Simple Garage Makeover Ideas

For some homeowners, the garage is the focal point of their home. For others, it is simply a storage space or a place to park their vehicle. Regardless of how you use your garage, these simple garage makeover ideas can help keep you organized, boost your curb appeal, and increase your home’s value.

Simple Garage Makeover Ideas

Garage Exterior

The garage door is a natural starting point for your garage makeover. A garage door replacement is a surefire way to increase the value of your home and is a common tactic for drumming up buyer interest when preparing to hit the market. But even if you don’t have the budget for a full-scale replacement, a DIY garage door makeover can still make a big difference.

Repaint Garage Exterior

Begin by prepping your garage door for a fresh coat of paint. Clean and scrub the surface with warm soapy water. Scrape off any loose paint with a putty knife or wire brush. If scraping manually is too taxing for you, use a wire wheel brush tool. Rinse and clean the door, letting it dry completely before you begin painting.

Once you’ve covered your driveway with a tarp or plastic sheeting to protect it from paint spills, you’re ready to begin painting. Choose a complimentary color for your trim to tie together your home’s exterior color scheme. Check out different styles of garage door hardware options that match the style of your home, choose your layout, and install the pieces.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: hikesterson

 

Garage Interior

As you turn your attention to your garage’s interior, consider refinishing the floor first. By starting with the floor, you won’t have to continually shuffle your garage items around as you continue your makeover. If you’re considering converting your garage into a home gym, factor that in as you work on the flooring.

Start by fixing any cracks or holes with a basic patch kit. Once the surface is flat, sweep and mop from end to end. If you are removing a previous layer of paint, use a buffer to jar the old paint loose before repainting. Finishing your garage floor off with epoxy will help protect it from stains and damage. Apply two coats of epoxy twenty-four hours apart, followed by a sealing topcoat.

Organize Your Garage

In just a few steps, you can turn your garage from a cluttered oversized closet into an organized storage space. Start by taking inventory of the items in your garage. Do you have lots of tools? Is the space filled with sports equipment? Grouping like items together will keep your storage orderly. Next, decide where you would like to store your items. Overhead storage racks, rollers, and ceiling storage can significantly cut down on clutter, but these storage options are best reserved for infrequently accessed or seasonal items like holiday decorations and camping gear.

Keep frequently used items within reach. Magnetic wall panels are a great resource for your everyday tools and gardening equipment. Install shelving and drawers near your workbench to keep smaller hand tools, screws, and nails tidy and organized and add labels so you can keep track of them. If space is limited, consider a wall-mounted foldable workbench.

 

A hardboard hanging panel in a garage full of common hand tools like screwdrivers, measuring tape, scissors, duct tape, vice grips, etc.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Bluberries

 

Add Finishing Touches

Now it’s time to put the final touches on your garage makeover. Though installation may require the help of a professional, adding electrical outlets will pay dividends for the functionality of your garage. Installing bike hooks on the ceiling will help to save floor space and may provide just the clearance you need to park a vehicle inside. Lastly, consider upgrading your lighting. Newly installed lights will add value to your garage and make it safer.

For more simple design projects that can give your home a makeover, read the following:

5 Design Projects to Improve Your Backyard

 


­­­­­­Featured Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: JodiJacobson

The post Simple Garage Makeover Ideas appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

5 Pet-Friendly House Cleaning Tips

Pets make a house a home. But as much as you love your furry friends, they do add a few entries to your list of chores. Keeping your home clean requires a bit of extra work, and some methods of upkeep are more pet-friendly than others. The following tips will help you keep your house clean and your pets happy.

5 Pet-Friendly House Cleaning Tips

1. Safely Clean Up Accidents

When pet owners buy a home, they proceed knowing full well that pet accidents and messes are bound to happen. Cleaning up messes quickly is important for keeping your home clean, but it will also remove the scent, so your pets don’t come back to that same area with the same intentions. When shopping around, look for cleaning products that are safe for animals and don’t contain any toxic chemicals.

