Category Archives: Home Maintenance Tips

Summer Home Maintenance Tips

Summer is finally here in the Pacific Northwest! This is the perfect time to inspect the exterior of your home and get a few maintenance projects done. It only takes a few minutes so you’ll be firing up the BBQ and enjoying some backyard entertaining in no time. 

Start at the top and work your way down.

Roof and Gutters: Get up there and visually inspect the valleys for debris, check for oose roof tiles or shingles, and check the flashing at the vents and skylights. Check for leaks especially around the satellite dish. Replace or repair as needed or call an expert like Ron at Perkins Roofing at 253-847-2075.

Check those gutters for clogs or loose fittings. Keep your gutters and especially the downspouts clean of debris. For repairs or new gutters consider Advance Custom Gutters at 253-472-9460.

Also make sure nothing is touching or nearly touching the roof, eaves, or gutters. Prune any tree limbs, branches, and shrubs that may cause problems.

Exterior Walls and Foundation: Check the siding for loose, damaged, or missing pieces. It’s important to maintain your siding because it’s the protective layer on your home and helps to keep you safe and cozy inside.  Repair as needed or call a local handyman to help.

Again, make sure nothing is touching the exterior of your house. Cut back any trees or shrubs that may cause problems. 

Also check the paint, how’s it looking? Most importantly check the caulking on the siding and at all windows and doors. Caulking should be scraped and re-applied annually. If this is something you don’t want to do yourself, give Perfect Image Painting a call at 253-272-0292.

Check the landscaping and grading around the foundation of your house. It’s very important that the grading is such that water drains and runs AWAY from your foundation. You don’t want water pooling up or draining into your basement or under your foundation. That is the quickest way to erode the foundation which can lead to uneven settling and even more serious problems down the road.

Pests: Check your eaves for bee’s nests. Check around the exterior of your home and in your yard for small rodents and ants. Spot treat as needed. Your local hardware store can be a helpful resource but you might also consider a service. My home abuts an undeveloped hillside so a lot of wildlife and creepy critters traipse up the hillside and try to make their way into my home. I don’t mind the cute bunnies or even the deer that nibble on my blooms but I do mind the mice and ants. It was pretty bad when I first moved in and then I started using Terminex. They come out quarterly and just take care of everything, and I haven’t had a problem since.

Good luck with your summer maintenance and enjoy the beautiful weather. -Wendy

All Natural Weed Killers

I’ve been working on my lawn and in my yard quite a bit lately and this year I am really trying to use less harsh chemicals. It’s better for the environment, my little critters, and my wallet.

I’ve had really good luck with a homemade vinegar solution as a weed killer. I use it heavily on those nasty little weeds in my beauty bark and sparingly directly on the weeds in my lawn (be careful here though, apply directly to the weed itself and watch out on windy days, you don’t want the overspray to get on the lawn grass because it will kill the grass too).

This solution has been most effective between my walkway pavers and driveway cracks where those pesky weeds sprout up and I can’t get my tools in between to pop out the weeds. On the walkway, you can literally dump the solution on and around the pavers and let it drain off into the cracks and crevices where the weeds like to grow.

The acidity in the vinegar kills the weeds by drying them out so it is optimum to let the sun help the process along. It’s best to apply when you know it will be sunny for a day or two. Also, the vinegar you get at the grocery store is for cooking so the acetic acid levels are pretty low. I have had to reapply my solution several times to really kill the weeds entirely.

Salt is also a great desiccant (draws out moisture). Some homemade weed killer recipes include salt but I prefer to omit that. It does leave behind a residue and I think it is too harsh on the soil plus you risk burning nearby plants or grass when salt is added to the solution. It’s really up to you and depends are where you are going to use it. I would certainly add this if I were going to spray weeds growing up through some lava rock or a gravel driveway.

Adding dish soap (not laundry soap, dishwasher soap, or hand soap) helps with absorption. With the soap, the solution stays on the leaves instead of just running right off.

Here’s my recipe:

½ gallon vinegar

2 tablespoons of salt (if you like)

1 ounce of dish soap (that’s about two good squirts)

If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you. Good luck! -Wendy

Energy Efficient Christmas Lights

More and more of us have made the switch to LED Christmas lights this year.

LED Christmas lights use about 1/10th the electricity of your standard old incandescent bulb lights. On average, holiday lights are on for about 200 hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the reduced electricity usage can really add up. $ $ $

Not only are the LED lights more durable (made of a harder plastic), they last longer too; about 10 times as long!

My favorite reason to use LED lights is that if one LED light does go out, the rest of the string still works! No more bending over the tree or standing up on a ladder out in the cold replacing each bulb trying to find the burnt-out one that has caused the whole string to go out.

For just a few dollars more at the check stand, LED Christmas lights use less energy, are more durable, and last longer, saving you money in the long run. Will you make the switch this year too?

