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Category: Outdoor Living

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Not-So-Scary Essential Fall Home Maintenance

Halloween is a time for ghoulish delights, not homeowner frights, but that’s exactly what your home might deliver. And when you have expected guests popping in for treats, you don’t want to worry about the tricks your home might pull – now and in the coming months. So we’ve put together a checklist of not-so-scary fall home maintenance you can do – and should do – before All Hollow’s Eve to avoid costly repairs and safeguard your candy seekers.

After all, these outdoor repairs might seem like witchcraft, but you can complete them all in one warm weekend with time to spare for an apple cider doughnut.

Whisk away unwanted twigs

Banish trees and shrubs for touching your home, especially those rubbing against your roof. Plants help uninvited pests reach and enter your home, and trees can rip up your shingles and clog your gutters, leading to leaks. So cut away unwanted branches, and consider calling a professional to check the integrity of your roof before winter arrives.

Swap out your screens

Hang on to that summer warmth by removing screen doors and windows. This fall home maintenance task will help your house retain more heat from the sun (free of charge), and if you have single-pane windows, swapping out your screens for storm windows can also increase your home’s heat efficiency. You’ll be nice and roasty, toasty warm even when the temperatures start to dip.

Make your gutter and downspout dirt disappear

a homeowner cleaning out the gutters - fall home maintenance

Make the dirt in your gutters disappear.

We can hear your moaning – and not in a Frankenstein’s monster kind of way. But cleaning your gutters and downspouts prevents water damage to your roof, siding, and even your home’s interior. Do it yourself with flexible “wands,” high-pressure nozzles, and even robots! (Just make sure to avoid a nasty – and painful – ladder accident.) Or call a professional who can make all the leaves and dirt disappear, just like magic.

Driveway reparo

Since winter is coming, you’ll need to fix those cracked driveways and walkways as part of your fall home maintenance checklist. If you leave these issues for the cold months, water can seep into your concrete area, freeze, thaw, and eventually expand, creating a frighteningly costly display. Asphalt driveways tend to be more resilient to this type of cracking but are prone to frost heave (when moisture in the soil freezes and thaws, causing your asphalt to buckle).

You can repair your driveway almost as easily as Ron repaired Harry’s glasses with a scraper, leaf blower, filler rope (for big cracks), and caulking. Of course, calling a professional also gets your driveway magically repaired!

Save your hose

As you remember from high school science class, water expands when it transforms from a liquid to a solid, so you’ll want to make sure your garden hose doesn’t become a victim. Remove all hoses from all faucets, drain them, and then wrap them up for next spring. Turn off all outdoor water, too, so your pipes don’t get too big for their britches.

Prep your lawnmower

Before your lawnmower hibernates for the winter, it needs a bit of work. Take out your mower’s manual (you kept it, right?) and read the instructions. Some manufacturers suggest adding a stabilizer to your gas and a capful of engine oil, then running the mower for a bit. Others suggest replacing the spark plugs, running the engine try, or even changing the oil out completely. You also might want to check your blade to make sure it’s not dull, and if it is, replace it. Once you complete the necessary maintenance, roll that mower away until you spring ahead next year.

Secure your foundation

To prevent water from expanding and cracking your home’s foundation during the winter months, check the land around your foundation to make sure water drains away from the house. The land should be sloping down at least six inches per every 10 feet. Also, make sure dirt or soil isn’t touching your siding. If it is, that dreaded word everyone hates to hear – moisture – might infiltrate and create water damage, so call a home pro to explore ways to save your home from drainage and soil issues.

Carve out some time for your emergency equipment

Prevent a true nightmare by checking the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon dioxide monitors every month to make sure they’re working properly. Keep extra batteries on hand to avoid disconnecting your detectors for any length of time, and also, inspect your fire extinguisher to make sure it’s properly maintained. Though you might pretend to be a firefighter for Halloween, you’ll want to make sure you don’t need a real one on the scene anytime soon.

Get your home ready for trick-or-treaters with Halloween safety tips from our friends at Franklin Mutual Insurance!

Hocus pocus – home in focus

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Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app can help. In less than four minutes, enjoy a new way to manage your home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

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How to Make Your Gutters Squeaky Clean (and Why You Need to) 

You need to get your mind in your gutter twice a year (figuratively speaking, of course). If you leave your gutters alone for too long, you may find yourself with:

  • Birds and tiny animals making nests in them.
  • Tiny plants growing inside them.
  • Expensive water damage to your roof and attic due to clogs and ice dams.
  • Expensive water damage in your home’s lower levels thanks to clogs.
  • Sagging gutters from too much dirt, debris, and clogs.