2. Deep Clean to Reduce Smells

Pets have a knack for leaving a scent behind. Every pet owner knows the feeling of going through their normal cleaning routine to extinguish the pet smell from their home, only for it to linger after they’re done. To really get your home smelling fresh again, you’ll need to target your pets’ favorite areas as well as the commonly missed cleaning spots throughout your home like underneath furniture, along the baseboards, etc. You’ll be surprised at how much dirt and fur you find in these places.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Marco VDM

 

3. Clean Pet Toys Regularly

Your pets’ toys are magnets for dirt, fur, drool, and other unwanted substances. It’s a homeowner’s nightmare to imagine spending hours cleaning your home top to bottom, only for a muddy ball your pets have been chewing on to roll across the carpet. Cleaning toys regularly is also healthier for your pets as it helps to reduce the spread of germs. If your pets’ toys are dishwasher safe, pop them in the dishwasher every once in a while to get them squeaky clean.

4. Keep the Air Clean

Even after you’ve exhausted all your cleaning efforts on the surfaces throughout your home, pet fur and dander can still travel through the air. It’s important to clean the air in your home, especially if members of your household have allergies. Consider investing in an air purifier, which will filter air particles to remove dust and odors, giving everyone in your home—pets included—cleaner air to enjoy.

5. The Importance of Well-Groomed Pets

In the context of a clean, pet-friendly home, there’s one surface that’s more important than any—your pets themselves. Every pet owner has their routine; whether that’s regularly maintaining their cat’s litter box, wiping off the dog’s paws in the mudroom before letting them inside, regular baths and brushing, or keeping nails trimmed to avoid furniture and carpet damage, these are the boxes that must be checked to keep your home clean. For all your cleaning efforts, if your pets are still messy, then the spaces in your home will follow suit.

Read the following blog post for more information on maintaining a pet-friendly home as you look to sell:

Selling a Home with Pets

 


­­­­­­Featured Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Prostock-Studio

The post 5 Pet-Friendly House Cleaning Tips appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

How to Handle Asbestos in Your Home

Throughout the mid twentieth century, asbestos was commonly used throughout the homebuilding process. It was typically used as insulation, but would also pop up in vinyl flooring, cement siding, walls, pipes—you name it. After it was discovered that inhaling asbestos fibers has serious health effects, its domestic production slowed, and legislation was put forth to ban it altogether.

However, just like lead paint, homes that were built in the asbestos era still carry a dormant risk. If your home contains asbestos, you should be aware of its dangers, how to handle it, and how to go about removing it safely.

How to Handle Asbestos in Your Home

Having asbestos material in your home is not inherently hazardous if the material is left undisturbed. So, if your asbestos material is intact and in good condition, the best thing to do is to leave it be. However, the moment asbestos material becomes damaged—either from degrading over time or because of a sudden accident—it becomes dangerous. Once asbestos fibers are released, it can spell trouble for you and your household. 

Testing for Asbestos

If you find damaged asbestos material, you should cordon off the area to the best of your ability to limit exposure. If restricting the area means you could disturb the asbestos, then it’s best to refrain from interacting with it and let a professional handle it.

DIY asbestos testing is possible, but it can be highly toxic if you don’t take the proper precautions. An asbestos inspector will conduct a thorough examination of your home to determine the extent of its presence and provide their recommended course of action. It is advised to test for asbestos before making an addition or a large-scale remodel to your home.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: ricochet64

 

Removing Asbestos

You can either repair existing asbestos exposure or have it removed. Repairs can be cheaper in the short term but may simply be prolonging the inevitable. Making repairs on your own is generally not recommended, since the slightest mishandling of the exposed asbestos can create a much bigger problem.

When it comes to removing asbestos, you’ll want to enlist the help of a professional. As with any contractor, ask for quotes and make comparisons before deciding who you’ll hire. Before the job is finalized, have your home tested to ensure that all asbestos has been safely removed from the premises.

For more tips on home safety, home maintenance, and avoiding dangers caused by the systems in your home, read our blog post on How to Prevent and Deal with Mold.  

 


­­­­­­Featured Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: BanksPhotos

The post How to Handle Asbestos in Your Home appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Springtime Gardening Tips by Region

This time of year, there is much to be done in the garden. Whether you tend to a few veggie plants, have a sprawling urban farm, or tend to a flourishing, flowering sanctuary, spring is a critical time of the year to focus on the health of your garden to keep it fertile heading into summer. Geography and climate play a large role in what a garden needs at different times throughout the year. The following information will help you build out your springtime gardening to-do list depending on where you live. But first, here are a few tips that apply to gardeners of all regions and climates.

