Spring cleaning, sure it’s dirty work, but there are few things more satisfying than having your house in order. To keep your home energy-efficient all year round, be sure to include your heating, cooling and ventilations systems in your spring cleaning plans. Regular maintenance and cleaning of air conditioning units, filters and ventilation fans can keep fuel costs down and help avoid costly repairs later on. Here are some cleaning tips that will help keep problems from springing up.
Check your air conditioning system. If your system is not working properly, schedule a service appointment early in the season, before the weather gets hot (and you get desperate). Your air conditioning system should be serviced every two or three years.
Clean or replace your air conditioner’s filter (if applicable).
Open the furnace humidifier damper, if you have central air conditioning, and clean the humidifier.
Clean your portable humidifier (if applicable).
Monitor your home for excessive moisture, such as condensation on your windows. Excess humidity can cause significant damage over time and poses serious health problems. Consider buying a de-humidifier if necessary.
Remove the grilles on forced air heating or cooling systems and vacuum inside the ducts.
Vacuum the bathroom ventilation fan grille.
Disconnect the dryer duct. Vacuum the lint from the dryer duct, the areas surrounding your dryer and your dryer’s vent hood outside.
Vacuum the radiator grilles on back of your refrigerator and freezer. Empty and clean the drip trays. Ensure that the fridge and freezer doors are closing tightly.
Vacuum your fire and smoke detectors. Spider webs or dust or can prevent them from working properly. Then check your smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms and replace their batteries if necessary.
Check the gauge on your home fire extinguishers; recharge or replace them if necessary.
Check and replace any winter-damaged caulking and weather stripping around your windows and doorways.
Clean your windows and replace your storm windows with screens. Check the screens first and repair or replace them if needed.
Ensure that your windows and skylights are closing tightly.
Check for and seal off any holes on the outside of your house that might have been caused by winter damage. These could be an entry point for small pests, such as mice, bats or squirrels.
A Bit more Intense
Remember to stay within your comfort zone as some of the items mentioned may be out of your capabilities: Safety first!
After consulting your hot water tank owner’s manual, carefully test the temperature and pressure relief valve to ensure it is not stuck. (Caution:This test may release hot water that can cause burns.)
Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Ventilation system, for example heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
Have fireplace or wood stove and chimney cleaned and serviced as needed.
Shut down and clean furnace humidifier, and close the furnace humidifier damper on units with central air conditioning.
Check air conditioning system and have serviced every two or three years.
Clean or replace air conditioning filter (if applicable).
Check dehumidifier and clean if necessary.
Turn OFF gas furnace and fireplace pilot lights where possible.
Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.
Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms and replace batteries.(daylight savings is a good day)
Clean windows, screens and hardware, and replace storm windows with screens. Check screens first and repair or replace if needed.
Open valve to outside hose connection after all danger of frost has passed.
Examine the foundation walls for cracks, leaks or signs of moisture, and repair as required. Repair and paint fences as necessary.
Ensure sump pump is operating properly before the spring thaw sets in. Ensure discharge pipe is connected and allows water to drain away from the foundation.
Re-level any exterior steps or decks which moved due to frost or settling.
Check eaves troughs and downspouts for loose joints and secure attachment to your home, clear any obstructions, and ensure water flows away from your foundation.
Clear all drainage ditches and culverts of debris.
Undertake spring landscape maintenance and, if necessary, fertilize young trees.
It’s all starting to come out of hibernation – plants, flowers, lawns, and even your home. Winter plays havoc on houses, and spring should be a time to toss on some shorts and take a walk around your house to get that spring chore list in order. Here are few additional areas to pay attention to:
Remember that ice dam on the roof last winter? Remember how hot your attic was when you went up there to check the antenna wire last summer? Proper attic ventilation can help with both those problems, and spring – while it’s not too hot or too cold – is an ideal time to take care of any necessary work.
Attic ventilation should equal approximately 1 square foot of vent area for every 300 square feet of attic, so first figure out roughly how many square feet your attic is, and then divide by 300. The total vent area should be roughly split between high and low vents, so now divide that number by two.
Take some measurements to see if you have an adequate amount of vent area in both the eaves and high on the roof, and add more as needed. Also, check the condition of existing vents to see that the screen is intact, flashings are secure and well sealed, and there are no other problems that need correcting. If in doubt call a pro!
Permanent, in-ground sprinklers are great, as long as they’re properly adjusted. Run each set of sprinklers through a cycle, and watch how and where the water is hitting. Adjust or replace any sprinklers that are hitting your siding, washing out loose soil areas, spraying over foundation vents, or in any other way wetting areas on and around your house that shouldn’t be getting wet.
Soil is also susceptible to being washed away or redistributed by heavy winter rains and melting snow. Now is the time to check and see if the grade around the outside of your home has been moved around by winter’s fury, which can result in runoff getting into your basement or crawlspace, or running into neighbor’s yards where it shouldn’t go.
Look for areas where soil seems too high or too low in relation to your home, as well as for marks on your siding, foundation, walkways, and other areas that might indicate if soil or water is in a place it shouldn’t be. A 4-foot builder’s level placed on a long, straight board can help you check grade and slope; redistribute soil so that for every foot horizontally you have at least 1/4 inch of fall away from the house.
Check Your House Numbers
Can someone find your house easily, especially in the dark? Spring is a great time to check that your house numbers are clearly visible from the street, that they are painted a contrasting color from whatever surface they are mounted on, that they are somehow hit by exterior lighting at night, and that they are not obscured by overgrown foliage.
Fences and Gates
Fence posts are especially susceptible to ground water saturation, and will loosen up and tilt if the soil around them gets soaked too deeply. Check fence posts in various areas by wiggling them to see how solidly embedded they are. If any are loose, wait until the surrounding soil has dried out from winter’s rains, then excavate around the bottom of the posts and pour additional concrete to stabilize them.
As always when it’s time to change the clocks, you want to check your smoke detectors. Replace the batteries, clean the covers, and test the detector’s operation before it’s too late. If you have gas-fired appliances in the house, including a water heater, now is also a great time to consider adding a carbon monoxide detector, which are inexpensive and easy to install, and are available at most home centers and other retailers of electrical parts and supplies.
Note: I always bring up smoke detectors more then once! 🙂