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Category: Exterior Maintenance

Exterior MaintenanceInterior MaintenanceMaintenance

How To Inspect Your Dryer Exhaust Duct

Over time, lint will get sucked through filter barriers and gather within dryer vents. This can lead to unexpected fires that come with huge dangers and expenses.

This is a Safety Task!

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, over 2,900 house fires are the results of dirty dryers. If you see lint sticking to walls, floor, or dryer, this usually is a sign of a clogged or leaky vent. Lint is very volatile and can catch fire very quickly. Additionally, you also want to make sure no unwanted critters live in your dryer vents, which prevents the vent from performing correctly.

This is a Preventative Maintenance Task!

Dryer fires are usually always caught too late. Additionally, there will be more damage to things within your home than just your dryer in most instances.

Tasks can be done by: homeowner, cleaning company, handyman

How To Inspect Your Dryer Exhaust Duct | Task Steps

Step 1 – Inspect dryer exhaust duct

  • Inspect the outside vent opening for lint build-up or other obstructions.
  • Move your dryer out and remove the exhaust duct. Inspect inside to see how much lint has built up over time.

Step 2 – Clean the lint

  • Clean outside dryer vent of lint or other obstructions. For instance, obstructions could include animal or rodent nests, so be careful doing this step. Call an exterminator if you encounter anything you don’t feel comfortable dealing with.)
  • There are many different ways you can remove the lint from your dryer exhaust duct.
    • Tool List: extendable brush, vacuum
    • Supply List & Costs: trash bag – heavy duty

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Also, check out another interesting article- Unexpected Places Rodents Can Live Near Your Roof!

Exterior Maintenance

Pruning 101: Near Your Home and Power Lines

When trees or shrubbery are too close to the home, many negative things can occur. But, on the other hand, regulating how close they are to your home can limit potential fire hazards, the number of rodents or insects in your home and protect your exterior from getting scraped up. This is pruning 101: near your home and power lines!

This is a Safety Task!

Trimming trees and shrubs helps prevent fire hazards and reduces the risk of dead branches or trees falling on people or damaging the house.  Do not attempt to trim trees close to power lines.

This is a Health Task!

When shrubs are too close to the home, they can become a nesting place for rodents, carrying various diseases and attracting snakes.

This is a Preventative Maintenance Task!

Trimming your trees back will prevent the wind from blowing the limbs back and forth, resulting in damage to the paint or wood siding, windows, and lighting fixtures of the house. The cost to repaint or replace siding is considerably more than having your trees and shrubs cut back.

Tasks can be done by: Homeowner, handyman, yard maintenance company, tree service

Pruning 101: Near Your Home and Power Lines | Task Steps

Step 1 – Inspect the exterior of your home

  • Walk around the exterior of your house to see if any trees, limbs, or shrubs can fall on your home, cables, wires, fences, equipment, pools, and cause damage. Then, make a list of what needs to be cut down and trimmed back.
  • Also, make sure that no trees or shrubs are touching your house. When the wind blows, it will cause the limbs to scratch your home, siding, windows, etc., causing costly repair. Also, the closer the shrubs are, the closer insects, termites, wood-boring bees, and snakes are to getting into your home.

Step 2 – Maintain problem areas

  • Pick the proper tool to do the job. Then, cut the limbs back from the home until they are at least three inches away from anything they can damage.
  • Cut all dead branches that can fall off during a windstorm and cause damage to something else. Do not attempt to trim trees close to cable or power lines. Instead, call the power company or professional tree trimmers. 
  • Put the trimmings in an out-of-the-way pile to be disposed of later. If applicable, cut up the wood in the fall and use it as firewood. This saves the cost of hauling it away.
  • Be sure to take another good walk around the outside of your home to make sure everything is trimmed to your liking.
    • Tool List: Pruning shears, power trimmer, saw – tree, clippers- hedge,
    • Supply List & Costs: trash bag – heavy duty

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Also, check out another interesting article- Unexpected Places Rodents Can Live Near Your Roof!

