ProParts Direct

Your end-of-summer checklist to get your home ready for winter

As a homeowner, you never run out of things to do. Just keeping up with your home maintenance to-do list can seem like a chore itself, and if you fall behind, it could cost you in the long run. To help you stay more on top of those important chores, here’s a handy guide to help you get organized as the seasons change.

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Prevent frozen pipes. When water freezes, it expands and puts pressure on pipe walls. In turn, the pressure could cause pipes to burst, resulting in costly damage to your home. The Red Cross offers these suggestions to keep your pipes from freezing:
Outdoors: Disconnect and drain hoses before storing them. Close valves that supply water to spigots, then open the spigots to drain them. Leave the spigots open so they can expand if there is residual water inside.

Indoors: Add insulation to crawl spaces, attics and basements to keep these areas warmer. You can also add insulation to the pipes themselves. Pipes on exterior walls that don’t have as much warm air circulating are perfect candidates for extra insulation. Consider adding pipe insulation to pipes in the garage and inside cabinets in your kitchen and bathrooms.
Clean gutters. Many professionals advise that fall is an ideal time to clean debris from gutters. Obstructed gutters can cause many costly problems:
  • The dams in gutters cause water and ice to pool, and the gutters can become too heavy and break away from the house.
  • Water that doesn’t flow out of the gutter through downspouts may overflow from the sides, causing flooding issues.
  • Water that pools under clogged gutters can seep into your home’s foundation, which can then freeze and crack the foundation.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Properly tending to your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors could save your life. Here are some guidelines from the professionals at FixdRepair:
Smoke detectors:
  • Put new batteries in your smoke detector at least once per year. Then, test the alarm by pressing the button for five seconds or until the alarm beeps three times.
  • Retest each device monthly.
  • Replace your smoke detector every 10 years.
  • Never use water or cleansers on your smoke detectors.
  • Vacuum the device every six months.
Carbon monoxide detectors:
  • Put new batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors at least once per year. Have the new batteries ready when you remove the old ones. Then, test the alarm by pressing the button until it beeps.
  • Retest devices weekly.
Radon testing. It’s ideal to test your home for radon before the winter months when you will be spending more time inside. You can purchase a radon testing kit from most hardware stores. Experts recommend hiring a qualified contractor if your home tests at a radon level of four or above.
Clean dryer vents. Accumulated lint in your dryer vent lowers the efficiency of the machine and is a fire hazard. You can clean it by following these steps:
  • Disconnect the machine from it’s power source.
  • Pull the unit away from the wall to reach the hose.
  • Loosen the hose clamp.
  • Vacuum the dryer hose; a shop vac is recommended for this type of job rather than a model built for floors not only because it has more suction power, but also because it can vacuum up water if your dryer hasn’t been working properly. You can also use a brush made for dryer hoses if there isn’t a lot of accumulated lint.
  • Replace the hose and clamp.
  • Set the machine back into place and reinstate power
Change furnace filters. Changing filters is a simple way to save money on energy bills and extend the life of your furnace. Experts at Global News state that “in order to keep it working to its optimal performance — and help prevent a possible malfunction — you need to either change or clean your furnace filter on a regular basis
Grab your toolbox and go! Keeping up with home maintenance can be a chore, but by following these guidelines, you’ll save money and stay organized. Check your pipes and take steps to ensure they won’t freeze. Clean gutters to avoid costly damage. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to keep your family safe, and make sure radon isn’t a problem. Clean your dryer vent and change furnace filters to keep machines running efficiently and save money. By following these simple steps, you’ll be ready for winter in no time.

Building a Healthy Lawn and Garden on a Budget: Soil Prep Tips for Fall

Whether you’re growing grass or growing vegetables, quality soil is essential for good results. However, the very act of growing plants can deplete your soil’s nutrients from one season to the next. That makes end-of-year maintenance essential for getting the ground ready for next year’s demands -- but thankfully, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. As warm weather is winding down, here’s what you need to do to prepare for a productive spring on a budget.
In The Yard
Fall maintenance is essential for a lush green lawn next year. This is the time to reseed bare patches and pull weeds before they go to seed, but a healthy lawn is about more than appearances. Since lawns get compacted from foot traffic over the active summer months, homeowners should aerate lawns each fall to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach plant roots. A garden fork will do the job just fine, but renting or buying a plug lawn aerator speeds up the process. If you want to invest in an aerator, look for promo codes and coupons or in-store savings at stores like Lowes.

While it’s common advice to fertilize lawns every year, adding fertilizer to a lawn that doesn’t need it pollutes the local water supply. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends applying fertilizer in moderation and only when necessary. A soil test kit lets you find out if your yard needs fertilization and which nutrients it’s lacking. You’ll get the most accurate and comprehensive results by sending a sample to the soil testing laboratory recommended by your local cooperative extension. Your local garden center or nursery can also provide at-home kits, and they often offer end-of-summer discounts, so be on the lookout for deals.
In The Garden
Fall garden clean-up saves you labor in the spring. It’s also an opportunity to add to your garden’s soil organic matter and fertility. As you clear out dead plants and debris, remember that bare ground is bad for your garden’s health. Exposed earth is vulnerable to being blown or washed away in windy and wet weather. This strips the topsoil, those upper few inches of dirt that hold the majority of the nutrients plants need to grow.

