Weekly Maintenance for your Home

October – Week 41

Just like preventative maintenance on your car, if you take care of a few small items around the house every week, you can avoid many emergency breakdowns and expensive repairs.

Preparing for that eventual blanket of winter snow is something that starts while the weather is still clement.

Landscaping for Winter

You are well aware that you need to prepare certain plants for the winter with special fertilisers or frost protection. What many people fail to think about is the need to prepare for the spring water run-off, before the ground is covered in snow and frozen solid. When spring comes about, water will be flowing across the top of the landscaping in large quantities, even under the snow. This often means loading the foundation walls with water and often causing leakage into the basement. Remember that in the spring the grass, even the flower beds, are frozen solid so no water is percolating into the soil. All the rain and melting snow is flowing across the top.

You don't need much of a slope to keep the foundation dry, but you do need a definite slope away from the house keeping water flowing around the house and away. That may mean rolling back the grass and adding a bit of soil and then simply rolling the grass back into place. It may mean adding soil to the flower beds that have settled all along the foundation wall. You don't need special materials, it will all be ice during the spring thaw and ice sheds water. If you fail to do this now, you may find yourself chipping diversion ditches into the frozen grass. Do it before the first real frost, while it is easy. Check out "Drainage" in the Search tab above for more details.

Checking your Septic Tank

One other fall task is to check the levels of sludge and scum in your septic tanks for those of you who are not on municipal septic systems. If you don't know how to do this, bring in a septic specialist to check it, but make sure he teaches you how to check and what to check for. That way you can do this task twice a year and only pay for his services when you need to clean out the tank.

What happens in a septic tank is that some material called "sludge" will settle to the bottom, and some material called "scum" will float to the top. The vast majority of everything else will decompose and flow out with the fluids into the leaching field. That is why the tank doesn't fill up very fast. But it you have too much sludge on the bottom, or too much scum on the top, some of this solid matter will find it's way out to the leaching field and now you can get into expensive repairs. That is why you want to keep an eye on it. It is kind of like using a dip-stick to check the oil in your car but the septic specialists can show you exactly what you are looking for with your particular system.

Remember that the quantity of accumulation is directly proportional to the amount of use of your drains so if you have had a year with many more guests, the tank will need attention sooner than previous years. For more details check out "Septic System" in the SEARCH tab above.