Rainy Day Activities this Weekend: March 18th & 19th

Rainy Day Activities this Weekend: March 18th & 19th

It’s cold outside… and rainy. But that shouldn’t stop your fun! Though the rain is expected to die down by Sunday, it plans on picking back up again throughout next week – just in time to welcome Spring! So, I thought this would be a great time to bring out some updated tips for home maintenance during the raining season!

Here are some tips for completing home check ups in the rain!

  • Stay as Dry & Warm as Possible: Now, this may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s important to not get “soaked to the bone” when playing in the water. Being soaked through may increase your chances of getting sick.
  • Proper Clothing: When working outdoors, we want to make sure we have the best gear! Proper footwear, gloves, pants, layered shirts, and a rain jacket will both keep you toasty and dry.

Now, on to the home tips!

  • Check for loose, leaky, or broken gutters. When gutters don’t drain correctly, they can back up, opening up a whole new list of issues and possible damages, including roof leaks and foundation damage. Cleaning out your gutters are least once or twice per year will provide valuable insight of how easily they clog up. If you have a French Drain, checking on those will also help clear water from your property, and into storm drains.
  • Deck Maintenance. Water can do heaps of damage to your wood deck, so checking it annually is a great way to keep on top of possible issues. Make sure to power-wash fallen leaves, branches, and other debris, left over from winter.
  • Inspect your roof. Catching issues before they become problems is a homeowners dream. Not only will it decrease other related damages, but it will probably be cheaper to repair.
  • Check concrete path and walkways for cracks. 
  • Evaluate your lawn equipment. Making sure your mower, weed-wacker and other tools are in top working order, will help you down the road. Spring and Summer are prime times for lawn maintenance, so
  • Adjust your in-ground lawn and garden watering system. Many watering systems have been winterized for the season, so coming back and checking for damages or clogs, and setting up your Spring routine, may be a something to consider.

I wouldn’t suggest doing any of these in the rain, but taking those rare sunny days to do a quick check will put your mind at ease. During those long, rainy days, indoor tasks may be better suited. Here are some tips for indoor maintenance ideas you may consider:

  • Boost appliance efficiency. Doing an annual (or semi-annual) check up on your appliances can help boost efficiency, and decrease energy bills. Dirty HVAC filters, AC units, and clogged refrigerator coils can both decrease efficiency and cause the machine to give out more quickly, increasing energy and service bills.
  • Double, double checking your fire & carbon monoxide alarms. 
  • Ensure your sump pump is functioning properly. Some houses have them, some don’t, but if your does, this will be an excellent time to ensure it sees proper maintenance and activates properly.
  • Clean out your refrigerator and medicine cabinets. Throwing away old food and medicine, will make way for new items and ensure that you have the basics (and that they are within date).
  • And… don’t forget your taxes!

13 Tips to Jump-Start the New Year!

13 Tips to Jump-Start the New Year!

So, it’s January (almost February). What now? It’s the beginning of a fresh and exciting year, but we all want to start off productive right? A new year for new goals to make and accomplishments to achieve. The big question is: where do you start?

Well, the answer is vast. We are all so different, with different goals, quirks, and ideas of where we want to be a year from now, going into 2017. So, down below, in the spirit of including everyone, I have included a few different categories and some Winter-early-Spring tips!

Home Maintenance:

  • If you have a monthly, seasonal, or quarterly maintenance calendar, check it out! if you don’t have one, consider creating one for your household.
  • Consider updating your insurance. If you have made any big purchases, upgrades, or additions this last year, consider talking with your home-insurance agent to see if there are options for covering your new toys!
  • Check for storm damage, and consider fixes! Especially with the roller-coaster of a season we’ve been having, taking a walk around the outside of your home and property can’t be a bad thing! Who knows, maybe you’ll find something before it becomes and issue!
  • Clean out your rain gutters! I don’t know about you, but my home is surrounded by trees – meaning they always get filled with debris after a big storm! That’s why I clean out my gutters (at least) four times per year. Now, that may seem a bit overboard, but it may extend the life of the gutters, and reduce risks to both my house and the Underground French Drain system.

