Spring Cleaning – Part I

The sunny weather and beautiful wildflowers are here to tell you it’s spring, and with spring comes spring-cleaning.

Maintaining a home requires time, effort, and a little planning. While many chores must be done daily, weekly, or monthly, some only need to be done seasonally or annually—so they’re easier to forget. Let’s look at some of the rare but important ones.

First, prepare your property for fire season. Be sure your tree limbs start at least six feet above the ground. While you may mow a lawn weekly, if you have a field or some acreage with tall grasses, schedule time to take them down before the end of May. If you only want to cut the field once, wait until the tall grasses start to turn a little brown. (If you cut them in late April, you may end up cutting them again in late May.)

The last time I checked, insurance companies recommend a 100-foot defensible fire space. They suggest removing dead or dying vegetation, breaking up continuous vegetation, and eliminating the fire ladder that allows fire to move from the ground to your home (e.g., make sure you don’t have tall grass right next to shrubs right next to trees right next to your house).

Another landscaping chore to consider is removing any large limbs hanging over your house, especially ones close to a chimney. You don’t want a spark from the chimney to start the tree on fire, and while shade is nice, a limb breaking and landing on your roof is not. While you’re at it, do a visual inspection of your roof to make sure you don’t have missing shingles or other damage.

Back to fire safety for a moment, be sure to store propane tanks and gasoline safely. Do not store them in the garage or leaning against the house. Many people underestimate the power of gasoline. Did you know that a quart of gasoline evaporated into an enclosed space (like a garage) has the blast power of a stick of dynamite? I knew a guy who wanted to ignite his outdoor burn pile. He poured a little gas on the pile (not a good idea) and then his phone rang. He answered the call and talked on the phone for about fifteen minutes. When he went back to start the fire, the gasoline had vaporized. When he lit it, he was thrown back about fifteen feet, landed hard on his back, and he lost all the hair on his face and forearms. His back has never been the same, and he got off easy.

As for propane, it is heavier than the air we breathe, so it will accumulate in low spots in the yard. If you’re concerned about gas leaks, call the gas company. If you aren’t sure there’s a problem and you want to check for leaks yourself, you can mix up water with a little dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on gas line couplings. If you see bubbles emerge, call the gas company immediately. And if you’re not sure call the gas company,

Before you head indoors, check exposed water lines and make sure they are well insulated. Insulation prevents pipes from freezing in the winter, and while your at it think about adding insulation to the hot water delivery pipes under the house or in the attic to reduce the water-heating bill.

After your spring-cleaning chores are done, you can treat yourself to “Shostakovich,” a performance by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, May 17 at 8 p.m. or Sunday, May 18, at 3 p.m. at the Mendocino College Center Theater in Ukiah. Visit their website for details: ukiahsymphony.org. If that’s not your thing, consider the California Native Plant Society Walk on Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18. This involves a weekend camping trip to the Sonoma State University preserve west of Yorkville. For details, go to sanhedrin.cnps.org.

Next time we’ll take spring-cleaning indoors. If there’s something you would like me to write about or if you have questions about real estate or property management, feel free to contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit our website at www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.

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