Home Improvement
Cedar Rapids, IA
Mike Bouchard, Owner            (319) 491-7342




Annual Upkeep For Your Home


  • Clean the vents behind your dryer in the beginning of winter; you're drying heavier clothes now, and they generate more lint.  Clean vents will help your machine dry clothes more quickly, last longer, and you'll lower the risk of fires.
  • Check your furnace filter once a month during the heating season for excess dust;  you'll want to change it once or twice a year so the unit operates more efficiently.
  • Make sure your sump pump us clean and operating properly before spring rains arrive.  Lift the lever on the sump to make the float go up and wait for the motor to click on.  If you have a battery backup, unplug the unit and test the pump again.
  • Vacuum the refrigerator condenser coils, usually located on the bottom or on the back of the fridge.  Unplug it first, then use your vacuum brush attachment.
  • Replace ground fault outlet circuit interrupters that aren't working properly.  When you hit the "Test" button the "Reset" button should pop out.


  • Schedule an inspection and cleaning of your chimney, once the heating season ends.  Also make sure to remove fireplace ashes to prevent moisture buildup, which can damage masonry. 
  • Inspect exterior for loose siding or trim, cracks, and crumbling mortar caused by harsh winter weather.
  • If you've got siding, give it a wash using garden hose and a solution of a third cup of laundry detergent per gallon of hot water.  Work from the bottom up with a soft nylon brush (top down can cause stains).
  • Wash and treat (or paint) wood decks to prevent cracking before barbecue season arrives.
  • Get your home professionally checked for pests before they have a chance to create structural damage.


  • Look for signs of leaks and moisture in your basement, which can cause mold, fungus, and rust.  Water on the wall probably indicates a bad downspout or grading that's sloping towards the house.
  • Inspect your roof.  Grab some binoculars and look for loose shingles, mold, mildew, or cracked chimney mortar.
  • Faulty garage doors cause tens of thousands of injuries every year.  If something is in the path of the electronic beam sensor, the door shouldn't close.  To test, wave a broom across the beam while the door is in motion.
  • Check the caulking around tubs, showers, toilets, and sinks to make sure moisture can't penetrate.  If the caulking is black, that means mildew has gotten below it.  Replace it right away or risk water damage to the floor beneath.
  • Drain and refill hot water heater to remove sediment.  Test the heater's pressure valve (designed to let out steam and prevent overheating during times of heavy use) according to the manufacturer's instructions.


  • Check your attic for holes or thin spots in the insulation, and make sure the caulking around doors and windows doesn't leak.
  • Check and clean gutters to keep them free of debris.  If you have a lot of trees, install a gutter guard to keep leaves and flotsam from accumulating.
  • Cover the exterior of window air conditioner.
  • Vacuum your baseboard heaters, cold-air returns, and vents to remove dust.
  • Install foam gaskets behind outlets and switch plates to prevent cold air from leaking in through the gaps.