Exterior Maintenance

Unexpected Places Rodents Can Live Near Your Roof

The attic can be the perfect place for rodents to make their homes while also tearing your home apart in the process. It’s important to know what’s going on in all areas of your home. Continue reading to see all the unexpected places rodents can live near your roof!

This is a Health Task!

It’s very common for rodents to nest in your home to feel protected from other predators. Each rodent, however, can bring in different diseases that can contaminate your home.

This is a Preventative Maintenance Task!

Rodents will tear and pick apart anything they can to aid them in making a nest and raising their young. These areas can allow water and rodent droppings into your home, eventually rotting wood and damaged siding, insulation, and drywall.

Tasks can be done by: Homeowner, handyman, pest control company

Unexpected Places Rodents Can Live Near Your Roof | Task Steps

Step 1 – Inspect your attic

  • Check the exterior of your house and visually inspect the roof overhangs and foundation for evidence of rodents making themselves at home. Check for anything out of place, like holes, leaves, or sticks sticking out where they should not be.
  • Also, look on the ground for signs of bird droppings. For example, bat droppings look like mouse droppings.
  • Rodents are always trying to find ways into a home, which sometimes results in them trying to get in through roof vents. 
  • Lastly, go into the attic space and thoroughly inspect it. Look for signs of insects or rodents living up there. Try to track how they get in and out and where they are nesting.

Step 2 – Address any issues

  • First, if you encounter any living creature you feel uncomfortable dealing with, call an exterminator to take care of the problem.
  • If you find openings that insects are coming in, you can usually caulk or stuff it with foam insulation spray. Steel wool will work in areas that do not get wet. Fill in the cracks.
  • If the holes are big enough to allow raccoons, squirrels, opossums, snakes, or other larger rodents to get inside, fill or cover up the problem areas with wood, siding, screening, or roofing materials. Try to match the housing material to make it look like there was no hole there.
  • Lastly, if you must climb a ladder or go onto your roof, practice good ladder safety and exercise caution while climbing onto and exiting the roof.
    • Tool List: If DIY: ladder – extension, caulking gun
    • Supply List & Costs: If DIY:  caulk, insulation – foam spray

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Also, check out another interesting article- How To Clean Your Solar Panels Properly!

Exterior Maintenance

How To Inspect Your Antennas or Dish Receivers

Weather can cause antennas or dish receivers to come loose over time. That’s why it’s important to check everything out so you can catch the issue before it gets worse.

This is a Safety Task!

If there is a possibility that your dish receiver may fall off your home, it puts everyone at risk for injury.

This is a Preventative Maintenance Task!

It’s important to catch the issue before it gets worse. Replacement costs are a lot more expensive than checking to see if everything is properly secured.

Tasks can be done by: Homeowner, handyman, dish company, or electrician

How To Inspect Your Antennas or Dish Receivers | Task Steps

Step 1 – Inspect antennas & dish receivers

  • Walk around your property and inspect your dish receiver and dish antennas. You want to see if they look stable and safe. You may be able to use binoculars to see if things look secure and safe. Check if there are any brackets, wires, or cables hanging loose. A windy day is a good time to monitor any movement in the brackets.
  • *HomeManager strongly urges Homeowners to stay away from getting onto roofs to do maintenance because falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury within the home.*
  • If the antennas or receivers are located somewhere on the side of your home where you can easily reach it from a window or deck, grab either of them and apply pressure, shake it and see if it is tight and secure. If the antennas or receivers are located on the roof & you feel comfortable enough getting onto the roof yourself, repeat the following steps above.
    • Tool List: Ladder – extension

Step 2 – Maintain anything loose

  • If you notice something that seems out of place or loose on your dish or antenna, try to tighten it. Call a handyperson or your dish company if that doesn’t work.
  • If you have a roof-mounted dish receiver or antenna and decide to DIY, practice good ladder safety and exercise caution while climbing onto and exiting the roof.
    • Tool List: Ladder – extension, adjustable wrench, screwdriver

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Also, check out another interesting article- How To Inspect Your Roof!