As fall approaches (and gutter cleaning season), our experts put together this quick guide to how to clean your gutters with tips, tricks, and other super important information.

“After the seeds fall and after the leaves fall”

How often should you clean your gutters? Experts recommend a regular gutter cleaning at least twice a year. If you live where trees shed their leaves, you may want to clean your gutters and downspouts in late spring and late fall – “after the seeds fall and after the leaves fall.”

Live near pine trees? you may have to do it more frequently – every three months to prevent debris from creating clogs.

If you live in an area prone to wildfires, you may want to clean them even more frequently to prevent dried leaves from becoming fire hazards.

The tools and supplies to get the job done

a person wearing orange gloves cleaning out a home's gutters

Protect your hands!

Make sure to use work gloves plus latex gloves as gutters have muck, dirt, leaves, debris, and as we mentioned earlier, potentially nests. (Don’t be bitten by Chip or Dale!)

Depending on the size of your house and other factors, your gutter cleaning project may require some or all of the following items:

  • Garden hose with a spray nozzle.
  • Extension or step ladder.
  • Ladder stabilizer.
  • Gutter cleaning tools, including a trowel or scoop, cleaning wand, or telescoping extension pole.
  • Gutter sealant.
  • Bucket(s).
  • Pressure washer.
  • Plumbing snake.

Gutters were not designed to take the weight of an extension ladder, so if you’ll be using one, make sure to use a ladder stabilizer. Also, always place your ladder on solid, even ground.

Now – get down and get dirty

As always, if you ever feel uncomfortable about a home maintenance or improvement project, call professional gutter cleaning services. However, if you’re able and ready, here are a few tips to help get your gutters squeaky clean.

  • Place your ladder on solid, even ground and use a ladder stabilizer if need be. (Make sure to keep three touch points – one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot – at all times.)
  • Scoop out the dirt and debris from the gutters either using your hands (with gloves), a trowel, or other gutter tools. Put the muck in a secured bucket.
  • Once you’ve cleaned out of the muck, remove the downspout screens and flush the entire gutter.
  • If you see any places where water escapes the drainage area, seal it up with gutter sealant.
  • Check the downspout to see if the water is flowing freely. If you notice any hesitation or a slower than usual water flow, you may have a clog.
  • If you have a clog, place the garden hose with a spray nozzle at the bottom opening of the downspout. If the clog remains, try using a plumbing snake to clear the area.
  • Replace the downspout screen and flush the area again to make sure the water is flowing smoothly.
  • Check that the gutters and downspouts are secured to the house, and if they’re not, secure them.
  • Finish up by washing the exterior of the gutter system. This can be done easily and efficiently with a pressure washer.

How long does it take to clean your gutters?

That generally depends upon the size of your home. Content Writer Susie and her sister cleaned their home’s gutters in a little under an hour; however, a larger house or a home with gutters and downspouts in disrepair may take longer.

Afraid of heights?

If using a ladder is not your thing, then consider buying a set of tools that help extend your reach. Gutter wands, pressure washer attachments, even a leaf blower attachment can all help to make sure you stay safe while clearing your gutters and downspouts.

If you have a multi-story home or feel uncomfortable completing this project, then hire a “gutter cleaning professional near me” who can take care of this for you.

Have a standing water problem?

a person sloping their gutters

Are your gutters sloped correctly?

If you noticed any standing water while flushing the gutters, then your gutters may not be sloping properly. They should slope ¼” toward the downspout for every 10 feet of gutter. A super handy homeowner may be able to fix this issue with a drill. If you’re not super handy, we recommend calling a roofing professional for gutter cleaning and repair.

It is important to complete this step as water damage from your gutters can be incredibly expensive, especially if it leads to mold and mildew.

Stay on top of home maintenance

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Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app home management app can help. In less than four minutes, you can be introduced to a new way to home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

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A Super Quick Guide to Powering Wash Your Home

Summertime is the perfect time to make your way out onto your deck with a nice cold beverage and the beach read you’ve been meaning to get to. Unfortunately, just as you get ready to enjoy yourself, you discover your siding is a dirty, grimy mess. No one can enjoy Hello Beautiful when their own space is less than aesthetically pleasing. Time to break out the power washer! 

How to get your siding squeaky clean

We should note: Most people use power and pressure wash interchangeably. There is a difference as power washing involves a heating component. They have the ability to sanitize because they use steam power. However, homeowners generally own pressure washers, and professionals own power washers.

