Now that the weather is finally warming up, one can finally tackle the to-dos needed to spruce up and prepare our homes for summer barbeques and fun. This segment will focus on mainly the home maintenance needed to prep for the upcoming summer, so whether you own or rent a home in Pasco, Richland and Kennewick, here are some suggestions you may want to consider doing this month.
- The Garbage Disposal- So if you are like me and often forget how truly easy it is to clean a garbage disposal, you may not have done it all winter. To get a fresh, clean disposal start by pouring ½ cup baking soda into the disposal. Next pour a cup of white vinegar down and watch science work. The foam created will cut through the grease and grime so you want to let it work for a few minutes. After letting it sit, pour a pot of boiling water down and let sit for 5 minutes, then turn the faucet on and run the disposal for a minute or so to clear out any remaining residue.
To keep your garbage disposal cleaned, freeze chunks of unpeeled lemon or whatever citrus you prefer in ice cube trays with water. Every so often after doing the dishes, take a couple of the cubes and toss them into the disposal. The ice and fruit fibers will scrub the disposal and also release a fresh smell.
- Service the Air Conditioner– No one wants to have the AC stop working in the middle of a hot summer, so having it serviced now would be most ideal. Usually this involves changing the filter, cleaning and inspecting the blower and motor, checking the coolant level, testing safety controls, switches and thermostats, and checking the ductwork and unit for leaks.
- Clean glass– Because we live in the Tri Cities, where dust and dirt blow freely and more often then not in the winter and spring months, our windows get dirty fairly quickly. Take the time to clean all your windows and let the sunshine in. The best way to get a streak free result is to first start on a cloudy day. Fill your spray bottle with 1 part white vinegar to 10 parts water or 1 ½ cups per gallon and spray the solution onto the windows, wiping away with a microfiber cloth or wadded up newspaper. Repeat as necessary.
- Window screens- While you are cleaning the windows you might as well hit the screens too. To make a repair to small holes in a fiberglass screen you can press the edges of the hole together and coat with clear fingernail polish on both sides. Repeat as necessary until hole is covered. A screen patch kit should be used to repair larger holes or tears. Although the patch kit will show it is much less expensive than replacing the entire screen.
To replace a window screen, lay on a flat surface and use a flat head screwdriver to pry out the rubber seal that holds the screen in place. Be careful not to cause any damage to it. Remove the old screen wire from the groove. Cut an oversized piece of screen and lay over the frame, using the convex side of a spline roller press the screen into the grooves across one end of frame. Using the opposite or concave side of the tool, push the rubber seal back into the groove to hold the screen in place. Repeat the process on 3 remaining sides making sure to pull it tight as you go. Cut off excess with a utility knife.
To clean a screen you can fill a child’s pool with water and some biodegradable liquid dish soap or construct a frame from 2x4s and plastic sheeting and do the same. Soak the screens for a bit, then, gently wipe both sides with a soft brush or broom. Rinse and allow to dry before placing back in windows to prevent spotting on your clean glass.
- Siding and Trim- Time and weather are harsh on the paint on our homes causing cracks and allowing for water damage, so touching up the damaged or bare spots on the trim and siding could help prevent water damage and won’t cost as much as repainting the entire home. First off clean the siding and trim, removing all dirt, mildew and other so the new coat of paint will stick. If the paint is peeling, scrape away and use a rotary sander or sanding block to taper the edges of the remaining paint creating a flat surface so the new coat of paint will look nice. Next caulk and cracks or gaps found, then prime and paint the bare spots and newly caulked areas. Try to match the brush pattern of the previous paint job and feather the edges to prevent a visible difference in paint levels.
- Termites- With the warmer weather comes more activity from these wood eating bugs. More activity means a more likelihood of spotting the damage. Keep an eye out for damaged wood framing, termite tubes and the bugs themselves. Look closely at areas where wood meets the ground.
To help prevent an infestation from these damaging creatures, keep your foundation exposed around the entire home and avoid piling anything against the sides of your home.
Don’t store wood or cellulose materials (paper, cardboard, etc.) in your basement, crawlspace or near the foundation. Also make sure the home has proper drainage and keep your basement or crawlspace as dry as possible because the little bugs love a moist environment.
- Wood Deck- The winter weather has probably made your wood deck look a little less bright, so simply cleaning it or refinishing if needed, could brighten up your yard considerably. Spray the deck with a commercial deck cleaner and use a pressure washer to remove all dirt, debris, and mildew that may have accumulated during the colder months. Do not hold the pressure washer too close to the deck and do not hold it in one spot or it could do damage to your deck. Examine the boards once washed, replacing any deteriorated boards, reattach any loose boards with decking nails or screws, and drive in any nails that are sticking out. If you need to refinish the deck or just want to refinish it, use a rotary sander to smooth any rough spots and finish with a solid or semitransparent stain or a clear deck sealer using a stain or sealer pump sprayer and saturating one area at a time. While the stain or sealer is still wet, use a paintbrush to brush the stain into the wood grains for a smooth finish.
- Patio Furniture- If you happened to leave your patio furniture exposed to the weather all winter, you may have a bit of upkeep to attend to. These are just some quick tips for cleaning different types of patio furniture materials. If your furniture is wrought iron, scrub with soap, smooth out any rough spots with a wire brush or sandpaper, spray with a rust inhibiting metal primer and apply several coats of spray paint.
If you happen to have aluminum, remove all oxidation by cleaning first with a mixture of half vinegar and half water. Once cleaned, automotive rubbing compound, soap or very fine steel wool will work to remove the oxidation, but be careful not to scratch the aluminum. Rinse and let dry before applying a coat of automotive wax for protection.
For plastic or resin furniture, scrub with a dampened sponge sprinkled with baking soda, remove any mold or mildew with a mixture of ¼ cup white vinegar in a quart of water. Spray the mixture on the surface of the furniture and let sit for 10-20 minutes, rinse and dry. White furniture can also be cleaned with a light bleach mixture and if you want shine, apply a coat of automotive wax.
Wood patio furniture can be cleaned with a solution of ¼ cup ammonia and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar per quart of water. This solution can be used on cedar, redwood, and pine. If you happen to have teakwood use a solution of laundry detergent, bleach and water applied with a scrub brush.
If your furniture has fabric, machine wash the covers if they are washable. Place them back on the cushions while they are still wet to avoid shrinkage. If the cushions are attached, they can be cleaned by mixing a bit of dishwashing liquid, a teaspoon of borax, and a quart of water. Spray onto the fabric and scrub gently with a sponge or soft brush, allow to soak for 10-20 minutes, rinse with hose and let dry. Regular bleach can be used on white fabrics to remove mildew and color safe bleach for color fabrics.
- Lawn Mower- Even if you didn’t winterize your lawn mower, you should still do a bit of maintenance, after all, you don’t want to be halfway done with your lawn and have your mower quit on you. First clean or replace the spark plug as a bad plug will cause your mower to either not start, make it near impossible to start and cause your engine to run roughly. The air filter should also be cleaned or replaced to allow the proper amount of air flow to the engine. Changing the oil is essential because dirty or old oil can do damage to your engine. Lastly, you should sharpen the mower blade. If you happen to have a dull blade this can actually damage your grass and make for an unhealthy lawn.