Spring Cleaning: 8 Tips for Home, Lawn, & Auto

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By Shelby Lang

It’s spring, which means it’s that special time of year for spring cleaning, changing out air filters, preparing for spring break, and taking weekend trips. Home and car maintenance are often at the bottom of our to-do lists, but here are eight easy ways to get a jump on the season.

Garage Door

Your garage door is the largest moving part of your home. It gets used multiple times a day, at all hours of the day, and in every season, says Oscar Alejandro, manager and head service technician at American Overhead Doors in Bryan. A broken garage door could leave your home vulnerable to intruders or hold your car hostage inside. Both of these are reason enough to maintain it to the highest degree.

First, look and listen. Be sure your garage door is moving smoothly, silently, and symmetrically. If it is jerky or asymmetrical, you might need to tighten the hardware, replace the rollers, or check the door balance, says Alejandro. Test the door balance by opening the door halfway and disconnecting it from the motor. If the door is
balanced, it will stay in place. If your garage door is off balance, it could come slamming down at any time and not only cause damage to anything in its path but seriously injure you or your loved ones, warns Alejandro.

Keep all of the moving parts on your garage door greased, the weather stripping sealed tight, and the tracks free of debris to ensure your garage doors run smoother and longer, adds Alejandro.

Heating and Cooling Systems

Keeping the air conditioning system in tip-top shape is probably the most important thing anyone can do Depositphotos_23120320_originalwe approach the spring and summer months in Texas. High efficiency air filters, which should be replaced every 90 days, can help achieve optimum performance in your HVAC unit, advises David Garrett at Barker’s Heating & Cooling. Inspecting your refrigerant lines bi-annually can help keep your utility bills down and enhance efficiency while keeping your system in great condition, adds Garrett.

When it comes to your AC unit, make sure the outside unit is on firm, level ground and clear a two-foot area around it. Garrett also suggests sealing existing ductwork to prevent dust and dirt from entering your house through the attic or underneath the house.

Also, don’t forget to replace the batteries to the carbon monoxide detector each year in advance of using the heater, adds Garrett.

Pest Control

Depositphotos_2811531_originalPest control is the area of home maintenance that no one wants to deal with, yet pests can sometimes be the most damaging threat to your home. Spring is the most important season for pest control, says Scott Lingre
n at Venus Pest Company. Lingren suggests starting with your sprinkler system.

Check your sprinkler system for leaks and make sure it isn’t spraying directly on your house. Also, only use your sprinklers on grass that needs it, adds Lingren. Longer watering duration fewer times per week is better for your lawn and worse for pests, says Lingren.

Another thing to check is rodent entry points on your home’s exterior. Lingren says the most common entry points found by Venus Pest Company include the garage doorframe and around HVAC pipes. Stuffing the holes with copper wool can prevent rodents from entering at these places, advises Lingren.

Spring Cleaning Refrigerator Coils

Depositphotos_18957365_originalDon’t forget the inside and outside of your refrigerator when starting on spring cleaning. Cockroaches
love to nest in the warm, moist atmosphere of refrigerator coils and with easy access to food in the kitchen it makes an ideal breeding ground for the bugs. Most refrigerator brands have an easy-to-follow video or instructions online with the best way to clean your coils. Take note of your refrigerator’s brand and model, check online, and get to cleaning.

Car Engine

Your car’s engine is its heart. It’s the most important and also the most confusing part. However, basic maintenance can keep you from be ing stranded without notice, says Jodi Rice at Henson Motors.

Keep an eye for any signs of corroded battery cables and worn belts, says Rice. Inspect the engine every few months to be sure everything is intact and in good shape. iStock_000004048218MediumEngine belts should be checked every 25,000 miles and replaced every 50,000 miles, advises Rice. Checking the belts will let you knw if any need to be tightened and will also make you aware of any abnormal wear and tear.

Don’t forget the importance of windshield wiper blades as we approach April showers. Rice says these are inexpensive but important to keep maintained for unexpected rainy days.

Tires

There are several important factors to think about when it comes to your tires. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles or every other oil change, advises Rice. Tires should have good tread depth, which is
what keeps your car from sliding off the road every time you take a turn. If your tread depth is too low, it’s time to replace your tires. Rice suggests keeping your wheels in proper alignment as improper alignment can cause fasiStock_000002201609Mediumter wear and put an extra load on the engine.

Finally, check your tire pressure. Keeping your tires inflated with the right amount of pressure is extremely important, says Rice. Over or under inflation can wear out your tires quicker and decrease fuel efficiency.

Lights

Your car’s lights let other drivers know that you exist and what you are doing. If these burn out, not only could you get a ticket but you could get into an accident.

Most people mistake their broken blinkers as a funny glitch making one blinker flash faster than the other, but this is not the case. If one or both blinkers are blinking faster than normal, this is a clear indicator they are broken.

This is an easy fix. You can pick up a new bulb from any auto parts store and replace it yourself. The tricky part comes from handling the glass. If you touch the glass with your skin, you will leave an oil residue on the bulb, making the light blurry when others see it from the outside. Always hold the light by the metal bulb holder or use surgical gloves if you need to touch the glass.

Spruce Up Your Sprinkler System and Save

Spring is almost here, but before you ramp up your watering, be sure to spruce up your irrigation system. If you don’t know how much water your sprinkler system applies in a certain time period, it’s difficult to water your landscape efficiently. You could easily apply too much water, which is a waste of money and resources.

Now is the perfect time to spruce up your irrigation system. To get started, follow these four simple steps—inspect, connect, direct, and select:

Inspect. Check your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads. Leaks and broken sprinkler heads can waste up to 25,000 gallons of water over a six-month irrigation season!

Connect. Make sure sprinkler heads connect to pipes/hoses without leaks. A leak as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.

Direct. Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to the landscape, instead of the driveway, house, or sidewalk.

Select. An improperly scheduled irrigation controller can waste water and money. Update your system’s schedule with the seasons, or select a WaterSense labeled controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling.

Another way to take the guesswork out of watering is to follow recommendations of the Brazos Valley WaterSmart Network (http://brazosvalleywatersmart.tamu.edu). Brazos Valley Water Smart provides neighborhood-specific watering recommendations based on weather stations and rainfall data collected across Brazos County.

Finally, the City of College Station offers a free landscape irrigation checkup service for customers concerned about high water use. Contact Jennifer Nations at (979) 764-6223 or jnations@cstx.gov to schedule a free landscape irrigation checkup. Customers receive a rain gauge and soil moisture sensor to keep track of irrigation needs, along with a detailed inspection report and suggested irrigation schedule.

Learn more about maintaining a water-smart yard at www.cstx.gov/water.

Courtesy of the City of College Station