Rather than pulling plants out of the ground, cut them down at the base of the plant and leave roots in the soil. As root systems decompose, they provide nutrition to the beneficial microorganisms that live in the soil. Once old plants are cleared out, consider how you can keep the ground covered over the winter. Planting a cover crop, especially a legume like clover or vetch, adds organic matter and nitrogen to the earth. However, cover crops can add spring labor, as gardeners must till in the plants before new crops go in. For a labor-saving alternative, consider mulching your garden or covering it with a tarp to prevent erosion and maintain moisture. To keep your budget in check, look for coupons on sites like JoinHoney and Coupons.com for your favorite garden center. It’s worth it to spend a little extra for mulch and a tarp, because covered soil also stays warmer than bare earth, which means a head start on spring planting.

As you gather dead plants out of your garden, don’t throw them in the trash bin. When green waste ends up in a landfill, it becomes a significant source of harmful greenhouse gases. Composting plant matter instead not only reduces its environmental impact, it also can be an incredible source of fertility for the backyard garden. When dead plants, fallen leaves, shredded branches, and fruit and vegetable scraps decompose, they turn into the rich soil-like material known as compost. By creating compost and adding it to the garden before planting in the spring, gardeners can improve the quality of their soil year after year, not to mention save money on buying soil to keep their gardens lush. Compost is best created in a bin that’s easy to turn and aerate, like these DIY compost tumbler designs from Homesteading.com, which can all be made on the cheap.

Healthy soil is the foundation for a beautiful landscape, and although it’s worth the investment, it doesn’t have to cost a lot to maintain. As you’re working outside this fall, think about how you can improve the health of your lawn and garden for a more vibrant growing season.

Image Via Upsplash

How to Have an Incredible Yard Even with a Busy Schedule

Image by Paul Henri, Find on Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay by Paul_Henri
Once warm weather comes around, many homeowners start thinking about what they can do to make their lawns look beautiful without putting in hours on the landscaping every week. When you have a busy schedule, it can be difficult to consider taking the time to mow every five days, pull weeds, or trim the shrubs. That’s why it’s important to do a little planning in the beginning so you won’t have to scramble to get the yard work done -- or spend a fortune on hiring a landscaping service.

It also helps to stay organized and arrange for certain jobs to be done on certain days. This way, not only does the yard work get done no matter what else you have going on, but it also allows you to spread it out a little at a time so you’re not working in the hot sun for hours on end. You might make a list of all the outside chores, such as mulching, weeding, mowing, fertilizing, and trimming hedges and trees. Since different plants, trees, and grasses grow at different rates, you won’t have to get them all done at once.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to have an award-winning yard even when you’re busy
Plan Out a Landscape First

The easiest way to save time when it comes to yard work is to plan out a landscape that won’t need much of your attention but still adds to your home’s curb appeal. This might include evergreen shrubs, mulch, and hardy or potted plants that can withstand heat without wilting if you can’t get them watered every day.

You can also take up grass space -- meaning areas where you won’t need to mow -- by laying down a brick pathway, stepping stones, or mulch. Just make sure you do it the right way to prevent weeds from growing up.
Make a Checklist

Remember that even the most simple of landscapes will still need your attention, especially if you want to add to your home’s value. Shaggy lawns, weeds, and unattended plants can all draw negative attention to your house and, should you decide to sell, will be a big turnoff for buyers. To avoid becoming overwhelmed with tasks, make a checklist of all the things you need to do within a given week. Pulling weeds may not take any time at all, depending on the size of your yard, but it can add quite a bit of appeal to the aesthetics. Click here for some wonderful tips on how to start a checklist for your lawn.
Turn It Into a Family Affair

If you have kids, chances are they can help out in the yard, whether it’s just to pick up leaves or to mow now and then. Getting them involved will not only help you stay on top of your chores, it will teach them about responsibility and how to care for other living things as they grow up.
Create a Functional Space

Depending on the size of your lawn and the way your home is situated, you may be able to add on a patio or extend the front porch area in order to cut down on the amount of lawn you need to take care of. Creating a functional space can add value to your home if it’s done properly and will save you time in the long run when it comes to mowing and watering. Taking care of your lawn doesn’t have to be a stressful ordeal. With a good plan and a little time management, you can create an outdoor space that is personalized, functional, and beautiful without sacrificing hours of your precious weekend time.
Article Written by Clara Beaufort
For Additional information on the subject. Please check out this link
How to Bring Great Landscaping Home

2015 © ProParts Direct. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Site Map Design & Development by The Scribbit The Scribbit - Marketing, Graphic Design and Web Development