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  • Writer's pictureElken Miller

Sooner or Later......Keeping Up With The Upkeep

It's not surprising that many homeowners get caught up in everyday life and forget to do maintenance on their home that could prevent major problems and/or repairs down the road. The old saying, "A stitch in time saves nine" applies here. Being a proactive home owner will help save you lots of money, headaches and frustration. Simply follow these easy reminders to help keep your new investment in tip-top shape and spare you time, energy and money. You want to prevent having to fix a big problem that a simple stitch would have repaired. Even better? Put reminders in your phone and I have them on repeat (every 3 months, 6 months, annually).

Change Furnace Filters: Why is changing the air filter so important? Furnace filters are designed to both improve the quality of the air you breathe, and also to protect your HVAC system from build-up of dirt and debris. When you neglect your HVAC air filter, airborne pollutants such as dust, animal dander and pollen build up on its surface. If you don't change your air filter, it can quickly become clogged with dust and debris, preventing proper air filtration. This leads to a variety of issues for your HVAC system including system inefficiency, higher energy bills, inadequate air quality, and ultimately failure. Furnace filters come in MANY sizes, so it's important to know which one is the correct size for your furnace.16x25x1, 20x20x1, 20x25x4 are some examples. You can typically find out the correct size by looking at the dimensions on your current filter. If, for some reason your existing furnace doesn't have a filter, often times the filter size can be found in the house inspection report or you can reach out to the manufacturer with the model and serial number and they can provide you with the correct filter size. Buy in bulk, this way you'll have some on hand when it's time to make the change. There are companies that offer a subscription plan that will automatically send you filters. Recommendations for the life of a filter differ depending on where you live, the age of your furnace, and/or if you have pets. It's best to follow the recommendations, but changing a filter sooner rather than later is a better practice to follow. Not all furnace filters are created the same. Some help block out allergens or pet dander, so select the one that works best for your home and lifestyle. Put on your calendar for a minimum of 4 x's a year!

Clean Gutters: Gutters that fall into disrepair and become clogged are unable to do their job, which is to protect your home. Clogged gutters can lead to leaky roofs and water damage. In addition, clogged gutters are a paradise for pests, rodents, and mold which isn't something you want to attract to your home. If gutters are functioning properly, they will funnel rainwater through downspouts, where it can flow away from your home protecting your home's foundation. Clogged gutters can ruin landscaping and also cause driveway damage. If gutters are not clear of debris, water will not be able to flow easily through them. If water freezes in the gutters, the weight from the ice can actually detach the gutters from your home. As a rule, most roofers and tree experts recommend cleaning gutters twice a year, typically in the fall and late spring. Some gutters are installed with a screen that covers the open gutter to prevent debris from collecting. These are generally a good investment, but checking your gutters twice a year is still advised. Put on your calendar for 2x's a year!

Clean All Around The Refrigerator: How Often Should You Clean Behind Your Fridge? Experts recommend that you clean behind and under your fridge 4x's a year. This will keep dust and bits of food to a minimum, which in turn can prevent bad odors and reduce the occurrence of pests and allergies. Additionally, if there is any dampness in the area, mold could start to grow. You should clean the back of your refrigerator at least once a year. This maintenance chore will do more than any other to extend the life of your refrigerator and keep it operating efficiently all year. Dust-covered condenser coils can also lower your fridge’s efficiency and cause bigger problems down the line, so there’s good reason not to put the task off any longer. Put on your calendar 2-4x's a year!

Change Water Filters: Because they're susceptible to the build up of dirt and debris, old fridge water filters may not be able to prevent contaminants from tainting drinking water. To ensure drinkable, fresh tasting water for your family, be sure to change your fridge's water filter every six months. If you don't replace the filter cartridges as needed, the system could stop functioning correctly and can even become a huge source of bacteria, mold, and other dangerous pollutants. Think of your filter cartridge as a sponge that collects potential contaminants in your drinking water. Put on your calendar 2x's a year!

Clean Dryer Vent And Dryer Duct: Experts at Underwriters Laboratories (UL) highly suggest that you clean out your dryer's lint trap after every load of laundry. This is important because if you don't clean it out, it prevents the dryer from being able to exhaust hot air from the dryer, causing the dryer to overheat, which can lead to costly dryer repairs. Diligently emptying the lint out of your dryer isn’t enough to keep your home safe and energy efficient. Sometimes, you need to clean beyond the removable trap. The dryer vent, which is the part that carries the hot air from your dryer to the outdoors, needs to be cleaned and serviced once a year. The greatest danger of not regularly cleaning your lint trap and vent is that lint is highly combustible, and if it comes into proximity to the dryer's heating element, it can quickly ignite and start a house fire. There are several signs lint has traveled into your vents, which increases the risk of a house fire and can cause higher than normal utility bills. Some signs are: clothes take longer than normal to dry, clothes are unusually hot to the touch, the room is warmer than normal when the dryer is running, you've noticed burning smells or the dryer stops working. Newer model dryers may warn you of a problem. Put on your calendar to clean vent 1'x a year!

