Category Archives: Home Maintenance

10 Fall Maintenance Tasks You Should Start in Summer

DIY experts say fall and spring are the two major home maintenance seasons, with the former being especially important – if you overlook your autumn maintenance tasks, you risk leaving your home vulnerable to the many problems that wild winter weather can bring. These problems can be very expensive to repair, to say nothing of the inconveniences they can cause.

The smart move is to get a jump on your fall maintenance during the summer, when the days are still long and the weather warm.

10 Fall Maintenance Tasks You Should Start in Summer by Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement

Get Started in Summer with These Essential Fall Home Maintenance Tasks

Here are 10 high-priority fall maintenance tasks you should start during the summertime:

  • Inspect your roof. Check your roof carefully for signs of wear and tear, like missing or damaged shingles. If you don’t feel comfortable climbing onto your roof, grab a pair of binoculars and use them to inspect all visible parts of your roof from a distance. Or call a roofer.
  • Service your furnace. Have a professional technician come in and perform seasonal heating system maintenance. Most home heating specialists aren’t busy in summer, meaning it should be easy to book an appointment. Your furnace will run more reliably and economically if it’s properly serviced, so this is an investment that can pay dividends.
  • Clean your chimney. If you’ve got a fireplace, now is the time to make sure the remnants of last winter’s fires are all cleared out. It’s also a good idea to get a head start on restocking your firewood, especially if you cut it yourself.
  • Insulate exposed pipes. Pipe bursts are one of the most feared wintertime home mishaps, as they are a nightmare to clean up after. A key way to avoid them is to insulate your exposed pipes so trapped water won’t freeze and cause a burst.
  • Prune your bushes and trees. Well-trimmed trees, shrubs and hedges don’t just look better – they also grow better in the long run. By pruning now, you’ll give them the advantage of continued health through the rest of the growing season and put them in great shape to come back strong next year.
  • Check your snow removal gear. Is your snow blower functioning properly? Are all your snow shovels in ship-shape and ready for another winter? Now is the time to find out.
  • Check your weatherstripping. Quality, properly applied weatherstripping adds a vital layer of protection around windows and doors, helping keep heat inside during the winter. Give yours an upgrade before fall arrives, since you never quite know when you’ll need to turn your heat on for the first time.
  • Clear your gutters. You’ll need to do this again in the late fall to clear out autumn’s remnants, but a preliminary cleaning effort now will make that task less time-consuming.
  • Measure your slope. If you haven’t done so in a while, check your property’s grade rate to make sure it is adequately sloped to guide water away from your home when the snow melts in springtime. Erosion can affect property grading over time, so if it’s been a few years, you’re better safe than sorry.
  • Check your detectors. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order and have fresh batteries. During the winter, your windows are closed and your combustion appliances are on more often. That’s part of the reason it’s especially important to make sure your CO2 detector is functioning properly.

Take care of these tasks while the weather is still warm and sunny and your home will be in great shape heading toward winter.

If you need help preparing your home for winter, call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement. We are a family owned and operated Virginia home improvement contractor with over 40 years of experience. Whether you need your furnace serviced, gutters repaired, or water damage handled, we’re here to help!

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote below

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Home Water Damage: 5 Major Causes and Prevention Tips

Water damage is a major headache that often necessitates costly repairs. Aside from immediate damage it creates, it can also lead to serious problems later on, including toxic mold and problems with your home’s structural and foundational elements.

However, the good news is that most types of water damage are preventable. You can even take action to reduce the chances of suffering serious damage as the result of something you can’t prevent, such as a flood or backed-up city sewer.

Home Water Damage: 5 Major Causes and Prevention Tips

5 Most Common Types of Water Damage and How to Prevent Them

Water damage can be dangerous and expensive, so preventing it is an important part of home maintenance. No matter the type of damage, there are numerous things your can do to protect your property.

