Here are All the Extra Steps that Come with Spring Cleaning in New England
Spring cleaning varies greatly by region, but nothing really compares to New England. The region’s wet winters and springs are prime for exterior and interior home damage. Moreover, spring cleaning in New England should include intense cleaning, while also incorporating several preventative tactics to avoid future damage. Below is a guide to combating New England’s harsh, destructive seasonal weather.
Maintaining and Updating Your Private Well
Per the EPA, about 20% of the total population in New England obtains water from private wells—significantly more than in other parts of the country. Springtime is a great way to address private well upkeep, as you’ll be able to mitigate and fix damage that may have occurred over the winter.
- Test the water—Recent studies identified radon and arsenic as contaminants in private wells, but most homeowners are not aware of this risk. Testing your drinking water is very important, as most contaminants cannot be identified by taste or odor. The EPA does not regulate private wells, and many states and towns do not require sampling after installation. The responsibility is on the homeowner. Spring is a great time to get your water tested. Find some time to take a water sample for testing at a state-certified lab. Incorporating the annual testing into your spring cleaning routine will help you build a helpful and important habit. This helpful test sheet is a great resource for well upkeep.
- Inspect your well—Every spring, set time aside to visually inspect your well. New England’s harsh, snow-filled winters can cause significant damage to the well, which may result in compromised drinking water. Thinking about potential impacts to your well water, making note of any significant changes in the area. Be sure to check the cap of the wellhead for any cracks that may have occurred during the winter freeze. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, consider hiring a professional to confirm a potential problem.
- Update your garden, but be careful— Many New Englanders use spring cleaning as an excuse to update or build small, backyard gardens. If you have a private well, however, be sure to check your materials. Avoid mixing or using fertilizers and pesticides near the well, as anything you apply to the ground can potentially reach the groundwater.
Address Winter Damage Now
It’s no secret that winters in New England are pretty miserable. In recent years, the region has seen an unprecedented amount of snow. In fact, in the winter of 2014/2015, Boston Logan Airport received 108.6 inches of snow, making that year the snowiest season on record. The combination of subzero temperatures, extreme snowfall, and the occasional ice storm can wreak havoc on your home. Spring cleaning is an excellent time to address winter damage. Not only will you be able to fix outstanding issues, but you’ll be able to prepare for the coming months.
- Beware ice dams—When snow accumulates on your roof, it traps heat rising through the building. The snow closest to the roof melts first, but when it refreezes, the expanding water may push beneath shingles. Once it melts in the springtime, this water can travel further inward, damaging the wood, ceilings, and walls. This is best addressed with the use of a professional roofer. Check the damage as soon as the snow melts—the faster the problem is addressed, the less damage it will cause.
- Repair broken pipes—New England’s cold winters can severely damage your home, but perhaps the most inconvenient and agitating is a frozen or burst pipe. Though you may have been able to mitigate the damage during the winter months, use springtime as the excuse you’ve been looking for to upgrade your system.
- Revive your lawn—In the summer of 2016, New England experienced extreme drought. This drought, in conjunction with the most recent winter, may have ruined your lawn. Spring cleaning provides a felicitous time to address this problem, as your lawn will have time to recover for Backyard Barbecue season. Consider re-sodding your lawn, and if the situation is worse than expected, have a professional come in to re-seed and aerate your damaged property.
Attack and Prevent Mold
New England experiences some of the wettest weather in the country. Unfortunately, this winter snow and springtime rain lends itself to mold accumulation. As temperatures raise in the later spring months, the added warmth and humidity can work to exacerbate the problem. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, there are a few steps you can take to assuage the problem. Checking your insulation, repairing your air conditioner, and investing in a de-humidifier are easy, cheap strategies for attacking future mold build-up.
If you’ve already noticed mold growth in your home, a quick DIY solution may do the trick. Mix one quart of water with a half cup of bleach, then use a soft brush to scrub moldy spots. Additionally, this handy guide provides more strategies for attacking mold.