Winter – believe it or not – is nearing its end. And while it is quite normal to be looking forward to spring, winter does offer unique opportunities to finish some indoor tasks before the hustle and bustle of spring arrives. Let’s take a look at a select group of maintenance tasks that can finish up your winter home maintenance agenda.

Clean Your Grout

Grout, generally a mixture of water, sand and cement, is the “glue” that holds tiles in place. Whether it is in your kitchen, bathroom or elsewhere, it is prone to staining and discoloration over time. Surprisingly, many simple cleaners will help clean your grout when combined with some brushing, scrubbing and wiping.

Initially, you may want to try warm water and a stiff bristled brush. If stains remain, try a one-to-one solution of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray it onto the grout, let it stand for five minutes and then scrub with your brush. Stains still there? Next, try a paste consisting of baking soda and water. Cover the affected grout with the paste and then spray on your vinegar/water solution. Wait for it to stop foaming and then brush and rinse. If that doesn’t take care of the issue, you can introduce hydrogen peroxide into the equation. You can use it by itself, or make a paste with baking soda. Apply, scrub and rinse and check your results. If your results still aren’t satisfactory, you can step up to some stronger alternatives. These include oxygen bleach, chlorine bleach and your standard commercial cleaners. Let these products sit on the grout a little longer (10 to 15 minutes) and be sure that your work area is well ventilated. Hopefully, one of these methods takes care of your discolored grout. Regular maintenance goes a long way with grout, so once you’ve gotten yours clean try wiping it down once a week with vinegar or alcohol. Staying ahead of the stains can save you a lot of labor!

Test Your Smoke Alarms

This is a task that should be done regularly anyway, but this time do it a bit differently. By pressing the test button on the detector itself, you are not giving a smoke detector a true test – only the batteries. To test your smoke alarm properly, you should strike one or two matches, blow them out, place them underneath the smoke detector and wait for it to sound. Check the batteries also, and replace them once or twice a year to ensure readiness. According to statistics, smoke detectors are present in 58 percent of fatal fires, but the detectors were only working in 37 percent of those fires.

Review Your Electric Bill

Thankfully, there are only a few more weeks until spring begins. But before you gravitate toward all of your spring plans, take some time to review the season at hand. Winter generally produces the most expensive bills in much of the country, so it pays to analyze those costs and try to spot patterns, spikes and correlations. Bills from many locales contain graphs or other information that displays your monthly usage over the last year.

Now is the optimal time to plan and develop strategies for lowering your usage and cost next winter. A large number of efficiency projects are best done during the warmer months, so be thinking about your budget and what needs replacing or upgrading in your home. Maybe you are ready to install higher quality windows or siding. Perhaps you’ve been considering a new heating system altogether. Or maybe you have been interested in a solar water heater. Whatever the case, now is a great time to be planning for it.

Make a Home Inventory

Being stuck inside creates a perfect lead-in for this project. There is no better time than winter to take stock of your homes layout, features, furniture and valuable belongings. Take photographs and/or videos to supplement your written/typed data. Be sure to keep your inventory data in a protected place that could survive a catastrophe. The data can be invaluable for substantiating any insurance claims in the aftermath of a loss.

Article courtesy of: