Home Tips

Home Tips for the purchasing, cleaning, and care of your Cape Coral Fl home.

I also have some suggestions that you may want to read before you buy a home.

There may be expenses that you hadn't thought of, and homes are a bit different down here than up north.

I could've used these home tips when I moved to Florida in 2006.

I had no idea about some of them, but thankfully I had the help of neighbors and friends, and of course, learned some things on my own and want to pass them on to you.

But before I get into it, I want to let you know some things that you might need to budget for when you buy a home in Cape Coral, that you may not have had to worry about before.

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  • Pest Control - Will run you about $50-$100/month for inside and outside the house, they usually charge you quarterly, as needed costs extra.
  • Pool Cleaning - Budget around $50-$100/month, depending on the service, for weekly cleanings.
  • Lawn Care - For a basic package of lawn mowing and edging on a typical 1/4 acre lot, about $25-$35/week, weekly during rainy season, as needed during dry season.
  • A/C Maintenance - Yearly tune-ups run about $70-$125. I would budget in another couple of hundred dollars for possible problems like ants clogging up the condenser.  Your condenser will need to replaced every 10 years at a cost of around $4000 for an average home.
  • Water Heaters - Need to replaced every 10 years at a cost of around $1000.
  • Carpet Cleaning - I paid just under $200 for 4 rooms, including Scotch Guard and tax. It's suggested that you have your carpets cleaned once or twice/year.
  • Tile and Grout Cleaning and Sealing - For cleaning both, around $200 and around $100 for sealing the grout every 2-3 years, and around $800 for floors in an average home.
  • Dryer Vent Cleaning - Many homes here have dryer vents that vent out on the roof, and if you live in a condo, you will need to have them cleaned every year if you live in Florida year-round, and every other year if you're snowbirding. It will cost you just under $100.
  • Sea Walls - For homes on canals, sea walls will cost $35,000-$50,000 to replace from storm damage or regular wear and tear every 25-30 years or so.  They are usually not included on your homeowners insurance policy.
  • Appliances - I had to replace my washing machine after 10 years.  I have it plugged into a surge protector now so that that electrical surges don't affect the fragile electrical board on the machine.  My dryer and microwave may be next to replace.  Budget for other appliance replacement costs if you are not buying a brand new home.

If you get a home with a pool, the cost of heating it can run a couple of extra hundred dollars a month. There's a great website put up by Florida Light and Power that tells you how to save energy for your pool and home tips on how to save money, how to calculate pool pump and pool heater costs, and other costs involving electricity.

To find out more about pest, lawn, and pool care and who I recommend for these services, plus how to get started with utilities such as electricity, phone, cable, dish, and trash go to my Moving to Cape Coral page. That page also has radio stations, bus schedules, recommendations for service providers, and more!

Be aware that the water here is very corrosive to metal, so you may have replace parts in your toilets, sinks, and garbage disposals more often, maybe even every 2-3 years.

You can always do some of the cleaning and maintenance yourself, scroll down for my home tips on cleaning.

Home Tips - The A/C

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Down here, because of the warm and humid weather, we have our air conditioners running pretty much full-time from April - November.

Not only do you want to control the heat, but also the humidity. Mildew and molds grow very quickly here. Metal rusts quickly, so I wouldn't buy things like metal shower curtain bars or shower caddies.

Air conditioner filters need to be changed every 1 - 3 months. The best way to tell if you need to change it is to see how long it takes to turn black, most filters show on the packaging how the filter looks when you need to change it.

If you smoke in your home, or have a lot of pets, you will have to change the filter more regularly. We don't have either, so we only have to change our filters every 3 months, and that's with the filters that supposedly last only one month.

I like to get my filters at Home Depot, they have good prices and they have my size ....... it's hard to find. I tend to get enough filters for a year at a time.

They cost anywhere between $3-$15, depending on the size and quality.

When looking at homes, check to see where the filters are. At the house I rented, they were in the ceiling and I had very high ceilings in the living room. I was barely able to reach and change the filter with the ladder I had.

It's highly recommended that you get an ultraviolet light in your air handler to kill molds and mildew, particularly if you're allergic to them.  This is an installation that costs around $275, with cost of replacing the light bulb every 2 years costing around $175.  Beware of companies that charge up to $1500 for the installation.

We keep our temperature between 74-76 degrees during the day and 72-74 degrees at night.

Get your air conditioner tune-up at least once a year, preferably twice ..... generally in the spring before you'll be cooling 24/7, and in the fall before you might need to use some heating. 

You may want to read about Toxic Chinese Drywall and what it can do to your air conditioner.

Home Tips - Humidity

ceiling fan tips

One way you can cut humidity and save money by raising the temperature on the thermostat is to put in ceiling fans.

If you don't like all the air from fans, another way to lower humidity is to install a humidistat, an instrument that can be on the thermostat, that controls the humidity in your home.

I have one that came with my condo and I love it! It is definitely a selling point and you will want to find out if any home you are interested in purchasing has one.

It is recommended that you keep humidity no higher than 60%.

The air in my home is cool and dry, vacuuming can be a sweaty job even with the a/c on, but the humidistat will make it more comfortable.

When showering, always run bathroom fans, it's recommended that you run it for 30 minutes afterwards.

Run stove fans when boiling water and food on top of the stove.

Home Tips - Cleaning

home cleaning tips

Now for some home cleaning tips, and for the first tip I recommend that you buy a squeegee if you have a glass-enclosed shower, otherwise you will get unsightly water marks on the glass that are difficult to remove later.

I think you should squeegee after every shower. I also recommend toweling off the tiles and faucets as well. It's a pain in the neck, but worth the time and aggravation that you save in the long run.

