Spring into projects: Seasonal cleaning can include much more

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published March 27, 2013

 Stamped concrete can give a designer look to a cement patio. Dominic Palazzolo and Sons Cement created this patio outside a Beverly Hills home.

Stamped concrete can give a designer look to a cement patio. Dominic Palazzolo and Sons Cement created this patio outside a Beverly Hills home.

With spring here — at least according to the calendar — many homeowners look to the state of their houses after the long, dirty winter and aren’t happy with what they see.

Carpets are soiled by salty boots; driveways start cracking from the months-long freeze/thaw cycle; and muddy messes are exposed in backyards that will be used for entertaining, come summer.

Now is the time to fix those problems, according to local contractors, before warm-weather fun beckons and the summer home- improvement rush begins.

Carpet manufacturers typically recommend professional cleaning at least once a year, said Joe Zago, president of The Carpet Guys, a shop-at-home company based in St. Clair Shores. For carpets that are too worn out to stand another year, though, Zago said now is the time to shop for a new floor.

Manufacturers tend to raise prices in the summertime, when remodeling is in full swing, he said, so costs can be lower in the spring through early May.

“They can get the work done now and take advantage of the cheaper prices and pay for it over the course of a year and not worry about paying interest, as long as they pay for it over 12 months,” said Zago, whose company offers financing. “If a carpet’s savable, I’d definitely recommend trying to save it, but if it’s too beat up, take advantage of the cheaper prices.”

He said frieze is very popular now, as is the eco-friendly PET continuous filament fibers, which are made from recycled plastic bottles.

“It can last every bit as long as the really expensive fibers for a cost that’s just as affordable, and they’re actually more stain-resistant,” he said of PET. “Your entry-level stuff will hold up seven to eight years, and your really nice stuff will hold up to 25 years.”

Once the floors are set, it’s time to make sure the pipes are clear so that new flooring won’t be ruined with floods from spring rains.

“Our biggest thing … spring and fall, is the tree roots,” said David Greylen, the owner of Waterwork Plumbing in Ferndale.

Especially in older neighborhoods with lots of trees, he said, sewer pipes may still be made of clay. Tree roots can get in and grow with help from the nutrients in the line, potentially clogging the pipe and leading to water backups in people’s basements.

“We have quite a few people who, annually, have their sewer line snaked out or cabled out,” Greylen said, explaining that it can cost about $95-$150 to have the work done.

He said it raises a red flag when homeowners tell him they haven’t had a problem for decades.

“If they haven’t snaked their sewer lately, they probably should,” he said. “It could be sewage backing up or, if we get a heavy rain, it could just be a lot of water.”

Homeowners will also want to make sure that sump pumps are working properly before heavy spring rains come, and they should get outdoor spigots ready for summer.

“Turn them on from the basement — there’s a shutoff valve — (then) check to make sure they’re not dripping or wasting water,” he said. “Make sure they’re not spraying water.”

The same should be done with an underground sprinkler system, he said.

With a clean and dry house, homeowners can turn outside for more improvements. Calling now for that new driveway or cement patio can mean there will be time this summer to enjoy the investment. Having the cement poured now also means there will be time to install new landscaping around it, said Dominic Palazzolo of Dominic Palazzolo and Sons Cement in Macomb Township.

The key thing to check is that patios or driveways are still level, with no major cracking or slabs tilting toward the home, which can create basement leaks, he said.

For those who want to add a concrete patio or walkway, now is the time to make those decisions, as well. Palazzolo said the choice between regular concrete, exposed aggregate or stamped and colored concrete is a personal one.

A major difference between the three options, though, is the amount of maintenance work that will have to be done, as the years progress, to keep the patio looking brand-new.

“There is some maintenance involved to any concrete,” he said.

Stamped and colored concrete will need a new coat of sealer put on every other year, with a coat of xylene in between to prevent sealer buildup.

Exposed aggregate concrete, however, is lower maintenance, needing just a new coat of sealer every three years with no other step in between.

“Regular white concrete is your, generally, cheapest way to go … and your lowest maintenance, as well,” Palazzolo said. “Stamped and exposed aggregate (are similar in price). They’re going to run about double what your normal, conventional concrete would run.”

Getting an estimate for work sooner is better, he said, so homeowners have time to shop around and still beat the late-spring rush.

“Now’s a great time because a lot of us guys, right now, have plenty of time to come out and spend some time with them and get things going,” he said.

For more information about Dominic Palazzolo and Sons Cement in Macomb Township, call (586) 598-2893 or go to www.palazzolocement.com.

To contact Waterwork Plumbing in Ferndale, call (248) 542-8022 or visit www.waterworkplumbing.com.

For The Carpet Guys, call (800) 375-7847 or visit www.carpetguysonline.com.