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Seasonal Maintenance and Home Safety for Seniors

Updated 7/20/15 1:16pm | Alert1 knows winter weather is hard on a home, especially if the weather is severe. See our related article here on winter proofing your home. Now that more moderate weather is arriving, it's a good time for spring maintenance and cleaning. Assessing both the inside and outside of the home is important. Having an annual routine can help spot issues before they become problems and, ultimately, maintain property values.

Understandably, up keeping your property is more difficult as you age. Breaking down these improvement tasks into stages helps to make a big project into a more manageable one. We’ve also made it easy for you divide the labor by ranking the complexity of each task. Our spring home-improvement tips below can help you and other aging seniors maintain and enhance your homes. 

spring cleaning / medical alert

Check for Weathered Outdoor Surfaces and Structures (minor complexity)

Now is a good time to get outdoor entertaining areas spruced up. Many people begin by prepping their lawns and planter beds for spring, as well as cleaning up debris strewn about during winter storms. Check all watering systems and be sure they are functioning properly. Bring in a trusted contractor to inspect and repair all decks or walking surfaces around the house. It is also a good time to repair all fences, trellises, and other outdoor structures. Soon it will be time to enjoy the yard and garden, so don’t forget to bring out the patio furniture and tune up the grill.

Finally, go through your home to check all windows, caulking, and weather stripping. This helps ensure you have no leakage that will allow warm summer air in and cooled indoor air out. If windows developed any condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-glazed windows during the winter, it can mean the weather seal has been breached. Once the windows have been deemed airtight, it is the perfect time for a thorough cleaning of all glazing and screens.

broken roof / medical alert system

Cleaning High Traffic Areas Inside Your Home (minor complexity)

If moderate weather has not arrived yet, it makes sense to start inside. Many people do “spring cleaning”, including often neglected areas such as baseboards, window casings, and the tops of wall-mounted cabinets. With allergy season just around the corner, it is a great time to ensure the house is allergen free. Thoroughly vacuum or steam clean all upholstered furniture, mattresses, and carpet.

Kitchens can build up an invisible layer of greasy residue without the homeowner even realizing it. This is the perfect time to clean the walls with warm soapy water and a sponge. Clean all kitchen and bathroom tile, and then repair all damaged or missing grout. It is essential to remove traces of mold or mildew before it becomes an eye sore or health risk. Don’t forget to check for leaky faucets, clogged drains, faulty connections, and sweaty or damaged pipes throughout the house. This includes the washing machine and water heater, which both need seasonal maintenance.

carpet steamer/ alert1

Exterior Roof and Foundation Inspection (moderate complexity)

It never hurts to inspect the house from top to bottom. When you were younger, you may have climbed up on the roof to inspect for damage. A safer route is to inspect with your best pair of binoculars or keen eyes and a ladder. Check for roofing material that is missing, shifted, or in need of repair. Any of these conditions can indicate that water is penetrating your roof. It is also important to clean all gutters and downspouts. Extendable gutter cleaning tools make light work of clearing any blockage while keeping both feet on the ground. If your home has a chimney, hire a vendor to check for plant growth or white deposits. The presence of these things may indicate that masonry joints are absorbing water, rather than repelling it.

After checking the roof, examine your walls and foundation. Check for trouble spots under the eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains may indicate that runoff is also running down the walls and not just in the gutters. For houses with wood siding, it is a good time to check for openings, damaged areas, or knots that have popped out. The last thing a homeowner needs is to invite ants, termites, or other pests inside. Don’t forget to inspect the foundation for masonry cracks. If any cracks are discovered, considering hiring a foundation specialist to bond the cracks chemically.

busted roof/ senior safety

Home Appliance, Attic and Basement Maintenance (serious complexity)

In the fall most people check their furnace and, in the spring, it is a good idea to check the air conditioner. Clean off any dust that has settled on the unit and change the filter. Check all hose connections and be sure the drain pans are working properly. If any problems arose last summer, consider getting a professional opinion. The more efficiently the air conditioner is running, the less money it will cost.

The attic is an easy place to forget to check, but it is an important part of spring cleaning. Check for cracks, nests, droppings, and other signs that insects or critters have “moved in”. They may be small, but they are mighty and can cause a lot of damage. Dark blotches or stains can indicate the presence of mold. If detected, consult a professional about abatement measures immediately. The attic should have proper ventilation, as well as be clean, dry, and free from pests.

Another place that many people have a problem with pests or dampness is the basement. A damp basement can suggest that there is not enough ventilation or too much humidity. When checking for cracks in poured concrete walls, start at the bottom because cracks will begin from the bottom up. If water is getting into the basement, there will be signs of it in the bottom of the cracks. Finally, check any exposed wood framing for tunneling, which is a sign of insects.

 

basement water heater/ alert button

 

Just as you look after yourself with annual checkups, seasonal home maintenance helps preserve and maintain your property. There's a broad spectrum of projects to be done, and as we age we cannot tackle them alone. Before starting a new project, remember to gauge the complexity of each home improvement project carefully and delegate as needed. Before starting any of these activities please consult your physican to make sure you are in proper health.