Gardening During Spring

Weeding

No matter where you live, weeds can be an issue for your garden. By carving out some time to weed your flower beds and garden in spring, you’ll be ahead of the curve when summer comes around. Use this time to check for any infestations or fungi growing on your plants and flowers.

Watering

Water is the lifeblood of a healthy garden. Keeping your plants and flowers irrigated is paramount, especially so in the spring, since proper watering now will have your garden in top shape as the months get warmer and drier. For plants that require significant watering, place saucers under their pots to catch the excess.

Mulching

Spring is a great time of year to mulch your garden. Mulch helps to keep your soil moisturized when temperatures rise, keeps weeds at bay, and enriches your soil with organic matter.

Clean Your Water Features

Throughout the warmer months of the year, ponds, bird baths, and other water features become a magnet for rapid algae growth. Clean your water filters and remove decaying leaves to keep them clean and algae-free.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Jurgute

 

Springtime Gardening Tips by Region

Pacific Northwest

Pacific Northwesterners can expect to continue to divide perennials while it is still wet out. Once the sun becomes more consistent in late spring, it’s time to transfer any plants you seeded indoors to the outdoors. This time of year brings more sun breaks, which, combined with steady rain, creates rich gardening conditions. Deadhead your rose bushes of any old blooms and begin seeding your annuals.

Northern California

By April, gardeners in Northern California can begin to plant warm-season plants and fertilize perennials. With sunny and dry days dominating the weather pattern, temperatures will begin to rise. Accordingly, it’s important to check your sprinkler and irrigation systems and make repairs/replacements as needed before it gets hot. Check for signs of fungal diseases or evidence of insects throughout the garden before their damage spreads.

Southern California

As the days get hotter in Southern California, gardeners can plant tropical plants and perennials outdoors. This is a great time of year to check whether you have substantial mulch around the base of your plants and trees and add as necessary. If you plan to grow tomato plants, potatoes, or bell peppers, they should be planted by mid-spring.

Southwest

Southwesterners should fertilize their perennials and plant warm-season plants in early spring. When adding mulch, be mindful of your garden’s mulching limit. Adding too much can make it difficult for plants to push up through the ground. Given the fact that this climate typically experiences very few rainy days in mid-Spring and beyond, it’s the right time to plant palm trees and cacti. It’s also the right time of year to give your sprinklers and irrigation system a complete checkup.

Mountain West

There is a bit of waiting game with springtime gardening in the Mountain West, but once the snow has melted, the green thumbs have the green light to get out in the garden. Plant fruit trees and strawberries once it has begun to warm up in April and spread compost around the garden to help reduce weeds and enrich the soil. Once frost is a thing of the past, turn on your irrigation system and check for any leaks. Early May is usually a good time of year to begin planting your vegetable garden.

 

For more tips on working out in the garden, read our guide to sustainable gardening:

10 Tips for Sustainable Gardening

The post Springtime Gardening Tips by Region appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

How to Prevent and Deal with Mold

Whether you are buying or selling a home, mold is something to be mindful of. Health concerns and potential damage make mold a red flag for buyers. Even if you’re not planning to sell any time soon, taking care of mold problems now can prevent even larger and more costly issues in the future. Contrary to what some people think, mold is not a geographic problem—it can occur anywhere, no matter where you live. Here is some basic information about mold and how to deal with it.

What is mold?

Molds are microscopic organisms that are found virtually everywhere indoors and outdoors. There are thousands of different kinds of mold. Their natural function is to help break down dead materials such as stumps and leaves so the nutrients can be used by the environment. For molds to grow, they need two things: an organic food source—such as leaves, wood, paper, or dirt—and moisture.

Mold Causes Damage

Mother Nature uses mold to decompose plant material. Unfortunately, when present indoors, it can be equally destructive. Mold growth can damage furnishings, such as carpets, couches, and cabinets. If it goes undetected or neglected, it can also cause serious damage to walls and structural elements in your home.

