Spring Cleaning: Exterior Edition

12 Apr

Spring Cleaning: Exterior Edition

With the warm weather on the horizon, people are itching to be outside, but who wants to be surrounded by grunge and grime left by a messy winter? The ever famous spring clean-up doesn’t have to be daunting if you break it up in sections and tackle it weekend by weekend.

 A great place to start is your roof. Maintaining the integrity of your roof is very important to ensure it will last you year after year. Despite how pretty snow covered houses may be, the ice and snow can cause damage to your shingles as well as your gutters. Now that the snow has melted, it’s time to get up and inspect your roof! 

If you have no experience climbing a ladder or walking a roof, do not start now. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of inspecting your roof, call a trusted contractor to come inspect it for you. Most contractors offer free roof inspections, identifying any torn or missing shingles, as well as any damage to chimney flashing and plumbing vents that could cause a serious leak. You’re also going to want to clear any sticks, leaves or debris that has collected in the valleys of your roof, as well as against chimneys, porches, and dormers.

While you’re working on that roof, you might as well clear out those gutters too! Cleaning your gutters is not just a job to be done in the fall. Heavy snow and winds will break off twigs and sticks from the trees near or above your house, filling up your gutters and downspouts. Try making a narrow scoop by cutting a plastic jug or you can use your hand, just make sure you wear gloves! 

 

You’ll want to get some water flowing through your gutters, but likely don’t want to get up on the roof. No problem!

Use some PVC piping to make a U-shaped wand to attach to your garden hose, or buy one from Home Depot for $20. This will make cleaning your gutters from the ground a breeze. Running water through your downspouts will help you determine if they are clogged. If you notice a deficit in water flow, use a plumbing snake to unclog them. You’ll also want to check for leaks at your gutter joints, and if need be, use a sealant on the inside of the gutter when they’re dry.

In keeping with the top-to- bottom approach, tackle your siding next. We strongly suggest investing in a power washer. Power washers allow you to clean many surfaces fast and effectively, using very little elbow grease. Just be careful when using it on wood and soft surfaces as the high pressure can cause damage. If you notice any surface mold or mildew, try mixing one part bleach to four parts water and spraying the area. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes before using your pressure washer to blast it away! 

Although this mixture is a green alternative to over the counter cleaners, you’ll want to make sure you water any greenery near the are you are spraying beforehand. Bleach can burn your grass and plants, but by spraying the area with water, you’re further diluting the area and creating a barrier that will help any over spray to bead off.

While tending to the side of your home, check your windows and doors for any leaks that need to be fixed. You want your home to be sealed tight to prevent costly heating/cooling bills, the invasion of unwanted guests, and any water that tries to find its way in.

Don’t forget the bottom side of your home needs love to! If you live on crawlspace, get in there! There are a lot of things that can compromise the structure and safety of your home from below. Check for water, mold, humidity and compromised insulation. We also suggest evicting any four legged squatters living in your crawlspace.

 

Winter brings with it a film, of gunk, that covers the exterior side of your windows. To get them looking squeaky clean follow these simple tips:

  • Clean your windows on a cloudy day. When it’s bright and sunny, the cleaner you spray on your window will dry before you get a chance to wipe it off.
  • If you have a steam cleaner, that combined with a squeegee will eliminate even the toughest of grime.
  • Newspaper and a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar is a green alternative to windex and paper towel, and it works just as good!
 
 

But why bother going through all this trouble to get your windows ‘walk-into- clean’ if your screens are still dirty?! Fill up a kiddie pool or large wheelbarrow with some soapy water. Let your screens soak in there for a bit before using a gentle brush, against a solid surface, to remove the dirt and grunge. 

Small holes in a screen can be repaired using clear nail polish and brushing the fibers together, while larger holes will either need to be patched or replaced. 

Now let us tell you all of the wonderful things you can clean with your new power washer! Start with every concrete surface : driveways, walkways, sidewalks, patios and porches. Using a lower-pressure nozzle, clean wood surfaces such as fencing, decking, stairs and outdoor furniture. A high-pressure nozzle will surely strip the finish on wood, so unless you plan on taking on a larger refinishing project, be careful! Here is a link to an affordable, highly recommended pressure washer.

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