11 Mar Spring Cleaning Made Easy
Spring cleaning is a tradition carried on from years long before the invention of central heating and air. In years past, people had to keep their houses shut tight against the cold of winter, heated them with coal and oil and wood, and lighted them with candles. The coming of spring signaled a welcome opportunity to make a dingy home fresh again. On the first warm, dry day of the season, each family would pull every piece of furniture and scrap of cloth outside. Then, with brooms and washrags, would sweep and scrub every corner of their home, washing down the walls, airing out linens, remove soot and ash from couches and chairs, and dust everything completely.
Although today Spring cleaning may not include pulling the entire contents of your home outside, there are some chores that should be a part of every springtime cleaning routine. Most of them take only a few minutes, so get started!
To ensure proper operation and highest energy efficiency, check your HVAC unit before the beginning of each new season. Check and replace your furnace and air-conditioning filters every month. There are several types from which to choose, depending on your needs. For greater air quality, you can choose HEPA filters which last up to six months and can be cleaned with a vacuum nozzle.
Also, most air conditioners have a drainage hole on the base of the cabinet, beneath the evaporator fins. This hole needs to be kept clear in order for the air conditioner to work properly. To keep a dehumidifier working properly, remove its housing and let the unit dry completely. Vacuum every accessible surface and crevice.
Replacing the batteries in your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors should be a twice a year event, in Spring and Fall. Also, dust or vacuum the detectors to keep them working at peak performance. Make sure you have a fully charged fire extinguisher that you can reach quickly and easily.
Cleaning your bathroom fans annually will ensure the air flow is optimal. Take the cover off, wash it in soapy water and clean the dirt off the fan blades. Be sure the power is off before you clean the fans.
Check the flappers on your toilets and replace them if they appear worn, before they start leaking and wasting water. All faucet handles should be inspected and cleaned inside to keep the screws from corroding. Use a rust remover if necessary.
Inspect caulk around your home’s windows and doors annually and redo where necessary. Proper caulking will help keep out heat and humidity in the summer and cold drafts in the winter, which will save money on your utility bills all year round. The best time to caulk a joint outdoors is during the Spring or Fall. That’s when the width of the joint is halfway between its seasonal extremes. A plastic drinking straw or a length of plastic tubing makes a handy extension tube for caulking hard-to-reach places. Secure the extender with duct tape.
Clear, clean, and repair screens for springtime. To fix a small hole in a window or door screen, dab clear household cement over the hole with a toothpick. If the screens are plastic, test the cement on a scrap to make sure it won’t melt the material. Use the same technique to repair screen tears. Pull the two halves of the tear together and hold them in place with masking tape on one side. Apply the household cement to the tear, then smooth with a putty knife. When it’s dry, gently remove the tape and apply cement to the other side.
Clean out the gutters of winter debris and check them for damage. Install gutter screens or protectors to help keep debris out of the gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.
To prevent basement flooding, make sure there is at least three feet between the side of the house and the down-spout’s outlet.
To prevent foundation erosion as well as basement flooding, build up soil around the house and slope it away from the foundation. Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.
Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.
Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home’s foundation. Power-wash and then seal the concrete by filling cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk.
Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels.
Including these annual checks and repairs as part of your Spring cleaning routine will go a long way in preventing future repairs and keeping your home safe and comfortable.