Mold is present everywhere, and most people tolerate exposure with no adverse effects. If allowed to spread, however, it may cause problems. As molds grow, they release thousands of tiny spores that travel through the air. When inhaled in large enough amounts, these spores may increase the risk of adverse health effects in some people, particularly respiratory problems.  A less-common strain of mold called “black mold” can be particularly troublesome to those who are especially sensitive.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: wattanaphob

 

Common Causes of Mold Growth in Homes

No matter your local climate, your home is vulnerable to mold. There are many sources of mold problems, from faulty air conditioners to poorly positioned sprinkler systems. Here are the most common sources of mold inside the home:

  • Flooding
  • Leaky roofs or damaged gutters
  • Heating or cooling system problems
  • Poor drainage next to foundation
  • Plumbing leaks from toilets, refrigerators, and dishwashers
  • Damp basement or crawl space
  • Leaking windows or doors
  • Steam from shower or cooking
  • Indoor exhaust from dryer

Detecting Mold in Your Home

If you can see or smell mold inside your home, it’s time to act. Any area that has sustained past or ongoing water damage should be thoroughly inspected—you may find hidden mold growth in water-damaged walls, floors, or ceilings. Walls and floors that are warping or discolored can also indicate moisture problems, as can condensation on windows or walls.

How to Prevent Mold in Your Home

Since mold is always present, there’s no way to eliminate it completely. You can control indoor mold growth, however, by controlling moisture.

  1. Remove the source of moisture by fixing any leaks or other water problems.
  2. Make sure your bathroom fans and dryers are properly vented to the outside. Always use the exhaust fan when cooking or showering.
  3. Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels in the air. Make sure your AC system is well maintained and is the correct size for your home. A faulty AC system can cool the air without removing the water vapor, creating high humidity.
  4. Insulate your home well to prevent indoor condensation.
  5. Have your heating, ventilation, and cooling systems professionally cleaned annually. Air-duct systems can easily become contaminated with mold.
  6. Regularly clean moist areas such as the bathroom with products that treat mildew.
  7. Dry clean your carpets (as opposed to wet cleaning them).
  8. Avoid carpeting bathrooms and basements.
  9. Clean any moldy surfaces as soon as you notice them.

How to Deal with Mold in Your Home

Mold can be a manageable problem. If you have a mold problem that is isolated to a small area—less than a square yard or so—you can try to resolve it yourself. However, if your mold problem is severe or if you have extensive water damage, it’s best to call a professional contractor who specializes in mold removal.

Porous items that are hard to clean, such as carpet and drapes, should be discarded. Moldy sheetrock and ceiling tiles can be removed and replaced. Hard, nonabsorbent surfaces such as glass, plastic and metal should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water and allowed to dry completely. For solid items that are semi-porous, such as floors, cabinets, and wood furniture, scrub with an ammonia-free cleaner and hot water to remove the mold. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly. After cleaning, apply a mildewcide to kill mold and spores.

When cleaning mold, remember to wear gloves, a mask, and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Never mix cleaner containing bleach and ammonia; this can result in the release of a toxic gas. And be sure to throw away any sponges or rags that you use for cleaning. For more information on how maintaining your home can prevent damage, read our blog post on how to handle water damage.

How to Handle Water Damage in Your Home

The post How to Prevent and Deal with Mold appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Gas Appliances vs. Electric Appliances

Appliances are broken down into two main categories: gas- and electric-powered. You may be more familiar with one or the other based on personal experience, but when it comes time to choose appliances for your home, you’ll likely be weighing a variety of factors including the conversion costs, operation costs, safety, sustainability, and more. The following breakdown of the differences between gas and electric appliances can help inform your decision about what is ultimately best for your home.

What is the difference between gas and electricity?

Homes with natural gas are powered by a series of pipeline connections. The gas lines flowing from the property lead out to and connect with a larger pipeline farther away. Homes can also be powered by propane gas, which is stored in a tank on the property.

Electric power flows from generators to substations and eventually to individual homes, carried by transmission and distribution lines. In short, gas can power a variety of appliances in your home, but it won’t power your lights or electronics, whereas electricity can do both.

What is the difference between gas appliances and electric appliances?

The costs of gas and electric appliances vary region-to-region, both in upfront and operation costs. Having said that, gas is the more efficient heating fuel, and using gas appliances could save you up to 30 percent on your utility bill (consumeraffairs.com). Keep in mind that gas furnaces tend to be noisier but will usually heat up your home quicker, while electric furnaces are quieter but may take more time to warm your home.

So, what do you do if you want to convert your home from one fuel to the other? To switch from electric to gas, you’ll need to route gas lines, purchase the new appliances, and install them. Switching from gas to electric will require installing an electric line and capping the gas line(s). Each of these conversion methods will require an investment, so be sure to budget for these costs before you switch.

