It’s Spring cleaning time in Lake Almanor!  Adding to that, Northern California experienced one of the wettest winters on record, dumping a ton of snow and rain, it is  the perfect time to start putting together that to-do list for your return.  In the coming weeks, the Snow Flowers will be popping up everywhere, and all of us will once again be meandering through our majestic forests.  

Remove hazardous dead trees

The U.S. Forest service estimates that there are now over 102 million dead trees in California, and chances are good that a few of them are on your property.  Dead or diseased trees can pose a substantial risk of damaging your property.  In fact, trees that grow close to one another compete for light and water, and are at a higher risk of contracting a fungal infection.  As such, thinning trees on your property is a great way to promote overall growth and health.  Always use a licensed and insured company with lots of residential felling experience when considering tree removal near buildings.

Change your smoke detector batteries

Being woken up in the middle of the night by a chirping smoke detector is perhaps the worst torture on the planet.  More importantly, in the event of a fire, a malfunctioning smoke detector is a danger to you and your family.  Make sure to change all of the batteries in all of your detectors at the same time, and be sure to test each alarm after replacement.  For maximum protection, you should also consider upgrading your smoke detector to a combination carbon monoxide/smoke alarm this spring.  It is a simple swap-out that can be done by anyone with basic electrical knowledge.  If your home has any gas appliances, a carbon monoxide detector is a must-have.

Service your air conditioning system

Uncover your outdoor unit (called the condenser) and thoroughly clean the coil with soap and water to wash away any dust and debris, as they often lower operating efficiency.  If your unit does not have a cover, disconnect power to the unit, remove the top screen, and carefully remove any pine needles or leaves that could impede airflow and reduce efficiency.  Because your air conditioner requires more airflow than your furnace to operate efficiently and avoid mechanical breakdown, always replace the indoor air filter before using your air conditioner, and remember to replace it monthly during the summer.  If it’s been a while, consider hiring an HVAC professional to measure the amount of refrigerant in your system and guarantee optimal operation under heavy heat loads.  This will prolong the life of the compressor in your equipment.

Pump your septic tank

Has it been awhile since your septic tank was pumped?  Has it ever been pumped?  Spring is a great time to have your septic system serviced.  If you’ve been gone all winter, the bacteria levels in your septic tank are low.  And, if your tank hasn’t been pumped in a while, the amount of bacteria in the tank may not be enough to manage the consumption of old and new waste.  Any large particles and sludge that aren’t broken down enough by the bacteria can be a recipe for a backup.  If you need help locating or uncovering your tank, hire a professional who can pinpoint the tank location with sonar equipment.  

Clean refrigerator coils, bathroom fan covers, and dryer vents

Before servicing any of these appliances, make sure to either unplug them or cut them off from the power supply..  Then, remove and clean their covers and thoroughly vacuum or brush any dust and lint from their coils, fan blades, and any accessible venting.  The outdoor dryer vent termination damper will often get clogged with lint, propping it open and  providing a warm place for critters to enter.  To prevent this, be sure to clean there as well.  These simple tasks will ensure quiet and efficient operation all summer long.

Change the oil in your backup generator

Many automatic generators around the basin have run for 60 hours or more this winter, providing power to unoccupied homes during electrical outages caused by severe weather.  Most manufacturers recommend changing the oil in your air-cooled generator every 100 hours or annually, whichever comes first.  Oil acts as the coolant in these motors, and it loses much of its lubricating properties after the 100 hour mark.  In addition, moisture naturally enters into the motor during the combustion process, mixing with oil and causing corrosion.  If your generator is brand new, or very old, it may be due for a valve adjustment, too.  Properly adjusted valves will ensure efficient combustion and reduce the risk of generator malfunction when you need it most.  Changing the oil, filters, and spark plugs is an easy, do-it-yourself job that will help keep your generator running strong.  Before service, make sure your automatic generator is switched to off,and disconnect any battery terminal wires.  

Check the house for critter infestation

Mice and squirrels invade during the winter months, looking for food and shelter. Once inside your home, they can cause tens of thousands of dollars worth of property damage, as well as create serious health hazards that will only get worse over time.  They’ll chew through walls, floors, wires, and pipes, and will contaminate living areas with disease ridden feces.  Be on the lookout for traces of critters in the spring, including droppings inside cabinets and pantries, or new holes along the perimeter foundation walls, under eaves, or around attic vents.  If you find that you have been invaded, trapping is the first step.  You don’t want to poison the animals, as it will result in them going back into the walls to die, inviting even more pests into your home and creating an awful stench.  When you are confident that the critters have been repelled, seal any cracks in your walls, siding, and floors with a good quality caulking that will hold up to extreme fluctuations in temperature.  Larger holes should be repaired through the replacement of wood trim and siding.  Eliminate any earth to wood contact along the foundation, making sure there is at least 8” of clearance, and cut back any trees or shrubs that are making contact with the structure, as they can act as a bridges for entry into your home.  

Download Our Springtime Home Safety Checklist and Print it.

As the days warm up and we are able to return to our cabins in the Lake Almanor area and poke around the outside of our homes, it becomes time to inventory the toll that Mother Nature has inflicted over the winter.