It’s about that time that many of us are begging for Spring. This couldn’t be more true than this past weekend where this Southern girl found herself caught in a blizzard in Jersey. It was cold. Bitter cold. While I can’t say exactly how much I would pay for warmer weather and some sand between my toes, I can assure you that in that moment – it would have been A LOT!
Thankfully, February tends to bring the harshest of the winter and all here in PA AND it’s the shortest month, so… I’m going to keep counting my blessings on that one.
Note to Self: Breathe. We’re almost there.
In step with finding the brighter side and silver lining kind of things, there are some things you can and should be tackling around your home this month. Keeping things fresh can be a great way to ward off cabin fever as you count your calendar waiting for Spring.
So how do you get fresh? Why, I’m so glad you asked!
Spiff Up the Paint
Task: Freshen indoor paint on walls, cabinets, doors, and trim.
Shortcuts: Sometimes a once-over with a Magic Eraser will work, well, magic to remove marks and smudges, reducing the need for a paint job. If that won’t cut it—and you need to paint indoors in February—stir a tablespoon of clear vanilla extract into the paint can to make the smell less noxious (or, even better, just go low/no-VOC to begin with).
If you have trouble removing painter’s tape from furniture or walls, heat it briefly with a hair dryer.
Call in the pros: Painters aren’t cheap BUT be sure you’re factoring in the cost of not just the paint but your time, energy, stress and the loss of what you could be doing instead (time out with the kids, date night with your spouse…) Since spring is the busy season for painters, you may get a a better rate if you hire one at the end of winter. That means now!
Redo the Laundry Room
Task: Clean and reorganize your laundry room so it’s roomier and more efficient. Scrape dried-on laundry detergent from ridges in your washer, run a round of washing machine cleaner to kill any bacteria and/or odors that could be lingering. Be sure to replace damaged baskets and bins, toss laundry products you never use and make sure the rest are stored safely and neatly.
Shortcuts: If you don’t have room for a drying rack, extend a curtain rod over your machines to hang delicate clothes. Try a “slim cart” between your washer and dryer to hold cleaning supplies and consider storing bins, buckets, and laundry bags on wall hooks to free up space. It’s amazing how much space you can free up in other places of your home by learning to make the most of the space you have in your laundry area.
Call in the pros: A professional home organizer may not be cheap but could be incredibly helpful in preserving your sanity. If just the thought of catching up on organizational tasks has you in hives, it might be worth a call to get a quote to have a helping hand.
Clean Dryer Vents
Task: Clean the duct that connects the back of your dryer to outside vents to get rid of lint and other debris that could decrease your dryer’s efficiency, increase energy bills and even cause fires. While you’re at it, be sure birds and other animals haven’t made a home in that warm and toasty vent.
Home Hack: Trouble clearing the line? Use a leaf blower to remove lint and debris from ducts twice a year. Where birds and bugs are an issue, be sure to use a mesh screen to keep them from nesting in your ducts (just be sure to check these to prevent and remove accumulations of any lint that could have made its way through the line).
Call in the pros: If clearing the vents is a bit more than you’re prepared to mess with, be sure you call in someone to ensure this does get done. If clogged vents are a persistent problem, the pro may recommend moving your dryer to an external wall where the distance between dryer and the outside vent is minimized.
Clean Refrigerator Coils
Task: To preserve the life of your refrigerator, keep it running well and save on energy, clean the refrigerator condenser coils located in the back or on the bottom of the appliance.
Home Hack: Use the upholstery attachement on your vacuum to clean coils . While you’re at it, you might as well vacuum the floor under and behind the fridge too. Then, shove a duster or refrigerator coil brush (about $5 and designed for this exact purpose) between the coils, and clean the rest of the dust, hair, and dirt still clinging to the coils.
Call in the pros: Depending on the life and care of your refrigerator, you may want to consider having it serviced to clean it and ensure its running well. This may cost you a couple hundred dollars but could extend the use of your current appliances until you’re financially prepared to replace them.
Clean Your Sump Pump
Task: These things can get straight nasty. Especially if it’s just dropped in an uncovered hole in the floor.
Clean out your sump pump pit and make sure the sump pump is working in February before getting hit with the increase in groundwater that spring rains tend to cause.
Home Hack: Test the pump by adding water to the pit to be sure the pump ejects it as it should. And don’t forget to replace the pit cover after confirming the pump works. You also want to make sure nothing obstructs the sump pump pipe that drains water to the outside of your home.
Call in the pros: If you find that your sump pump is not working efficiently NOW would be a good time to get on top of having it checked out or replaced BEFORE spring rains have you knee deep in trouble.
Flip Your Mattress
Task: Vacuum box springs and the mattress top and bottom. Rotate or flip the mattress.
Home Hack: If you have a one-sided mattress—one side is padded; the other isn’t—don’t bother flipping; just rotate it to provide even aging. If you have a two-sided mattress, flip every two months to prevent sags.
Call in the Pros: It’s wild how much body gunk and other smells/residues can end up in a mattress, especially when it’s not covered with a protective barrier/sheet under the basic bed sheet. If it’s gotten a little musty or dirty, reach out to see about having it professionally cleaned.
Look for leaks
Task: Inspect your roof for missing shingles and damaged vent boots, and check your foundations for cracks that can cause big problems when spring rains pour on your home. Keep a keen eye and ear out for anything that could be seeping into your home.
Home Hacks: Climb into your attic and look for leaks when you get a solid rain. Be sure to look up and down to ensure no water is dripping, pouring or pooling anywhere. Don’t fluff this one off. Undetected leaks can fly under the radar for months, causing damage to insulation, sub-flooring and more on top of creating an opportunity for mold and mildew to grow.
Call in the pros: Roofing and foundation waterproofing companies can inspect and cure water problems. While I’m all for a good DIY, letting a professional handle the top and bottom of your home to prevent water damage can be worth its weight in gold!