Greetings everyone and thanks for continuing to follow my column. This week I will start with some home tips.
July and August are typically the best time to waterproof basements. They should be completely dry now and repairs and upkeep will be easier at this time.
Filling in cracks and waterproofing is not exactly the most exciting way to spend some vacation time; but without this maintenance your home could become a nightmare and not a refuge.
Flex Seal Liquid can be used to fill in small cracks. Then apply it on large areas with a roller and brush in the corners. If you have a crack that is over 1/16 of an inch wide, I suggest a basement inspection prior to sealing. as other work may be needed on the exterior.
Clean out your sump pump basin and clean the pump intake of any debris. This is a big project but one that can’t be ignored, costing between $2,000 and $3,500 if things go wrong.
Water Heater Maintenance
Water heaters are vital to normal modern life, but they will not make noise or cause problems to let you know before they fail. Once-a-year maintenance can extend the life of your water heater from 8 to 10 years to 12 to 14 years.
To service your water heater, first disconnect the power at the breakers and turn off the water source. Check the top and bottom for leaks and corrosion. On an electric heater, check the elements for any leaks around the threads. Do not remove the elements.
Hook up a garden hose to the spigot on the bottom and run the hose to a floor drain or to the outside of the house. Open the spigot and allow the unit to fully drain. If it’s running slowly, open the nearest faucet and farthest faucet. Then open the pressure relief valve and drain until empty.
Then flush the tank with water from the water source for three minutes to flush out sediment. While this is being done replace any covers you had open for inspections.
Close the drain, relief valve, and facets and allow tank to fill. Once the tank is full turn the power back on and disconnect the hose. Water should be hot in an hour or two, depending on size and model.
This cost is less than $50 and a water heater is $400 to $3,000 depending on size, type and heat source, plus labor.
Keeping the water in the soil and limiting evaporation in drought years or windy conditions is vital. This is a severe drought year for many areas of the country, and drought combined with wind can be a challenge for any grower.
Mulching: Mulching beds will help reduce evaporation by protecting the soil from the wind and keeping the soil a couple degrees cooler.
Garden mulch from your local supplier works great and looks great. If you want a more sanitized look, you will need 2 to 3 inches of mulch. If it is windy out, apply the mulch wet but not soaked. Garden mulch can be left and tilled in when the season is over.
Straw is also a good option but it will carry weed seeds; so it’s important to know the source to make sure you are not importing problems for yourself. It should be about an inch thick and removed at the end of the season.
Cedar chips or pine bark are another great option but the most expensive. If in an area you will till later, the mulch must be removed at the end of the season. If in ornamental beds it can stay and will need to be top dressed every 3 to 5 years. This mulch works best when applied 2 to 3 inches deep in ornamental beds and 1 inch deep in garden beds.
Leaves such as pin oak and other oak leaves work well too. You do not have to remove them but understand they break down very slowly. Apply leaves 2 to 3 inches deep. All drip lines should be under the mulch.
Fertilizing: Because of this year’s persistent drought, feeding established plants may actually cause them stress and limit production. Once your garden is established, stop feeding them about 3 to 4 weeks into the season.