10 Way To Keep Your Florida Home In Great Shape Top To Bottom
If you own a home in Central Florida, there are several unique upkeep considerations in this sunny southern state. Here’s a handy house maintenance checklist highlighting areas that may need attention both inside and out.
Let’s start at the top.
Your roof is your home’s hat. A hat will protect what’s beneath it. With Central Florida’s tropical storms, complete with gusting winds and buckets of rain protection is important. Examine your roof periodically and patch or repair any gaps in the shingles or metal sheeting where water may enter.
The Florida rainy season extends from mid-spring to fall, so schedule a time to check your roof over before and after this period. Also, look for any spots that may be an entry spot for bats, rats, squirrels, etc. As much as we may love our local wildlife, we don’t necessarily want them to be our next roommates.
Moss, mold, algae, and mildew are another thing to watch for on both asphalt and metal roofing. Because of the high humidity in Central Florida, mold and mildew can take hold quickly. In addition to being unsightly, they can also eat away at surfaces, aging your shingles prematurely. Special cleaners are available that target roof mildew. Using this solution reduces the amount of scrubbing needed to get rid of that awful green crud.
Central Florida Gutters
Next up are your gutters. There is a popular misconception that there are only palm trees and no deciduous trees in Florida. Any homeowner with gutters will tell you this is false. From leaves and acorns to twigs and even flower petals, there is a diverse assortment of nature bits than can accumulate in your gutters.
With every rain, all the debris that has landed on your roof gets funneled down to your gutter’s exit points. It’s best to get these cleared out regularly, so you don’t suddenly discover that your gutters are clogged in the middle of a squall (when you look outside, and there’s a waterfall in front of your window or door).
You could clean these out by hand, however, climbing up and down ladders is tiresome and potentially dangerous. There is a handy tool called Gutter Fingers by Growerology that allows you to grab debris out of your gutters while standing from the ground. This time-saving tool can be a real lifesaver.
A pool or lanai (screened-in outdoor patio) is like an extension of your living space and should be included on the to-do list as well. Regular pool maintenance is a must to prevent bacteria or algae from forming and to check for cracks.
Your lanai will need a good look over too. Keep an eye out for tears or gaps in the screen material. Also, remove any leaves and twigs that accumulate on top (another excellent use for your Gutter Fingers).
As we move from top to bottom, we come to the exterior walls. Look for mildew (especially on the north-facing side which may never get direct sun), dirt, cracks (especially in brick or cinderblock homes), and gaps in the siding.
Consider buying or renting a pressure washer to give your house a good cleaning, especially after the pollen season. After a thorough wash, it’s almost like having a brand new paint job. If you’d rather not do this yourself, pressure washer services are available. Or ask around, there might even be a local handyman in your neighborhood available to do the job.
We all want to keep our monthly heating and cooling bills down. Windows and doors are the first spots to look for energy leaks. Make sure the seals are in good shape, including the weatherstrip around your door. Ensure that all windows close tightly.
Also, check the space between the window frame and the house for gaps where rain can get in. Look for evidence of water damage such as a swollen frame or jamb.
Insects abound in Florida, both big and small. Cockroaches are usually public enemy #1. Look for evidence of droppings near food areas and garbage cans. They like paper and cardboard, so keep collections of these to a minimum.
Termites can be a nuisance in southern homes, as well. They are trickier to detect since they are hidden in the walls or under the house. Be aware of spots in your wood that sound “hollow” or piles of a black powdery substance called frass (termite droppings).
Listen to any chewing sounds in the walls. This could be either be termites or rodents.
If you have citrus trees near your home, watch for citrus rats. Trim any limbs that extend too close to the house. Patch any gaps near the roof to keep out bats and squirrels.
Thank goodness for A/C. Life during the dog days of summer in Central Florida can be a challenge without air conditioning. It’s important to keep your HVAC system in good working order to prevent sudden breakdowns, reduce energy use, and maintain a healthy indoor environment.
Changing your air filter every 2-3 months is one of the easiest, most important tasks in HVAC maintenance. When your air filter gets clogged, the blower motor has to work extra hard to pull in air. This inefficiency translates to higher energy use and cost. If you have pets, you may need to change it monthly.
At the same time that you change your filter, also check your outdoor unit regularly for twigs, leaves, and debris and vacuum away if necessary. Also, check refrigerant lines for leaks.
If you have a gas furnace or stove, install a carbon monoxide detector and test it at the same time as your smoke alarms. This odorless gas can be deadly if undetected.
Checking For Leaks
Water can be incredibly destructive to a home. Small leaks can turn into big problems, so it’s crucial to conduct a regular check for potential pipe issues. Look under sink cabinets for any signs of dampness or mildew odors.
Check your crawlspace (not many houses in Florida have basements due to the high groundwater table) periodically for signs of leakage from pipes going in and out of the house. Also, be aware of any spikes in your water bill. This could be an indication that you have an undetected leak.
If you do not have city sewer services, then you more than likely have a septic system. While it is not the most exciting part of owning a house, it is vital to maintain, especially in Central Florida.
Most of Florida sits on an underground aquifer, which is a significant source of the area’s fresh, clean water. Because the water table is relatively close to the surface, it’s crucially important to ensure that septic tanks are in good working condition. Have your tank inspected and pumped by a contractor registered and approved by the State of Florida, as they will be up to date on the latest codes.
New septic nitrogen reducing enhancements are now available. These eco-friendly septic systems help reduce our impact on the local freshwater springs. There is even a septic upgrade incentive program for new nitrogen reducing installations through the Florida Department Of Natural Resources.
The secret to being a happy homeowner in The Sunshine State is being prepared. With this Central Florida house maintenance checklist, you’re on the right track to enjoying your piece of paradise for many years to come.