Gas and electric have their own unique safety hazards. With gas, you’ll need to take a couple extra steps to protect your home’s air quality. You’ll want to make sure you have a good ventilation system and that your carbon monoxide alarm is functioning properly to alert you of any potential poisoning from the furnace or the appliances themselves. With electric appliances, you won’t run the risk of a gas leak, but if the appliance’s wiring is faulty or neglectfully maintained, it could start a fire.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Source: SolStock

 

Gas vs. Electric Range

The range tends to be the focal point of the gas-versus-electric debate for many homeowners. While some prefer the quick-heating power of an open-flame gas stove, others view an electric stove as safer for their household and therefore better. While some enjoy the even-heating quality of an electric oven, others prefer gas ovens with traditional coil burners. Electric stoves are usually easier to maintain; especially glass tops since you only have to clean one smooth surface.

Gas vs. Electric – Dryer & Fireplace

In general, gas dryers can heat up faster than electric dryers, which means they are more efficient and can save you money on your energy bills. However, gas dryers tend to be more expensive than their electric counterparts.

Electric fireplaces are usually cheaper to install but may not be as effective as gas fireplaces for heating larger spaces. And apart from all the financials, some people simply enjoy the feeling of a natural flame (gas) coming from the hearth, while the electric heating element appeals to others.

At the end of the day, choosing between gas and electric appliances depends on your situation. Saving on energy bills may be your number one priority, or perhaps you can’t stand the idea of not cooking on an open flame. Whatever your choice, it’s helpful to know the pros and cons of each option.

The post Gas Appliances vs. Electric Appliances appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Tips for Home: Extend the Life of Your Mattress

All furniture has a shelf life, and your mattress is no different. Whether you sleep on a spring or memory foam mattress, the more proactive you can be about maintaining it, the better your chances of experiencing healthy, regular sleep. With a few simple tasks you can extend the life of your mattress and wake up every day feeling refreshed. 

Extend the Life of Your Mattress

1. Clean Your Mattress Regularly

A clean mattress is the key to healthy sleep. Clean your mattress regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Certain home cleaning supplies such as baking soda and essential oils can help to cleanse your mattress’s fabric, but they may be harmful to certain foam types. Vacuum before you clean to rid your mattress of dust and dirt using the attachment designed for cleaning upholstery. If your pets like to snuggle up in bed, you can count on their hair and fur getting trapped in your linens, so you may want to consider vacuuming more frequently to make sure everyone can sleep soundly.

2. Rotate Every Six Months

After laying in the same spot night after night, your mattress will begin to form to your body. Rotating your mattress every three-to-six months will give it a chance to refresh its structure and provide additional support. By simply flipping the foot end of the bed around to where you lay your head, it will feel like you’ve bought a brand-new mattress.

 

Image Source: Shutterstock – Image Credit: New Africa

 

3. Use a Mattress Protector

Mattress protectors help to keep your bed as clean as possible by limiting damage caused by spills while keeping dust mites, sweat, dander, and pet hair/fur off your mattress. Made from organic cotton, organic mattress protectors are typically hypoallergenic and waterproof. They are helpful sleep aids for people with sensitivities to allergens and chemicals.

4. Support Your Mattress

Not properly supporting your mattress is a recipe for unhealthy sleep and a short lifespan for your bed. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if your mattress is meant to be coupled with a box spring, and if not, what kind of underneath support is required, given your mattress’s type and weight. Insufficient support can not only damage your bed but can also lead to physical complications such as soreness and back pain.

5. Handle Your Mattress with Care When Moving

During the moving process, the bed is often the center of attention. Large and clumsy, mattresses can be frustrating to maneuver from your bedroom to a moving vehicle. Fabric can easily be torn when navigating around corners, up and down stairs, through hallways, and sometimes even out of windows. Always work with a partner when moving your mattress or let the professionals handle it if you’re hiring a moving company. If you’re too hasty about getting it moved, you can easily damage it to the point where you’ll need to make a replacement.

 

For more information on the shelf life of various household items and home appliances, read our blog post on The Life Expectancy of Your Home.

The post Tips for Home: Extend the Life of Your Mattress appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

How to Winterize Your Waterfront Property

After the long days of summer have come and gone and fall is ending, it’s time to begin preparations for winterizing your home. When temperatures begin to dip, your lakeside cabin, seaside cottage or mountain lodge will need some extra TLC to make it through the colder months until spring comes around again. Whether your waterfront property is your vacation home or a primary residence, it’s important to properly winterize it in order to avoid potential damage and to save you time and money.

