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Andy Alvarez
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The Inspector Newsletter
May 2016: Home Foundation Inspection
Maintenance Matters
Planning Your Landscape MAINTENANCE MATTERS

Spring is in the air, and many home owners are eager to get outdoors and work on their landscaping. Even in the colder regions of North America, mid-May is usually past the period for freezing temperatures and a good time to start planting. So, get your gardening tools ready; it’s time to spruce up your yard.

To better define your project and your goals, take 10 or 15 minutes to carefully consider your yard before beginning a landscaping project. Look at the property from across the street. Walk up to it from several angles. Consider how your house looks with the existing vegetation.

Gardens, or landscapes, come in many varieties: oriental gardens, cottage gardens, herb gardens, even butterfly gardens. As you decide which fits the style of your home and family, first consider the broadest categories: formal gardens and informal gardens.

A formal garden or landscape is symmetrical, usually planted along a line, or axis, and centering on the front door. A secondary axis, or cross, may be designed in the backyard, perpendicular to the initial axis. Formal gardens usually include carefully tended, geometrically shaped flower beds with hard-surface paths in between each.

An informal garden is generally asymmetrical, with curved pathways and plants allowed to grow to their natural height and fullness. Plantings are more haphazard, but they can still include both native and non-native plants. Paths may be natural surface, grass or a hard surface.

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DID YOU KNOW?

Keep Your Dishwasher Humming

The first motor-powered dishwasher was unveiled at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. An electric model followed in 1908. Silverware baskets were added to the door in 1969. It seems like even a century ago people despised washing dishes by hand.

Today’s dishwashers have come a long way, with self-cleaning features, hard-food disposers, china-cleaning modes and energy-saving settings. Modern dishwashers appeared in around 50 percent of United States homes in 2001, according to Energy Information Administration statistics.

For many people, dishwashers made “dishpan hands” obsolete; however, keeping them operating well takes a little maintenance.

Clean the filter: Many dishwashers, especially older versions, have a filter near the bottom of the machine to keep food particles off the motor. Clean this filter as needed or according to your maintenance guide.

Clean the spray arms: A dishwasher sprays water onto dirty dishes through small holes on the spray arms. These holes can become clogged with food and other particles. To clean them, remove the arms according to the maintenance guide, and use small, stiff wire to clear the holes. Dip the arms in warm water and white vinegar to remove calcium deposits.

Fight odors: To remove odors from a dishwasher that hasn’t been operated in a week or more, place a cup of white vinegar in a small container on both the top and bottom racks. Run this through one normal cycle.

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MONTHLY TRIVIA QUESTION

What is the term for deliberate improvement of homes and commercial properties in urban areas to increase property values?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to your local NPI inspector to find out if you’ve won.

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