small list of some important home maintenance ideas. Included is the reason you should do them. It can make a huge difference on your home and property this year.
For a full list of maintenance ideas as well as a printable checklist, go to our website by clicking here!
What to do
|Clean gutters and downspouts throughout fall||A build up of leaves and other debris could lead to wood rot, pest issues, and ruined gutters.|
|Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows & doors||Removing screens stop snow from getting trapped between the window and screen. That avoids damage to the sill and frame as well as lets in more light. Installing storm windows & doors helps keep your home insulated through the cold months.|
|Replace the filter in your furnace||This helps the lifespan of your heater, reduces energy bills and improves air quality.|
|Flush and insulate your hot water tank||Flushing removes sediment which in turn could extend the life of your tank. Insulating can help conserve energy, in turn saving you money.|
|Place a sheet of plywood held down by a few bricks on top and your AC, not a waterproof cover||Plywood can stop falling icicles and other debris which in turn would cause damage to the unit. Waterproof covers creates a warm environment for unwanted guests to stay for the winter.|
|Trim limps that are close to power lines or the roof of your home||Avoids heavy snow/ice building up causing damage.|
For a full list of maintenance ideas as well as a printable checklist, go to our website by clicking here!