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Early Spring is a perfect time for home maintenance.

Early Spring is a perfect time for home maintenance.

After a below normal temperature February, we are in the mood for spring, with a spell of above normal temps for early March.

Can’t do many of these home maintenance items right now, but it’s good to have a list of Spring To-Do’s  for when the weather is just right. Some of these are DIY projects; others are best left to professionals.

What you can do now:

  1. Replace your HVAC filters. (Do this more often than once a year.) A dirty filter forces your HVAC system to work harder, which in turn drains your wallet. It could also shorten the life of your blower motor.
  2. Check the washing machine fill hose. Look for cracks that could become leaks. A leaky hose under pressure can cause major damage in a short period of time.
  3. Clean your dryer vent. Not all lint is caught in the lint trap. Some makes its way into the dryer vent. A clean vent will save you money by reducing the time your dryer has to run. A plugged vent not only wastes money, but could also cause a house fire.
  4. Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors if you haven’t already done so with the daylight savings time change last week.
  5. Drain you water heater. Sediment builds up in your water heater tank. Use the spigot near the bottom of the heater to drain it. By doing so, you’ll prolong its life and reduce your electric bill.
  6. Clean your carpets and upholstery. Clean carpets promote better health for the entire household.
  7. Clean and organize your garage. Get rid of anything you haven’t used lately.

What to do once the weather warms up:

  1. Inspect your roof. Your roof is your first line of defense against water damage. Inspect and repair any worn areas to prevent water damage inside your home.
  2. Clean your gutters. Gutters direct rain away from your roof and home, protecting both in the process. Clogged gutters open your home to water damage; and there is a good chance you won’t notice the damage until you need an expensive repair.
  3. Fix cracks in your walks, driveways and outside of your home. Most of these repairs are fairly easy if done immediately.
  4. Repair any cracked or peeling paint. Paint makes your home look nice and provides a protective barrier from the elements.
  5. Prepare your lawn mower for summer. Change the engine oil and sharpen the cutting blade. You’ll lengthen the life of the mower and improve the look of your lawn.
  6. Check the seals around doors and windows. Winter weather can crack and harden caulk and other weather seals. You’ll reduce your air-conditioning bills in the summer.
  7. Clean vegetation around your air conditioning compressor. To work efficiently, the compressor needs good airflow. Prune any plant growth that could block it.

A few hours spent protecting and enhancing your biggest investment is time well spent!

January is Radon Awareness Month

What you Don’t Know and Can’t See Can Hurt You

Could there be a chance that the air in your home is polluted by a completely odorless and colorless gas that damage lungs and can potentially give you and your family lung cancer? Wouldn’t you want to know if it was in your home?  The gas in question is radon, and given that January is Radon Action Month; a month when we normally spend much more time indoors; it is a good time to learn more about it.

A few years ago, I became concerned about radon in my my home because the bad news is – Walworth County is a high risk area for radon. The soil in our area contains an unevenly distributed and generally small amount of uranium, the same mineral that is mined for fueling nuclear power plants. When uranium starts breaking down in soil, rock or water, one of the byproducts of this breakdown is radon gas. If your house is built on soil that contains some uranium, this radioactive gas can seep through cracks, sump pumps and other openings in basement floors and walls. The location of radon can be very sporadic. Your home may have a high radon level, and your neighbor’s home can be just fine.

Make sure your indoor air is safe from radon.

Make sure your indoor air is safe from radon.

The EPA estimates that radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the U.S. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. If you do smoke and your home has elevated radon levels, your risk of lung cancer goes up even more. The good news is that this problem does have solutions.

The best way to find out if you have a radon problem is to do a radon test. The Environmental Production Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General of the United States recommends that the test be done in the living areas of your home where your family spends most of their time.

The testing procedure is very simple. It involves buying a small test kit, setting it up in the living area following the instructions, leaving it in place for the amount of time indicated, and then sending the kit back in a self-addressed pre-paid mailer. The lab will send you easy to read results within a week or two, or even earlier if you provide your email address.

Testing is inexpensive. You can get a test kit from the Walworth County Public Health Department for $10. (Contact Walworth County Public Health at 262-741-3140 to pick up a kit.) Or you can purchase mail- in test kits for less than $25 at local hardware stores.

I did the radon test on each floor of my home and found that I had a very high level of radon gas detected in the lower level and first floor; the main living areas. Since I had a problem, I knew I needed to install a system that would get the radon out of my home. Such systems need to be installed by a qualified contractor. While the cost of fixing this problem can seem high (typically $800-$1,200) it is a real bargain when weighed against removing the threat of lung cancer from your home.

The winter months are the perfect time to test your home for radon and make sure that your family is protected against this invisible threat to their long-term health. If you find out that you too have high levels of radon in your home – call me at 262-723-3588 for  qualified radon mitigation specialists to contact.