Exterior Maintenance

How To Clean Your Solar Panels Properly

Keeping up with the maintenance of your solar panels can significantly improve the efficiency of the energy collection. Dust can build up on your solar panels over time, preventing sunlight from reaching the cells to collect energy.

This is an Energy Efficiency Task!

When dust gathers on solar panels, it hinders the gathering/storing of energy. Dirty solar panels have reduced efficiency and will result in reduced energy savings.

Tasks can be done by: Homeowner, solar panel cleaners, or handyman

How To Clean Your Solar Panels Properly | Task Steps

Step 1 – Inspect solar panels

  • Determine how long it has been since you’ve last cleaned your solar panels. If you don’t have that information, you can wipe the panel with a cloth or finger to conclude if they need to be cleaned.
  • You can always check your energy absorption report. If you see it trending downward, it could mean that it needs to be cleaned.
  • If the panels are on a roof and you are uncomfortable with heights or climbing ladders, consider hiring a professional to clean the panels.
    • Supply List & Costs: cloth

Step 2 – Clean solar panels

*HomeManager strongly urges Homeowners to stray away from getting onto roofs to do maintenance because falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury within the home.*
  • If you have roof solar panels and decide to climb to your roof to DIY, practice good ladder safety and exercise caution while climbing onto and exiting the roof.
  • It is important to clean solar panels regularly to get rid of dust buildup and ensure the best efficiency.
  • Many people use a garden hose to rinse off their solar panels, but that may not always be an option.
  • Use a soapy sponge to gently clean off the solar panels and a clean cloth to dry them completely.
  • If you have a squeegee on a long pole that you can use to reach the solar panels (efficiently and effectively), that is a viable cleaning method.
    • Tool List: Ladder – extension, hose, bucket, squeegee
    • Supply List & Costs: dish soap, sponge, dry cleaning cloth

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Also, check out another interesting article- How To Inspect Your Roof!

Exterior MaintenanceMaintenance

How To Inspect Skylights

Leaks and water damage can happen when skylight seals fail or when something like a tree limb, hail, or baseball damages the skylight directly. Damages left unfixed lead to higher repair costs in the future.

This is a Preventative Maintenance Task!

Tiny imperfections in your skylight can cause leakage to the inside of your house. This can cause the framing to rot, drywall to deteriorate, and mold to occur.  Early and proper maintenance of these problems can prevent eventual expensive repairs.

Tasks can be done by: Homeowner, roofing contractor, handyman, painters & caulking

How To Inspect Skylights | Task Steps

Step 1 – Inspect your skylights

  • Look over the material inside the skylight and inspect for any water damage or discoloration from water.
  • You can always use a pair of binoculars to look for cracks and water leaks from the outside.
  • As the home ages and settles, stress cracks can occur, breaking a seal and causing water damage. The air seal of some insulated skylights can break, causing condensation or a cloudy visual look, which distorts the view through the skylight.
  • Suppose you clean the inside and outside of an insulated glass panel, and you still have a cloudy or distorted view. In that case, it usually means you cannot eliminate the cloudiness or distortion without replacing the skylight. You can call a window or skylight replacement company, a roofing contractor, or a handyperson for this. 
  • The typical maintenance required could involve repairing the skylight and/or sealing between the skylight and your roof. Since this involves climbing onto the roof, we recommend you call a professional.
    • Tool List: hose – garden
    • Supply List & Costs: cleaning solution

