It may not feel like it today, but spring is just around the corner with summer is hot on its tail. That means it’s time to prep your terrace for prime time! New York’s winters are harsh and our terraces are affected by the weather, so it’s a good idea to take stock of your valuable asset and pamper it a bit to ensure carefree use during the warmer months.
STEP ONE: INSPECT YOUR FLOOR SURFACES.As the surface of your terrace is usually right over someone’s ceiling, it is important to periodically check the surface for damage or excessive wear. After all pervasive wear or damage leads to leaks, and if one waits until a leak is sprung, repairs are much more expensive. Early spring is a great time to check, as the surface will not yet be covered over by vegetation.
STEP TWO: CHECK FOR CAPSTONE CHIPS. Capstones are continuously exposed to the harshest elements, making them vulnerable to cracking or spalling. These chips, sometimes large, could fall off the building and cause damage. It’s good to periodically check your capstones, especially the exterior side, for cracks.
STEP THREE: CLEAR YOUR FLOOR DRAINS.All terraces have floor and/or perimeter drains, and over the late fall and winter debris accumulates there. Blocked drains cause leaks, so clear them now. If your floor drains are not readily visible, get the building maintenance staff to locate them.
STEP FOUR: CHECK DOOR AND WINDOW FUNCTIONALITY. Your terrace awards uncommon access to your windows’ exteriors. Take advantage by visually inspecting them, and ensure the caulking is intact on the outside. While you are at it, make sure the doors operate smoothly, as the increased use during the summer can really be a strain.
STEP FIVE: OPEN YOUR SUNSHADE.The start of the season is also a good time to test the sunshade to see if it opens freely (better to find out now than in the middle of lunch with your guests).
STEP SIX: SCHEDULE AN HVAC INSPECTION. If the compressor of your central A/C unit is located on your terrace, make sure you schedule a qualified technician to inspect your HVAC system before temperatures get too high. Spring is also a great time to replace your HVAC filters.
STEP SEVEN: GENTLY TEST YOUR IRRIGATION SYSTEM. In theory, all you have to do is turn on your irrigation system and open the faucet.However, it is important to turn the water on slowly. Especially after a long winter and potential blockages, you can easily burst fittings or pop off sprinkler heads if you turn on the water too quickly.
STEP EIGHT: SET UP PLANTERS FOR SUCCESS.A good rule of thumb is that you can “safely” planting your annuals once Mother’s Day rolls around (make sure you till the soil first). As for your perennials, early spring is also a good time to fertilize young shrubs and trees as well as prune rose bushes and other woody ornamentals like hydrangeas.
STEP NINE: CLEAN YOUR FURNITURE. This is the perfect time to clean your outdoor furniture, Start with a brush or dry cloth to wipe away any loose materials, than sprayed it down using a garden hose with a spray attachment to dislodge lingering surface debris. Afterwards do the following:
TO CLEAN PLASTIC: Simply spray with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe down with a sponge or damp cloth
TO CLEAN METAL: Use a sponge or brush to clean surfaces with a quarter cup of mild dish soap added to a gallon of warm water. If rust is detected, use steel wool to remove oxidation and consider re-painting the furniture to prevent future problems.
TO CLEAN WICKER, TEAK AND OTHER WOOD: Do not power wash, as it will damage soft wood. Instead, use a mild oil soap or soapy water and a soft brush or sponge to remove any grime. For hard woods like teak and ipe, use a weak solution of laundry detergent or one of the many commercial products available specifically for the job. Work in small sections and dry thoroughly when finished. Resist the urge to use teak oil on your non-teak hardwood furniture, as it can inadvertently encourage mildew.
TO CLEAN FABRIC: Use a solution of dish soap and warm water. In some cases, fabric may be removed and washed in a washing machine set to gentle. Air-dry to avoid damage from a hot dryer.
And finally, STEP 10: use that early sunshine a head start on enjoying your little piece of the great outdoors!