As seen on TImes Herald
So how did you do with your spring cleaning projects?
Most people clean the obvious things. The floors, cabinets, windows are all addressed but often people miss important things that do need occasional attention.
Here is a list of items that often are overlooked.
•When was the last time you cleaned or vacuumed out your dryer vent? Built-up lint is combustible and is considered a fire hazard. It also will lessen the efficiency of your dryer and can cause carbon monoxide waste gas to back up into the breathing air of your house. This dryer vent pipe (which preferably should be rigid metal) is easily assessable via the outside vent cap or by disconnecting it from the rear of your dryer and then cleaning it out.
•While we’re at the dryer area, when was the last time your removed any cobwebs in the area which are also considered a fire hazard. It is common to find residual cobwebs hanging from the ceiling in the basement around the dryer area, around basement windows and even inside nearby electrical panels. These should be carefully removed with a vacuum and/or possibly by a professional.
•Clean your outside A/C unit. This is important if you do not cover it with a tarp during the winter. If possible, vacuum any debris accumulated around the bottom perimeter or use a leaf blower to clean out the interior. It is also important to remove any excessive perimeter vegetation that can block airflow.
•What about your wooden deck or porch? Again these areas are often neglected and they should be power washed and sealed yearly to maintain life expectancy and also provide cosmetic appeal.
•Have you ever cleaned the inside of your dishwasher? People always think that these appliance are pristine because they wash things. The problem is that many times food particles find their way into the crevices or become trapped in a filter mechanism at the bottom which then causes odors. Believe it or not, you need to occasional clean the interior. You may want to also occasionally add a cup of hydrogen peroxide and then run it through its cycle. This will sterilize, clean and destroy odors.
•While in the kitchen here is another area that can cause undesirable odors if not maintained. Does your disposal smell? This is similar to the dishwasher and my need to be occasionally cleaned around the drain hole and under the rubber splash guard which can trap food particles. You can usually clean this with a toothbrush and dishwashing liquid.
•Has your fireplace been cleaned lately? Even if you don’t use it these areas get plugged up with leaves, branches, nests, etc. If you do use it regularly creosote will build-up on the inside of the chimney, is combustible and can cause a chimney fire. This condition is even more of a concern if the chimney is very old and doesn’t have flue liners. Here, the heat can actually damage exposed brick inside the chimney creating a dangerous situation. I always recommend using a licensed chimney sweep.
•Do any of your faucets show water restriction? Well, when was the last time you cleaned the aerators at the tip of each faucet? I have seen where these never get cleaned and then all of a sudden there is no water flow. This condition is more common where there is older galvanized water lines which have the tendency to rust within or if your house is on well water. You may need a set of pliers to remove these because they become trapped when not cleaned after a period of time.
•I’ll bet you that you have never checked or cleaned this item. What about your roof soffit overhang vents? These commonly get plugged up with insulation from inside the attic or simply dust and debris from the outside. These vents are essential in maintaining the proper environment inside your attic, increasing heat efficiency and minimizing moisture and mold from forming. They can be blown out from the exterior and should be kept open on the inside away from the insulation.
•This is an item I’ve mentioned many times before, but people just don’t get around to it. How about vacuuming out your duct work where possible. Remove the register and insert a vacuum cleaner hose as far as possible (or hire a professional). You may be surprised at what comes out.
•Does your house have a more modern vinyl or fiberglass replacement window? These often have weep holes in the bottom track which allows rain water to drain out, but often get plugged up and then the water can seep into the corners of the frame and into the wall framing. Obviously this is not desirable. If your windows have weep holes, keep them clean!
•We are often told that a good health safety concern is to wash your hands regularly so you don’t spread any contamination or germs. When was the last time you cleaned your door knobs? Depending on the texture, these often are dirty and are so easy to clean with a simple disinfectant wipes.
•I would say that 50 percent of the houses we inspect show some irregularity where the a/c condensation line and pump drain from the furnace chassis. When the a/c runs, it creates moisture that needs to be carried away from the furnace, but these simple plastic drain lines get plugged up or the pump is dirty and then the water backs up into the furnace, overflows and causes rust or damage.
•Here is another area I bet you haven’t given much attention to. What about your bathroom draw fan? These commonly become restricted and are present to help control moisture, prevent heat loss and minimize mold build-up, etc. The grills are usually easy to remove although they are in the ceiling and these areas can easily be vacuumed out.
•If your hot water tank is older or your house is on well water, you may want to periodically drain out the water and any sediment that has accumulated in the bottom of the tank. This is easily done by shutting off the valves feeding the hot water tank and then draining it through the drain hole provision near the bottom. This will increase both the efficiency and life expectancy of the unit.
•Outside lights often need cleaning because they have the tendency to collect dirt, dust and nests. Also, these units are attractive to pests because of the heat they can provide during cold weather. All units should be secure, caulked around the perimeter and have clean lenses.
And don’t forget to occasionally look and clean behind your refrigerator and other appliances, inside cabinets, interior of closets, debris under porches and decks, the condition of your garage floor, etc.