That’s why it’s recommended you hire a professional to power wash your home. Highly pressurized water that can reach temperatures of 311℉ flowing at speeds of over 200 mph can really do some damage to your property but more importantly to your person. So if your home is in need of a shower, consider calling a professional. 

However, DIY homeowners are able to rent power washers from local big box home improvement stores. If you are looking to power or pressure your home yourself, then here’s how to do it. 

Step 1: Gather your materials and prep the pressure washer.

Before beginning the job, gather the supplies needed with a strong focus on safety. You will need:

  • A pressure washer.
  • Mold/mildew remover. 
  • Brush.
  • Garden hose. 
  • Extension wand or scaffolding if cleaning a taller home. 
  • Duct tape. 
  • Personal protective gear (goggles, gloves, and closed-toed shoes).

Remember that pressure washing is a physically demanding job full of bending and reaching and only works on certain types of surfaces. Do not pressure/power wash certain types of stucco or fiber cement siding. 

When deciding when to pressure wash, choose a mild day. (Some climates may need to wait until spring or fall.) Not only can the summer sun dry the cleaning solution too quickly, but it can also dehydrate you and may be too much for such a physically demanding job.

Step 2: Prep the area.

Cover any area where water might enter your home with duct tape, such as outlets, light fixtures, cameras, and video doorbells. Inspect the house and cut away any vegetation that is touching the areas you are going to power wash.

If you are using a plant-friendly detergent, you don’t need to cover your plants. However, it is still a good idea to limit the amount of detergent that your plants take in. 

Using the low pressure tip, spray your plants with water before you start to pressure wash. Make sure you are using the low pressure tip or you could damage your plants. 

Step 3:  Spray on the detergent.

Add the cleaning solution to your pressure washer, and attach a garden hose. Turn on the motor to start the flow of water. Starting from the bottom, spray the detergent onto the surface, working in 10-foot sections. You don’t want the detergent to dry before you are able to wash it off.

Step 4: Get cleaning.

man in green shirt and overalls standing on a scaffold pressuring washing roof and gutters - how to power wash your home

Work top to bottom when rinsing.

Switch the tips on the wand to one that will work best for your job. The most common is the white 40-degree spray nozzle. This will allow the water pressure to increase but not all the way. Working from the top down, start washing the house. 

Remember to never use a ladder when pressure washing. If you have areas you cannot reach, use an extension wand or portable scaffolding.

Step 5: Rinse and repeat.

Repeat the process of spraying the detergent and then rinsing it off until you have pressure washed your entire house.

When choosing a pressure washer, you are going to be dealing in PSI and GPM. That’s what the cool kids call Pressure per Square Inch and Gallons Per Minute. The higher the PSI and GPM, the faster the pressure washer will clean. Of course, all that power comes with a cost. 

Picking the perfect pressure washer

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Electric or gas, which is best for you?

The second big factor you need to consider to power wash your home is whether you prefer a gas- or electric-powered pressure washer. While gas-powered pressure washers will have a higher PSI and GPM than electric ones, that doesn’t mean they are the right choice for your home. 

Because they are more powerful, gas -pressure washers tend to be a bit more difficult to control and can damage delicate surfaces. As stated earlier, the more power, the higher the price tag, so a gas-powered pressure washer will tend to hit your wallet a bit harder, too. Another thing to consider is like any gas engine, they require a certain amount of maintenance, which is much more than their electric counterparts. 

If choosing the right equipment and then pressure washing your house seems too difficult, remember – hire a pro

How much does it cost to power wash a house?

If you choose to hire a professional, the cost to power wash your home varies by region, but nationally, the average ranges from $.15-$.75 per square foot. So assuming you have a 2,500 square foot house, the average range is about $375-$1,875.

How often do you have to power wash your house?

Most experts suggest power washing your home once or twice a year to keep your curb appeal…well, appealing, as well as keeping mold and mildew from forming. That’s why it’s a good idea to add this task to your list of annual home maintenance, along with flushing your hot water heater and cleaning your dryer exhaust vent

Stay on top of home maintenance

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Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app can help. In less than four minutes, enjoy a new way to manage your home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

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7 Super Simple Fall Lawn Care Tips and Secrets That Get Results

In some parts of the country, fall means your lawn loses its lush, green curb appeal. For it to return to its full glory next spring, you need to take steps now. Here are seven fall lawn care important tips that get results.

