Home Maintenance Tips



Regularly clean refrigerator coils

Over time, all kinds of dust, grease, and dirt get stuck to the coils behind your refrigerator. It makes your appliance inefficient at best, dangerous at worst.The coils are what your fridge uses to cool down, so if they are insulated, the fridge will have to work harder to get colder, or overheat. The best way to clean the coils is with a vacuum cleaner. Unplug the fridge, pull it away from the wall and find the coils. They should be either behind a metal plate at the back, or behind the fridge under a grill lower down. They look like this:Use the brush attachment of your vacuum, and work the grime away without forcing it. Use a cloth to gently wipe them down to catch anything the vacuum missed. There you go! Enjoy lower running costs and the reduced risk of a house fire.


Regularly Change HVAC Filters

The filters for your heating and cooling systems should be changed once every month or two, depending on how much you’re running your system. If you’re running your furnace all the time in the dead of winter, or your A/C throughout the hottest summer months, you may want to change your filters every two weeks.

At minimum, make it a habit to change your filters every time you get an electricity or gas bill. That’s a good reminder that will get you in the habit of regularly changing those out.

Clean filters make it easier for your HVAC system to circulate air, which makes the whole system more efficient. Plus, they’re a super-cheap option for keeping your home as efficient as possible. Changing your HVAC air filters regularly can cut energy bills by 5-15%!



Protect yourself against termites

Termites pose a considerable risk to wooden homes, and without the proper precautions you could find yourself stepping out onto your porch and falling through it, or even finding out your entire home’s foundation has rotted away.

Termites can’t survive sunlight, so the most likely places you’ll find them is in your basement. Go down there and use a spray can of foam to plug any gaps where they could get in, then take a flashlight and screwdriver to inspect the wood for signs of damage. Poke the wood with a screwdriver and check for weaknesses. If the wood is flaky or rotting, you might already have a problem that needs professional attention or a DIY solution.


Replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Twice a year, change the batteries in each detector. To be safe, you should have at least one of each type of detector on each level of your home. If you’re prone to forget this task, change the batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.

Don’t rely on the automatic beeping to tell you when to change the batteries. After replacement, be sure to hold the test button down for 15-20 seconds after changing, so you can hear whether or not the battery is faulty.


Keep your gutters in top condition

Cleaning the gutters out is something no one really wants to do, but it can save you money on replacement gutters, and even on repairing roof damage.
Clogged gutters can overflow and break, and put strain on the roof itself. In the winter, they can fill with ice that causes thawing damage or strains the material.
You can get special gutter cleaning tools, or do it the old fashioned way:

  • Put on a long-sleeved top and rubber gloves
  • Steady the ladder against the side of the house
  • Scoop the dirt out with a small shovel
  • Dump it onto a tarp, not your lawn
  • Flush the gutters out with a hose

Note: don’t bother with gutter guards. They can make your gutters impossible to clean. It’s not worth it!


Clean your range’s hood filter

Depending on how much frying you do, hood filters can get clogged with thick grease quickly. In order to stop the grease getting inside the range itself, filters are designed to trap grease. If yours is doing it’s job correctly, expect to see something pretty awful…
This isn’t the kind of cleaning you can do with a wet cloth, either. You’re going to need an agent to break down the grease. Here’s how you clean it:

  • Pop the filter out
  • Fill a bucket with boiling water
  • Squirt in dish soap, and pour a 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • Stir the bucket, then submerge the filter for 10 minutes
  • Remove, scrub clean, and leave to dry

With a fresh hood filter, your range will extract steam and grease more efficiently, saving you money and possible replacement costs for the range.


Run water through your fixtures

When toilets and sinks aren’t used regularly, grime can build up in the pipes and faucets. If you have a bathroom you don’t use very often, make sure to run water through the systems at least once a quarter to keep the flow coming smoothly and reduce future clogging.



Keep your garbage disposal running smoothly

Since you throw all kinds of junk into your garbage disposal, it’s only logical it’ll need a little care and attention on a regular basis.
After use, make sure to always run the machine with cold water for a minute with dish soap inside. Cold water will help solidify any grease so it can be chopped up before hitting the trap.

As well as this minor periodic maintenance, you’ll need to make an effort to properly upkeep the unit. An easy way to do this is to toss a lemon or an orange into the disposal once or twice a month. The citric acid from the fruit helps break up any buildups of grease, and, as an added bonus, it smells great.

If the garbage disposal is giving off a particularly nasty smell, just pour 4 tablespoons of Borax down the drain and leave it to sit for an hour or so before rinsing with hot water. For sharpening blades ice cubes does tthe trickk


Flush and Clean Your Hot Water Heater

Regardless of how clean your water is, it has sediment in it. And that sediment over time settles at the bottom of your water heater, causing expensive problems down the road. You can avoid some of these issues if you flush and clean your water heater annually.

Flushing and cleaning a water heater is similar, regardless of whether you have a gas or electric heater. The following video talks specifically about draining and cleaning a gas water heater. The only difference with an electric heater is that you’ll need to unplug it or cut off the electricity to the heater at your electrical box.

You’ll want to be careful here, because you’ll be dealing with very hot water. Watch this video to learn how to clean out your water heater.


Clean Your Air Conditioner

Whether you have central air or use window-mounted units, keeping the A/C clean helps it stay efficient. Plus, cleaning your air conditioner isn’t really that difficult.

Often, your annual maintenance visit will include some basic cleaning of your A/C unit. But you may still want to clean the unit regularly, especially in the spring before you turn it on. And remember, you can help your A/C unit stay as efficient as possible by keeping bushes and debris well away from the air conditioner condenser coils.

These videos show you how to clean both a central air conditioner unit and a window unit.


Inspect and Repair Your Roof

Your roof will need to be replaced every ten to twenty years, depending on what material it’s made of. By regularly inspecting your roof, you’ll catch the need for repairs — or replacement — before you start having leaks that damage your home.

Inspecting your roof means getting out on it and looking at it firsthand. Even if you aren’t an expert, you can learn to notice potential trouble spots and to see if your roof needs to be replaced soon. Hint: Asphalt shingles will start to curl at the edges when they need to be replaced.

When you inspect your roof, look for places where the flashing needs to be replaced or where you’re developing a hole in the roof. And while you’re up there, check to see if your gutters need to be cleaned or repaired.

This video walks you through inspecting your roof and making common, minor repairs

image226