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Seasonal Home Maintenance Tips: Winter

    Seasonal Home Maintenance Tips: Winter
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by pressing “test” button. Pressing the “test” button quarterly verifies that the alarms are functioning properly; and while you have the ladder available, vacuum the cover to remove dust which may hider proper operation.
  • Check GFCIs for proper operation. GFCIs, the special receptacles found in kitchens, baths, garages, basements, and outdoors, have a special built-in circuit breaker to avoid electric shock in hazardous areas. Pressing the test button should cause the breaker to “trip,” confirming proper operation.
  • Replace HVAC filter. The filter for most HVAC systems is normally located in or adjacent to the furnace, the air handling unit for both heating and air conditioning. Filters should be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and, depending upon the filter used, as often as monthly or with some systems, after several months use. Your individual circumstances may dictate a different schedule, but keeping the filter clean is both better for your health and budget.
  • Vacuum behind refrigerator and front grill. Remove the lower grill/front panel (most refrigerators) to allow access to the coil below. Then vacuum the grill, coil, and as much of the area as possible. Proper cleaning helps the refrigerator operate more efficiently and extends its life. This is also a great time to slide the refrigerator out and vacuum the rear of the unit as well as the floor area normally inaccessible. Click HERE for more information.
  • Vacuum grills on bath vent fans. Cleaning the grill on bathroom exhaust fans will improve their function and will help keep dust from accumulating on the fan blades and motor. In some cases it may also reduce the noise factor. For more information, click HERE.
  • Vacuum return air grills and HVAC registers. Regular cleaning of the heating and air conditioning registers and grills will help dust out of your ductwork and furnace and helps improve air flow.
  • Clean underside of kitchen range hood and wash filter if applicable. An area often overlooked is the underside of kitchen range hoods or over counter microwaves. Keeping this area clean and grease free helps avoid dangerous kitchen fires and also improves the operation of the unit. Remove and clean filters per manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Replace HVAC filter. The filter for most HVAC systems is normally located in or adjacent to the furnace, the air handling unit for both heating and air conditioning. Filters should be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and, depending upon the filter used, as often as monthly or with some systems, after several months use. Your individual circumstances may dictate a different schedule, but keeping the filter clean is both better for your health and budget.
  • Inspect furnace, boiler, AC compressor, sump pump, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and water heater for visible problems. Sometimes a visual inspection of the mechanical systems can alert you to potential problems. If you are unfamiliar with these systems, just look for anything out of the ordinary, such as obvious physical damage, leaking, damaged wiring or pipes.
  • Clean garbage disposer by pouring 1 cup white vinegar diluted in 1 gallon of water; sharpen blades by dropping in a few ice cubes and running. A regular cleaning will help keep your disposer clog and odor free, and will allow it to function at peak efficiency. For instructions on cleaning a clogged disposer, click HERE.
  • Check under sinks and vanities for leaks in supply lines or drains. Drains or supply lines may develop leaks over time, and a regular check can help avoid surprises and significant damage.
  • Clean faucet aerators and shower head. Regular cleaning of faucet aerators and shower heads improves flow and inhibits mildew growth.
  • Check toilets for proper operation and for leaks around base and inside tank. Check each toilet for proper operation and inspect inside the tank for obvious defects. Older “float-ball” mechanisms can be easily replaced with newer assemblies which are both quieter and more efficient. Click HERE for instructions. Toilets that leak around the base may need tightening and probably need a new wax ring. Click HERE for instructions.
  • Check attic for roof leaks/proper operation and obstructions at vents or fans/rodent infestation. A trip to the attic can sometimes alert you to potential problems. Look for discoloration or other indications of leakage on the underside of the roof decking, check gable and roof vents for obstructions and to make certain that screens are in place, and look for squirrel or other rodent infestations.
  • Pour at least 1 quart of water in drains that are not regularly used such as, guest bath tub and sink or floor drains in garage, basement and laundry room. Have a guest bath, garage, or basement with a foul odor? Bath drains are connected to the sever line and have a trap that should always be filled with water to keep out smelly sewer gas; and while many floor drains are not connected directly to the sewer, some are. If the water in the trap evaporates due to infrequent use, the gas is allowed to escape into the surrounding area. A quart of water in such drains may cure the problem.
  • Inspect exterior covers of bath, kitchen, or dryer vents for proper operation and bird or insect nesting. Many times the outside covers to kitchen, bath, or other vents become clogged or inoperable due to damage; and sometimes birds or other critters are attracted to the openings as potential homes. Doing a regular inspection allows you to verify that the vents are functioning properly and that you haven’t gained unwanted tenants.
  • Check garage door operation and safety-reverse. Check garage door and remote controls for proper operation and test the safety-reverse. Lubricate chain and rollers if applicable.
  • Turn off water to outside hose connections and protect hose bibbs from freeze damage. Unless you have frost proof hose connections you should turn off their water supply to prevent from freezing. You may also choose to protect the hose connection with an insulating cap or wrap. For information on cut-off valves, click HERE.
  • Drain and store garden hoses. Garden hoses should be drained, coiled, and stored for winter.
  • Winterize irrigation systems. Don’t forget to winterize your irrigation system prior to the first hard freeze. Follow the instructions for your system.

 

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