Monthly Home Maintenance


Unfortunately, there are jobs to do to best maintain your home.  On the plus side, doing a little maintenance each month will help your home run at maximum efficiency.  Also, these bits of maintenance will help retain the highest value when it comes time for resale.  Pride of ownership is easily recognizable and can be the make or break factor when a buyer is making their home buying decision.

January Home Maintenance

With the holiday hangover, most of us want to kick back and relax. A few tasks to take care of in January can help free up some major issues and give us the free time we want and need.More...

1. Handle Holiday Cleanup

Task: You’ve had the fun, and now it’s time to get rid of the evidence. Take down holiday lights and wrap them around a hanger to prevent tangling; set the oven on self-clean, then wipe the interior with a vinegar-soaked cloth; chip your Christmas tree and throw it in the compost pile, or scatter it around garden beds and shrubs for a midwinter mulching.

Shortcut: Instead of pitching holiday cards or tucking them away never to be seen again, recycle them into gift tags for next year. Find a pretty part of the card that has no writing on the back, cut it into a small square, and punch a hole in the corner.

2. Keep Fresh Air and Exhaust Pipes Clear of Snow 


Task: This is number 2 on the list but is really the most important.  We live in Saskatchewan and we get snow.  These pipes pictured are the fresh air intakes for your furnace (pointed downward) and the exhaust pipes (pointed upwards) for your furnace and hot water heater.  Problems that could arise if blocked are fairly substantial.  If fresh air pipes are blocked, your furnace could be choked off and will shut down.  Nobody wants to lose a furnace in our cold winters.  Blocked exhaust vents can cause carbon monoxide to back up int0o the home.  Also, not a desired result.


3. Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

Task: Since we are on the topic of carbon monoxide, check both of your monitors.  Newer models may intigrate both carbon monoxide and smoke into the same monitors.  Simply push the test button on the unit and make sure you get an alarm.  If not, new batteries are needed.

4. Seek and destroy hidden dirt

Task: Yes, cleaning counts as home maintenance! Clean those filthy places that people don’t see but you know are there. They include the range hood and grilles, refrigerator coils, tops of ceiling fans, dusty light fixtures and bulbs (make sure lights are off before dusting), and HVAC vents.

Shortcut: Let your dishwasher clean metal parts such as vent grilles and range hood filters. You can pop dirty sponges and dishrags in the dishwasher, too.


5. Give hardware some love


A lot of hands probably touched that door handle, so go head and wipe it down.A lot of hands probably touched that door handle, so go head and wipe it down.


Task: Shine and tighten doorknobs and hinges; tighten loose cabinet pulls and nobs; and level cabinet doors.

Shortcut: To clean metal hardware, wash with soapy water, then shine with a microfiber cloth dipped in vinegar or lemon juice. Brass polish will remove tarnish from solid brass hardware. Not sure it’s brass? If a magnet sticks, it’s most likely metal, not solid brass.

6. Do a deep declutter

Task: Banish piles, clean out closets and drawers, and tackle the basement if you can stand it. Channel your inner Marie Kondo: If you haven’t touched something in a year or don’t love it, then you should toss, donate, or recycle it.

Shortcut: If you can’t face a total house declutter, do little bits over a few days. Pick one room or a corner of the room to organize. Or, every time you walk into a room, put/throw one thing away.

February Home Maintenance

Spring might be around the corner, but February can still bring plenty of harsh winter weather. Some of the harshest of the season, in fact. So that makes this month the perfect time to knock out some more of those indoor tasks to get your home ready for warmer times. "I've been doing indoor tasks for three months now! Dear God, please let me out!" you're no doubt crying. Have patience, young grasshopper—we're almost there. But first you have to prepare your home for spring by thinking “fresh.” A fresh house can help combat the cabin fever that can overwhelm you in the last month of winter. So how do you get fresh? I'm glad you asked! I've created a handy checklist of home maintenance tasks to give your home a lift in February. And if you're struggling to muster up the energy to tackle these chores, I've provided tips for how to do them faster and easier. Check these to-do items off your list, then sit back and relax for the last few weeks of winter.More...

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1. Spiff up the paint

Task: Freshen indoor paint on walls, cabinets, doors, and trim.

Shortcuts: Sometimes a once-over with a Magic Eraser sponge will remove marks and smudges, reducing the need for a paint job. If that won't cut it—and you need to paint indoors in February—stir a tablespoon of clear vanilla extract into the paint can to make the smell less noxious. And if you have trouble removing painter’s tape from furniture or walls, heat it briefly with a hair dryer.

Call in the pros: A painter will charge $200 to $400 for a 12-foot-square room. Since spring is the busy season for painters, you may get a discount if you hire one at the end of winter. That means now!

2. Give the laundry room a redo

Task: Clean and reorganize your laundry room so it’s roomier and more efficient. Scrape dried-on laundry detergent from ridges in your washer, replace damaged sorting bins, throw away laundry products you never use, and store the rest in out-of-reach places to protect young ones.