Replace Smoke Detectors And Batteries:

If your smoke alarms are powered by a nine-volt battery, the battery should be replaced every 6 months, while the alarm itself should be replaced once every 10 years. Smoke alarms throughout your home help play a crucial role in keeping you and your family safe by alerting you to potential dangers. However, the best smoke alarms provide no value if they do not have working batteries. It is important that you check and test your home smoke detectors often and replace the batteries in order to ensure the detectors are working properly. You’ll likely notice a high-pitched chirping noise coming from your smoke alarm when it is time for the batteries to be changed. It is best to be proactive and change the batteries in your smoke detectors before that noise occurs. When you change the batteries in one alarm, make sure you change the batteries in the rest of the alarms in your home as well. A helpful reminder to check your smoke alarms and change the batteries every 6 months is Daylight Saving Time. Check and test your smoke and fire detectors when you change your clocks. Put on your calendar 2x's a year!

Clean Shower/Tubs Of Hair: Hair, soap, and other debris all make their way down your drain. When too much hair accumulates, it can form a mass. The more debris that goes down the drain, the larger the mass grows. Eventually, this ball of hair results in slow-draining water and sometimes even a complete blockage. Hair-clogged drains are one of the most common issues experienced by homeowners in America. Not only is it frustrating to have a sink drain slowly, it can also cost homeowners hundreds or thousands of dollars in possible damages. Most people think of clogged drains as nothing more than occasional annoyances. While it’s true that they are annoying, clogged drains are much more dangerous than we usually think. The clog in your drain is just the tip of potential damage lurking beneath the surface. Here are a few of the worst possible types of damage from a clogged drain: pipes can burst and cause flooding, an increase of bacteria and microbes, pest infestations, mold, structural damage, and toxic gas build-up. A drain snake, plunger, or declogging chemicals can be used, but it is much better to use some sort of a hair catcher or drain cover and remove hair, debris and soap from each daily. Put on your calendar daily!

Clean Garbage Disposal: The rubber flange — more commonly known as the splash guard — should be cleaned monthly. It's constantly being bombarded with bits of food and cooking debris, so there's no telling what's stuck on the underside and mold collects on the rubber. Although a garbage disposal is an amazing appliance for your kitchen, its maintenance can be a little tricky. Despite cleaning the devices regularly, a lot of people fail to prevent the nasty odors of decayed food. More often than not, the rubber flange (splash guard) of the garbage disposal is responsible for that smell. Make sure you clean the garbage disposal rubber flange. There are specific garbage disposal brushes that make the job a bit easier. Put on your calendar 1x per month!

Check Drain Spouts: To maintain your outside drains effectively, you need to keep them clear of garden debris and check them for blockages about once a month. If you experience a heavy rainstorm or extremely windy weather, it is important to check the state of your outside drains. The importance of maintaining drain spouts and outdoor drainage, in general, can help prevent soil erosion, thereby protecting your investment in any landscaping you have. Lawns can also get flooded and become pools of standing water, which increases mosquito breeding, the growth of mold and mildew and attracts other pests like rats and mice. Cleared and properly placed drain spouts can also prevent water damage to the foundation of your home. The drains help move water away from your home. A damaged foundation can cost a home owner thousands of dollars. While they’re not difficult to install, choosing the proper drainage system for a particular area is essential. Put on your calendar 4x's a year!

HVAC Maintenance: No matter what kind of heating and air conditioning equipment you have, it should be inspected, cleaned and serviced at least once a year. The best scenario is to have the heating system checked in the Fall and the air conditioning checked in the Spring. Not only can a poorly maintained or neglected HVAC unit become inefficient, causing high energy bills and shorten the overall life of your equipment, but it can also be dangerous. For example, if your system has a cracked heat exchanger, it could leak carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be extremely harmful to you and your family. Regular HVAC maintenance is said to reduce the risk of costly breakdowns by as much as 95%. Chances are you wouldn't drive your car for 30,000 miles without getting an oil change; you'd be asking for trouble. This analogy holds true for your heating and cooling system. Put on your calendar 2x's a year!

It's also smart to stay on top of:

  • cleaning baseboards 2x's a year

  • inside windows 2x's a year

  • window sills 2x's a year

  • window treatments (drapes, mini-blinds, shades) 3x's a year

  • sinks/tubs weekly

  • toilets weekly

These items can collect dust and mold and when clean, create a nicer home to live in.

There are several companies that have apps you can download on your phone like "Househappy" or "HomeZada". A subscription and fee is requirement and these apps come with lots of bells and whistles.

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