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Spring is popular time of the year to get some much-needing cleaning done in and out of the house. Here are some of my tips to keep your house properly maintained and ready for the warmer weather . . .

  1. Check the ground level around your house to make sure there is a distance of 6-8 inches between the dirt and the siding. Bugs and rot can get behind the siding if the dirt comes up too high.
  2. Make sure your gutters and drains have no leaves or debris to clog them up. This will prevent leaking drains when the spring rains are at their highest.
  3. Change your furnace filter if it's dirty.
  4. Check for gaps, holes, or missing soffet pieces at the roof overhangs to keep the animals away. I once had a customer whose cat was getting into the attic through a hole in the soffet.
  5. Check that the fresh air intake for the furnace and hot water tank is unblocked and clean. The intake has a small mesh cover and can usually be found in a direct line from the furnace. Use a small brush, like a toothbrush, to clean it.
  6. Turn your water shut-off valves off and then on again. This exercise keeps them from seizing up.

This little bit of maintenance should help your house function as it should. Enjoy your spring!

Here's a quick list of things that are important to do during the fall, in preparation for winter:

1.  Make sure your gutters and drains are clear.  If this doesn't happen, your gutters may sag due to the weight of water, leaves, and other debris.  

2.  Go onto your roof and clean all the leaves and needles off.  This will help extend the life of your roof.

3.  Disconnect your garden hose from outside taps.  When it freezes, a connected hose can push water and ice into the tap and split it.

4.  Make sure the siding on your house is at least 4 inches away from the ground.

5.  Trim all your trees and shrubs away from your house.

Is your hot water tank set too high?

It's so nice to have hot water ready - especially for those who like hot showers! However, having your water set too high can be dangerous, especially if young children are around. The temperature of your hot water tank should be set at approximately 120 degrees. Here is a chart to show how long it takes to get a burn from your hot water:

Estimated Times/Temperatures Causing a Full Thickness (3°) Burn in Adults/Children

Water Temperature Adults
(skin thickness of 2.5mm)
Children 0-5 Years (skin thickness of 0.56mm)
<160 F 1 second -
<149 F 2 seconds 0.5 seconds
<140 F 5 seconds 1 second
135 F 10 seconds 4 seconds
133 F 16 seconds -
<130 F 35 seconds 10 seconds
127 F 1 minute -
125 F 2 minutes -
124 F 3 minutes -
120 F 10 minutes
Source: National Burn Victim Foundation

Notice the difference in skin thickness between children and adults. This is why children are so vulnerable to burns.

Water Valves

Vacations are exciting . . . most people look forward to them for months! Some vacations require a lot of planning, packing, and anticipation, while others are spontaneous last-minute deals. Regardless of your preference, there are a few things everyone should do before they leave their house for an extended length of time.

The first, and most important, is to shut off your main water source. If there's a leak in your house, it could cause damage while you're away . . . too many people have come home to a flood. Shutting off your water will prevent this, and possibly save you money.

Here's a example of what most water shut-offs look like. Usually, they can be found by the hot water tank or furnace. In older homes, they can be found in the front stairwell or in the front of the house.

Second, you can save energy by turning off all the pilot lights in your house. If you live in an older house, your furnace likely has a pilot light that costs money to run (mid and higher-efficiency furnaces do not have pilot lights). Gas fireplaces also have pilot lights that should be shut off. *Please note that pilot lights can be turned off for a few months if you don't usually use your heat in the summer. This would help you save even more money!

Finally, make sure everything unnecessary is unplugged. Things like lamps, blow dryers, fans, and microwaves are all best unplugged when you are not going to be home. Not only will this save energy, it will also save you money.

Hopefully these tips will keep your house safe and sound while you're relaxing . . . have fun!

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