Shortcuts: Take advantage of every square inch of laundry room space. If you don’t have room for a drying rack, extend a curtain rod over your machines to hang delicate clothes, and insert a "slim cart" between your washer and dryer to hold cleaning supplies. Also, try storing bins, buckets, and laundry bags on wall hooks to free up space.

Call in the pros: A professional home organizer costs $30 to $80 an hour. While the organizer is rearranging your closets, ask her to work her magic on the laundry area, too.

3. Clean out dryer vents

Task: Clean the duct that connects the back of your dryer to outside vents. If you don't, lint and other debris could decrease your dryer’s efficiency, increase energy bills, and even cause fires. Also, make sure birds and other animals haven’t made a home in your warm and toasty vent.

Shortcuts: Twice a year, use a leaf blower to remove lint and debris from ducts. Also, cover the outside vents with a fine mesh screen so birds and bugs don’t nest in ducts.

Call in the pros: On average, a professional will charge $92 to $162 to clean dryer vents and remove clogs. If clogged vents are a persistent problem, the pro may recommend moving your dryer to an external wall where the distance between dryer and the outside vent is minimized.

4. Clean refrigerator coils

Task: To keep your refrigerator in tiptop shape and save energy, clean the refrigerator condenser coils located in the back or on the bottom of the appliance.

Shortcuts: Use a vacuum to clean coils (just make sure to pop on the upholstery attachment first). While you’re at it, vacuum the floor under and behind the fridge, too. Then, shove a duster or refrigerator coil brush (about $5 and designed for this exact purpose) between the coils, and clean the rest of the dust, hair, and dirt still clinging to the coils.

Call in the pros: The average cost to repair a refrigerator is $200 to $400. If the appliance is near the end of its life, typically 14 to 17 years, replace it.

5. Clean and maintain your sump pump

Task: Clean out your sump pump pit and make sure the sump pump is working in February to prepare for the increase in groundwater that spring rains will cause.

Shortcuts: Test the pump by adding water to the pit, and confirm the pump ejects it as it is designed to, says home maintenance expert Charlie Frattini, who's appeared on FYI network's “Hero House.” Just be sure to replace the pit cover after confirming the pump works, he notes. Also, make sure nothing obstructs the sump pump pipe, which drains water to the outside of your home.

Call in the pros: Labor to replace an existing sump pump costs anywhere from $40 to $150.

6. Give your mattress some love

Task: Vacuum box springs and the mattress top and bottom. Rotate or flip the mattress.

Shortcuts: If you have a one-sided mattress—one side is padded; the other isn’t—don’t bother flipping; just rotate it to provide even aging. If you have a two-sided mattress, flip every two months to prevent sags.

Call in the pros: A cleaning service will provide this type of deep cleaning for $25 to $35 an hour.

7. Look for leaks and ice damming

Task: Inspect your roof for missing shingles and damaged vent boots, and check your foundations for cracks that can cause big problems when spring rains pour on your home.

Shortcut: Wait until it rains, then climb into your attic to look for leaks.  It’s easier to spot water leaks during a storm.

Call in the pros: Roofing and foundation waterproofing companies can inspect and cure water problems. A roofing company will inspect your roof for free if it replaces shingles and repairs other roof damage. Costs typically range from $100 to $350 to replace 10 square feet of asphalt shingles. Waterproofing companies can spray a sealant on foundation cracks for $250 to $1,000.

March Home Maintenance

March in Saskatchewan sees the temperatures rising but can also subject us to a late winter snowstorm. Because of this, we see a lot of freeze and thaw cycles in Regina and area. However, everyone is usually suffering from a little cabin fever and ready to at least peak your head outside.More...

1. Check the gutters

Get the gunk out of your gutter.

Task: March has a lot of freeze thaw cycles that can cause trouble with your water drainage.  Remove leaves, pine needles, and other debris that have accumulated over the winter so your gutter system is ready to handle spring thaws. Overflowing gutters and blocked downspouts can damage siding and foundations.

Shortcuts: Install gutter guards—screens, foam inserts, surface tension covers—which help to keep debris out of gutters. In general, screen types work best, according to the folks at Consumer Reports.

2. Inspect the roofing

Task: Take a close look at your roofing to check for loose and missing shingles, worn and rusted flashing, and cracked boots around vent pipes.

Shortcuts: Make it easy on yourself by checking your roof with a pair of binoculars while standing firmly—and safely—on the ground.

3. Inspect walkways and driveways

Task: Winter is tough on concrete and asphalt—freeze and thaw cycles can break apart stone and concrete. You’ll want to seal cracks with sealant made for the specific material of your driveway or walkway to prevent further damage.

Shortcuts: Stuff foam backer rods in large cracks to reduce the amount of sealant you’ll need.

4. Caulk around windows and doors

Task: Inspect the caulking and repair any that was battered during the winter. Check around your windows, doors, and corner trim to prevent water infiltration and avoid costly repairs.

Shortcuts: Feel like you're always caulking? You can cut down on the frequency of this task if you buy high-quality siliconized acrylic latex caulk rated for exterior use. It has good adhesion and flexibility, cleans up easily with water, and is paintable, too.

