This article is part three of the home maintenance checklist series. Primarily it deals with items that while useful could be performed at any time of the year. Obviously, some items are not suitable for the dead of winter but many of these can be done during the winter months.
As part of deep cleaning routine, you should clean your carpets at least once a year. Not only will this get the dirt out, but it will help reduce the number of mites that cause allergies.
Whole-house carpet cleaning is not expensive and should only cost a couple of hundred dollars at most. Be wary, however, of offers that are too cheap to be true. Usually they are and you might get someone who simply waters down the dirt in the carpets, instead of removing it.
It's also a good idea to take a quick tour of the interior of your home. Look particularly for handprints on walls and doors and doorjambs. Many times these can be scrubbed off. But if not, a good new coat of paint should do the trick.
Check your floors. Be sure that they are all still level. Watch out for any floors that slant or bulge. This could indicate a problem with the foundation or the structure of the house.
Sometimes water will accumulate under the house and will cause stress on the floors. Now is the time to discover if this has happened and correct the problem. Your best bet is a contractor or a structural engineer.
Walk around the outside of your home and look at the foundation. You should be able to see it from the surface of the ground to where the house proper starts.
You're looking for anything unusual. In particular, look for cracks, especially those that are wider at the top than at the bottom. "V"-shaped cracks could indicate serious problems. Hairline cracks usually don't mean much, as most concrete cracks a little bit like this.
Also check for any bulges or "rotten" concrete (it looks rotten and decaying). These also indicate problems. When you detect a problem, call in a structural engineer as well as a concrete contractor. Get to the bottom of it before you house bottoms out.
Because you use your kitchen appliances all year long, it might seem strange to put the kitchen on an annual checklist. However, there are a number of things that you might want to do in your kitchen at least once a year.
- Touch up cabinets. Whether stained or painted, they get nicked during the year. Why not set a time once a year where you get rid of those nicks? Also, it's a great time to wash down the cabinets as well! - Bleach your tile. The grout between the tiles accumulates dirt. One way to remove it is to use a mild bleach solution. It will make your kitchen counter look better, and it could get rid of a lot of germs! - Seal granite. If you have a granite countertop, it should be sealed on a regular basis. If not sealed, stains could permanently deface it. Any building supply house should sell a variety of sealants that can do the job. - Clean appliances. Of course, you keep them clean on a regular basis. But why not do a deep cleaning at least once a year? Remove electric burners and catch-plates and clean. Get behind the appliances with a mop and vacuum cleaner. Wash the glass face of the oven (but only when it's cool!). Get rid of that accumulated dirt and grime.
- Structural Cracks
These usually occur at the corners of windows and doors. Diagonal cracks going out from a corner usually indicate some settling of the house, which is to be expected over the winter months. I've never seen a house that's more than a few years old that doesn't have some cracks in the walls.
Straight vertical or horizontal cracks near doors and windows suggest a problem with the structure. These cracks are probably following the line of a stud or a header. These might have been installed improperly or might simply not have enough nails in them to hold them in place. You might want to get a carpenter to give you an opinion.
Most cracks in the walls are not serious. However, cracks in the ceiling, and large or plentiful cracks in the walls, might indicate a more serious problem that needs immediate attention. Check with a contractor, professional home inspector, or structural engineer.
Finally, check your windows to be sure none have been broken by flying branches over the course of the year. This is also an excellent time to wash them, a chore that none of us ever wants to do!
Wait until you see the fall checklist coming later this summer to computer near you.
Home Maintenance Checklist for Spring Part One
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Home Maintenance Checklist for Spring Part Two
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