How to Winterize Your Waterfront Property

Pipes and Plumbing

Burst pipes are often the cause of water damage. Prevent a water damage emergency at your waterfront property this winter by being proactive.

If your waterfront home is your summer getaway, then disconnect your hoses from outside pipes to prevent them from freezing and breaking. If you plan to turn the heat off for the winter, turn off your main water supply and open your faucets. Any water left in your hoses can cause damage, so be sure to drain the hoses connected to your dishwasher, washer, and any other appliances.

If you’ll be calling your waterfront property home for the winter, thoroughly inspect the insulation for both your interior and exterior pipes. Any areas where insulation is lacking could lead to a cracked pipe, which has the potential to cause serious damage and could end up costing a significant amount of money to repair.

Roof and Gutters

Properly winterizing your roof and gutters will help to avoid a buildup of rain, snow, or debris turning into a structural issue. For homeowners with a shingle roof, this is the time to check your roof for any signs of damage and make repairs accordingly. Cracked shingles can be carried off by high winds, torn off in a winter storm, or may fall to the ground after being struck by a fell branch, leaving your roof vulnerable to leaks.

This is especially important if you will be away from your waterfront property all winter. Since you won’t be around, you may not be aware that your roof has been damaged until it’s too late.

For metal roofs, check to make sure everything is screwed down tight. Clear your gutters of leaves and debris. The heavier your gutters become, the more prone they are to leaks, and could potentially rip away from your roof. Keep your gutters clear throughout the winter. Any blockages of leaves, twigs, or ice could lead to a leak, damaging your walls and insulation.

Other Areas

Once your plumbing, pipes, roof, and gutters are properly winterized, look to other areas of your property to prepare for the winter ahead. Check all windows and doors to identify any air leaks. If you identify a leak, be sure to patch it before you take off for the winter—or if you’re staying in the home for the season, before temperatures start to dip. Inspect your home’s insulation and weatherstripping and make replacements as needed.

Bring your patio furniture inside and store them in a safe space to keep them in good condition until spring. Inspect your boat lift and dock. Consider investing in a bubbler or agitator system to keep ice away from your dock if you’re expecting freezing temperatures throughout the winter. Follow proper winterizing guidelines for your boat and any other watercraft you have before covering them or placing them in winter storage.

For more tips on home maintenance throughout the seasons and much more, visit the Living section of our blog.

Windermere Blog – Living

The post How to Winterize Your Waterfront Property appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance

A swimming pool can turn a backyard into a grotto, an oasis, an at-home vacation spot. But to let the poolside good times roll, they require maintenance. Your local climate can often dictate how much you use your pool. For some homeowners, you may be swimming in your pool year-round. For others, the pool may be a summer ritual, only to close it up once fall temperatures start to plummet. No matter how often you use your pool, these tips will help you keep it in tip-top shape.

5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance

1. Keep Your Pool Water Balanced

A well-balanced pool maintains the correct levels of chemicals and, through filtration and disinfection, avoids having to change the pool water year after year. The main levels of concern are pH, total alkalinity, chlorine levels and calcium hardness. Aim to keep these levels within the following parameters:

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.8
  • Total alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
  • Chlorine levels: 1 – 3 ppm
  • Calcium hardness: 180 – 200 ppm

2. Routine Cleaning

Regardless of the season, keeping your pool water crystal clear requires routine cleaning. Weekly tasks include vacuuming, backwashing the pool filter, applying algaecide and chlorine, and cleaning the skimmer baskets. Running the circulation system is a daily task, which keeps the pool water fresh. Pool walls are a commonly missed cleaning spot. Brush them routinely to prevent algae growth and to eliminate chemical buildup.

3. Closing Your Pool

If you don’t use your pool year-round, you’ll have to go through the steps of proper decommission to avoid any hang-ups when it’s time to open it back up. Stow all equipment including ladders, lights, and thermometers before cleaning and vacuuming the pool. After you’ve balanced the pool water, let the system run for up to twenty-four hours before adding winterizing chemicals. Once the chemicals have run through for a few hours, remove the pool equipment, and drain. Finally, cover your pool to protect it from debris during the offseason.