Step 2 – Maintain your skylights

  • *HomeManager strongly urges Homeowners to stray away from getting onto roofs to do maintenance because falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury within the home.*
  • Inspect that your roof isn’t wet and slippery from rain or morning dew and the conditions are safe.
  • If the leak is from damaged flashing or caulking, use the best silicone caulk you can get for exterior use. The little extra money is well worth the investment.
  • The maintenance involves lifting the shingles up right next to the skylight and putting a continuous bead of quality roof cement caulking where the metal flashing touches the roofing felt. Press firmly down on the shingles. Repeat this on all sides of the skylight.
  • Find where the weep holes are located on your skylight (these are intentional holes that help drain water out of the skylight) and ensure they aren’t clogged.  If necessary, clean them out, make sure the weep holes were not caulked shut by mistake.  Homes that have lots of trees or blowing dust are susceptible to having clogged weep holes.
  • Next, checking the seal where the glass meets the frame around the skylight to see if there are any imperfections is also a good idea.  Caulking any discrepancies noted is an excellent way to avoid potential future leaks.
  • You can always test the fixes you’ve made on the skylight by spraying water over the top.
  • Lastly, if you decide to DIY, practice good ladder safety and exercise caution while climbing onto and exiting the roof.
    • Tool List: Ladder- extension ladder, hose – garden, caulking gun
    • Supply List & Costs: silicone caulking (or) roof cement caulking

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Also, check out another interesting article- How To Inspect Your Roof!

Exterior Maintenance

How To Inspect Your Roof

Damaged shingles can result in unnecessary water damage within the home. Ceilings, walls, and flooring can be the targets of prolonged water damage due to unmaintained roofs. Staying on top of maintenance can prolong the lifespan of your roof, delaying the costly roof replacement. Most water damage is not found or noticed until it is too late, making repair expenses larger than ever.

This is a Preventative Maintenance Task!

It is important to address these problems early on before water leaks cause damage to ceilings, walls, and flooring. If you see your roof is brittle or cupping, it might be time to call a roofing contractor to get the whole roof fixed.

Tasks can be done by: Homeowner, professional roofer, handyman, or home inspector

How To Inspect Your Roof | Task Steps

Step 1 – Inspect your roof

  • Walk outside around your house and visually inspect the roof to see any curling, cracked, or missing shingles or tiles. Also, look for flashing that separates from the roof, siding, wooden roof trim, or chimney.
  • If you have access to your attic, you can inspect the area to see if there are leaks on the underside of the roof.
  • You can also check for water damage on the ceilings inside your home.  If you have wood, drywall, or metal ceilings, you may find water stains or dripping water.

Step 2 – If you spot problem areas: Call a Professional 

  • If you find problem areas on your roof, contact a roofer to help you with the situation.

Step 3 – If you spot problem areas: DIY 

*Homeowners should consider straying away from getting onto roofs to do maintenance because falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury around the home.*

If you STILL decided to carry through with doing DIY repairs:

To fix curled corners or torn shingles:

  1. Roofing sealant is a great fix. Putting a dab of roofing sealant under the curled corner and sticking it back down will prolong the shingle’s lifespan.
  2. If there are any torn shingles, use a caulking gun to apply or spread the roofing sealant over the imperfections.
  • Professionals should handle any other repairs or replacements.
    • Tool List: If DIY, ladder – Extension, caulk gun
    • Supply List & Costs: If DIY: caulk – roofing cement

Step 4 – Test repairs

  • After proper maintenance, you can spray water with a hose from the ground and see if the repaired area is still leaking within the house.
    • Tool List: hose – garden

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Also, check out another interesting article- Schedule a Chimney Cleaning During Warmer Months!

Cleaning MaintenanceExterior MaintenanceMaintenance

Schedule a Chimney Cleaning During Warmer Months

NFPA states, chimney fires are responsible for 32% of all heating fires in the US. This also means that a quarter of property damages are a result of chimney fires. Most chimney fires are caused by an excess buildup of creosote that frequently ignites when a homeowner uses the equipment, so regular maintenance is essential. (NFPA NO.USS09, 2018) Continue reading to see why you should schedule a chimney cleaning during warmer months!

This is a Safety Task!

Creosote buildup will cause a chimney fire, one of the leading causes of house fires. According to NFPA researchers, 5% of all reported home fires between 2012-2016 were confirmed chimney or flue fires. The main issue being creosote buildup. NFPA No.USS09 (2018) Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury around the home. Homeowners should carefully consider the dangers of getting on a ladder before climbing up on the roof or ladder to do this task.