#1. Floods

Floods caused by natural events such as major storms are among the leading culprits when it comes to home water damage. While nobody can control Mother Nature, there are several things you can do to safeguard against storm-related flooding:

  • Keep valuables off the basement floor. Most storm-related floods affect basements. As such, it’s not a good idea to keep valuable items, like high-end furniture and electronics, in these areas of your home. This is particularly true if you live in a flood-prone geographic region.
  • Raise your electric sockets. Flood damage will wreak havoc on affected parts of your home’s electrical system. One strategy is to elevate the position of the electric sockets in your basement. Instead of placing them near the floor, move them higher up on the wall.
  • Install a basement sump pump. A battery-powered basement sump pump will help you clear water in the event of a flood.
  • Put indoor/outdoor carpeting in basements. Use stone, tile, sealed concrete, waterproof wallboard and other water-resistant building materials in areas prone to flooding.
  • Seal foundation cracks. Water in the foundation can cause serious damage to your home’s structure. Make sure that the grounds around the house slope away from the home to keep water from the foundations and basement.

#2. Burst pipes

Burst pipes can be a major problem, especially during the winter months. Water can freeze inside the pipes, causing expansion that can lead to a burst…and thousands of dollars’ worth of water damage. The good news is there’s an easy three-step method to avoid such a situation:

  • Set your water thermostat to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius)
  • Turn on your faucets ever so slightly, so any water in your pipes will drip out
  • Once your pipes are empty, insulate all exposed pipes to help trap heat inside so water will not freeze.
  • Fix and replace leaking pipes, clogged drains, and malfunctioning drainage systems immediately.
  • Check washing machine and dishwasher hoses to make sure that they aren’t cracked.

#3. Water heater failures

Water heater failures usually result from slow leaks or bursts inside the water tank. Performing regular routine maintenance is the best way to avoid these problems.

  • Have your water heater regularly serviced by a qualified technician, and flush out built-up sediment on a regular basis according to manufacturer guidelines. Consult your owner’s manual for specifics.
  • Replace your aging water heater – if your water heater reaches its life expectancy, the risk of a slow leak or sudden burst increases.

#4. Roof leaks

Roof leaks are another common culprit of home flooding, and you can avoid them by being vigilant about possible problems with your roofing and performing regular maintenance of your roofing system.

  • Every spring and fall, you should perform a detailed inspection of your roof, noting any areas where shingles or roofing elements show signs of wear. Have them repaired promptly.
  • Replace shingles that are coming loose, and pay extra attention to areas around the chimney and vents.
  • Do the same if you notice leaks coming from your roof, even if you didn’t notice signs of damage during your inspection. Something may have eluded your eye, and a professional can help diagnose and solve these problems.
  • Use galvanized or stainless-steel nails and fasteners.
  • Make sure that gutters drain water away from the house, and that all the joints are all properly sealed.

#5. Toilet and drain backups

Finally, beware of toilet and drain backups. Regular inspections and preventative maintenance will help you avoid problems with your toilets and drains.

  • Check your toilet’s supply valve, supply line, and flush valve at least once a year, and replace any components showing signs of wear.
  • Act promptly if any of your home’s toilets stop functioning normally.
  • With drains, do periodic checks to make sure water isn’t clearing unusually slowly. If it is, something is likely clogging your drain. Drain cleaners are readily available at home improvement stores, and they’ll help in most situations.
  • For persistent problems, or for issues that you can’t readily solve using frontline techniques, contact your local plumber.

If Water Damage Has Occurred…

If you have water damage in your home, there’s a series of steps you need to follow to solve your problem. These include identifying the source of the damage, fixing that problem and then dealing with the water damage itself.

If you’ve been affected by water damage, you will be dealing with your homeowner’s insurance. Here are few tips:

  • call your insurance agent right away,
  • list all of your damaged property before beginning the cleanup process, including pictures if possible,
  • keep receipts for all of your cleanup supplies and any services that you hire,
  • know that flood damage is not covered under homeowner’s insurance, you will need flood insurance purchased separately,
  • additionally, not all water damage is covered by insurance, especially if the damage resulted from lack of proper maintenance or was ongoing but ignored.

In the aftermath of water damage, hiring a quality contractor is the best way to ensure your water damage gets fixed right, the first time, every time. For immediate help, call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement, a family owned/operated Charlottesville & Culpeper VA home renovation contractor with over 40 years of experience. We are experts at insurance restoration and offer 24/7 emergency service to our Virginia customers!.

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote below

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Spring Home Maintenance: 11 Tasks You Shouldn’t Ignore

Spring Home Maintenance: 11 Tasks You Shouldn't Ignore

Preventative maintenance is an important part of home ownership – just like a car, your home needs regular maintenance and occasional tune-ups to stay in good shape.

There are numerous season-specific tasks you should perform each spring – some more important than others – that will help keep your home in tip-top shape and save you the headache and cost of emergency repairs.

