Spring cleaning’s an age-old global tradition: get tips from the pros


In the spring, there’s an almost universal urge to clean and maintain our homes. People, like bears, seem to emerge from their winter dens just as the days begin to grow longer. There may even be a biological explanation: in the winter, our lack of exposure to sunlight causes the pineal gland to produce melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us sleepy, kicking in every night around 9 pm. However, during winter’s shorter, dreary days, our melatonin production can increase, followed by a decrease as the days get longer and sunnier. As a result, people tend to feel more energetic in the spring and cleaning up is a natural outlet for that energy.

There are also a wide variety of cultural traditions around spring cleaning, most notably from the Near and Middle East. In Iranian tradition, spring marks the ancient festival of Nowruz, which is preceded by Spring cleaning, or Khouneh Tekouni, which literally means ‘shaking the house’. Extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost every household in Iran. In the Jewish tradition, the Passover holiday occurs in the spring and is marked by removing all leavened (yeast risen) breads from the house. It’s important to make sure that not even a crumb of leavened bread remains, and so Passover is always preceded by two weeks of extensive spring cleaning. In keeping with America’s great heritage as a cultural melting pot, it’s believed that these two traditions may have contributed to the roots of our national interest in spring cleaning.

Whether it’s a biological imperative or a cultural tradition, spring is a great time to deep clean your home and catch up on maintenance tasks that may have been neglected over the winter months. Martha Stewart offers a helpful checklist to cover spring cleaning tasks (PDF) and Bob Vila has a list for home maintenance. However you do your spring cleaning and maintenance, be careful! Spring cleaning can be dangerous (PDF) – the linked list points out common hazards. If one of your employees or helpers suffers a spring cleaning related injury, remember that under your liability clause, the costs are covered by your homeowners policy. To make sure that your policy is up to date, call your independent insurance agency today.

Bats in the Belfry: Home maintenance nightmare


During a new roof installation, some Florida roofers ran into a surprise when they were tearing up the old one. Make sure that checking your roof is a routine part of maintenance.

Bats have an undeservedly bad reputation in public lore (well, except for Batman) but they are important little critters that keep the insect population down, have a role in pollination and seed distribution, and play other important ecological functions. Because of this, they are a protected species under Massachusetts law, and most other state laws too.
The Massachusetts Wildlife Department offers a useful Homeowner’s Guide to Bats that offers information on what to do if a bat gets in your house, signs that a bat colony might be inhabiting your attic, advice for how to get rid of a bat colony that has adopted your home as their own, and other bat-related tips and pointers.
One other note about the video on a different topic from the bats: If you have roofers working on your house, make sure that they use safety harnesses or some type of fall protection! While a work injury would typically fall under workers’ comp, as a homeowner, you don’t want to take any chances.