Spring-into-Spring Cleaning!

  • Handling holiday cleanup can be messy and time consuming. But when it’s done, you’ll feel a whole lot better! Taking a day, or eve a few hours a week, to clean up and put your home back together can make a world of refreshing difference.
  • Create a list of things you want to clean out this Spring (for Spring cleaning). My list includes making numerous trips to Goodwill, tearing apart my extra closets (where accumulated stuff has been hanging out), and
  • Do a deep-clean declutter! For cleaning-bugs, this one will be a real treat! Take a peek, or a walk, around your home and look for things you either don’t use anymore, have never used, or don’t plan on using in the future. You could sell it on trading or resale websites, or just donate it a cause. Donating helps both you (get rid of it with minimal effort) and helps the other party who may be needing that exact item!

Remember, if you don’t want to do any of this – you don’t have too! Calling in a pro may cost more, but it frees up time for you to do the other things you love!

January Gardening Tips:

  • Recycle an old holiday tree into mulch for your garden! You can also use them as a DIY bird-feeding station.
  • Start sprouting! Sprouting now is a great way to jump-start your harvest season!
  • If you haven’t already, prune your rose and fruit bushes, and consider trimming trees and hedges.
  • Organize your seeds and create a list of seeds you would like to order, or purchase.
  • Consider servicing your tools, such as your lawnmower, weed-wacker, and tree trimmer; and clean your everyday gardening tools, like your shovel, rakes, and held tools.
  • On the warmer days, venture out and pull weeds out of you garden. You may consider spraying for moss, tidying borders, and take steps to ensure healthy and nutritious soil.

So, there you have it! Some tips for staying busy in the new year! While these are great places to start, creating your own list will help you cater to what your home needs. What would you like to accomplish in the upcoming year?

Spring Cleaning!

March16-Web-ImageIt’s definitely the time of year to tackle spring cleaning.  Windermere Mercer Island has you covered with a room-by-room checklist that you can download. It will feel*so good* to have sparkling windows and air out our homes with fresh air.

Here are a few more spring cleaning resources to take a look at:

Also, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo is a favorite of several Windermere Mercer Island brokers. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth checking out!! Kondo’s advice is usable year-round but takes on a new life with the dynamic energy of spring, and its longer, warmer days.

Spring Native Plant Sale Saturday, May 9th, at Mercerdale Park

Instagram_Lisa Lewis_BeeCalling all gardeners! This Saturday, May 9th, is the annual spring native plant sale at Mercerdale Park. The sale will run from 10-4pm on the 9th (but if you are a member of Washington Native Plant Society [WNPS] you are eligible for early bird entry at 9am). The theme for this year’s plant sale, and the accompanying environmental fair, is NATIVE PLANTS for BIRDS and POLLINATORS. Gardening experts will be on hand to answer questions. There will be a nice selection of native plants for you to use in your landscaping that can serve as refuge for the birds and pollinators who live in our region. In addition, rain garden plants and lovely potted plants for balconies and patios will be available.

If you would like to learn more about gardening for bees, check out this Houzz story slideshow below before going to the plant sale. The article features information on different kinds of native bees, why we should think about the bees native to our region, and how to build habitat for native bees to flourish in.

If you pick up some plants on Saturday, please share what you purchased in the comment section. Bonus points if you share how the plants are helpful for birds and pollinators!!

Photo courtesy of Lisa Lewis

Top Ten Common Repair Costs

Woman-PaintingThis HouseLogic article by Lisa Kaplan Gordon covers the top 10 common home repairs most homes will eventually require. The article includes a brief synopsis of the job and estimated costs for labor and materials. This is important homeowner information whether you are a 1st time home buyer or a seasoned homeowner. I hope you find the article helpful. Let me know which repair job surprises you; share in the comment section. Thanks!

  • Top 10 Common Repair Costs

    In the life of every home, repairs happen. Here are the top 10 most common repairs that, sooner or later, your house will require. Read

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2015 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

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Brrr It’s Cold Outside – Is Your Home Ready For Cold Temps?