5. Clean the Garage

Task:  Clean and organize the garage.  If yours isn't heated it can be an easy place to overlook over the cold winter.  Take in recycling, put away eeverything in its place.  Squeegee out the water and give the floor a good sweep.

Shortcuts: Sarcan now has a dropoff service where you can just pull up and drop off your recycling with it's "Drop and Go" service.  Pull up, drop your recycling off and tag it.  Sarcan will make a payment to you through Paypal or you can pick up a cheque, or you can donate your funds to a local charity or bottle drive.

December Home Maintenance

December is a tough month to focus on home maintenance. There’s so much holiday cheer to hang up and drink down that doing routine chores seems like a wet blanket over the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus spirit. But you can give yourself an early holiday present by doing just a few maintenance tasks before cold weather truly sets in. I've created a handy checklist of home maintenance tasks that need to be completed this month, plus tips for how to do them faster and easier—or with the help of a pro.More...

check-yourself-shoveling2


Check these to-do items off your list, then sit back with a few mugs of eggnog and enjoy the rest of the year. (Tip: Don't drink while operating a snowblower. You'll thank me later!)

1. Snow removal

Task: Clear snow and ice from walkways.

Shortcut: To use a snowblower and avoid constantly having to adjust the chute, start in the middle of the driveway and blow the snow to one side, then make a U-turn and blow the snow to the other side. (Yep, it's that simple.) Just make sure to fuel and oil up your snowblower now, in case it’s suddenly needed.]

If you’re using a shovel, clear the snow after every 2 or 3 inches of snowfall, which is significantly better for your back, heart, and general disposition than trying to lift a foot or more of snow.

Call in the pros: Hiring a neighborhood kid will probably cost you $25 and a cup of hot chocolate. Hiring a professional will cost $40 to $65, depending on the length of your driveway and the depth of the snow. It’s best to contract with a snow-removal service at the beginning of the snowy season (read: now) and pin down a price. The last thing you want is to beg a plow driver to clear your driveway after a blizzard, when he's the most in demand.

2. Prevent ice damming

Task: Prevent ice dams in your gutter and on your roof, which can push water into your home.

Shortcut: If you live in a frigid or snowy climate, you can install heating cables along the edge of your roof to keep snow runoff from freezing. Fifty feet of cable costs about $230.

Call in the pros: A roofing company will install heating cables on your roof for, on average, $817. If your roof is particularly steep or big, you’ll pay more.

3. Beef up insulation

Task: Check attic insulation to make sure it hasn’t deteriorated or flattened, which will reduce its efficiency.

Shortcut: Look across your attic, and see if the insulation is level with the attic floor joists, or if it's packed below—which indicates you need more. (If it's packed down below the top of the joists, then it loses some of its insulation power.) The cheapest way to beef up insulation is to lay down fiberglass batts, which cost about $100 to $500 for an 800-square-foot open attic.

Call in the pros: Putting down insulation is labor-intensive and can be messy. You can hire a company to insulate an 800-square-foot attic for $400 to $1,800, depending on the type and insulating value of the material you choose.

4. Put up/take down holiday decorations

Save time next year by winding your lights around a cord holder this year.

Task: Before you hang decorations, make sure to replace your old, incandescent lightbulbs with LED lights, which stay cooler and decrease fire risk.

Shortcut: If you hang lights in the same place each year, install permanent hangers, which will save time every year thereafter. When you take down the lights, keep them from tangling by winding them around a cord holder or heavy cardboard, or threading them in and around an old Pringles can.

Call in the pros: The cost of hiring pros to light up your home like the Griswolds' will vary from place to place and depend on the size of the project. For instance, this San Antonio, TX, company charges $149 to $1,399 to hang lights you own. Take-down prices range from $99 to $299.

5. Get your home ready for guests

Task: Spruce up your guest room for your friends and family. Launder sheets and blankets for the holiday rush.

Shortcut: You can buy brand-new bedding—comforter, sheets, pillowcases—for less than $50, which will give rooms a new look and feel. Fill a basket with bottles of water, bags of nuts, and tiny tubes of shampoo and conditioner you've taken from hotels (c'mon, we know we're not the only ones doing it).

Call in the pros: Hire a cleaning service to help out. A one-time cleaning of a 1,300-square-foot, single-story home runs $95 to $300.

6. Clean the chimney

7. Prevent icy hazards

Task: Take steps to deal with any home issues that could prove dangerous in icy weather. Turn off water to exterior spigots, drain them, and leave them open throughout the winter to minimize chances of frozen, burst pipes. Make sure outdoor stair railings aren't wobbly, which could cause someone to slip and fall on iced-over steps. Wrap exposed piping in your basement and garage with heat tape, which will keep water flowing freely in cold snaps. Trim overhanging branches that could cause roof damage if they snap under the weight of snow or ice.

Shortcut: If branches aren't too large or hard to reach, use a pole saw or pruner. Just don't venture onto the roof to get the job done.

Call in the pros: Tree limb removal costs vary, but it's usually between $50 and $75.

Tim Chicilo
Phone: 1 (306) 539.0085
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