It’s important to make sure your home is prepared for warmer weather. We talked to local experts for advice.
“For spring, first and foremost, change the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors,” said Marcus Strickland of Honey Do Professionals in Anniston, a company which provides basic monthly maintenance packages for homes and businesses. Even if your alarms are wired to the home’s electrical system, there is generally a backup battery that should be changed, he said.
CHANGE YOUR LIGHTBULBS
This isn’t the chore you think it is. Strickland recommends that homeowners start switching to LED lightbulbs, which use much less energy than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. For instance, an LED bulb that puts out the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb will only use 8 or 9 watts of energy, Strickland said.
LED bulbs are more expensive — but they can last from 8 to 22 years, Strickland said.
“The biggest misconception is that LEDs all put out bright blue-white light, but now they come in any color you want: soft white, bright light, daylight, even some that change periodically,” Strickland said.
New to the market are LED bulbs with built-in backup batteries, which will still switch on in the event of a power outage. “It gives you regular light when the power is on, but when the power goes out, you can still have light in part of your house,” Strickland said. These bulbs cost about $15-$16 and are available at local hardware stores, he added.
CHECK THE AC UNIT
Get your air conditioning unit serviced in the spring — before your AC decides to stop working in 100-degree weather.
An HVAC company can perform a maintenance check to make sure everything is clean and functioning efficiently, and to fix any problems before they actually start.
Strickland recommends cleaning the coils on outdoor air-conditioning units during pollen season. Use a specialty cleaner and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Strickland also advises against using thick HEPA filters for your AC unit. Such filters claim to filter pollen and other allergens out of the air, but they can also overload an AC system, which has to work harder to pull air through them.
“The filters in an AC unit are designed to keep dust out of the equipment, not to purify the air,” Strickland said. “If you want to purify the air, get an air purifier.”
Vacuum the coils on your refrigerator every couple of months to remove dust, pollen and pet hair, Strickland said.
If you have a water filter on your fridge, change it at least once a year.
Clean out your dryer vent — not just the lint screen, but the dryer vent tubing. Detach the tubing from the dryer, and use a vacuum with a special brush attachment. “This is also a safety issue, as many house fires are started by dryer lint,” Strickland said.
Clean and deodorize the garbage disposal by squirting a little liquid detergent into it and running it until it stops foaming.
If you have hard water, there are special cleaners for dishwashers and washing machines that can eliminate mineral buildup.
KEEP THINGS COOL
Don’t air-condition the whole neighborhood.
Consider adding a storm door. “A lot of times people have double-pane insulated windows, but they don’t have a storm door on the front door. That can help as well,” Strickland said.
Check that weatherstripping around doors is intact.
If you have a fireplace, close your flue.
Switch ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise, which makes the room feel cooler.
Check insulation levels in the attic. There should be at least 9-12 inches of insulation.
SHADE YOUR WINDOWS
If you add awnings over any windows that get afternoon sun, you can cut the temperature in your house by 8-15 degrees, said
Eugene L. Evans Jr., owner of Evans Manufacturing in Anniston.
Installing awnings over doors can protect the wood around the door from water damage, as well as keep guests out of the rain, Evans said.
A patio cover will you give you a place to get out of the sun — which can be a health benefit. “I have a couple of customers with skin cancer who put awnings over their patio and deck,” Evans said.
Evans Manufacturing sells canvas awnings in many different colors, or for a more upscale look, sculptural metal awnings.
As canvas awnings age, they begin to mildew. With regular washing, you can double the lifespan of a canvas awning to 10 or 15 years, Evans said.
In a bucket, mix 1 cup of bleach, 1 gallon of water and ¼ cup of liquid detergent. Using an extension brush and a ladder, scrub the awnings clean.
“They will eventually get to the point that they won’t come clean, and then you can recover them in new fabric,” Evans said.
Spring is a crucial time to make sure your gutters are clean. “After all the leaves have fallen, gutters can get backed up, and the excess water can rot the fascia board and your foundation,” Evans said.
Check drainage ditches to make sure they’re clear.
Check for simple erosion in the yard, especially after all this rain, and fill in any low spots.
PUT IN HANDRAILS
Besides awnings, Evans Manufacturing also installs ornamental iron handrails. “The No. 1 cause of injuries today is falls,” Evans said. “I get so many orders now from people who have dangerous steps. Some insurance companies are requiring clients to put up handrails if they have more than a 3-foot rise on their porches.”
Besides porch steps, Evans has also installed handrails along garden paths.