Home Care

September Home Care Tips

With the kids back to school, summer has officially come to a close and fall is in the air. It's time to bring the out the flannel sheets as cooler weather approaches. It's important now to get your house in order as you'll be spending a lot more time indoors. Here are a few things you can get done around the house to prepare for fall:

  • Refresh your bedroom for fall.
  • Take your flannel sheets and cozy blankets out of storage even if you don't need them quite yet. You'll be happy to have them around when the nights start to get chilly. Take the time to rotate your mattress, launder your mattress pad and clean out the dust bunnies from under the bed.
  • Have the chimney and furnace inspected.
  • Make sure you're home is ready to take on the cooler weather by having a professional look at both your fireplace and heating system. It's been awhile since you've used them so before winter gets here make sure they're cleaned and ready.
  • Clean and organize.
  • Don't just save cleaning for spring. Vacuum and mop floors, clean rugs and wipe surfaces throughout the house. As you clean also set aside things to give away while you go through shelves and cabinets. 
  • Swap out home accessories.
  • Keep your home feeling current by tweaking a few details each season. Swap out throw pillows, add cozy blankets and decorate with seasonal produce.
  • Remove window AC units.
  • Remember to drain them, clean or change the filters before storing them for next year. Tape any hardware to the unit so it doesn't get lost in the meantime. 
  • Hang heavier window treatments.
  • Thicker window coverings can help your home retain heat - saving money on energy bills. If you use blinds, layer curtains on top.
  • Add weather stripping.
  • Adding weather stripping is a simple way to stop drafts around windows and doors. 
  • Consider adding more insulation.
  • Adding insulation to...

How Can You Make Your Home Happier?

Your home should be a sanctuary from the stresses of everyday life where you can relax and spend time with friends and family. Here are some tips to help you put a smile on your face whenever you walk in your front door.

Surround yourself with mood-boosting colors. Red, orange and yellow are often associated with generating a positive mood. If these colors aren't your favorite, surround yourself with ones that are uplifting and give you inspiration.

Fill the air with blissful scents. Many scents like jasmine, lavender, citrus or even fresh baked cookies are linked to happiness. Sent is also linked to memory so filling your home with happy memories will lift your spirits.

Create a dedicated space for your hobbies. Spending time on activities that bring you joy is important to your overall happiness. If you passion is reading, painting or woodworking, having a space devoted to your favorite hobby will motivate you to spend more time on what you love.

Bring the outdoors in. There is a significant link between spending time enjoying nature and your mood. Fill your home with plants and fresh flowers, even just opening the curtains can make an impact.

Simple tips like these can create a happier, healthier and more valuable home!


August Home Care Tips

The return to school and work is looming over us now that August is here and we're getting in those last vacations before summer is over. Here are a few things you can do around the house with fall right around the corner.
Edit and organize clothes closets. Before you do any shopping for fall, sort through your closets and drawers. Donate any items you no longer want. Begin pulling out fall clothes from storage to asses what you still need.

Clean the bathroom fan. Through the summer months the bathroom fan has to work even harder to clean the air. Leave it on for a full 30 minutes after each shower to prevent bathroom mildew from forming. Use a vacuum attachment to clear out the dust and grime.

Prep for quick and easy weeknight dinners and school lunches. Get a jump start on kitchen tasks by cleaning out cupboards and prepping some big batch meals you can freeze. Wash and chop fruits and veggies to keep as healthy snacks.

Give the mudroom a makeover. Create a functional and attractive mudroom with a set of wall hooks and some organizational baskets. Maximize closet space with a shoe rack and a high shelf for less frequently used items.

Do some emergency prep. In case of an emergency you should always have some emergency kits up to date with food, water, clothes, flashlights and first aid supplies. Especially if you are living in an area where flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes occur.

Check and put away summer equipment. Clean summer gear and toss broken items before storing them for next year. Take advantage of end of season sales to find a new one at the best price.


July Home Care Tips

Summer is in full swing and July is a great time to get all of those outdoor projects taken care of. It's a great excuse to step outside and enjoy some summer sun because we know too soon it will be gone. Now that the excitement of the 4th is over it's time to dive back into your monthly home care. So what's on the agenda for this month?

  • Extend the life of your driveway and paths.
  • Attend to small cracks and chips before they grow.
  • Increase shade in the backyard.
  • July can get pretty hot and you want to be prepared to comfortably spend time outside. Put up a canopy or an umbrella to cool off.
  • Cut energy costs.
  • During the day keep your windows and shades drawn to maintain cooler indoor temperatures because exposed windows will heat up your home. 
  • Trim back shrubbery around walls and remove tree limbs from the roof.
  • Remove any yard debris as needed, keeping branches or other clippings around can attract insects. 
  • Test all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Replace batteries as needed to make sure all of your safety devices are in working order.

June Home Care Tips

School is out and summer is officially here! The days are long and the weather is warm, so it's time to take on those outdoor summer projects. Here are a few things you can do around the house to keep your home and yard in shape for the summer months ahead.

Paint your home's exterior

The warm dry summer weather makes it an ideal time to paint. Check out this article on how to paint your house!

Check for cracks in the foundation

Walk around your home to check carefully for cracks in the foundation. The smallest crack can let in water and pets.

Clean the gutters

To keep your roof in shape keep dry brush and leaves out of your home's gutters and downspouts. Also consider installing gutter guards to keep leaves and other debris out, making upkeep easier.

Go through the school stuff

Decide what you can stow for next year, donate, or toss. Declutter by getting rid of old papers and homework and store any meaningful artwork.

Get the outside ready

Now that kids are home for the summer it's time to take the summer toys out of storage. Add something fun like a tire swing or a sprinkler attachment. Make sure everything is in good shape and ready for fun.