Tasks can be done by: Proper tools and appropriate safety precautions can be done by the homeowner, chimney cleaner, or handyman. It is recommended that you call a chimney sweep or cleaning service!

Schedule a Chimney Cleaning During Warmer Months | Task Steps

Step 1 – Inspect your chimney

  • Most chimneys can be inspected by looking up the fireplace opening with a flashlight to see any black soot or creosote buildup. Sometimes you may see brownish, yellowish, or orange-looking streaks running down the chimney or metal flues. This is usually creosote buildup.  It is a good idea to put a tarp down on the fireplace floor to protect from getting soot or creosote in the rest of your home.
  • The goal is to clean out any excess creosote buildup that needs to be cleaned out to prevent a chimney fire. HomeManager does not recommend homeowners attempt to clean out their chimneys on their own. This job can be done 2 ways, from the roof or the fireplace/woodstove. This is one task you should hire out to a professional because it requires climbing onto the roof and using specialized tools, which can get messy. Homeowners should carefully consider the ladder and roof risks before attempting DIY. Again, consider hiring a professional.
    • Tool List: Flashlight

Step 2 – Schedule a professional chimney sweep

  • People use many different DIY methods to clean out their chimney, but HomeManager does not recommend that homeowners do this task independently. Instead, find a reputable professional to clean out the soot buildup.
  • It’s a good idea to schedule your chimney cleaning ahead of the crowd. Scheduling during the spring or summer will allow for more flexibility & guarantee that you’re all set for the colder months ahead!
    • Tool List: Flashlight

Step 3 – Clean reachable areas

  •  You can still clean the reachable areas of your fireplace or woodstove.  Some systems allow you to clean from below. This can be dirtier but a lot safer. Be sure to wear your face mask and safety glasses.
  • It would help if you lay out a tarp to protect the flooring in front of the fireplace.
  • If you want to clean smoke off brick, stone, or steel, mix one cup of white vinegar & ½ cup of warm water to clean any problem areas.
  • After scraping and brushing the walls off, take everything out of your fireplace to sweep or vacuum out any loose dirt/soot.
    • Tool List: (face mask & safety glasses ?), tarp, vacuum/broom
    • Supply List & Costs: white vinegar

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Also, check out another interesting article- How To Clean Air Supply and Return Registers!

Exterior Maintenance

Get Your Pool Ready For Summer

It’s prime time in the summer to go swimming, so it’s a good time to make sure everything is clean and in working order. Continue reading to see how to get your pool ready for Summer!

This is a Health Task!

Water creates the opportunity for bacteria to gather and multiply. Testing and taking care of this can avoid future health issues.

This is a Preventative Maintenance Task!

Water leaks can cause hidden wood damage, wood rot, and more. Not changing filters can damage pumps, which are costly to replace.

This is an Energy Efficiency Task!

Clean filters make your product operate more efficiently because it takes more power to pump water through a dirty filter.

Tasks can be done by: Homeowner, pool service, handyman

Get Your Pool Ready For Summer | Task Steps

Step 1 – Test water quality

  • Test water and make sure it is up to the manufacturer’s recommended test qualities. It’s best to have your own water testing kit so that you can test whenever you see fit.
  • Depending on how much you use it and where you live, you might have to test more often. Over time, you will determine better how often you need to treat the water with the proper chemicals to keep it safe.
    • Tool List: pool – water testing kit

Step 2 – Preparing for maintenance

  • Each system is different. See what your manufacturer’s owner manual recommends. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines will ensure that everyone is staying safe and healthy.
  • Switch the on and off to make sure they are operating.
  • Check water levels to ensure that water stays at the same level and there are no visible leaks.
  • If your system has an auto water fill, which is suitable for water evaporation, turn it off. This will allow you to determine if there is a leak somewhere that should be fixed.