4. Opening Your Pool

For those who user their pools seasonally, the day you reopen your pool is cause for celebration. But before you draft up any pool party invitations, you’ll need to give it some TLC. If you use a removable pool cover be sure to store it in a safe, protected place. Fill the pool back up to the maximum fill line and clear any debris from the water’s surface. Once you’ve tested the water and properly balanced the levels, remove any winterizing plugs to get water flowing into the plumbing system again. Once you’ve tested all systems to make sure the water is being properly heated and pumped, cleaned the walls, vacuumed the floor, there’s only one thing left to do—cannonball!

5. Pool Offseason

Even when your pool is not being used it requires a watchful eye. Besides keeping your pool ready for when you open it back up, offseason maintenance will help to avoid any major repairs due to neglect. Check your pool water occasionally. Even if your pool is covered, it’s possible for leaves, sticks, and needles to make their way inside. Continue to monitor the balance of your pool water by checking the levels weekly and adjusting as needed. Check the pump, heater, and plumbing for any signs of damage and clean the filter regularly.

For more information on keeping your home and the systems in it well-maintained, read more on our blog:

Home Maintenance

The post 5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Your Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Winter is a magical season to spend at home. We all want to be able to enjoy the shorter days and longer nights from the comfort of our homes while we watch the season change.

 

To truly enjoy this winter at home with peace of mind, you’ll want to complete a home maintenance checklist to prevent unexpected costs, ensure your family’s safety and warmth, and keep your home in the best shape for the winter season ahead.

 

1. Weatherproof Windows & Doors

 

One of the best preparatory measures you can take to keep the cold from infiltrating your home is to weatherproof your windows and doors. Any leaks or cracks could lead to a chilly household and increased heating costs. Either weatherstripping or caulking will do the trick for minor leakage issues, but for any severe problems you may want to consider a replacement.

 

2. Protect Your Pipes from Freezing

 

Burst pipes can be disastrous regardless of the season, but winter temperatures pose a greater risk than any other time of the year. Be sure to wrap interior pipes to provide them some insulation against the change in temperature. You’ll want to bring all hoses inside but remember to turn off your exterior water source before you do.

 

3. Prepare for a Winter Storm

 

Being fully prepared for the winter ahead includes completing both preventative home maintenance and disaster preparedness tasks. Keep a supply of flashlights and batteries handy in case a power outage should occur. If you have a fireplace, stock up on firewood so you’ll have plenty of fuel for your heat source. It’s best for your family to put together an emergency kit and evacuation plan so you’re prepared for any local weather emergencies.

 

4. Chimney Sweep and Fireplace Maintenance

 

We become more reliant on fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and chimneys to heat our homes during the winter. Accordingly, it’s crucial to prepare for the uptick in their usage. Clear out your air vents before your daily fires begin. When your fireplace is not in use, be sure to close the damper to save energy. Clogged chimneys can lead to house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Investing in a chimney sweep can save you money in the long run, while avoiding health scares.

 

5. Clean Out Your Gutters

 

After all the leaves, pinecones, pine needles, and other autumnal debris have fallen, it’s best to clean out your gutters in preparation for winter. By keeping your gutters clean you’ll avoid gutter damage from melted snow draining improperly. Make sure your downspouts are pointing away from your home’s foundation to prevent basement leaks and flooding.

 

6. Heating System Maintenance

 

Keeping up on your heating system’s efficiency is an integral part of winter home maintenance. If you use a furnace, be sure to clean out your air filters and ducts, making replacements as needed. Covering your HVAC system can help to prevent damage from any debris or moisture getting in. To protect against heat loss, seal your ducts with mastic tape or foil tape.

 

7. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

 

If you have ceilings fans in your home, there is a handy trick you can use to improve your home’s heating efficiency. By reversing the direction of your ceiling fan—running the blades in a clockwise direction—you’ll create a slight updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling downward.

 

8. Bring Your Plants Inside

 

The winter season usually spells trouble for your potted plants. However, there are methods to keep them alive indoors through the winter months. You’ll want to provide continual air circulation, so keep a fan blowing in the direction of the plants. It’s best to mirror the conditions the plants will face outdoors, so you can afford to keep watering to a minimum. Since it is a harsher season, keep a close eye on your plants as the winter progresses.

 

After your checklist is completely crossed off, you’ll be able to kick back, relax, and enjoy your winter at home in comfort knowing your home is primed and ready for the winter season ahead.

The post Your Winter Home Maintenance Checklist appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.