Tip #1 – Don’t leave your leaves

The exquisite foliage of fall is surely one of nature’s greatest displays, but as the leaves fall, they can also destroy your lawn by blocking sunlight, suffocating the grass, and even welcoming fungi and other issues. Instead of leaving your fallen leaves until the end of the season, clear them away weekly and absolutely get them up before excessive rain or snow occurs.

Secret: Use a mulching mower. This will help save your lawn (and your back) and mulching the leaves can feed your lawn and prevent weed growth. Just make sure the leaf pieces aren’t too big where they can still cause damage to your grass.

Tip #2 – Keep on mowing

half a green lawn with leaves on it before mowing fall lawn care important tips

Skip the rake this year.

While you might want to stop mowing your grass – and get your weekends back – you should continue to give your lawn a fresh cut through the season. You’ll want to cut the grass blades a bit shorter in fall than in summer as this will help to keep your grass healthy, stop weed growth, and possibly prevent damage from leaves.

Tip #3 – Give your lawn some breathing room

If your lawn has seen its share of wear and tear, you might want to give it some air through aeration. Aerating breaks up the soil, so air, water, and nutrients can help keep your grass healthy.

Fall is the best time to aerate and overseed a lawn in the North, and it’s relatively simple to do with a spike, plug, or core aerator. Ideally, you want to remove “soil plugs” that are 2 to 3 inches deep, up to .75 inches in diameter, and 2-3 inches apart. Just make sure to prepare your lawn by watering it before you begin. Either aerate the day after a rainstorm or water your lawn the day prior.

If you live in the South with warm-season grasses, hold off aerating your lawn until spring.

Secret: Fall is also the ideal time to overseed in the North, making this one of the fall lawn care tips to do right now! (In the South, spring is the best time – seeing a pattern here?) Overseeding a lawn helps to reinvigorate a worn-out lawn and return it to its former glory.

Tip #4 – Give your lawn a drink

Lush green grass doesn’t grow if your lawn is thirsty. Keep tabs on the amount of precipitation that your lawn sees, and if it’s under an inch a week, consider giving your grass a shower. You may only need to do this a couple times before the soil freezes in early fall, and you absolutely should not do it once the colder temperatures set in.

If the heat persists throughout fall, water in the morning, so the moisture is less likely to evaporate.

Tip #5 – Feed your grass

a person wearing a yellow glove holds the hand of a yard fertilizer

Even your grass needs to eat.

Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue perform best between 60 and 75°F, so fall is the perfect time to feed your grass – in the North, that is. Depending upon which type of fertilizer you use, you may need to apply it in early September and include it in your October lawn care plans. Other types of grass require you to distribute fertilizer right before the first frost or snowfall.

Of course, warm-season grasses can be more complex. Some grasses, such as Common Bermuda or Hybrid Bermuda, require fertilizing in late spring and again in fall, while others require fertilizing in early spring and early summer.

Always read the directions of your chosen fertilizer and act accordingly.

Secret: Fall is also a great time to fill in gaps in your cool-season lawn with mulch, seed, and fertilizer.

Tip #6 – Say good-bye to weeds

If you don’t get rid of your weeds now, they’ll stick around in warm environments and return in the spring in the cold(er) environments. Say good-bye to clover, dandelion, crabgrass, and other perennial weeds with a pre- and post-emergent herbicide. (Pre-emergent is just like it sounds – you get rid of the weed before you see them; post-emergent means you take care of the weeds after they show.)

Treat your lawn before temperatures drop below 50°F, and always read the directions! Not all herbicides are healthy for all lawns, so you’ll need to choose the one that’s right for yours. When in doubt, always call a lawn pro.

Tip #7 – Get rid of grubs

If you’re starting to see animals dig in your yard or brown areas of your lawn (not due to excessive heat), then you might have a grub problem. Find out by digging up about a foot of your yard. If you see tiny white worm-like beings that curl into C, then you have grubs.

Depending on the number of grubs, you may decide to do nothing. A tiny number of grubs is tolerable for most yards. If you notice a higher number (more than 10), consider treating your lawn with natural remedies or even insecticides.

Secret: If you’re O.K. with your lawn getting a tan, consider holding off watering your lawn during times of higher temperatures. Grubs loathe hot, dry environments, and a dry lawn may solve your grub problem.

Get more fall home maintenance tips now!

Stay on top of home maintenance

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Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app can help. In less than four minutes, enjoy a new way to manage your home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

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How to Get Rid of the Spotted Lanternfly

If you’ve been spending more time outdoors this year, you may have noticed a large fly with black-spotted, gray wings. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this insect is not native to America. Originally from Vietnam, China, and India, the spotted lanternfly first appeared in Pennsylvania in 2014 before spreading to the nearby Mid-Atlantic states.

