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Home Matters: New year brings new projects

Home projects are never-ending and can easily become overwhelming when the to-do list starts piling up higher than the laundry bin. The best way projects should be tackled is to first consider them seasonally. Should I check my attic during the summer, when its temperature can exceed 150 degrees? Along with time of year, consider order of importance. Is it more important that I paint my bathroom or fix the leaky shower that’s been dripping for two months?

Take into account time and money. A costly project may not make sense during, let’s say, a big birthday month when other expenses will come up. Time-wise, consider how many hours or days a project will take, and what will be off-limits during that time — like, how long will your kitchen be out of commission when you’re refinishing the cabinets?

Once you have these key determinants in place, make a month-to-month home project schedule, being sure to set reasonable goals. I don’t recommend starting more than one project at a time, which is an easy recipe for confusion and chaos.

Slow and steady wins the do-it-yourself race, so stay focused and check projects off that list as you go.

Here’s a basic list of home maintenance tasks in a seasonal overview that homeowners should perform annually.


■ Inspect the roof and attic. Annual roof and attic inspections will alert you to bug infestation, rotted wood, spongy spots and other signs that indicate leaks. Evaluate your attic insulation and see if it’s up to snuff.

■ Change fire detector batteries: Start the new year with fresh batteries in your smoke detectors. Even if they’re hardwired, they have backup batteries for power outages.

■ Reverse fan rotation. Fans should spin “clockwise” in cold months to pull up air, that in turn forces the warm air down that accumulates up at the ceiling.

■ Flush hot water tank. Flushing the water heater clears sediment from the tank, makes it work more efficiently and increases its life expectancy. (Check out my article, “Preventive maintenance gets you out of hot water” bouldercityreview.com)


■ Clean gutters. Clear out debris from gutters to ensure rainfall ends up where it’s supposed to.

■ Reseal exterior woodwork. Seal, stain or paint woodwork to protect it, as well as spruce up its looks for spring and summer outdoor living.

■ Check sprinkler and irrigation systems. Be prepared to start watering again, before the heat hits, ensuring healthier spring lawns and blooms.

■ Schedule air-conditioning service. Make sure your air conditioner is in good working order while the weather is still temperate—before companies get slammed and you have to wait days for an appointment.


■ Adjust fan rotation. Switching the fan to counterclockwise (forward) rotation pushes air down, giving a wind-chill effect.

■ Paint. While not necessarily a maintenance project, I like to do interior painting when it’s too hot to get outdoor projects done.

■ Mulch. Adding mulch at the beginning of the summer will keep soil cooler and help roots retain moisture, promoting healthier growth.

■ Inspect and clean the dryer vent. Built-up lint in dryer vents will cause your dryer to perform poorly and, at worst, create a fire risk. Use a vent cleaning kit.


■ Schedule heater service. Again, do this before the season hits.

■ Service fireplace chimney. To prevent a chimney fire use a creosote (soot) cleaner log that chemically breaks down the residue that builds up in your flue.

■ Clear and cut back. Remove dead foliage and overgrowth to ensure healthier spring growth. Cut back shrubbery and trim trees as well.

■ Insulate exterior valves and pipes. For our occasional freezes, it’s worth installing foam pipe insulation.

■ Clean gutters. Again, spring and fall gutter cleaning is recommended, especially if deciduous trees surround your home.

Lastly, in general, pleated heating, venting and air-conditioning filters should be replaced with the change of seasons (every 90 days).

Norma Vally is a seasoned veteran of home improvement; her career includes four seasons as host of Discovery Home Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Toolbelt Diva.” A columnist and author, Vally splits her time in Southern Nevada, Los Angeles and New York City. Follow her on Facebook at Norma Vally “Toolbelt Diva” and visit her at www.NormaVally.com. Email Norma@NormaVally.com.

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