Happy First Day of Spring
Improve the Value of Your Home in the Early Spring
Brought to you by Hingham Realtor Alice Pierce serving the South Shore of Boston
Although the air feels cold and the snow remains, it is not too early to think about ways to best care for your home on the South Shore. A well-cared for house and property has more value than one that is neglected over time. We live in an area that requires different maintenance tactics than inland states that lack ocean access, but of course, this is why we live here!
Whether we are exposed to salt directly from ocean spray or from the air itself, the privilege of living near the Atlantic creates distinct environmental factors for us to interact with, just as living in a desert, lake or mountainous area does. Naturally occurring atmospheric conditions along the coastline require inclusion of specific approaches in our home maintenance regimen for maximum efficiency and utility. We also had some significant freeze-thaw cycles this winter in addition to significant rain and this can wreak a different kind of havoc to structures.
Even if you are not sure about putting your home on the market this spring, getting ahead of home maintenance frees you up for more fun in the good weather. Like anything else, doing a little bit each day will make caring for your home easier over time. If you tailor maintenance tasks around our specific geography, you will also see more benefits from your efforts.
Start with the outside…
When potential buyers drive around looking at the homes that their Realtor has told them about, or that they have seen online, one of the first things they see is the outside of your house. It is helpful to make sure that all of the siding is in good order and presents a uniform, flat surface. To this end, there are some things you can do to spruce up your siding and outdoor surfaces.
How to Clean Your Siding
Start by washing all of your home siding in a way that is appropriate for its material. For example, vinyl siding can be cleaned using a power washer, but on antique homes, hand cleaning is required so as not to damage the wood.
After your siding is clean, you can more easily notice any areas where the paint or stain has either worn thin, or is altogether gone. This means that the wood underneath is completely unprotected from water and sun light. Over time, this can cause rot and/or brittleness making the outside of your home an easy target for insects.
Check Caulked Areas
Check all areas that have caulking. The extreme temperatures cause the caulk itself to expand and contract more often than if the temperatures outside stayed steady. Over time the caulking starts to dry out, shrink and crack until it eventually degrades, causing air and water leaks.
Clean Your Gutters (again)
The gutters and downspouts might have more stuff in them than you think, especially if you cleaned them out in the fall. With so many days of high winds, debris travels far and wide only to get lodged in your gutters. Add to this the piles of melting snow and a few torrential downpours and you have a recipe for bark, leaf, and pine needle mush that lodges itself into your down spouts. If the water can’t flow freely, it will back up into your gutters and can cause roof and siding problems.
Prepare Your Yard for the Spring and Summer
Aside from potential homebuyers noticing your gleaming house, they will also notice your yard and driveway area. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve by assessing what you need to do. A little bit of work each day makes outdoor yard care and maintenance much less daunting.
Cleaning Up Yard Debris
On the aesthetic side of things, there is no harm in starting to pick up yard debris. Designate one area for the branches instead of multiple small piles near your working areas. Many people with all the right intentions end up with a dozen or more piles, and as time wears on these piles flatten out and eventually start to disappear. Once the grasses, weeds and shrubs leaf out, these piles vanish from sight.
If your are going to remove the debris to the dump, have some good loppers handy, and a pair of good hand cutters. It is far easier to cut the wood into small pieces as you go instead of waiting until you are ready to haul everything away. Be sure to cut horizontal branches off too. This makes stacking and carrying much easier and safer overall.
For those of you who can get burning permits, it is an annoyance to have to rearrange all of the wood the day you decide to burn. It also takes up precious time. You only have until about 4:00 pm to burn, even on our longest days. Pick an open area free from overhead branches, and a place that your hose can easily reach. Rake out a circular burning area so that it is free from leaves that can easily carry your fire to unwanted areas. Then make a wide, shallow depression where your fire will be.
Throw the thicker pieces of wood to the side and start a pile of dead and dry branches in the shallow area making sure to keep plenty of air within the pile. Then you can start to stack small branches on top, and finish off with the larger ones. If you have more than enough for one fire, set aside an area to store the wood in three different sizes; fire starting size, medium and large. Rake away all of the leaves from this area as well, thus creating a boundary in case an ember travels from your burning pile.
