As spring approaches to signal the end of another temperamental Virginia winter, homeowners are wise to make a list of house chores to accomplish before even thinking about good old-fashioned spring cleaning. Winter can cause several of your home’s key systems to experience an accelerated degree of wear. Inside and out, from air ducts to sidewalks, here are a few maintenance essentials to consider addressing before spring awakens.
The battle against an intense winter is often fought on two fronts. On one hand, keeping your home warm and dry is crucial. On the other, a sole focus on heating your home can lead to a dry environment. That’s where humidifiers come in, working with your home’s heating system to create a balanced atmosphere that is warm but not too dry. It is important to schedule a cleaning with local HVAC specialists for your humidifier, as it will need attention after a stretch of heavy usage. You can also clean your humidifier yourself if you are feeling resourceful—no tech savvy required. Make sure to have your humidifier manual handy, as well as some warm water and white vinegar or bleach. Stagnant water and the dirty filter of an ill-maintained humidifier can contribute to mold growth or foster airborne allergens, so seasonal cleaning is important.
While no one likes to think about it, mold is a factor that should always be on the radar. After a harsh winter, with your humidifier working overtime, you may find that excess moisture in the air can cause mold growth in particularly humid areas of your home. You’ll want to check those dark areas where moisture can be trapped, such as attics, basements and even pantry spaces. As spring approaches, consider having a professional check those hard-to-see areas or test areas that may have seemed innocuous.
Though you won’t need it for awhile, your cooling system will need some attention too. As always, make sure filters are regularly changed and cleaned, and ducts are cleaned as well. Schedule your air conditioning annual maintenance now for a time when the cold tapers off, before that first heat wave that catches many Virginians by surprise.
Fireplaces and Chimneys
If you have kept your home warm the old-fashioned way, you’ll need to make sure your chimney and fireplace are clean. An improperly maintained fireplace or chimney can be dangerous and even cause an unintended fire. Enlist a chimney sweeping service after a season of continual use.
A particularly cold winter can prove to be too much for your indoor plumbing. It is important to routinely check any water pipes for cracks, leaks and any freezing which can cause pipes to burst. Keeping an eye on your pipes is an important habit to develop, but if you don’t know what to look for or if you notice actual damage, be sure to contact a professional plumber.
As the end of Daylight Savings Time approaches, let it serve as a reminder to check all the smoke detectors in your home. They need to be dusted periodically for optimum performance, and their batteries need to be tested. Replace faulty detectors and change the batteries while you’re at it.
Floors and More
After a winter with even the slightest snowfall, snowy or muddy boots (or paws) will undoubtedly reach your floors. Cleaning a hardwood floor can be simple enough with standard floor cleaner, but you may need some extra help. Book an appointment with a cleaning company that specializes in flooring of all types to meet the various needs of your home. Freshly cleaned hardwood, carpet or tile is immediately noticeable and adds a brightness to your home that is appropriate for spring.
Gutters can take a beating during the autumn and winter months, making regular maintenance important. In spring, your garden may be colorful and bright, your home spotless and the windows washed, but clogged or leaky gutters can turn into an eyesore that overshadows your other spring spruce-ups—not to mention paves the way for damage to your roof, home and yard. Be sure to schedule a gutter inspection and cleaning sooner rather than later, as appointments will be booked quickly by diligent homeowners.
While you may have taken all the precautions to protect the plumbing inside your home from the cold, you may have forgotten a few important parts of outdoor plumbing. As a general rule, make sure faucet valves are shut off fully and water is completely drained from hoses and faucets to avoid freezing. If there is damage to an outdoor faucet, your best option is to replace it.
Porches and Paths
Not only can the snow and mud of winter damage the exterior of our homes, but so can our efforts to manage them. Safety-conscious homeowners may cast salt on walkways or steps where ice might collect—but unfortunately, excessive salt can cause your walkway or porch to become dry and cracked. Be sure to sweep and remove excess salt, making sure not to sweep it onto your lawn or garden, which could damage the soil. Wash down any areas where the salt was used. While one winter’s worth of salt may not create extensive damage, consistent use year after year can indeed damage walkways, porches and steps.
Giving these hot spots your attention now will help keep your home’s systems in good repair, paving the way for a stress-free spring at home.