With the end of the rain and the blooming of wildflowers comes that undeniable itch to put your home in order—it’s time for spring-cleaning.
Maintaining a home requires time, effort, and a little planning. While many chores must be done daily, weekly, or monthly, some only need to be done seasonally or annually—so they’re easier to forget. Let’s look at some of the important ones.
First, prepare your property for fire season. Be sure your tree limbs start at least eight feet above the ground and if you have a field or meadow with tall grasses, schedule time to cut them down before the end of May. If you only want to mow the field once, wait until the tall grasses start to turn a little brown. (If you cut them in late April, you may end up cutting them again in late May.) Whether you’re dealing with meadows or a little lawn, insurance companies recommend a 100-foot defensible fire space. They suggest removing dead or dying vegetation, breaking up continuous vegetation, and eliminating the fire ladder that allows fire to move from the ground to your home (so make sure you don’t have tall grass right next to shrubs right next to trees right next to your house).
While we’re on the subject of fire safety, do not store propane or gasoline in the garage or leaning against the house. Many people underestimate the power of gasoline. A quart of gasoline evaporated into an enclosed space (like a garage) has the blast power of a stick of dynamite! As for propane, it is heavier than the air we breathe, so it accumulates in low spots in the yard. If you’re concerned about gas leaks and you want to check for leaks yourself, Mendo Mill sells a great little tool for about $30 called a gas detector. It’s a wand-like device that lets you know if propane or natural gas levels are higher than they should be. If they are, call the gas company immediately.
As you head inside, consider checking your insulation. If it’s been in place for several years, it may need to be supplemented. Wearing a glove, touch the insulation. If it doesn’t have any give and it crumbles in your hand, replace it. In the attic, make sure critters haven’t taken up residence and look for signs of water damage from a leaky roof or a water line.
Carpet cleaning is another good spring activity. It’s nice to get carpets cleaned when the weather is warm. Carpets dry faster when people aren’t tracking in mud from the outside. Tim Cabral of Cabral Carpet Care recommends cleaning carpets once a year, unless you have a lot of traffic (kids, dogs, etc.). Newer carpets—called sixth generation carpets—are chemically treated at the mill so that hot water will put the twist back in the carpet (like scissors to curling ribbon). So while vacuuming is good, getting your carpet cleaned professionally will get rid of dirt and revitalize the carpet and extend its life.
Finally, check your smoke alarm batteries—unless you have one of the new 10-year models. The newest smoke alarms have tamper-proof cases and sealed lithium batteries. This makes them safer because no one is tempted to steal the smoke alarm batteries for other uses like the TV remote or game controller. It also means you won’t have that annoying chirping that announces your battery is getting low (always at 2:00 am). Be aware that if you happen to burn a roast and your fancy 10-year smoke alarm goes off, you will permanently disable it if you turn it off. Better to take it down and run outside with it, unless you want to buy a new one.
If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at email@example.com or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.