Think Outside the House
Expanding Spring Cleaning
Spring cleaning traditionally heralds a new beginning, an opportunity to take stock of hearth and home and a time of renewal regardless of the season. Clearing figurative cobwebs is as important as sweeping away real ones, and while most folks focus on giving their abode a thorough airing and scrubbing, there’s plenty to tend to outside before the heat of summer sets in.
Clear out potentially dead grass and leaves and other organic matter near the sides of the house to prevent termites and other insect infestations. Collect the organic matter, add in food scraps and compost it all to benefit the garden. Composting sends the nutrients of loose ingredients into the soil as a natural fertilizer. EarthEasy.com/grow_compost.html reports it can help divert as much as 30 percent of household waste from the garbage can.
Make sure to check the top and outer walls of the house. Upraised nails in a shingled roof or deteriorated shingles or gaps where plumbing vent pipes penetrate the surface—possibly due to high winds, falling branches or ice thawing in colder climes—can produce small breaks and holes for water to seep through onto tops of ceilings. That can possibly lead to mold as summer temperatures rise and water leaks into the interior of the house. OldHouseWeb.com says collars of vent pipes should be tight, as “some older [ones] can loosen over time and even some newer rubber collars crack and leak long before the shingles fail.” Also, check the gutters to make sure they are clear of packed leaves and tree branches.
Don’t forget the family car, which may need its own spring cleanup. Go green with a natural soap to remove slush and grime, and then take a close look at the toll the past year has taken. Pebbles and rocks may have been kicked onto the sides of the car, resulting in small chips and abrasions of the paint from which rust might spread. The nonprofit Car Care Council (CarCare.org) recommends covering the areas as quickly as possible and if necessary to use a little clear nail polish—nontoxic, of course—as a quick fix for minor paint damage until a proper touch-up can be scheduled.
Then there’s the undercarriage. Salt particles that may have been used in treating roads and highways in icy regions may be lodged into crevices which can corrode metal and functional parts. Make sure the hose sprayer also reaches these areas.9