Step 3 – Maintain problem areas

  • Use a pool screen net to scoop out floating leaves, debris, insects, or trash. Some units have floating devices that clean out floating debris automatically. Make sure these are also cleaned regularly. 
  • Use a brush to clean any dirt off the edges and down the side. As you clean with a brush, you can usually see what is clean and still dirty. Clean all areas.
  • The water circulation system will pull in dirty water and filter the dirt out. You will have to clean out the filter or back-flow the system to keep the filter clean. See manufacturer requirement. After everything is checked, the water circulation system should run smoothly.
    • Tool List: pool – screen net, pool – brush
    • Supply List & Costs: filter

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Also, check out another interesting article- How To Clean Your Windows and Window Screens!

Cleaning MaintenanceExterior MaintenanceInterior Maintenance

How To Clean Your Windows and Window Screens

Spring is a great time to start cleaning your windows and washing window screens. Windows that don’t operate properly can be a safety hazard for families in the case of intruders, so it’s vital that they open, close, and lock efficiently. Window screens with rips and tears aren’t doing their jobs because they eventually let dirt and insects inside during warmer months when windows are open.

This is a Safety Task!

If dirt and dust get into the locks, they may not function properly, preventing you from keeping intruders out or opening them in an emergency.

This is a Health Task!

All windows and screens require a good cleaning. Screens can collect grime, dirt, and dust, which can cause illness or allergies within the home. In addition, if screens are torn and windows are open, unwanted bugs can enter the house.

This is a Preventative Maintenance Task!

If windows that need glazing are not glazed and sealed, they may eventually have to be replaced, which is expensive. If they are not properly cleaned, dust and dirt can get into the sliders, window frames, operating mechanisms, or locks resulting in restricted use of the windows.

Tasks can be done by: Homeowner, window cleaning company, handyman

How To Clean Your Windows and Window Screens | Task Steps

Step 1 – Inspect windows and screens

  • Inspect your house for damaged screens and broken windows. Some windows will lose their seal and look dirty, but the cloudy area is between the glass. The only way to fix that is to get a replacement glass or order a new window.
  • If you have old wooden windows, sometimes the glazing will fall out, which can cause the glass to break or fall out. However, if the glass is still good, you may be able to reglaze it and save on the cost of new windows. (Glazing is a caulk for windows. It weatherproofs and seals vulnerable areas but can deteriorate over time and should be replaced.)
  • If the windows need painting, make a note of this.
    • Tool List: ladder – step ladder

Step 2 – Cleaning window screens

  • If you’re cleaning multiple screens, you should label each screen, so putting them back isn’t difficult.
  • First, remove the screen from the window. (If you notice big rips and tears within the screen, it would be a good time to replace them).
  • Next, mix one cup of household ammonia with one tablespoon of dish detergent in approximately three cups of water, then pour it into a spray bottle.
  • After removing the screens, determine where the best place is to wash them. Depending on the weather, you can do this outside on the porch or deck. Otherwise, use your bathtub and run them under warm water one at a time.
  • Spray the screen with the solution you made, making sure to cover the entire screen with the solution.
  • Now use a scrub brush to remove any grime or dirt gently.
  • After scrubbing, run the screens under warm water to remove any excess residue.
  • Lastly, gently shake the screen free of water and allow it to air-dry.
    • Tool List: spray bottle, brush – flexible, hose – garden
    • Supply List & Costs: dish soap, ammonia – household  $0

Step 3 – Clean windows

  • While your window screens are air-drying, grab your preferred window cleaning solution and clean the windows inside and outside.
  • At this point, if you noticed that the glazing around your windows is peeling away, you can attempt to fix this if you feel comfortable enough. You can pick up some glazing putty at your local hardware store, but if you don’t feel comfortable fixing it yourself, you can call a professional.
  • If you made a note earlier about needing to repaint windows, this would also be the step to get that done the way you prefer.
  • Once your screens are thoroughly dried, reinstall them in their appropriate spots.
    • Tool List: ladder – stepladder,
    • Supply List & Costs: cleaning solution – window

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Also, check out another interesting article- How To Clean Your Oven!