“The biggest threat these pests pose is to the agricultural industry where they have been shown to cause extensive problems to grape growers,” says Benjamin Hottel, Ph.D., technical services manager for Orkin Pest Control.

But do homeowners need to be concerned over the spotted lanternfly (other than their loss of grapes)? Benjamin tells us why you should evict these invasive insects and how to prevent them from taking over your yard.

Why are spotted lanternflies bad?

Spotted lanternflies feed on the sap of trees and a handful of other plants. During the feeding process, they can excrete a substance called honeydew. Their honeydew attracts bees, wasps, and other insects, and leaves a homeowner in a sticky situation.

“If these insects are feeding above a porch, car or driveway, honeydew can start to cover these surfaces which may become unsightly if it starts to grow black, sooty mold,” says Benjamin.

Spotted lanternflies can also become a nuisance to homeowners because of the sheer number that can appear and infest a property. This can decrease a homeowner’s quality of life. Their feeding can also lead to the death of infested trees and plants.

How can we stop the spotted lanternfly from spreading further?

a person pointing out a spotted lanternfly egg mass on the side of a tree with a pencil

Spotted lanternflies lay egg masses on the side of trees.

“If you are living in a county under quarantine due to agriculture and pest concerns, you should follow the quarantine instructions available by your state’s Department of Agriculture,” says Benjamin. “These instructions usually tell you to inspect plants and wood for spotted lanternflies when transporting these items out of the quarantined area.”

Cars and vehicles leaving quarantined counties should also be inspected. Travelers should pay particular attention to the wheel wells and underside of cars where egg masses can be laid hidden from view. The masses need to be removed before a car can enter an unquarantined area.

You should also know the protocol for spotted lanternflies sightings in your area. According to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, only sightings in unquarantined counties need to be reported, which can be done via email or phone.

In Pennsylvania, the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State has set up a Penn State Extension website. This allows for the reporting of all life stages of the spotted lanternfly, from egg mass to nymph to adult.

How to get rid of the spotted lanternfly

“The egg masses present on bark from September to May,” says Benjamin. “If you find any, these should be removed.”

How to get rid of spotted lanternflies

The spotted lanternfly’s egg masses usually appear about 10 feet from the ground and look like dried mud upon a tree. Each mass can have up to 50 eggs, and they can be scraped off with a hard tool, such as a ruler, knife, or even a credit card. Then homeowners should place the egg masses in a container or plastic bag with rubbing alcohol to destroy them. Homeowners can also simply smash them with their foot.

Depending upon your state’s laws, the egg masses can be burned, so make sure to check before deciding on a course of action.

a swarm of spotted lanternflies overwhelm tree branches

Spotted lanternflies can swarm your property.

How to prevent an infestation

Rather than reacting to spotted lanternfly sightings, homeowners should look to prevent attracting them to the property.

“You can also take preventive actions by removing any tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) growing in your yard,” says Benjamin. “The tree of heaven is not native to the United States and is the preferred plant to feed on by the spotted lanternfly.”

Other favorite hosts of the spotted lanternfly include grapevines, fruit trees, black walnut, birch, maples and willow trees. Homeowners should also clear their property of outdoor items that attract the fly, including logs, stumps, or any tree parts; grapevines for decorative purposes; and packing materials. Find a complete list on your state’s Department of Agriculture’s website.

Of course, spotted lanternflies aren’t the only pest that can invade your home. We recently welcomed Glen Ramsey, Senior Technical Services Manager and board-certified entomologist for Orkin Pest Control, to the vipHome Podcast for home pest control tips. Watch now!

Keep your home safe from all unwanted pests

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Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app home management app can help. In less than four minutes, you can be introduced to a new way to home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

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How to Celebrate Good Neighbor Day: 5 Ways to Avoid Being “That” Neighbor

September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day, but how many of us can say we’re good neighbors? Does your dog bark at 11 p.m. when your neighbors are trying to sleep (or is that just Pippa next door to Content Writer Susie)? Do you hold loud parties every week or leave your grass clipping on your neighbor’s driveway?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may not be your street’s favorite neighbor. Build relationships with your neighbors by learning how to be a good one – or at least, how not to be “that” neighbor. Here are five awesome ways!