Clean Your Driveway
If you sprinkled salt or sand on your driveway this winter, it is time to grab your broom and sweep up as much of the residue as you can. There are two reasons not to wait for a warm enough day to rinse down your driveway.
First, home inventory is at an all time low and this means houses are selling faster. You don’t want to be caught off guard when buyers come looking almost as soon as you list your home for sale. Secondly, the chemical properties of melting salts and some sanding agents can harm and even kill off plant material. The less of this you have running off into your lawn and flowers, the less damage you will have.
To clean your asphalt once the salt is swept up, just mix a combination of detergent and water and scrub it into the surface using a push broom with very stiff bristles. Then just hose off the solution once you are done. If you have oil stains on your driveway, try adding a little bleach to your detergent and water mixture. Sometimes this is enough when used with more elbow grease. Driveway cleaning formulas are made, but be very careful wo check that you purchase one made specifically for asphalt.
Take a Look at Your Outside Air Conditioning Unit
Having a well cared for air conditioning system in your home is a valuable asset and exposure to the salt air is a consideration. Air conditioning equipment is susceptible to salt air when in close proximity to the ocean, or by virtue of the pleasant interchanges of air experienced in the spring, summer and fall months. For example, when you notice a mist or fog occurring, this air generally carries a fair amount of salt with it.
Many of our air conditioning systems utilize air-cooled plate fin condenser coils to reject the heat transferred from the conditioned space inside. These fins are often made of aluminum and then bonded to the copper tubes inside of your condenser.
It is the aluminum that is most susceptible to the salt. If the fins start to degrade without notice, shards can pulled into your coil and reduce the efficiency of cooling and heat transfer. Additionally, the condenser fans work harder, use more power and eventually result in a shorter lifecycle for the appliance. If you are fortunate to have a system with copper fins, then it will take much longer for the salt to impact your system, but it does not mean your AC is immune.
Salt, or sodium chloride, is carried by the fog we often notice very early in the morning. As it rolls in, it settles as moisture on surfaces. The culprit in corrosion and wear is actually the chloride. Most metal surfaces come with a coating (oxides), but chloride breaks down this layer which is what causes pitting of metals.
The most important step in providing long life for coated condenser coils is proper maintenance. Most coil manufacturers do suggest a monthly rinse with potable water straight from the garden hose connected to the municipal water system to reduce salt buildup, and this is the case with and without coated fins.
There are steps you can take when parts are replaced, or when you replace the outdoor condenser. Consider a galvanized case coated with a polymeric dipped coating (rather than sprayed). The polymeric coating has qualities that flex with expansion and contraction and the dipping process ensures that the total fin surface, including niches that might not be covered by spraying, is coated.
Start the Storage Process Early
Storing your winter goods won’t really be a noticeable factor if you do put your home on the real estate market, but the fact that the tasks are complete frees up your time and energy for other things.
It is a great time of year to start washing your winter things so you don’t end up stuck inside for a laundering marathon once the weather improves. If you do a load a day, your down coats, blankets and the like will be fresh and clean for next winter. Be sure that your down and blanket material is overly dry so that when you store it, undiscovered moisture won’t cause mildew. Let all of your items to be stored reach room temperature before sealing in large ziplock or plastic bins.
Here is a quick summary of some early spring projects that could directly impact the value of your real estate:
Clean home siding
Check for worn stain and paint
Check caulked areas
Remove winter debris from gutters and downspouts
Remove yard debris to one pile
Check air conditioning unit
Prepare winter linens and coats for storage
Spring has arrived! Be prepared for your next real estate transaction by meeting with Alice Pierce, one of the best listing and selling agents on the South Shore of Boston. Alice Pierce is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, and a lifelong resident of Hingham who knows all of the coastal towns and the neighborhoods within them. Whether you are interested in Hingham, MA, Cohasset, MA, Hull, MA, Norwell, MA and any other South Shore towns, give her a call at 781-724-7622, anytime. Alice Pierce can also be reached by email or through her Coldwell Banker real estate website.