Repair and seal fences and garden structures

Add a fresh coat of paint and sealant to any fences or gates to make sure they are in good shape for years to come.

Put in screen doors

Screen doors will keep out any pests like mosquitos or flies.

Lighten up decor

Welcome the new season by making a few simple swaps to brighten up the room. Try new art, a piece of accent furniture or lighter home accents.

Make a summer to do list

So easily we let summer slip past us and before we know it, fall is back and school has started. Make sure to write down everything...

May Home Care Tips

Now that the weather is finally getting warmer it's time to start working on your outdoor upkeep! To keep updated on your home maintenance it's easier to tackle a few projects a month. That way you can spend the summer in the sun instead of scrambling to get it all done before it gets cold.

Here's what you should get started on for May:

  • Check all decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings for loose members and deterioration.
  • Check plumbing shut-off valves. Ensure that they turn off and on freely.
  • Service your kitchen disposal by grinding several cups of ice cubes.
  • Check vents, louvers and chimneys for bird nests or squirrels.
  • Check your sprinkler system for leaky valves and exposed lines.
  • Inspect your home's exterior siding for mildew. Scrub off as necessary.
  • Check your air conditioning unit and have it serviced before summer temperatures arrive.

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

It's time to dust off the drapes and open those windows because spring is in the air! As you eagerly await summer there are lots of things you can get a head start on around your home. This way when summer comes around you can spend your days relaxing instead of tackling your overdue spring cleaning list. Here are a few helpful ways to get the started:

Clean Around Your Air Conditioning Compressor and Make sure it gets Sufficient Air Flow
If you need to schedule maintenance on it so you get the longest life out of your cooling system. Make sure filters are changed at least once each season. There's nothing worse than a dysfunctional air conditioner when those hot summer days roll around.

Check Screen Doors and Windows

Thoroughly check your screens to make sure they are free from holes and tears.

Test Your Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Since these usually sit dormant it may be easy to forget to replace the batteries and make sure they are still in proper working order.

Vacuum Your Bathroom Vent Covers

Dirt and grime can easily build up in vents and filters when they go unchecked. To ensure the most air circulation in your home make sure to clean them out.

Inspect Your Roof

Winter can take a great toll on the roof that we don't even see. Instead of jumping on the roof try looking at it through a telescope or binoculars. If needed call a proper professional for any repairs.


Winterizing Your Home

Now that the first snow is fallen the denial is over... Winter is here, and for most of us that means higher heating bills. To cut down on cost there are some easy tricks to winterize your home without breaking the bank. Popular Mechanics has come up with a comprehensive list of 19 Ways to Winterize Your Home.

Cover Up Drafts

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5%-30% of your energy use. An option for covering the space under the door is a draft snake which you can either make yourself or purchase.

Change Furnace Filters

Furnace filters should be cleaned or replaced once a month during the winter months. You can also consider switching to a permanent filter which can trap around 88% of debris instead of only 10%-40%.

Run Fans in Reverse

Switching to a clockwise rotation makes it warmer since air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space.

Winterize A/C & Water Lines

Drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, making sure there is no excess water in your equipment. Turn off any exterior spigots and shut off your a/c.

Turn Down Your Water Heater

Lowering the temperature from 140 degrees F to 120 degrees F reduces your water heating costs by 6%-10%.

Install Storm Doors & Windows

This can easily increase energy efficiency by 45%, sealing the drafts and reducing air flow. They also offer better light and ventilation into your home.

Keep Your Furnace Clean

A clean and lubricated furnace can save up to 5% in heating costs.

Turn Down the Thermostat

Make sure you turn down your thermostat when no one is home to save on efficiency. For every degree lower the thermostat is set during the winter months saves 1%-3% on the heating bill.

Use Window Plastic


Odd Electrical in This House

I saw this in a house the other day in a Westmorland home for sale and had to laugh pretty hard. I'm not an electrical expert, but I'm pretty sure this isn't according to code.

Josh Lavik - Keller Williams Realty - 608-234-1523 - joshlavik (at) kw (dot) com.


Home inspections - what's that all about?

As a Realtor, I often recommend to my clients that they do a home inspection when buying or selling a home. Here's a quick video with one of my favorite home inspectors in the Madison area, Denny Kruger. He discusses what items are covered during a typical home inspection, what he doesn't do during an inspection, and typical costs.


Houselogic: Ideas to Help Around the House

I recently came across a new website dedicated to helping homeowners find smarter ways to improve and maintain their home. There is information about improving the indoors, the outdoors, structures and systems, and how to deal with potential problems. As a homeowner getting ready for winter in the Madison area, you might be interested in an article about chimney maintenance for warmth and safety. Or maybe you're considering changing the flooring in your bathroom and want a few ideas. Or maybe you want to install a new spa on your deck to relax after a tough day at work.

Another area that might be helpful for homeowners, is a section dedicated to helping further engage in the community. Maybe you're thinking of buying a new condo in Fitchburg and want to know a little more about homeowner associations. Or maybe you're wondering about how to reach out to local officials to help with a community issue. Or maybe you want to do like some people in the Atwood area did, and start a community garden.

One more aspect that you might find useful as a homeowner is the area for tax credits and deductions. There are currently tax credits for solar water heaters, replacing heating and cooling systems, and even adding insulation. Or maybe you're concerned about rising property taxes, information about assessments, and certain exemptions. You can find ideas like this and more at www.HouseLogic.com.

Full Disclosure: I'm a Realtor in the Madison area and this website was produced by the National Association of Realtors. However, I believe there are a number of ideas and articles that could prove to be helpful for those currently living in a home, or considering buying a home in the near future.