Spring Home Maintenance: 11 Tasks You Shouldn’t Ignore

1. Begin with an inspection of the exterior

Winter can take its toll on many parts of your home’s exterior, including the windows, chimney, foundation, and exterior walls. Gutters and wooden decks can also suffer damage, and any signs of wear and tear should be addressed promptly.

It’s good to do a walk around of your property paying close attention to any cracks in foundation. Make sure the soil around your house slopes away from your foundation walls at least 6 inches over 10 feet – this will prevent basement walls from leaning, cracking the masonry, and causing leaks.

2. Pay extra attention to the roof

While it isn’t always necessary to climb onto your roof to perform an inspection, you should assess the condition of the roof during the early days of spring. Use binoculars to spot loose or damaged shingles or popped-up nails. Look for visible signs of damage like warping, discoloration, or grain loss.

Also, check soffits, fascias and vents for animal nests and debris. Again, fix any issues as soon as possible, since spring rains can exacerbate any potential problems.

3. Clean your gutters

Spring Home Maintenance: 11 Tasks You Shouldn't IgnoreWinter can wash a lot of debris into your gutters, which can interfere with drainage. Clean out loose branches and leaves at the first available opportunity. Gently flush your gutters with a garden hose to ensure drainage.

While you are removing debris, remember to examine your gutters for corrosion, holes, sagging and leaking areas. You’ll also want to look for missing, loose or bent fasteners, and any areas that are sagging – often the result of loose fasteners that need to be tightenend.

4. Check the air conditioner

Experts recommend replacing your A/C filter at the beginning of spring, in advance of the summer cooling season. Dirty filters strain your HVAC system, which in turn puts a strain on your wallet.

It’s also a good idea to have a professional perform routine maintenance on your air conditioning unit before the hot weather arrives – this includes debris removal, fins cleaning and straightening, coils cleaning, and level check.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to clean the area around the unit for optimal air flow – and performance.

5. Seal cracks with caulking

Leaks around windows will let heat in and cooled indoor air out, so be sure to check that any caulking and weather stripping you have in place has remained intact.  If you find any gaps around windows or doors, seal them off with caulking. Here, the rule of thumb is to close off any gap that is wider than the diameter of a nickel.

6. Perform a power wash

Windows and siding should be power-washed each spring to remove caked-on debris and dirt (never power wash the screens, however). The longer these elements stay in place, the more difficult they are to remove.

Also, touch up peeling or damaged paint, and replace rotten siding or trim as needed

7. Check sidewalks and driveways

Spring Home Maintenance: 11 Tasks You Shouldn't IgnoreThe natural expansion and contraction of concrete that occur when temperatures fluctuate can cause cracks. Your best defense against this is to fill in any cracks as they appear, beginning in spring when the snow has melted and temperatures settle in warmer ranges. Spring, in fact, is the best time to seal the driveway.

8. Rake & fertilize your lawn

Thatch tends to build up in lawns over the winter, and if it isn’t raked away, it can interfere with sunlight reaching the blades of grass. This, in turn, can lead to a dull and spotty lawn. A thorough spring raking will remove it. Follow it up with a fertilizer.

Additionally, check your outdoor water systems—pipes, faucets, and in-ground sprinkler systems—making sure they are in working order.

9. Sharpen your lawn mower blades

Dull mower blades tears your grass rather than cutting it cleanly. This leaves your lawn more vulnerable to pests and decay caused by sun damage. Sharpen your mower blades in spring, and again midway through summer for best results.

10. Refinish your deck

Spring Home Maintenance: 11 Tasks You Shouldn't IgnoreClean your deck checking for warped, loose or splintered boards. Then add a protective coating to wooden decks before hot temperatures and intense summer sunlight have a chance to take their toll. Composite decks should be maintained according to manufacturer’s directions.

11. Don’t overlook the interior

Perform a thorough interior spring cleaning, and check the basement for musty smells that can signal moisture problems. Replace the batteries in your fire and carbon monoxide alarms, and make sure mold and pest infestations haven’t occurred in out-of-the-way places like attics and crawl spaces.

If you need help preparing your home for spring, call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement. We are a family owned and operated Virginia home improvement contractor with over 40 years of experience. Whether you need your house repainted, deck repaired, or water damage handled, we’re here to help!

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote below

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