Resolutions are not just for us personally, involving areas such as physical, behavioral or spiritual practices. They can also relate to how we treat and maintain our possessions. Few of us have a possession greater and more valuable than our homes.
The following list is to be used as more of a road map than an absolute. The intention is not to imply that a given month is the only or even the best month to tackle this specific choir. Rather, each month’s task is part of a comprehensive plan to work through your entire house’s cleaning needs over the course of one year.
Deep interior cleaning – dusting, vacuuming, edging, and carpet cleaning.
OK, if you put up a Christmas tree and decorations, they should now be down (they are down right? If not, stop reading and do that right now!) Spring-cleaning is the commonly mentioned tradition, but few can argue that the holidays do not bring their share of dust, dirt, stains, etc. to your home. From the dust coming from decoration boxes stored in the attic or garage, to tree needles (even artificial trees shed their artificial needles!), to extra foot traffic from guests, to food and drink spills, your house needs some work when the holidays are done. I am personally always amazed at what dust or stains I see once the decorations are down. It feels great to start the year with a clean interior.
Right up front I’ll tell you that this task of roof cleaning could be put in any month of the year. But roofs are important and expensive, as well as accounting for a high percentage of the street view of your home, so you might as well get to it sooner rather than later. Moss can be killed year round and our experience is that treatment lasts the same amount of time regardless of when treated. However, moss grows the most in the colder months so come February it is not uncommon for one to suddenly wonder, “where did all this moss come from so quickly?” It’s been there the whole time, slowly growing until it hit the point of being more visible. In addition to moss, debris from the winter should be removed to slow the onset of more moss and allow rainwater to run off unobstructed.
“Wait a second. You’re saying siding actually needs to be cleaned?” Yep, it certainly does, and siding washing makes a huge difference in the appearance of your home. Over the years, mildew, fungus, mud splash up, and general pollutants slowly build up on your house’s siding. I’ve seen the build up sneak up on houses without catching anyone’s attention, much like the adage about a frog not jumping out of increasingly warmer water, until it is boiling (for the record, I’m not advocating any animal cruelty here, just making a point.) There are numerous siding types (brick, hardly plank, cedar, composites, vinyl and aluminum) and some certainly clean up nicer than others, but regardless of the type on your home, when spring flowers start blooming they look much more vibrant against the background of a clean house.
Ground level and below – foundation vents and rain drains.
Foundation vent can sometimes become clogged or damaged by winter rodent nesting. They are important in assisting in and feeding the flow of good and healthy air through out your house, most of which comes from your crawl space. If there is a missing or broken vent, the bad smells and unsanitary conditions for both live and dead critters under the house can become almost unbearable.
Underground rain drains (commonly draining out to the street or uninhabited green spaces behind homes) can become obstructed from a winter’s worth of gutter and roof debris running down. While most is small and will flow away, slow build up can eventually cause difficult clogs. A quick hose jetting (or rooter if heavily obstructed) will keep this water and small debris moving well. Finally, while not needing cleaning on an annual basis, if you use a septic tank versus being hooked to the city sewer, consider having it’s backflow tested.
Exactly when deck refinishing can first be undertaken depends on the weather. There have been years where we have started refinishing decks at the end of February and others not until the end of May. But in general, an early start to cleaning, possibly stripping, and then re-staining your deck will allow you to not only protect it, but also enjoy its beauty throughout the entire warm season. One of the best benefits of a nicely maintained deck is that it encourages us to get outdoors more often, which is always a good thing. Even on years when re-staining might not be necessary, a very gentle wash (soft enough so as to keep stain removal minimal) is recommended as accumulated grime and mildew can actually shorten the stains life and protective benefits.
It’s a beautiful world outside, if you could only clearly see it through your windows! Windows can be one of those areas that you don’t realize how dirty they actually are or how much of a difference there is until they are clean. With several drier months ahead and most of the other household exterior surface already cleaned (you don’t want debris and muck from other jobs to dirty your newly cleaned windows), this is a great time to improve your view.
I was tempted to give you one month off to enjoy summer, but your house, ever the task-master, said “No way!” So I’ll make it a simple one. Clean and refresh your garbage disposal.
This should actually be a chore done every few months. On occasion, you may get smells, similar to old garbage that needs to be taken out, that you can’t trace to the garbage bag or a piece of stray food that found its way under the cupboards. Garbage disposals, particularly if they have an unnecessary or incorrect u-trap plumbed below them (not to be confused with the sinks primary u-trap.) Simply chop up a lemon, remove the seeds, and put 1/3 to 1/2 of it down the disposal. Allow a small remnant of it to remain not fully rinsed. Not only will this immediately smell nice, but also the citric acid will help bread down stinky food resting in the pipes and get them to eventually flush out more thoroughly.
HVAC duct cleaning.
It’s nice to have fresh air, even when we are inside. While some homes’ have central air-conditioning and others don’t, virtually all have central heating. So getting prepared well in advance for the coming colder seasons, when the furnace is pumping out warm air more often than not, is wise and worthwhile. Breathing dust, pollutants and microorganisms unknown is not healthy and clean ducts can enhance to your wintertime health.
Fall is my favorite season and one of the reasons is that it is time to start building warm, cozy fires. However, fires are meant to be in the fireplace, not the chimney! Chimney fires can be scary and dangerous and this simple service provides much peace of mind so that you can enjoy a fire with no worry. Unlike other areas of the house that incur wear and tear regardless of usage (think roof, gutters, siding, decks), how often your chimney needs cleaning varies with how much you use it. But with even modest usage – since so much is on the line – a yearly cleaning makes good sense.
Gutter cleaning (over the next 4 months.)
For those who only want to clean their gutters once per year, there are two schools of thought; clean them before the big autumn debris fall or afterwards. Gutter cleaning can somewhat depend on the tree types in your and your neighbors’ yards. If they are deciduous, with primarily one big leaf fall, most folks typically wait until that is mostly finished. If the trees are evergreen, with their constantly falling needles, cleaning gutters prior to the big autumn drop can make sense. The gutters then have capacity to handle what will be falling in the coming months and still are able to work reasonably well. Some homeowners have no way around it and need to perform the task two or more times per year.
Power wash concrete and brick surfaces – driveways, patios, and walkways.
With several months of wet weather ahead, slippery walking surfaces can be hazardous and should be power or pressure washed. It doesn’t take much moss, algae or slime to create a slick surface that can cause a fall. One note: if your yard has pavers, be aware that if they don’t have mortar but rather just sand or dirt between them, avoid power washing or the mess created for the minute debris flying in all directions would not be worth having clean pavers.
Dryer vent cleaning and eave vent cleaning.
There is nothing seasonal about doing laundry, at least at my house. The pile is constantly huge. But a yearly clearing of lint could prevent a fire hazard that receives much too little attention.
Eave vents provide for proper attic ventilation, which in turn, helps moderate household temperatures both in hot and cold times of year. But in winter, the result of poor ventilation carries an added risk: the chance of ice dams occurring in cold and snowy weather. What’s the big deal about an ice dam? They can result in roof leaks that are nearly impossible to stop until the bad weather leaves. Proper ventilation alleviates this costly problem. It may require a look from both the outside (to see if birds or squirrels have clogged or damaged screens) as well as from the inside to make sure the well-intentioned insulation has not blocked the vents.
It’s a big list for certain. Depending on your own handiness and budget, you may perform some, all or none of these. Regardless of who does them, they should be done. Some of these jobs we perform and would love to talk to you about them. Give us a call today at 503-590-9274.