Energy Efficient Ways to Stay Cool

It looks like summer has arrived, at least for a few weeks, here in the Northwest and while most of us don’t have air conditioning in our homes, there are plenty of things we can do to keep our houses cool. One of the most important steps in keeping a house cool in the summer is also what helps keep it warm in the winter. Proper insulation, especially in the attic, along with proper caulking and weatherstripping around windows and doors will do a great deal to keep hot air from getting inside. Keeping the outside air out during the day will keep the house cooler, but once the air outside becomes cool in the evening, it’s time to get that cool air in. Opening windows and placing fans in front of them to pull in the cooler air can quickly cool down a house. Running a few portable fans and ceiling fans to circulate the air will also make you feel cooler, because they stop warm air from building up around the body. While fans do use power, most use only a small amount of power, especially in comparison to air conditioning units. For example, a ceiling fan uses roughly 1/30th of the power of a room air conditioning unit.

It is also a good idea to keep the curtains and blinds closed during the day, to keep the sun’s heat from warming up the inside air. On a smaller scale, turning off as many lights as possible in the house will also provide cooling. Replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs will also keep things cooler, since they generate only one fifth the amount of heat of a regular bulb. If there isn’t enough light with the curtains drawn and the lights off, try letting some light in through a window that is not in direct sunlight.

Aside from lights, other big generators of heat inside the home are appliances. Barbeque season isn’t just a way to get out in the sun; it’s also a good way to keep the oven off. Using the microwave to cook food, or even having cold meals, will also keep the house cool. Putting off dishwashing and laundry until the cool evening hours will also help. While hanging the laundry out to dry may not be possible for all of us, skipping the heated dry cycle on the dishwasher is probably something we can all do to save a little energy and avoid heating up the house.

Keeping our bodies cool will also make a warm house easier to bear. Staying hydrated is terribly important during the summer when we are losing more moisture through perspiration. Eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of large meals will help us feel cooler, as the body is more sensitive to the heat when it’s working overtime to digest a giant meal. Taking a cool shower, wetting down your hair or even having a nice cool peppermint foot soak can all help to keep us cool.

And, if it’s just too hot no matter what, why not take advantage of air conditioning that’s already on? Going for a walk at the mall or reading a book at the library will be cool and free.

Take care of yourself and your yard

Longer, warmer days have finally come here in the Northwest, and for a lot of us that means it’s time to do battle with the yard. Moss in the grass, weeds in the flower beds, maybe even a few of last year’s fallen leaves are all out there waiting to be tossed into the yard waste bin. Maybe the gutters need cleaning too? And perhaps the garden tools weren’t as clean as they could have been when they were stored away for the winter. All this can seem rather daunting, but it’s important not to hurt yourself while tackling your yard.

Try to pace yourself. There’s always going to be more to do, so plan ahead and start with the big tasks. Maybe clean the gutters then pull some weeds if you still feel up to it, rather than climbing up and down a ladder once you’re already tired. Smaller tasks, like weeding, are also much easier to squeeze in after work or when it looks like the sun might only stay out for a little while.

Also, don’t forget your posture. We’ve all been told a thousand times, but it bears repeating – don’t hunch over and lift with your legs. It’s been a long winter, and the gym doesn’t have a weed-pulling machine, so there’s probably no preventing sore muscles but you’ll certainly be less sore if you maintain a straight back while working in the yard.

And, silly as it may seem, don’t forget about your hands. Make sure you have comfortable tools and well-fitting gloves. Many garden tools are available with soft grips to ease the strain on your hands, and changing which hand you are using will also help.

Good luck out there, and don’t forget a hat or sunscreen!

yard

Spring has sprung and the Ants are on the prowl

Ants, yuk! Our customer service representative has noticed in his travels this week that the ants are on the move. If you notice some of these pesky critters inside or around your house consider the following.

First, walk around the outside of your home and make sure you have a good seal wherever concrete meets wood (foundation) or glass meets wood (window sills). Caulking and weatherization goes a long way in keeping these creepy crawlers our of your house. (*If we can help you with this in any way, give us a call. )

Strategically place ant traps around the exterior or interior of your house.

Also consider applying a line of ant repellent dust, powder or granules around the perimeter of your home. This is an inexpensive and usually very effective defense against ants and other pests.

As always, follow the manufacturer’s directions and recommendations carefully.

Carpet Stain Removal

Ooops!Try blotting liquids spills first. Use a clean white cloth or plain paper towel.

Sop up the liquid, rinse the spot with water and blot again until dry. Repeat as needed but don’t scrub.

 

 

For semi-solid messes, gently scrape and lift with a dull knife or spoon. Then rinse and blot.

For dry spills, vacuum up, then rinse with water and blot dry.

If the stain still remains, then use a carpet cleaner. Read the label! Use a stain remover designed for your particular spill and capet type. Pre-test. Apply stain remover to a clean white cloth and work into stain from outside in toward the center. Blot after a few minutes then repeat until stain is gone. Lastly rinse with cold water and blot dry.