Be kind – Keep your noise off everyone’s mind

Did you know that in some communities, you’re not allowed to mow your lawn before 7 a.m.? Even then, you might annoy your neighbors if every Saturday, you’re up early to cut your grass. The best thing you can do is know the rules and abide by them.

Exhibit A: The State of New Jersey has a noise ordinance with a limit of 65 decibels during the daytime and from 10 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., a limit of 50 decibels. To give you some perspective, a household refrigerator is 55 decibels. A vacuum cleaner is 75, and a power mower is generally between 60 and 90 decibels. (How does anyone cut their grass in New Jersey?!)

While we all need to do everyday household chores, just don’t be “bad neighbor” – the one who parties every week with booming music, has loud solar appliances, or cuts their front yard at the crack of dawn. (Of course, everyone loves good curb appeal.)

Yes, there is such of thing as light trespass

motion light attached to a home

Do you “light” trespass on your neighbors?

Does your next-door neighbor have a motion-detection light that flashes on at all hours of night and right into your bedroom? No? Just Content Writer Susie?

This is a classic case of “light trespass,” which occurs when exterior light illuminates a nearby property and may be unwanted. (“It’s unwanted. Trust me.” – Susie) This can cause issues with your neighbors and depending upon your municipality, might even be against the law.

You may also want to check if your town has the ominous sounding “dark sky ordinance.” This just means your lights cannot add to the light pollution in your area by shining toward the night sky. Instead, you’ll need to buy a “dark sky” exterior lighting fixture or bulb, which will direct light toward the ground. (Your neighbors will also thank you for purchasing these!)

Dirty garbage cans and other areas attract unwanted guests

Person cleaning the lid of a trash can

Even your trash cans need a shower.

Most municipalities require you to wash your trash cans, but if you’ve been slacking or you place your trash cans just a little too close to your neighbor’s home, you may be inviting unwanted guests. Mice, racoons, and other critters may think of your home as a smorgasbord and return night after night for the dinner you serve them. Even worse, you might be encouraging these critters to take up residence in your home or your neighbor’s.

(We can neither confirm nor deny that Content Writer Susie may need to clean out her trash cans.)

The best thing you can do in this scenario is to get your trash in order. Clean out your trash cans and other food debris in a timely fashion. Do not leave trash bags overnight outside of a bin. Also, keep your trash cans away from any doors or openings in your home and keep them away from your neighbors’ home, too.

If bears or racoons routinely get into your trash, then purchase critter-proof trash cans or straps that will keep your critter diner closed.

Quick note: Trash cans in many towns must adhere to certain size requirements, so when buying critter-proof cans, make sure to adhere to those rules.)

Keep your friends close and the fire department far away

man looking into an oven with smoke billowing out

Maybe buy your next set of cookies.

If you own a home in the town where you grew up, then you may have gone to school with the fire chief and like to say hi every so often. However, your neighbors probably don’t feel the same way. And I’m sure Fire Chief Jason wants to eat his dinner in peace. That’s why it’s important not to bring the fire department or other emergency responders to your home every five minutes.

Quick note: We are not advocating that you do not call the emergency responders when you need them. You should always do that. We’re saying there are ways to prevent the fire department from coming to your house every five minutes, which include completing routine home maintenance tasks, such as:

  • Cleaning out your dryer exhaust vent at least once a year.
  • Keeping your range top clean with no grease or food debris.
  • Staying in the kitchen when you’re cooking on the range and following important cooking safety tips.
  • Always grilling outside and at least 10 feet away from flammable items, including your home.
  • Turning off any electric blankets and space heaters when leaving the room or going to sleep. (This includes napping!)

If you miss seeing Fire Chief Jason every so often, you can stop by the firehouse with a pumpkin spice latte and some cookies.

If a tree falls on your neighbor’s property and it came from your yard, you’re going to hear about it

dry palm tree

Take care of any hazards.

Some neighbors live so close to one another that tree branches hang in each other’s yard and fences are constructed on property lines. When it comes to these situations, take care of any potential issues or hazards.

If your tree looks like it might fall, take it down. If your fence is missing a few planks, replace them. If you’re having a loud party, maybe invite your neighbors, so they’re not mad at the noise.

Your neighbor also has rights. In some towns, they can cut branches in their yard up to their property line. (If the tree dies from their maintenance, they have to pay for it.) They can also call the town and file a complaint if your fence falls on their property.

The point is – don’t be “that” neighbor when it comes to your property and the potential dangers you can create. We all live here together.

Stay on top of home maintenance

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Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app home management app can help. In less than four minutes, you can be introduced to a new way to home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

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