Sweet winter homeThe Puget Sound Region may not get the snow much of the country is experiencing, but the media coverage of the Arctic chill settling in over the Midwest and Northeastern U.S. is a good reminder that we need to make sure our homes are ready for winter temperatures.

Temperatures have actually dropped significantly around Seattle and the Eastside this week, so it’s important to unhook hoses from outdoor faucets and cover the faucets to prevent freezing. Here is a quick video tutorial on how to install inexpensive foam covers over those outdoor faucet bibs. Bob Vila’s website suggests on a Winter Preparation Checklist that exterior faucets be shut off, and outdoor pipes, valves and sprinkler heads be drained of water. This protects against pipe bursts. If you have a sprinkler system, check with the manufacturer’s guidelines to see what winterizing protocol you should follow. If your home contains water or drain pipes in uninsulated spaces— for example, crawl spaces, the attic, outside walls — check on the insulation wrapping the pipes. At a minimum, they should be wrapped with foam insulation. You may want to wrap the pipes with electrical heating tape, and then insulation.

If you haven’t cleaned out your gutters, this is a task to tackle sooner than later. Check your downspouts, as well, to make sure they are draining properly. Loose gutters and damaged roof shingles should also be on your radar— you may want to have a contractor inspect for both items.

Fireplaces get a work out during winter months. When was the last time you checked the fireplace flue or had the chimney cleaned? Click here for a handy fireplace maintenance checklist. The flue damper should open and close easily, and be inspected to make sure it can be locked in both the open and closed position. Homerepair.about.com offers this method to check for chimney draft:

“Make sure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly. Test this by taking several sheets of newspaper and rolling them up. Then with the fireplace damper in the open position, light the newspaper in the fireplace. The smoke should rise up the chimney. If it doesn’t, you have an obstruction and need to call a professional in to clean the chimney of creosote and ash and possible debris.”

Check both the exterior and the interior of the chimney for any defects that indicate a repair is necessary. Take a look at the fire brick right inside the fireplace -are there any breaks in the mortar joints? Those need to be repaired asap to prevent fire from accessing the stud wall behind the masonry fire brick!

Since you will be using your furnace more as the temps drop, make sure you’ve changed or cleaned the filter recently. This not only maximizes the heating efficiency of the furnace, it improves your home’s indoor air quality. You may also want hire a local contractor to perform basic maintenance and cleaning on your furnace unit. Several sources suggested annual cleaning of your furnace to keep it working at peak performance.

Small wildlife may want to share the warmth of your home as it gets cold outside. Inspect chimney caps, roof vents and other openings, for damage or holes that could give critters entry to warmer spaces in your house. Don’t forget to check the fascia boards and trim on your home’s exterior for deterioration as well. Small animals could gain access where different building materials touch– like the dryer venting to the outside, window wells, gaps in the threshold or in a brick exterior. Inspect your attic for signs of animals and any holes they could come in through. This Humane Society article and handy diagram offer specific locations to inspect a couple times of year, at least, to keep wildlife from sharing your home.

Now it’s your turn— please share your cold weather maintenance tips in the comment section below. Stay warm and safe during these chilly days!

Keeping Your Home Free of Mold

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1526Living in the Pacific Northwest means we contend with wet weather during Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. Wet weather ushers in mold season. Now is the time to review if your home is at risk for mold damage. The Seattle Times has a great check list of home  maintenance points to check for water damage/mold. Enviroshield has a terrific interactive demo about mold in the home. An ounce of prevention now will go a long way. If you have more in-depth questions about mold in the home, the US EPS Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home is a beneficial resource.

Photo Courtesy of Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Where’s my hammer? What tools should make the cut in your tool box?

Owning a home means that home maintenance will be on your agenda from time to time. Here’s a useful and entertaining article (especially if you’ve ever been a parent to teenagers) about what tools are necessary for tackling those maintenance chores: The Pragmatist – The Tools You Really Need to Maintain Your Home.