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Home Maintenance Facts

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These useful home maintenance facts will assist you in maintaining your home and yard.

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  • On open decks, water drains through gaps in the deck boards, but flooring on a covered porch fits tightly and therefore needs a pitch of at least 1/4 inch per foot to shed water. Choose quality materials. Rot-resistant woods (redwood, cedar or cypress), stainless-steel fasteners, and protective coats of high-quality paint all help ensure that a porch will be able to withstand the elements for years to come.

  • Sealing a driveway is just as necessary in warmer climates as in cold ones. Asphalt sealers protect the pavement from oxidizing and becoming brittle in the harsh sun. This also provides prevention from water seeping through hairline cracks and reaching the base, which can cause deterioration almost as bad as the damage caused by freeze/thaw cycles.

  • To keep rodents out of your house tidy up your garage. Store pet food and birdseed in hard plastic containers. Remove shoes, blankets and other cozy home sites. A mouse can squeeze through holes as small as a dime, so plug gaps around pipes with coarse steel wool and then caulk over it.

  • Outdoor faucets mounted on the side of a house can freeze in cold weather, causing pipes to burst. Be sure to drain them before the first freeze. To do this, shut off the water supply leading to the faucet, then open the faucet to drain off any remaining water trapped between the faucet and the shut-off valve. An alternative to this seasonal chore: have a freeze-proof spigot installed.

  • Before storing your mower for this season, make it ready for next season. Clean and lubricate choke and throttle linkages, change the engine and transaxle oils, check the muffler for corrosion, replace worn drive belts and pulley bearings, and tighten loose bolts. Scrape matted grass from the underside of the mower deck, then place the tractor on wood blocks so its wheels hang free. Also, don’t leave any gas in the tank or lines.

  • Shingles made of asphalt or fiberglass are best repaired on warm days, when they are pliable. Stiff, cold shingles are easily damaged and are difficult to work with. Plan your work for a nice, sunny day in the fall or you’ll have to wait for late spring.

  • Big lawns are the American dream but are extremely labor-intensive. You can reduce yard maintenance by removing a portion of the lawn and replacing it with functional, yet relatively low-maintenance surfaces, such as wood decking, a brick patio or gravel paths. Or put in a range of permanent landscape plants to slice hours off your weekly routine.

  • Covering your gutters with either wire or plastic mesh drastically cuts down on drain clogging debris and also keeps your gutters from overflowing or damaging the exterior of your home.

  • Engineered wood siding is a lot easier and less costly to install than real wood siding. It’s lighter in weight and includes advancements making it easier to install. Engineered wood can be bought pre-primed, ready to paint or pre-finished in a number of options which reduces field and labor costs.

  • Counters run a close second to floors in the amount of punishment they withstand, so choose your material wisely. Plastic tops run from moderately priced laminate to costly solid acrylic that looks like marble or granite. For slicing, chopping and pounding, hardwood counters or inserts are the gourmet chef’s favorite. Small scratches and nicks add character or are easy to smooth out. Hard-surface counters include tile, granite, organic glass, stainless steel and natural and synthetic marble. Any will make a good-looking heat and scratch-proof surface.

  • Dropping temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst. Labeling your main shut off valves ahead of time will help you quickly locate which ones to turn off to avoid flooding.

  • Rotating and flipping your mattress avoids sagging and helps extend the life of the mattress.

  • When a toilet begins to overflow, don’t grab for the plunger and towels; reach for the shut-off valve. It’s right at the base of the toilet and will close off the water supply so that you can deal with the clog.

  • When the weather gets colder and nights begin to dip below freezing, safe guard your plumbing by unscrewing your garden hoses keeping water from freezing inside and pipes from bursting.

  • The cheapest roofing materials are asphalt and fiberglass shingles. They are relatively easy to install. The heavier the shingle the better. Manufacturers guarantee their products, some types for 15 years and some for 25.

  • One of the benefits of aluminum siding is that it generally requires less maintenance than wood siding. The material holds paint very well so you don’t have to worry about repainting it often. On the other hand, one of the drawbacks of aluminum is that it dents easily if a rock hits it or you drop your ladder against it. Always use ladder cushions or standoffs.

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