RISMEDIA, March 29, 2008- The first day of Spring is March 20th and as most homeowners keep to the age-old Spring tradition of deep cleaning, this ritual is even more important as homeowners gear up for the Spring selling season. According to a recent poll, nearly 80% of Angie’s List members said they keep up with routine maintenance, either doing it themselves or by hiring help. The vast majority of these homeowners say their diligence helps them save money and avoid more costly repairs down the road.
“In today’s market, it’s imperative to have your home in the best shape and condition possible in order to get it sold and attract buyers,” says Cecilia Sherrard , a buyer, seller and relocation specialist for Realty One Real Living. “Starting from the curb, make sure your home is one you’d want to see inside.”
“Making a list of items to check around the home this season – and then actually following through with the tasks – can help reduce home maintenance and utility costs,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List.
The 20% who don’t keep up say they just don’t know what to check and when, they forget about doing it or they just don’t have time for it. Angie’s List, a provider of ratings and reviews of local service companies, went to the experts to develop a list to help the veteran maintainers, as well as those still in the dark, keep up with the house this season.
The first step to Spring cleaning is making a list of which areas of your home need to be freshened up.
– Experts recommend a professional carpet cleaning every 12 to 18 months. Schedule an appointment with carpet cleaners now to cut down on your wait time.
– Check your gutters. Professionals recommend gutter cleaning in the spring and the fall. Clogged gutters can lead to water damage.
– Use a garden hose to remove the film left by dirty snow and rain from your siding and deck. Attach a soft-bristled, long-handled car brush to the hose for some extra help. Use a mild cleanser to get those tough-to-clean spots.
– Remove wet leaves and debris from your deck, front porch and around your house on a regular basis. Allowing the debris to accumulate can trap water, lead to staining or mold build-up, as well as create an ideal environment for termites.
Snow, ice and wind can wreak havoc on your home, so be sure to go over the structures in early spring. Finding damage early will increase your chances of getting an early repair, as many home improvement companies begin their busy seasons this time of year.
– Scrutinize your crawl space for water accumulation or excessive moisture, and keep an eye out for water damage on the sub-floor and joists beneath the kitchen, bathroom and laundry areas.
– Give your roof a “once-over” for damage inflicted during the winter. Depending on the style and pitch of your roof, you may want to use a ladder and a pair of binoculars to look for missing or broken shingles and other damage. If you don’t feel comfortable on a ladder, call a professional before the busy season begins.
– Check the weather stripping around doors and windows. The winter season may have caused some damage. Also remove any storm windows and replace with screens.
– Check the valve where water enters your house, outdoor faucets and valves to toilets, bathroom and kitchen sinks. Turn each off and on several times to identify any leaks.
By preparing for outdoor projects early, homeowners can get a jump on things like landscaping – but don’t forget about your driveway! Water that seeps into your driveway can freeze, causing cracks and other damage.
– Talk with your landscaper or local garden center about the best way to enrich your soil for the types of plants in your yard. Proper fertilization can keep your soil and your plants in great shape throughout the year.
– If you’ve postponed tool care, now is a good time to get in the garage and take a closer look at your garden equipment. Does the mower need serviced? It’s a good idea to call now. Garden service companies will get busy in the next couple of months. Don’t forget to clean and sharpen other garden tools as well.
– Spring is a good time to examine your asphalt driveway’s surface for damage. Regular resealing is the best way to protect the surface and keep it in good shape. If you’re planning to hire a professional to seal the driveway, summer is peak time of year – so call now to get on their schedule.
“Start with the entry door,” says Sherrard. “Paint or replace and take notice of missing screens or old storm doors. Add a new mailbox, lighting fixture, or address to add a new feel. Clean up the garage and landscaping.”
Regular maintenance on major home appliances can help to ensure their efficiency and lifespan.
– Get your air conditioner serviced. Technicians can test your air conditioner as long as the temperature is above 60 degrees. Call now to get on their schedule before the first warm days of spring.
– Clean and lubricate hinges, rollers and tracks on garage doors with a light household oil – don’t use petroleum-based lubricants. You can call a professional to take care of this, as well as service the opener mechanism itself. Don’t attempt to service the opener mechanism yourself. Your garage door opener can be one of the most dangerous appliances around your house.
– Get your water heater serviced. Maintained properly, water heaters will last for years and deliver gallon after gallon of hot water. Left alone, they’ll quickly lose efficiency, sucking dollars out of your wallet with every degree of heat.
– Spring rains are just around the corner, so be sure your sump pump works properly. To test, fill the sump pit with water and go outside to make sure the pump is actually discharging water. You can also eliminate any build-up in the system by pouring white vinegar through the unit.
You may have already received your tax return. A recent poll found that 25% of Angie’s List members plan on using their tax checks to invest in home repairs. Some investments will have a better return than others, so choose your projects wisely.
“Clean out closets and cabinets providing as much empty space as possible,” says Sherrard. When preparing to sell, “Pack away all personal items including photos. The emptier your home, the larger it appears. Buy a new bed in a bag for your bedrooms. Dust everything including the basement.”
What’s more, says Sherrard, buyers look at mechanicals and corners.
“Freshen the home by airing it out thoroughly and sanitizing baseboards, woodwork, floors and lighting fixtures,” she says.
– The roof, furnace and water heater, won’t garner great returns, but are expected to be in good shape. Proper home maintenance saves you money on a daily basis and positions you well for a sale.
– Kitchen and bath renovations are expensive but great investments if you are going to be in your house at least five more years. They’re also the rooms buyers pay the most attention to and can make or break your sale.
– Turning attics and basements into livable space, or adding decks, can bring a better return than adding square footage, and the upfront costs aren’t nearly as exorbitant. Finishing touches matter, though. Wall-to-wall carpeting and drywall in a basement will bring a lot more than cheap paneling and a drop-in ceiling.
“A clean home is desired as it reflects the owner’s level of activity when it comes to maintenance and keeping up with the property,” says Sherrard. A lot of these tips are cheap and some even free. When done properly, Sherrard reminds that “your home should now give you the feeling of checking into a hotel; decorated, yet depersonalized and clean!”
According to the website, 1,334 of Angie’s List members participated with the poll. Responses are representative of Angie’s List members, but not the general public.