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Monthly Maintenance

DIY Home Maintenance for April

What’s Bugging You?

It’s spring once more, and plants and animals alike are being revived.  Time to turn your attention to those pesky bugs and other critters that can begin to invade your home at this time of year. There are some simple things you can do to prevent and treat the critter problem.

Prevention

The best defense is good offense. Remember, pests are attracted to food and water. Take these steps to reduce the opportunities for pests to enter your home in the first place.Ant

  • Be tidy. Keep food in containers, and keep your kitchen, countertops, and other areas free of food waste.
  • Take out the trash regularly.
  • Remove water sources: repair leaky faucets and pipes, divert water from your foundation, keep your gutters clear.
  • Trim back the trees and bushes from your home at least 12 inches, reducing your home’s contact with the bug freeways.
  • Seal all entry points. Caulk outside around doors, windows and utility lines/pipes. Repair cracks in cement floors and foundation.
  • Keep wood chips, lumber, and firewood away from the house. Remove stumps and debris near your home.

 

Help keep the mosquito population at bay by removing sources of standing water: kids toys and wading pools, puddles, birdbaths, yard items that collect water, and even your pet’s water dish.

Treatment

If you do need to fight back an invasion, here are some tips for doing that.

  • Buy the right product for the pest. Baits, traps, and poisons are specific to the ant, spider, bee, rodent, etc. and have specific application methods.
  • Read and follow the directions carefully.
  • There are treatments for your exterior foundation to prevent entry, such as sprays and granules can that can be applied using a lawn spreader.
  • Call a professional for termites (chemicals are regulated), and larger rodents such as squirrels and raccoons.

Remember to keep all poisons out of the reach of children. Keep the phone number for poison control posted on your refrigerator.

Here are some non-toxic alternatives for pest control.

DIY Home Maintenance for March

Window Views

WindowCan’t do outdoor yard work yet?  Well, from inside, you can dream about your upcoming spring plantings and beautification projects – fun stuff like putting out potted flowers and creating focal points in your yard.

Did you know that you can plant and beautify strategically so that there is something blooming, providing color, or providing interest all year long?  Certain plants can attract butterflies and birds that are fun to watch.  Some shrubs and trees have colorful fruit or leaves that linger on the limbs through the winter. Regardless of the season, there can be something in your yard that you can enjoy.

Most often we think of outdoor projects as adding curb appeal – what others passing by will appreciate.  However, what about what you look at from indoors?

Here is a fun winter pastime. Stroll through your home and look out your windows.  Imagine what you would like to see when the sun is shining or when the snow abounds. Each window frames a view.  What could be in that view?  A shapely tree? A picket fence? A fountain or bird bath? A large clay pot or hanging basket draped with flowers? A rock garden surrounding a tree under which grass never seems to grow? A bird feeder? Whimsical yard art?

Whether you want curb appeal or a pretty window view, your spring projects don’t have to be grand or expensive to perk up your outdoor spaces.  They just need a little thought and a plan.  Your neighborhood garden center, nursery, or hardware store can help you with your specific needs.

Speaking of Plans…

Are you emerging from your winter hibernation with visions of fix-it tasks?  Don’t know where to start?

For March, focus indoors on:

  • Checking for plumbing leaks
  • Maintaining your appliances
  • Cleaning and sharpening your garden tools; prep your lawnmower

When the snow thaws, you can begin outside on:

  • Inspecting your roof
  • Cleaning the gutters
  • Checking for proper water drainage

These tips will help you plan your last few weeks of winter and get you thinking about the spring months.

You can also check your annual maintenance calendar for what’s coming up.  Here is one straightforward approach to creating such a calendar if you haven’t already.

And, for one more planning tool, here is a basic home inspection checklist.  It is nicely categorized, so you can start in one area, indoors for now, then work your way around the house throughout the year.

DIY Home Repairs for June

Happy June! The weather is increasingly nicer, and you can celebrate by taking care of your home!

Here are some regular maintenance tasks you can do this month to keep things running smoothly:

  • If you have a tankless water heater, clean its filter. If you have a standard water heater and have not drained it in the past 12 months, do so now.
  • Take a bit of time to test all the shut-off valves in your home (under sinks, behind toilets, etc.).  They should be easy enough to operate in an emergency. This should be done once a year. If you have trouble making the valve turn off, don’t force it—make plans to replace it with a quarter-turn or ball valve model, as these models are less likely to fail.
  • If you haven’t done so already this year, change your lawnmower’s oil.  Be sure to safely dispose of the old oil, as it is considered hazardous waste and should not be poured down the drain or placed in the regular trash. Check the hazardous waste guidelines for Kalamazoo for more information.

Project of the Month: Driveway and Walkway Repairs

pug and concrete

Winter can do a number on your driveways, walkways, patios, and other concrete surfaces. Water that seeps into small holes and cracks in the concrete freezes and expands, which causes the concrete to crack. Salt and other chemicals used to control ice can also damage surfaces.

Now that the weather is better, consider taking a weekend to fix up your driveway, walkway or patio. (Public sidewalks in Kalamazoo must be repaired in consultation with the city; please call (269) 337-8601 for more information.) According to This Old House, resurfacing a 60 square foot driveway will take about an hour and cost about $25-$30; your project time and cost will vary based on the size of your driveway.

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