Once a month I have to spray the shower tile grout with mildew-killer and it stinks! I would love to know if anyone has any ideas for a non-toxic way to kill that mildew.

I've tried regular detergents, vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide ..... but they don't work.

The hydrogen peroxide works well to clean the mildew we get on the metal window frames from condensation in winter. I put it on a Q-Tip and it comes off easily. You will have to clean your window frames a couple of times over the winter.

Do not soak clothing in marble sinks, it may stain them. My sink turned pink when I soaked a red garment in it.

I successfully removed the stains by covering the stains with a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

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Put damp white cloths or paper towels over the paste, then cover with plastic wrap.

Leave overnight, and scrub with a nonmetallic scrubbing pad, rinse.

For cleaning the toilet, you will need a scrubber that has two stiff brushes attached, just like the one to the right in the photo.

One brush is for the bottom of the bowl, the other is for cleaning up under the rim. It's important that you regularly scrub hard under that rim to get rid of the mildew that grows so quickly here.

Home Tips - The Lanai

outdoor porch shades

Most homes in Cape Coral have outside screen-in porches called lanais, and I strongly recommend that you buy a house that has one.

A lanai is like having another room, a room outside where you can and will want to enjoy the weather, without bugs.

I have found that the easiest way to clean lanai floors is to just vacuum them.

Once or twice a year, they should be hosed down or power-washed to loosen up mud that spatters onto the the edges from when it rains. You may need to power-wash mildew off your driveway as well. I've been able to get the mildew off with a regular garden hose set to jet-spray.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the different directions your lanai would face.

Western Exposure

  • Pros - Magnificent sunsets, delightful breakfasts and lunches outside for about half the year.
  • Cons - Lanai is too hot to enjoy in the summer, you should probably get a ceiling fan. You will need to invest in some blinds either on the lanai if it's small, or inside your house if the lanai is too big. It just gets too hot and blindingly bright in the house when the sun starts to go down. If you only have blinds in the house, they will be closed afternoon and evening, and you may need to turn lights on in the house to cook dinner, etc.

Eastern Exposure

  • Pros - You can eat dinner and lunch out on your lanai almost year round, don't need to get blinds.
  • Cons - No sunsets to enjoy! Too cold in winter for breakfast outside.

Southern Exposure

  • Pros - Breakfast on the lanai in January! You may be able to catch a bit of the sunset.
  • Cons - You may have to get a ceiling fan and blinds.

Northern Exposure

  • Pros - Cooler and more comfortable during the summer, you may catch a bit of the sunset.
  • Cons - It may be too cool in winter to enjoy breakfast and lunch outside.

Home Tips - Floors

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The other thing that I'd like for you to consider before buying your house is that most homes here come with carpeting or tile floors.

Tile floors are better because they are cooler, can get damp, and are easy to clean .... perfect for our weather.

But, tiles can be very hard on feet, ankles, and knees. You may want to have a pair of Crocs or flip flops for the house.

I thought I would never buy a pair of crocs, but my chiropractor recommended them and now I wear them around the house in winter. I even like them for slippers when I go up north during cold weather.

If you have tile floors, the grout will get dirty and need to be cleaned every 6 months, or so.

We just use white vinegar and a thin, stiff brush on the high traffic areas. You may want to consider having the grout sealed, it will have to be resealed every few years. Many carpet cleaning companies will clean and seal floor tile grout.

Scrubbing Bubbles works great for shoe marks on tile floors and for marble vanities and sinks.

Home Tips - Sprinklers

sprinkler head donut

Many yards have in-ground sprinkler systems. You may want to get ceramic "donuts" from Home Depot to place over each sprinkler head, so they are not damaged from mowers.

Another idea that I checked out but haven't tried myself, is the Sprinkler Buddy, a system of easy-to-install, custom-fit plastic cups to protect your sprinkler heads.

You will need to learn how to set the sprinkler timer and find out Cape Coral's watering schedule so that you water your yard at the time the city allows.

Soakers, also called misters, run water continuously, rotors shoot water out intermittently. For soakers, run each section of the sprinkler for 20 - 30 minutes and rotors for 45 - 60 minutes, during dry season for as many days as the city allows.

During rainy season, either shut the sprinklers off or run them one day per week.

Home Tips - Food

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I find that produce goes bad quicker here, even if it's in the fridge.

I hate throwing out food, but I've discovered some home tips to keep you from wasting it.

You will need to keep potatoes and onions in the fridge. Check milk regularly to see if has spoiled.

Buy the latest date on packages of meat and other perishables.

Certain dark, leafy lettuces last longer than iceberg lettuce. Washed, cut lettuce starts turning brown in a day. Uncut romaine lasts for weeks.

Chips and snacks get stale fast, keep them closed up tight and use them up within weeks, rather than months.

I don't care for tap water with chlorine in it, so I buy the 2 1/2 gallon jugs of spring water or drinking water that have the easy-to-use spigots, and always have one in the fridge.

I buy extra water during hurricane season, to have on hand. You are supposed to have a gallon of water per person, per day.

Speaking of hurricanes, an important thing to know about when living in the Cape is Hurricane Shutters, I've devoted a whole page on the subject to help you make an informed decision.

And again, go to my Moving to Cape Coral page for listings of companies I recommend for pest, lawn, pool, A/C, house cleaning, home watch, security systems, power washing, and more.

More Home Tips

Related Pages

Cape Coral Florida Real Estate
City of Cape Coral
Vacation Homes Cape Coral
Rental Homes Cape Coral Florida
Best Moving Tips
Cape Coral Retirement

Cape Coral Realtors
Foreclosures and Short Sales
Toxic Chinese Drywall
Loans in Cape Coral
Special Assessments
Cypress Cove
Furniture Stores

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