In the United States, Labor Day weekend often represents the end of summertime leisure. It is typically the last weekend to go to the seashore or lake, host a pool party, or throw a backyard barbeque. Many homeowners, therefore, consider this extended weekend holiday a harbinger of fall and winter and an ideal time to complete important home improvement projects. This article suggests 5 home improvement projects that can be reasonably accomplished over this 3-day weekend.
Day 1: Power Washing Siding, Decks, Gutters, Walkways and Driveways: Power washers, also known as pressure washers, are terrific machines for home beautification projects. Whether you own a power washer, or rent one from places like Lowes, Home Depot, or a local hardware store, a warm Labor Day weekend provides a great opportunity to wash the exterior and surrounding areas of your home.
Power washers typically come with different nozzles to control water pressure. Before using the power washer, it is prudent to test the pressure from each nozzle to decide which is best for each surface that will be cleaned. Less pressure should be used around painted woodwork to avoid chipping, and also on some decks to prevent splintering. Typically, a rocket nozzle provides the greatest water pressure and is most effective at removing mold, mildew, grime, dust and dirt, no matter the surface, and it is also the preferred nozzle for difficult to reach places like the second story of a home. Rocket nozzles are also very effective at freeing and removing leaves and pine needles from gutters.
This project is a full-day project–it could easily take 8 hours to complete because it does challenge both shoulders and arms. Power washing, however, provides tremendous satisfaction to homeowners because it results in the immediate brightening of your home, decks and surrounding areas. The effort put forth will not go unnoticed.
Day 2: Roof Maintenance, Window Caulking and Ceiling Fan Cleaning & Reversal
After the physical challenge of power washing on Day 1 of the Labor Day weekend, equally important but less demanding projects can be accomplished on Day 2.
The roof of a home serves as its sentry and, therefore, its dependable condition is indispensable to secure living. Inspect the roof for loose or missing shingles and add replacement shingles where necessary. This basic inspection and simple maintenance can forestall avoidable calamities.
Unattended drafty or leaky windows can be costly to homeowners-both in lost energy and as a breeding place for both mold and mildew. Consider using Day 2 to inspect all windows for air leaks and moisture, remove any old caulk with a razor knife, and add a clean, white caulk line so as to properly insulate the windows. To ensure a clean line, place masking tape approximately ¼ inch from the top and bottom of the area where the caulk will be applied.
Finally, often times ceiling fans can become very dusty and grimy after rotating all summer. Use a durable cloth and mixture of 1 part Dawn dish detergent to 20 parts water and wipe the blades clean. After cleaning each blade, dry the surface completely. This is also an ideal time to reverse the rotation of the fan from a counterclockwise summer rotation to a clockwise fall and winter rotation. A clockwise rotation pushes hot air down from the ceiling into living areas.
Day 3: Add Insulation to Home Attic
The United States Department of Energy (“DOE”) states that home attics should be ideally insulated with 15.5″ of product. The DOE reports that very few homes meet this standard. As a consequence, a stunning 45% of a home’s energy can be lost through an inadequately insulated attic.
Insulating an attic may seem daunting to some homeowners, but it is relatively uncomplicated and far and away the most important project to ensure a comfortable living space while controlling energy costs.
Prior to inspecting an attic for adequate insulation, or ultimately undertaking an insulation project, homeowners should first be certain that: (1) proper clothing is worn (long sleeve shirt, long pants, safety glasses, protective mask, gloves and work boots; (2) the space is adequately lit with a work light; and (3) plywood is placed across the attic’s joists to create a stable working area of sufficient size.
Upon inspection, the first layer of insulation should run parallel to and flush with the attic’s joists. If the first layer is depressed and not flush with the attic’s beams, additional unfaced insulation (i.e., insulation with no paper backing) will have to be added. The reason why the additional insulation should have no backing is because it will avoid trapping moisture between the inadequate layer and the additional layer. A final layer of unfaced insulation will then be required to be laid perpendicular to the joists/beams. Ideally, these multiple layers should result in approximately 15.5″ of attic insulation as recommended by the DOE.
In determining how many packages of insulation will be needed for a project, measure the square footage of the attic and how many layers must be set down. Each package of insulation is sold according to how much square footage it will cover.
Once the product is purchased, a razor knife and straight edge will be needed for cutting the insulation to size. When laying the insulation, it should always be set down from the boundary of the attic toward its center to avoid working into a small, unmanageable space. As a matter of safety, insulation should be laid at least 3 inches from chimneys, heater flues, recessed lighting or any other heat producing objects.
Installation Video, Owens Corning